Gaggia’s $449 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is a little improvement to the brand’s initial consumer-level espresso machine, but that’s only because it wasn’t necessary.
We’ve had no problems with this machine in almost four years with minimal maintenance. If you’re serious about learning how to make decent espresso at home, pair it with a nice burr grinder and you’ll be well on your way to mastering how to dial in a shot and get the most out of your freshly ground beans.
This is the machine for individuals who are serious about the art of espresso making.
Gaggia is a household name in the world of espresso machines, and there’s a reason for that: these machines create excellent coffee.
The new Classic Pro contains the same brew head and portafilter as the previous model, which Gaggia also uses in commercial espresso machines, as well as a three-way solenoid valve that purges any leftover steam or water after the machine has been turned off. This helps maintain pressure and temperature consistent while also preventing any stored steam or water in the chamber from burning your coffee. A frame that allows you to see how much water is left in the reservoir, a small silicone grip on the purge valve and the frother, and a simple on/off switch and light setup are all minor but welcome additions.
This, combined with an improved boiler that is better secured inside the machine and is a little quieter, makes for one tough espresso maker that gives you a lot of control over how your shot turns out. You won’t be able to control temperature or pressure like you can with a $5,000 machine like the La Marzocco Linea Mini, but this is your chance to make the switch from an automatic to a manual; it’s time to have some real, unrestricted fun.
The Gaggia Classic Pro’s design
This machine looks like it belongs on your grandfather’s kitchen counter, and he might have one; Gaggia has been creating professional-quality espresso machines for the home since 1977, when they released the Gaggia Baby.
The Classic Pro features a classic aesthetic thanks to its brushed stainless steel finish. It’s not much bigger than a pod machine and only slightly more expensive. However, it lacks a built-in burr grinder, which can be costly and inconvenient if purchased separately. In fact, if you’re planning to buy an espresso machine of this size, double the counter space you’ve set aside to accommodate a grinder.
The wraparound stainless steel frame has some sharp, exposed edges, and if you’re ever bleary-eyed and trying to fit your portafilter into the brew head early (or late) in the day, you might slip and lose a little chunk of your knuckle. Nonetheless, as I have, you will learn to avoid them.
This machine is nearly impregnable. To turn the frother on and off, there are merely three two-way switches and a dial.
The Classic Pro features a decent 1450 watts of power and 15 bars of pressure (equal to the Breville Barista Pro, our top two-in-one espresso machine in our entire guide), as well as a three-way solenoid valve that keeps the group head clean by preventing pressure from building up. Taking the portafilter out too soon without the latter can result in a scorching shower of soggy espresso grounds. When you complete pulling a shot (that is, when you turn off the center switch), you should see a small amount of water running from the purge valve to the left of the group head.
The steam wand isn’t anything remarkable, which is a good thing. Turn off the group head valve, turn on the steam valve, wait for the light to come on, blow out any extra water in the chamber (ideally over the machine’s drain reservoir), and you’re done. Turning the valve one way engages it and raises the pressure, while turning it the other way relaxes it and turns it off. We’ve discovered that the more intricate a frother is, the less likely we are to use it, and while there are plenty of fancy ones out there, all you really need is strong pressure from a powerful machine.
A warming plate (which is pretty usual), a full-sized 58mm portafilter with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets (the latter for pre-ground espresso or pods), and a stainless steel drip tray with an easy-to-remove reservoir for collecting overflow and spillage round out the package.
In essence, you have everything you require and nothing you do not.
|Gaggia Carezza De LUXE||Gaggia Classic||Gaggia Classic Pro|
|3-Way Solenoid Valve||✓||✓|
|Reservoir Capacity||47 oz||72 oz||72 oz|
|ESE Pod Compatible||✓||✓||✓|
|Housing||Stainless Steel / ABS||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel|
|Frother Type||Pannarello Wand||Pannarello Wand||Commercial Wand|
The brewing and setup procedures
The Gaggia Classic Pro comes with everything you need to get started. Before putting the water reservoir into place in the machine’s base, make sure you clean it with soap.
Turn the power switch on before you start prepping your shot. This warms up the machine, but if you put the portafilter in at the same time, it will warm up as well. When espresso is produced cold, it can turn sour, and if the scorching water from the boiler hits a cold portafilter, it can mess up your brew.
After that, place the portafilter basket that corresponds to the type of coffee you’ll be using (pre-ground and/or ESE pod, or freshly ground). If you’re going to utilize one of the pressurized baskets, make sure to use the little plastic riser component.
Once the portafilter is ready, grind your coffee (if you’re doing it yourself) and fill the basket with it. Remember that grind size and tamping are two important factors. A decent rule of thumb is to get your grounds somewhere between the texture of flour and table salt, but keep in mind that what works for one roast may not work for another, so be ready to experiment. Apply some tamping pressure, but most importantly, evenly spread the grounds throughout the basket.
A brew time of 25 to 35 seconds should suffice; however, whereas 35 seconds may practically incinerate one sort of coffee, it may be just sufficient for another. Experiment with the settings on your system. After all, this should be part of the enjoyment.
If the light beneath the brew switch is on, your portafilter is locked into the brew head, and the machine is primed and ready. Flip it over and savor the caramel-colored tonic that pours into your demitasse in two wonderfully even streams. If the stream is only a sluggish drip, either your grind size (for that specific bean, remember) is too fine, or you’ve tamped it too hard. (To learn how much of an extraction you prefer, use a small measuring cup or a demitasse with measurements on it.) A continuous, even-colored drip is desired.
Also, remember to have some fun and experiment. Any skilled barista will tell you how much coffee they waste just to get their machines and beans set up properly in the morning. Jason Gonzalez, a two-time UK Cup Tasting Champion (and eighth in the World Cup Tasting Championship in 2013), once told me that he spends up to half an hour dialing shots every morning at his Burlington, Vermont espresso cafe Onyx Tonics.
The process of frothing
My favorite feature of the Gaggia Classic Pro, especially when compared to similar machines, is the manually adjustable steaming wand (using the knob, right of center in the image above). This feature comes particularly handy when frothing several types of milk, each of which has its own consistency and boiling point.
It’s also peaceful. Steam may be turned on or off on some machines, such as the Breville Barista Express, and “on” creates a high-pitched shriek.
For starters, you don’t want the brew and steam switches to be turned on at the same time, which is a component of having a professional-grade espresso machine. You’ll get used to it, and the blossoming barista inside of you will thank you.
The only drawback to the steam wand, which remains my favorite of any frother-equipped machine I’ve tried, is that it isn’t gimballed like the one on the Breville Barista Express. Working with certain angles is limited, and getting rid of excess water necessitates either uncomfortably placing a glass beneath or turning it around till it falls into the drip reservoir. Overall, it’s not a big deal.
The stainless steel housing on the Gaggia Classic Pro, like the original model before it, has unfinished corners, creating dangerously rough edges. I’ve been using the new Pro for a few months now, and twice I’ve forgotten to lock in the portafilter, and my thumb has gotten stuck in one of those corners, biting my knuckle. You’ll be alright if you’re a little more cautious than I am (which isn’t tough).
Finally, the most recent edition of this machine includes an undersized plastic tamp, which feels cheap considering the company formerly supplied a good stainless steel one. Spend the extra money on a quality 58mm tamper that fits this portafilter and makes tamping even and simple.
Compared with similar items
|Gaggia Classic Pro||Calphalon Temp iQ||Gaggia Carezza De LUXE||Rancilio Silvia||Gaggia Brera Super|
|Customer Rating||4.6 out of 5||4.4 out of 5||3.9 out of 5||4.3 out of 5||4.0 out of 5|
|Color||Polar White||Stainless||Silver||Stainless Steel||Silver|
|Item Dimensions||9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches||13.9 x 11.6 x 15.3 inches||11 x 8.3 x 11.8 inches||9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches||10 x 15.5 x 11.5 inches|
|Material||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Plastic||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel|
In comparison to something like the Breville Barista Express, the Gaggia Classic Pro is a temperamental machine, but if you want to learn how to use an espresso machine and either already have a good burr grinder or don’t want an all-in-one maker, this is a compact but powerful machine that will serve you well.
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