If you are looking for an espresso machine and don’t know where to start, still searching, or have some idea that it might be the Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine, you have come to the right place. Some tips about common usage and regular maintenance are listed below and easily accessible via the table of contents.
This machine requires manual work and some customers who own this unit claim that it is pretty much as manual as it can get. So if you want to brew, or learn to brew an espresso like a barista, this is where you start!
The Gaggia Classic is by far the more popular classic espresso machines even among coffee aficionados around the world. As such, Gaggia proudly touts this as one of its best selling prosumer models. For a lot of people, this is the entry level of choice.
One of the first things you will notice about the brand name is the name itself – Gaggia. If you guessed that it is the name of a person, you guessed right. The company itself was founded by Achille Gaggia in 1947 but he applied for a patent on the first steamless coffee machine 9 years earlier so he could use it commercially in his own shop. Today, Gaggia is owned by Saeco International Group, which in turn is under the electronics giant Philips. Today, Gaggia is one of the well-known and respected brands in coffee and espresso, making quality machines ranging from manual to super-automatic espresso machines.
This machine will fit on most kitchen countertops as it only measures 20cm (W) x 36cm (H) x 25cm (D) and weighs around 9kg. Although small and considered a good entry level barista-training level machine, this machine was built to last with commercial-grade construction using heavy-duty materials and a brushed stainless steel housing, making the unit versatile and rugged.
Water is poured into the 2l removable water reservoir on the top right part of the machine so even though the machine isn’t that big, make sure you have enough clearing at the top if you place the unit underneath kitchen cupboards. The other option is to remove the blow off tube (aka decompression duct) and the entire drip tray. Then, pull out the water reservoir each time, which could be a hassle.
The 15-BAR vibration pump and 100ml boiler are powered by 1425W; the brew boiler uses most of the energy at 1370W.
Regardless, 15 BARs is sufficient for espresso since that is the required pressure to bring the brewing process to about 10 BARs. Right about when the viscous espresso starts to flow, is when the pressure eases down to 9 or 9½ BARs.
Something worthy of note here:
…the heating element(s) is usually situated inside the boiler.
However, this unit uses two separate and external heating elements “wrapped” around the boiler resulting in more even heat distribution and less corrosion or calcification of the elements. Two heating elements are needed. This because they are not in contact with the water and one heating element may not heat the water fast enough, consistently, and to the required temperature.
The initial warm or heat up time takes about a minute, although Gaggia recommends giving it up to 7 minutes (including initial warm-up). During this time, you can grind your coffee beans with your separate grinder, gather your cup(s), milk, etc. But once the boiler is ready, it’s good to go.
The brew group is made of heavy-duty, marine-grade brass with chrome plating and has a three-way solenoid valve to accommodate immediate pressure release from the grouphead. So, once the espresso pull has ended, the portafilter can be removed from under the grouphead and the next espresso shot prepared.
The commercial-style portafilter itself is also made of the same heavy-duty brass material and chrome plating, giving you that “heavier” feel and further extending the heat stability. The portafilter measures 58mm and comes with the same size 58mm tamper, two commercial stainless steel filter baskets, and a coffee scoop. The machine is designed to deliver two shots at a time although one of the filters is for 1 cup or 1 ESE coffee pod.
Gaggia has replaced the old metal frothing wand with a new “Turbo-Frother” wand which has caused some mixed reviews. Some customers have said steaming is faster (due to more rapid insertion of air), drier, and easier to clean. Some others have found it makes huge bubbles and causes a lot of spluttering. Other customers have just simply opted to take out the turbo frother, which will make the wand shorter, but more usable.
Yes. All machines need regular maintenance, especially the higher end models. Gaggia recommends a full descaling every 2-3 months using their own branded descaler where the instructions are located right on the packet. However, this may vary depending on your water hardness level and usage frequency.
Now, do pay attention to this:
…because Gaggia explicitly states that warranty does not apply if the machine is damaged due to scale build up!
So be sure to follow those instructions.
Backflushing, different from descaling, is another topic that is important.
The Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine is a well-built, entry level espresso machine that will last a long time and help you along the way to become the barista you imagined. You will need a separate coffee bean grinder that produces a “fine espresso grind”, if you don’t have one already.
Here is a summary of the machine’s key features: