Breville Dual Boiler vs Rancilio Silvia: Which Semi-Automatic Coffee Machine Is Best For Your Home?

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It was a very close fight, but at the end of it, the Breville Dual Boiler was the obvious winner. If you like milk with your coffee, the Dual Boiler is the option for you. Since it has separate boilers for steam and espresso, you don’t have to worry about waiting to switch the temperature. And with PID control, you get to tailor the temperature of your brew perfectly to your needs.

With that said, the Rancilio Silvia is still one of the best home coffee machines out there. It’s easy to clean, uses a boiler instead of a thermoblock, and has the power to produce great-tasting coffee. The only reason this lost out to the dual boiler was the lack of control and functionality of the machine. Compared to the Dual Boiler, the Rancilio Silvia is fairly hard to use.

Since these are two top home coffee machines, the Breville Dual Boiler vs Rancilio Silvia debate is prominent in many coffee circles around the world. And after testing out both machines, I knew I had to write an in-depth comparison where I dive deep into the different features and benefits of both options.

Breville Dual Boiler vs Rancilio Silvia: Comparision Chart

Image
The Winner (#1)
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
The Runner-Up (#2)
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Model
Breville Dual Boiler BES920XL
Rancilio Silvia HSD
Dimensions (LxWxH)
14.1 x 14.6 x 14.7 Inches
9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 Inches
Color/ Material
Brushed Stainless Steel / Stainless Steel
Brushed Stainless Steel / Stainless Steel
Weight / Power / Voltage
30 Pounds / 1700W / 110-120V
30.8 Pounds / 1000W / 110V
Water Tank Capacity
2.48L
1.98L
Built-in Grinder
Heating System
Dual Boiler
Single Boiler
PID
Yes, For Espresso Boiler
Yes
Settings
Manual / Automatic
Automatic
Pressure Gauge
Display
Programmability
PID, Shot Time, Pre-infusion
PID
Boiler Material
Stainless Steel
Brass
Pod Friendly
Cup Clearance
4’’
3’’
Cup Tray
What I Like
Price
$1,492.49
$830.00
The Winner (#1)
Image
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Dual Boiler BES920XL
Dimensions (LxWxH)
14.1 x 14.6 x 14.7 Inches
Color/ Material
Brushed Stainless Steel / Stainless Steel
Weight / Power / Voltage
30 Pounds / 1700W / 110-120V
Water Tank Capacity
2.48L
Built-in Grinder
Heating System
Dual Boiler
PID
Yes, For Espresso Boiler
Settings
Manual / Automatic
Pressure Gauge
Display
Programmability
PID, Shot Time, Pre-infusion
Boiler Material
Stainless Steel
Pod Friendly
Cup Clearance
4’’
Cup Tray
What I Like
Price
$1,492.49
More Info
The Runner-Up (#2)
Image
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Model
Rancilio Silvia HSD
Dimensions (LxWxH)
9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 Inches
Color/ Material
Brushed Stainless Steel / Stainless Steel
Weight / Power / Voltage
30.8 Pounds / 1000W / 110V
Water Tank Capacity
1.98L
Built-in Grinder
Heating System
Single Boiler
PID
Yes
Settings
Automatic
Pressure Gauge
Display
Programmability
PID
Boiler Material
Brass
Pod Friendly
Cup Clearance
3’’
Cup Tray
What I Like
Price
$830.00
More Info

Last update on 2021-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Breville Dual Boiler vs Rancilio Silvia: Differences

When comparing the differences between these two machines, I found it hard to choose a winner. But ultimately, the superior control and ease of use of the Dual Boiler allowed it to beat out the Silvia by 4-2. The robust controls and systems within the Dual Boiler allow you to make better coffee that’s tailored to your needs while the automatic functions also make it easy to produce cafe-quality espresso shots in a jiffy. Now, let’s take a deeper dive into the reasons the Dual Boiler edged out the Rancilio Silvia in this comparison.

1. Flavor

The Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Flavor
Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Flavor

Comparing the coffee flavor of two different machines is tough. Afterall, taste is highly subjective. But after trying out both machines and looking for other customer opinions, there was a clear winner when it came to flavor: the Dual Boiler. This is because it’s equipped with a better heating system and comes with more brewing functions overall. Let’s take a deep dive into the main reasons that I found the flavor of the Breville Dual Boiler to be superior to the Rancilio Silvia.

Heating System

One of the main advantages of both of these coffee machines is that they use boilers and not Thermoblocks for heating the water. When you have a boiler in your coffee machine, you can expect more accurate and consistent temperatures, which allows you to pull better shots. And since both machines have PID digital temperature control, you can tweak the temperature to just the point you want to extract the best flavor possible.

However, the main reason that the Dual Boiler’s heating system is superior is that the machine actually has two separate boilers. One boiler is dedicated specifically for the espresso and the other boiler is dedicated to heating up steam for milk. With the Silvia, you only get one boiler, which means that you have to wait some time for it to heat up the steam for the milk after brewing your coffee.

Since these are both boilers, it takes some time to warm up. You won’t be able to brew coffee right after turning it on since the machines have to heat the water first. This will take around 10 minutes or more for both machines, which isn’t too much of a wait.

Another reason I found the Dual Boiler system to work better than the Silvia’s is the material itself. Now, since these are both at-home coffee machines, the material of the boiler is not premium. For the Breville model, the boilers are made of stainless steel while the Silvia’s are made of brass. Both are great options on a budget, but stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion and tends to last longer than brass, which is why the Breville model is the better option when it comes to the heating system.

Brewing Functions

When it comes to brewing functions, the Breville Dual Boiler blew the Rancilio Silvia out of the park. While the Silvia is designed to give you a significant amount of control without sacrificing convenience, the Dual Boiler takes that a notch further with its manual override, but more on that later.

Let’s take a look at the very start of the brewing process. The Dual Boiler has an option for manual or automatic pre-infusion, which the Silvia doesn’t offer. The Silvia doesn’t have any pre-infusion options, which can get in the way of producing a consistent and evenly-flavored coffee. You can do pre-infusino manually with the Dual Boiler, but for added convenience, it has an automatic pre-infusion setting where it gradually increases the pressure of the pump to spread out the ground coffee and apply a more even and consistent flavor.

To use the Breville Dual Boiler, you have to grind and tamp the coffee into the portafilter, just like with the Silvia Pro. From there, you can choose between the various options on the Dual Boiler. You can select either a single or double shot, or click the manual override button to start and stop the water when you want. With the Silvia Pro, you don’t have as many options and you have to manually start and stop the machine every time. With the Dual Boiler, you can even select whether it pulls your shot volumetrically or based on time.

With enough skill and knowledge of espresso machines, you can pull top-quality shots from either machine. However, because the Breville option has more brewing functions, it’s easier to tweak the settings and pull just the right shot based on your tastes and preferences.

2. Milk System

The Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Breville Dual Boiler Milk System
Breville Dual Boiler Milk System

Another reason I found the Breville Dual Boiler to be the superior option is the milk system. Both machines offer a fair amount of control over the temperature of the milk. Since the Silvia only has a single boiler, you can also use the PID control for tweaking the exact milk temperature. Only the espresso boiler has PID on the Breville option, which doesn’t allow you as much control. However, with the settings menu, you can adjust the milk temperature of either machine to get just the right texture on your milk. 

The difference, however, is that the Breville option uses a dual boiler. Since it has a dedicated boiler for steam, you don’t have to wait to heat up the water to the precise temperature. With the Silvia, you have to choose to steam the milk or pull the espresso, but with the Dual Boiler you can do them simultaneously. Both machines are equipped with fully capable milk systems, however, so either is a great option for making lattes and cappuccinos.

3. Ease of Use

The Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Breville Dual Boiler Ease Of Use
Breville Dual Boiler Ease Of Use

Due to its automatic and manual settings, I found the Breville Dual Boiler much easier to use than the Silvia Pro. With the Silvia Pro, you have to pay more attention to your shots as you have to manually shut off the water at just the right point. You can do this on the Breville with manual override, but since it has automatic settings for single and double shots, it allows for much more convenience.

For example, if you’re having a busy morning, you can simply grind and tamp the beans of your coffee, place the portafilter in the right place, and press either the single or double shot button. From there, the machine will turn off automatically when it has reached the desired volume or time. With the Breville, you can even choose if the automatic settings are volumetric or timed, which gives you much more flexibility without sacrificing convenience.

4. Cleaning & Maintenance

The Winner: Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio Silvia Maintenance
Rancilio Silvia Maintenance

A common consensus in the coffee world is that the Silvia is much easier to clean than the Breville Dual Boiler. One advantage that the Dual Boiler has, however, is that it shows a clear message on the screen when the machine is due for a cleaning, which is around every 200 shots.

Since the Rancilio Silvia is a smaller machine overall, it’s much easier to clean. It still requires the basic steps in maintaining an espresso machine such as backflushing, cleaning the steam wand, and descaling. But since the machine is smaller than most, you won’t have a hard time cleaning all the different components.

The Breville Dual Boiler comes with an automatic cleaning function, which you can use after putting in the cleaning disc into the machine. However, since it’s a fairly large machine for home use, it takes a bit more effort to clean. Both of the machines come with all the tools you need for cleaning, however, the Silvia is simply the easier machine to clean and maintain.

Both of these machines come equipped with a removable drip tray, which makes it much easier to clean the other components of the machine.

5. Utilities

The Winner: Tie

Rancilio Silvia Utilities
Rancilio Silvia Utilities

When it comes to the utilities and extra features of both machines, it was a very close fight. One of the primary extra features that comes with the Silvia is the fact that it’s compatible with the Rancilio Pod Adapter. This allows the machine to accept coffee pods along with ground coffee. This gives you much more flexibility and allows you to use simple coffee pods instead of filling up the portafilter every time.

Both machines come with cup trays, which is a convenient feature to have. So, instead of storing your cups away from the machine, you can simply place them on top for a much more convenient set up. The primary utility of the Breville option, however, is the display. The display shows you the exact temperature of the boiler and also allows for much easier adjustment. You can see the settings that you plan on tweaking, and since it also has a pressure gauge, you can really take full control of the brewing process. The Silvia doesn’t have a display, so it can be significantly harder to tweak the different settings.

Breville Dual Boiler vs Rancilio Silvia: Similarities

Since both options are semi-automatic machines, they do have a couple of similarities. To start, neither of these options comes with a grinder. This means that you need to have a separate grinder ready for use before ordering either option, which is important to remember. Both machines also have PID control for the espresso boiler, which allows you to have full control over the exact temperature of your shots.

Additionally, both machines have a stainless steel case. This is a huge advantage since stainless steel is very durable and resistant to corrosion. This makes it easier to maintain both machines and keep them running in your kitchen for a long time coming.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Dual Boiler BES920

Sale
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
383 Reviews
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • The Breville Dual Boiler with commercial features delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula; It has a professional Dual Boiler construction that delivers unparalleled temperature control and simultaneous extraction and steaming
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Achieve a consistent and balanced espresso using the right amount of ground coffee; The 58mm porta-filter with 19-22 grams is the key for full flavor and third wave specialty coffee
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: The Over Pressure Valve limits the maximum pump pressure throughout extraction, helping prevent bitter flavors; Low pressure pre infusion gradually increases water pressure to gently expand grinds for an even extraction
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Dual stainless steel boilers and heated group head controlled by digital temperature control (PID) brings water to precisely the right temperature (+/- 2⁰F) to extract maximum flavor potential every time
  • MANUAL MICROFOAM MILK TEXTURING: The steam wand performance allows you to hand texture microfoam milk of commercial machines that enhances flavor and is essential for creation of latte art

Last update on 2021-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Manual and automatic shot pulling
  • Separate boiler for espresso and steam
  • Convenient display for temperature control and other settings
  • PID digital temperature control for espresso boiler
  • Dual boiler system provides consistent and even temperatures
Cons
  • Not compatible with pods

Quick Rundown Of Rancilio Silvia HSD

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
531 Reviews
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
  • Ergonomic porta filter handle same as the proven design of Rancilio commercial machines
  • Commercial grade group head for superb heat stability and extraction quality
  • Articulating steam wand offers complete range of motion and professional steaming knob precisely controls steaming pressure
  • Classic linear design fits most decors
  • Optional pod and capsule adaptor kit available

Last update on 2021-11-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Durable stainless steel construction
  • Single boiler with PID temperature control
  • Simple and compact design
  • Compatible with pods if equipped with adapter
  • Easy to clean and maintain
Cons
  • Doesn’t have a pressure gauge
  • No automatic shot dosing

Product Videos

References

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