Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia: Is There a Clear Winner?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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When it comes to choosing an espresso machine that's a step up from a beginner model, many folks find themselves encountering the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia debate.

When it comes to choosing an espresso machine that’s a step up from a beginner model, many folks find themselves encountering the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia debate.

As it happens, I adore both these machines, so don’t expect me to pick a winner today. However, seeing as I’ve used both models extensively, I feel like I can give you a balanced comparison. So, without further ado, let’s get this Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia discussion started!

Overview: Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia

I suppose the first thing to bring up in this Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia article is the difference in price between the two machines. Costing $900.00, the Rancilio Silvia is substantially more expensive than the $479.00 Gaggia Classic Pro.

So, if you have a limited budget, the Classic Pro will be a more attractive option. Then again, those for whom money isn’t as tight should keep reading. That said, do remember you’ll need to invest in a decent burr grinder to go with either of these two coffee machines.

1Product List Image

Extremely reliable

Durable construction

Easy to use

2Product List Image

High-quality build

Small footprint

Sleek, minimalist design

Aside from the price consideration, the Classic Pro and Silvia are remarkably similar in most ways. Both are traditional single boiler home espresso machines without fancy features like PID controllers and pre-infusion. In other words, these are very different from Breville espresso machines.

With that said, most people opt for the Gaggia Classic Pro or Rancilio Silvia espresso machine because they demand a more involved and hands-on experience.

Sure, both machines come replete with quirks and involve somewhat of a steep learning curve, but if you relish a challenge that’ll float your boat. Most importantly, both the Classic Pro and Silvia are capable of producing truly exceptional espresso and milk foam.

In many ways these could be considered prosumer espresso machines. Especially given the fact that they come with professional-style 58mm portafilters. Ultimately, there’s a good reason these machines have been around for so long and are so popular with true home espresso nerds.

Design and Build Quality

In terms of how they look, the Gaggia Classic Pro and Rancilio Silvia share a similar design aesthetic. Both machines have a boxy, utilitarian look which you’ll either love or find unappealing. Personally, I’m a huge fan. In fact, I’d say these Italian espresso machines will look great in any kitchen. Plus, neither will take up much counter space.

To be honest, I prefer the design of the Rancilio Silvia – there’s just something about it that exemplifies the Italian knack for blending form and function.

Gaggia Classic Pro Overview
Rancilio Silvia overview

Both machines feature pretty minimalist user interfaces, employing rocker switches and rotary knobs. And while there’s plenty of rugged metal housing on display, I’d say the Silvia coffee machine feels more premium. After all, the Gaggia’s plastic drip tray definitely betrays the fact that the manufacturer cut corners to keep the price low.

Then again, I remember hating the Rancilio Silvis’s drip tray during my testing – it’s way too small and fits awkwardly into the machine.

Elsewhere, both machines have water tanks that can be filled from above. However, the Classic Pro makes it easier on you in that the reservoir can also be removed from the front. So, big points for Gaggia on that front.

Ease of Use

As I already mentioned in this Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia post, both machines require a decent amount of trial and error. In other words, don’t expect to unbox either the Classic Pro or Silvia and start pulling the perfect espresso right away.

Sure, setting up the machines is relatively straightforward, but after that you’ll have to learn about temperature surfing. That’s because both are single boiler machines. So, when you’re switching between espresso preparation and milk steaming the boiler will need to compensate for the different temperature required for each process.

In terms of the time required, you’ll have to wait 90 seconds for the Silvia to reach milk steaming temperature after pulling a shot. And that’s far from ideal. On the other hand, the Gaggia can switch between brewing and steaming in just 30 seconds, which is more acceptable.

Still, you’ll need to learn about the somewhat erratic temperature fluctuations on both machines to get the best results. 

Steam Power

There can be no doubt that the Rancilio silvia comes out on top when considering both machines’ steam wands. During my testing I was extremely impressed by the amount of steaming power the Silvia can generate. What’s more, the steam wand itself is ball joint-mounted and feels very durable.

Unfortunately, the Gaggia Classic Pro can’t compete. Sure, its steam power is more than good enough for creating silky microfoam. However, the wand itself feels rather flimsy and doesn’t rotate 360 degrees.

I’ll admit that steaming milk with the Gaggia feels a little awkward, but this is far from a dealbreaker. Once you get used to how the steam wand moves, you won’t really have any major issues.

Espresso Quality

If you’ve made it this far into my Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia article you’ll know that both models are capable of producing cafe-quality espresso. That said, the shots I tasted from the Rancilio Silvia may have been a little more complex. Plus, the machine’s superior temperature stability means it’s easier to maintain shot consistency.

Rancilio Silvia Espresso

On the other hand, I remember having to use my own filter basket to achieve truly excellent espresso. Turns out the double shot basket included with the machine is a little too small.

As for the Gaggia Classic Pro, I struggled with temperature issues during my testing, which was pretty frustrating. Plus, the model I bought was set to 15 bars of pressure, which isn’t great for espresso brewing. 

In the past you’d have to install a spring kit to modify the brew pressure, but Gaggia has since launched the much-anticipated Evo Pro. This model is set to 9 bars at the factory, which makes it a huge improvement. Incidentally, you can easily modify the pressure on the Silvia without having to buy a mod kit.

Incidentally, neither machine has a pre-infusion function, which might seem strange. After all, being ankle to slightly dampen the espresso puck under low pressure is integral to achieving a good extraction.

Fortunately, you’re able to manually pre-infuse with both machines using a well-known hack. It’s simply a case of opening the steam valve before starting the extraction, which draws pressure away from the group head. After a few seconds, simply close the steam valve and extraction under full pressure will begin.

Mods

Gaggia Classic Pro User Interface
Rancilio Silvia User Interface front

Thanks to the straightforward and minimalist design of both the Classic Pro and Silvia, espresso geeks have coveted both machines for decades. Still, the aforementioned issues with temperature control and pressure have always been a thing with these coffee machines.

It’s no surprise, then, that aftermarket mods are widely available. Seriously, you can pimp out either machine with PID controllers, shot timers and all kinds of other nerdy stuff.

If you’re leaning toward the Rancilio Silvia, you should also know that the manufacturer offers a more sophisticated version in the form of the Rancilio Silvia Pro X. This baby sports an adjustable PID controller, pressure gauge, shot timer and soft pre-infusion function. Then again, you’ll have to shell out a whopping $1,990.00 for the privilege.

Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia Comparison Chart

Gaggia Classic ProRancilio Silvia
Manufacturer

Gaggia

Rancilio

Model number

RI9380/46

HSD-SILVIA

Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Black, Chrome, White

Matte Black, Matte White, Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

71.0 fl oz / 2.1 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.3 in / 8.4 cm

3.0 in / 7.6 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

No

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1450 W

1100 W

Weight

18.7 lb / 8.5 kg

30.8 lb / 14.0 kg

Dimensions

14.2 x 9.5 x 8.0 in
36.1 x 24.1 x 20.3 cm

13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 in
33.8 x 29.0 x 23.4 cm

Warranty

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: Tamper, Coffee scoop, 4 x Filter baskets, Instruction manual.

Included Accessories: Coffee scoop, tamper, 2 x filter baskets, user manual. Pod adapter available, sold separately.

Current price on Amazon

$479.00

$900.00

Gaggia Classic ProRancilio Silvia
Manufacturer

Gaggia

Rancilio

Model number

RI9380/46

HSD-SILVIA

Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Black, Chrome, White

Matte Black, Matte White, Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

71.0 fl oz / 2.1 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.3 in / 8.4 cm

3.0 in / 7.6 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

No

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1450 W

1100 W

Weight

18.7 lb / 8.5 kg

30.8 lb / 14.0 kg

Dimensions

14.2 x 9.5 x 8.0 in
36.1 x 24.1 x 20.3 cm

13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 in
33.8 x 29.0 x 23.4 cm

Warranty

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: Tamper, Coffee scoop, 4 x Filter baskets, Instruction manual.

Included Accessories: Coffee scoop, tamper, 2 x filter baskets, user manual. Pod adapter available, sold separately.

Current price on Amazon

$479.00

$900.00

Final Thoughts: Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia

As I told you at the start of this article, I have no intention of taking sides in the ongoing Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia debate. After all, both are exceptional espresso machines with individual strengths and weaknesses.

That said, I would recommend the Silvia to those who want a superior steam wand for creating latte art. Plus, with its larger boiler, I feel like the Rancilio machine is a tad more powerful and versatile on all fronts.

On the other hand, the Gaggia Classic Pro represents stupid good value for money, and the new Evo Pro has taken things to a new level in terms of performance. Whichever machine you choose, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

To find out more, check out my Rancilio Silvia review and my Gaggia Classic Pro review.

Where do you stand in the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia debate? I look forward to your comments!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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