Published by MarkMarch 3, 2015 7:50 pm
Long ago, we wrote that the Rancilio Silvia V3 was the best espresso machine for under $1000. Don’t get us wrong, we still back this machine and are proud to sell it. But Breville pulled a trump card when they relaunched the Infuser.
I honestly don’t think you can say one of these machines is better than the other. They are both built differently, to suit the needs of different types of people. If you want a great espresso machine for under a grand then you should consider both of these as serious contenders.
Here are some key differences between these two machines:
Design and Build
The Rancilio Silvia is an Italian-built machine, made by commercial espresso machine manufacturers. This sturdy unit has an industrial look and feel to it. It is built with a long life in mind. In fact, we have customers bring in Silvias for servicing that are up to 20 years old.
The Infuser is designed by Australian company Breville, and the machines are assembled in China. They are a lighter build and look more like a kitchen appliance than a commercial machine but are very well engineered with a lot of thought going into user-friendliness.
Being single boilers, neither machine can pull shots at the same time as steaming milk or delivering hot water. When coupled with a good espresso grinder, both machines can pull great shots. However, the user experience could hardly be more different.
The Silvia is very manual by nature. There are a few little tricks you need to know to correctly operate the machine. For example, after steaming milk you need to refill the boiler by running the group head until water comes out. Failure to do this means your element is exposed to air and could burn out. There is no ‘brain’ inside the Silvia so it won’t think for itself in this regard.
The Infuser is a little smarter. You can program in your desired shot volumes and all you need to do is press a button to pull your shot. You needn’t worry about refilling the boiler, it takes care of all that side of things itself.
The Silvia’s boiler is designed to provide steam, so it works to maintain a temperature around 240F. This is simply too hot to pull shots with. You need to run some water out of the boiler to let some cold water in and try to bring the temperature down to 200F. This is known as temperature surfing. It’s fun, and easy when you know how, but there is a fair amount of trial and error involved.
In contrast, the Infuser utilizes PID temperature control to deliver shots at 200F. It has the capability to deliver steam through the use of its thermocoil heating system. Furthermore, it has an in-built auto-purge function that helps to cool down the water back down after steaming milk.
As you can see, these machines are as alike as apples and oranges. There is no right or wrong answer as to which one is better. The best advice we can give is to choose the machine that is right for you.
Categorized in: Brewing Guides