It’s a tale as old as time: You’re an espresso hobbyist who has taken that basic espresso machine to the boundaries of its abilities, and you’re ready for something more! With so many espresso machines on the market, it’s tough to decide which one is the right choice.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro and Breville Dual Boiler are two espresso machines that offer a valuable range of features like dual boilers, PID temperature control, and pre-infusion. However, they’re very distinct machines that will appeal to different markets. Before making the big decision, check out our detailed comparison.
|Rancilio Silvia Pro
|Breville Dual Boiler
|Yes (both boilers)
|Yes (espresso boiler and group head)
|Brass and Copper
|1 L steam boiler
.3 L brew boiler
|.95 L steam boiler
.3 L brew boiler
|Water Tank Capacity
|9.8 x 16.5 x 15.3 Inches
|14.1 x 14.6 x 14.7 Inches
Things To Know Before You Go Shopping
Before you start laying out cash for an espresso machine, there are a few important features we should talk about. These are features that are present in both the Rancilio Silvia Pro and the Breville Dual Boiler, so you can expect their benefits no matter which machine you choose.
These are also the incredible features that set these two espresso machines apart from other, lower-priced products on the market.
While only the Breville Dual Boiler spells it out right in the name, both of these espresso makers have dual boiler heating systems. This means that water is heated for brewing espresso in one boiler and for steaming milk or dispensing hot water in the other.
That’s a big deal for two reasons. First, it allows the user to steam milk and pull a high-quality shot of espresso simultaneously. Perhaps more importantly, it allows for the two boilers to heat to different temperatures.
Since a much higher temperature is needed to steam milk than to brew espresso, it eliminates the need to wait for your boiler to heat up before steaming milk or to cool down again before brewing another shot.
Both of these espresso machines are semi-automatic, which means that the user is in control of many elements of the shot, but other elements are automated. Unlike with a super-automatic espresso machine, you’ll need to grind your beans, dose and tamp your portafilter, and insert it into the machine. However, once that’s done, pulling the actual shot is as easy as pressing a button.
PID Temperature Control
A PID controller is a device that is used to control and maintain temperature. It keeps the temperature constant by making minute adjustments in response to constant temperature monitoring.
Espresso machines with a PID controller have more accurate and stable hot water temperatures than those without them.
Overview of the Rancilio Silvia Pro
The Rancilio Silvia Pro is Rancilio’s upgrade of the popular and well-established Silvia. While the Silvia has been much-loved by espresso fans since the 1990s, the Silvia Pro brings a lot of improvements to the table.
Just like the Silvia before it, the Rancilio Silvia Pro is handmade in Italy and sports a heavy-duty stainless steel body with a boxy construction.
As we mentioned above, the Silvia Pro is a dual boiler machine, which allows it to heat up in as little as 15 minutes and stay hot while pulling multiple shots back-to-back and even steaming milk and brewing espresso simultaneously.
To bypass even that brief heat-up time, use the auto-on feature, which allows you to program the machine to come on a certain number of hours in the future. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to program it to turn on when the clock strikes a specific hour each day.
Latte and cappuccino fans are in luck; the Rancilio Silvia Pro comes equipped with a commercial-grade stainless steel steam wand. It’s not an insulated steam wand, however, so be sure to watch your hands when whipping up a drink.
This espresso machine has a narrow footprint, under 10″ wide, so it doesn’t take up too much space on your counter.
Dual PID temperature control ensures that each boiler maintains a consistent temperature, leading to better extraction and steaming.
Who Is the Rancilio Silvia Pro Best For?
If you’re a fix-it type, the Rancilio Silvia Pro is a great choice for you. Since it uses commercial-grade parts, the components can be sourced and replaced as needed by the owner or a repair shop. This is a machine designed to be used for years, not thrown away when a part breaks or fails.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro will also appeal to espresso fanatics who are looking for upgraded features like a dual boiler and PID temperature control from a well-established and respected Italian brand.
What We Like:
- Solid, high-quality construction
- Dual PID for unparalleled temperature control
What We Don’t:
- The drip tray is small
- Auto-on feature is clunky and unintuitive
Overview of the Breville Dual Boiler
The Breville Dual Boiler, also known as the Sage Dual Boiler overseas, is a unique espresso machine that brings many features seen on high-end prosumer machines to the home barista at a lower cost.
While this is by no means a budget coffee machine, you get a lot for your money.
The stainless steel boilers on this espresso machine are outfitted with PID temperature control, keeping the temperature stable and consistent. The Breville Dual Boiler even has PID temperature control on the group head, which means that the temperature of the water is controlled all the way through the brewing process and right into your cup.
This machine has quite a few automatic and programmable features, making it convenient for the user. It features programmable low-pressure pre-infusion, which helps to develop the balanced flavors of your shot.
If you like the idea of pressing a button and letting the robot in your machine brew your espresso, there’s a button for that – just use the programmable single- and double-shot buttons on the front of the machine. Of course, there’s a manual brew button, too, for those who prefer to be in control.
The Breville Dual Boiler has a quick heat-up time of just about ten minutes, but you won’t have to wait at all for your first shot of the day if you use the automatic switch-on feature.
The stainless steel steaming wand rotates 360 degrees and is double-walled, so you’re unlikely to burn yourself while making a latte.
The design of the Breville Dual Boiler is in line with most other Breville appliances. It features rounded edges and a brushed stainless steel or matte black exterior. Many reviewers find that the stainless steel casing on this espresso machine feels thin or flimsy when compared to the tank-like structure of the Rancilio Silvia Pro, however.
While the BDB has a 2-year warranty, it isn’t designed to be handed down through the generations, as a Rancilio espresso maker might. Breville doesn’t make it easy to repair its appliances, and this machine doesn’t use commercial-grade components. Expect to get a few years out of this espresso machine, but don’t plan on passing it down to your grandkids.
Who Is the Breville Dual Boiler Best For?
The Breville Dual Boiler is a good choice for the espresso hobbyist that wants plenty of high-end features at a lower price. Consider this machine if you’re already familiar with espresso brewing and you want to level up with upgrades like a dual boiler, PID temperature control, and details like a pressure gauge and shot clock to help you pull a great shot of espresso.
Users who like a high level of programmability should also consider this espresso machine. The option for volumetric or timed shot control, programmable pre-infusion, and more give the user a high level of control.
What We Like:
- PID temperature control in both boilers and the group head provides excellent temperature stability
- Quick heat-up time
- Easily programmable, with volumetric or timed shot control
What We Don’t:
- Not designed for long-term repair by the user
- Looks and feels cheaper than the Rancilio Silvia Pro
Which Espresso Machine Should You Choose?
We hate to take the easy way out on this decision, but the truth is that either of these two excellent espresso machines can be the right choice, but for different audiences.
The Breville Dual Boiler is right for those who prefer a higher level of programmability and want many of the features of a prosumer machine, such as PID temperature control, dual boiler, and an excellent steaming wand, at a lower price. However, the trade-off is that this machine isn’t likely to last forever.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro, however, offers little to no automation, producing excellent espresso with a simple and time-honored design. What it lacks in convenience it makes up for with its rock-solid build quality, commercial-grade components, and the ability to repair and service it to guarantee a long life. If you’re in it for the long haul, consider choosing this machine.