Breville Dual Boiler Vs Rancilio Silvia: Face Off!

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Today, we’re going to delve into a detailed comparison between the Breville Dual Boiler vs Rancilio Silvia, exploring their differences and unique features.  Before we dive into that comparison, I’d like to disclose upfront that, in my assessment, the Dual Boiler stands out as the superior choice. 

Just consider that the Breville Dual Boiler has two boilers and a PID controller, while the Rancilio Silvia only has one boiler and lacks a PID, and you can see how better the Dual Boiler is. Having one boiler means the Rancilio Silvia takes longer to prepare drinks, and the absence of the PID controller means it requires temperature surfing, which might be a pain in the ass for beginners. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Breville Dual Boiler Vs Rancilio Silvia: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Machine BES920XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Model
Breville Dual Boiler
Rancilio Silvia
Dimensions/Weight
20.1 x 17.2 x 17.2 inches/30 lbs
13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 inches/30.8 lb
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
2
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Heating System
Dual Boiler
Single Boiler
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Dual/3 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 L/None
2 L/None
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$1,599.95
$900.00
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Machine BES920XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Dual Boiler
Dimensions/Weight
20.1 x 17.2 x 17.2 inches/30 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Heating System
Dual Boiler
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2.5 L/None
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$1,599.95
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Model
Rancilio Silvia
Dimensions/Weight
13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 inches/30.8 lb
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Heating System
Single Boiler
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/3 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 L/None
Filter
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$900.00
More Info

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Dual Boiler Vs Rancilio Silvia: Differences

The showdown ended with a score of 4-1 in favor of the Dual Boiler. Stick with me, and I’ll walk you through the differences between these two espresso contenders!

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Built-in Grinder

These machines don’t have integrated grinders. Well, it means we need to partner them with a top-notch grinder unless you are happy with settling for pre-ground coffee forever.

My advice here is just never skimp on the grinder. You don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on an espresso machine only to pair it with a bad grinder, right?

Breville’s Dual Boiler comes in a bundle with the Smart Grinder Pro – yes, also from Breville. Rancilio also offers a bundle, including the Rancilio Silvia and its own grinder. Believe it or not, this bundle is sometimes actually cheaper than buying one by one.

Dosing & Tamping

The Dual Boiler is equipped with a 58mm portafilter of commercial quality, and it includes both single- and double-wall filter baskets. Meanwhile, the Rancilio Silvia also includes a 58mm portafilter but just two single-wall filter baskets – frankly, I have rarely seen such an impressive portafilter come with a home espresso machine.

In case you don’t know, dual-wall filter baskets are more forgiving and user-friendly for beginners or for those using pre-ground coffee. They compensate for inconsistencies in grind size and tamping, making it easier to achieve a decent shot of espresso. 

On the other hand, those who want more control over the extraction process or experienced baristas typically favor single-wall baskets. They can produce a richer and more flavorful espresso, but they require a good-quality grinder and some skill to use effectively.

Let’s talk tampers! If I had a dime for every time a tamper included with an espresso machine let me down, I’d probably have enough to buy a fancy coffee in a swanky café. More often than not, these tampers are just plastic things that barely do the job.

Fortunately, their tampers actually deserve a round of applause. I’m talking tampers that are heavy, solid, have comfortable handles, and have just the right weight distribution. Other manufacturers, please take note!

Heating System 

The Dual Boiler by Breville lives up to its name with not one but two boilers. It’s like Breville couldn’t resist pointing out this feature, and who can blame them? Anyway, the Dual Boiler can steam milk while pulling an espresso shot.

On the other hand, the Rancilio Silvia is a single-boiler machine. This means you’ll have to be a bit patient, as making espresso and steaming milk can’t happen at the same time.

The Rancilio Silvia doesn’t have a PID controller, so getting familiar with this one takes time and patience, and, I won’t lie, a bit of trial and error. You must learn how to temperature surf to achieve convincing results.

What’s temperature surfing, you ask? Well, it’s all about flushing the group head just before pulling shots to reach the ideal brewing temperature. It might sound like rocket science at first, but don’t worry! With a bit of practice, you’ll be temperature surfing with the Silvia as naturally as brushing your teeth. Well, almost!

Brewing System

The Dual Boiler has pre-infusion, while the Rancilio Silvia doesn’t! We all know that this step dampens the coffee grounds under low pressure before brewing, leading to a more well-rounded espresso shot.

The Dual Boiler even enables you to tweak the pressure, temperature, and even the duration of the pre-infusion stage. What a great room to experiment!

Now you know the Rancilio Silvia lacks the pre-infusion function, but there’s a clever workaround. Just turn the steam wand valve a quarter turn, and then hit the coffee switch to move most of the pressure away from the machine’s group head. Wait for your desired pre-brew time to pass, then close the steam valve, and full-pressure extraction begins.

Design & Convenience

Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Dimensions & User Interface

Breville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Dimensions20.1 x 17.2 x 17.2 inches13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 inches
Weight30 lbs30.8 lb

The Dual Boiler is like the Hulk of the espresso machine world – big, bulky, and demanding ample space. The  Rancilio Silvia is more compact, fitting snugly into the tighter spaces of your kitchen counter. But despite the Rancilio Silvia’s smaller stature, it tips the scales a bit heavier than the Dual Boiler.

The Dual Boiler features a simple and straightforward control panel highlighted by a large pressure gauge at its centre, which helps you dial in your shots. Plus, it features a small digital LCD screen on the left, providing real-time information about your brew.

the breville dual boiler's control panel
The Breville Dual Boiler’s control panel

As for the Rancilio Silvia, there are several switches dedicated to espresso, hot water, and steam functions. On its right side, it features a pleasingly substantial dial for operating the steam wand. And that’s the entirety of its setup!

the rancilio silvia's control panel
The Rancilio Silvia’s control panel

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Breville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches3 inches

If you’ve ever played around with super-automatic espresso machines, you’ll remember how the espresso dispenser can be moved up and down to accommodate different cup sizes. With these machines, you don’t have this adjustability. 

But don’t worry, you won’t face any trouble fitting a standard espresso cup under their portafilters. The only time you might encounter a hiccup is when you’re trying to fit a giant travel mug under there. But you can always remove the drip tray for more cup room.

And when I’m on the cup topic, they have roomy cup warming trays on top, giving enough room for some espresso cups or glasses. The Dual Boiler can even be programmed to start and heat automatically, so by the time you shuffle into the kitchen, your cups are already warm and waiting for toasty drinks.

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Water Reservoir2.5 liter2 liter
Bean HopperNoneNone

Given that the Dual Boiler is so giant, the fact that it didn’t have a giant water tank would have made me roll my eyes in surprise, but that didn’t happen. This one has one of the largest water tanks, and you can easily refill it through a slot on top of the machine.

the top slot for refilling
The top slot for refilling

Additionally, the Dual Boiler features a small window on the front, allowing you to easily monitor the water level at a glance. If you need to remove the tank to clean it, that’s when its roller system comes in. It also comes with a water filter to ensure the removal of impurities that could potentially alter the taste of your coffee. See? Breville is serious about this workhorse!

the water-checking window
The water-checking window

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Tie

These machines are equipped with professional-grade steam wands mounted on ball joints, allowing you to swivel and angle the pitcher just how you like it. Oh, pitcher, right, it’s part of the deal, already included with your purchase.

manual steam wands
Manual steam wands

And even if you aren’t an artist of latte art, with a bit of trial and error, you can still whip up lovely textured microfoam with such wands at the end of the day. I guess your friends might just start wondering if you’ve secretly been attending barista school on the weekends.

Drink Options & Programmability

Winner: Breville Dual Boiler

Drink Options

Breville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Espresso
Hot Water
Espresso
Hot Water

In addition to one-touch espresso, of course, you can also get hot water from these machines. The Dual Boiler features a dedicated hot water spout located next to its steam wand, whereas the Rancilio Silvia’s steam wand also serves as a hot water outlet.

If you ask me, I like that the hot water comes from a separate outlet. This separation ensures that there’s no cross-contamination with milk residue, which is especially important for those who want to use hot water for making tea or other drinks where milk residue would be undesirable.

Programmability

Adjustable SettingsBreville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Coffee StrengthYesNo
Coffee TemperatureYesNo
Milk Foam TemperatureYesNo
Milk Foam TextureNoNo

Unlike the Rancilio Silvia, the Dual Boiler lets you tweak various settings, such as the shot volume, water temperature, and pre-infusion times. And as I mentioned before, you can program it to automatically turn on at a specified time.

the dual boiler allows you to adjust brewing temperature, shot volume, pre-infusion, etc.
The Dual Boiler allows you to adjust brewing temperature, shot volume, pre-infusion, etc.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Dual Boiler

Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Machine BES920XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Please refer to user guide or user manual or user guide (provided below in PDF) before first use

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Dual boilers.
  • The water tank is large and easy to refill.
  • Powerful steam wand.
  • Comes with a professional-grade portafilter.
  • Intuitive control panel.
Cons
  • No built-in grinder.
  • Bulky.

Quick Rundown Of Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
602 Reviews
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, 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 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • High-quality build.
  • Compact footprint.
  • Powerful steam wand.
  • Large water tank.
  • Easy to use.
Cons
  • No PID controller.
  • One boiler.

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References

5/5 - (3 votes)