We’re here really fans of the original Gaggia Classic. We can also safely claim so as many people also love this machine. So we were very keen to get our Gaggia Classic Pro review out. Also known as the Gaggia Classic 2019 coffee machine.
The original Gaggia classic machine was made in Italy. It had the iconic three-way solenoid valve. All brass group and a full-sized portafilter of 58mm, and was built to last for a long time.
This is proven by the fact that we are still in 2021 yet so many of the original classics sold pre 2009 are still going strong. It really was a tough piece of machine for the money could get.
- Rugged Brushed Stainless Steel housing
- Commercial three-way solenoid valve. Capacity water tank - 2,1 liter
- Commercial-style 58mm chrome-plated brass portability and brew group
- Commercial steam wand. Rotating steam want movement type
- Easy-to-use rocker switch controls
Evolution of gaggia classic pro espresso machine
Originally released in 1991, the Classic model was an astonishingly popular home espresso machine. The buzz remained largely unchanged and Gaggia was correct to stay on “why fix what is not broken?” belief. Until 2009 when Phillips took it over and things started to change.
When we say the new classic model is way better than the old classic model, we’re not speaking about the original pre-2009 Classic machine.
We’re referring to the versions released after 2009 and up until the new 2019 classic model, and especially the 2015’s model. Actually, the Gaggia classic 2015 coffee maker was similar to the Gaggia Coffee. That was a divergent espresso model from Gaggia which was sold with a mechanical valve.
We are not sure why Gaggia didn’t call this one the new Gaggia Coffee. Also, they could have kept it as a little lower cost option compared to the new Gaggia Classic Pro, we think it would have sold well. The one thing this comparatively inexpensive espresso-making machine was lacking a proper steam wand.
But post-2009, things started to change. They messed up and unnecessarily experimented with a machine that most loyal customers agree didn’t have to be messed with. This came to a head with their 2015 model release.
The version had push buttons instead of rocker-type switches. A mechanical valve instead of the traditional 3-way solenoid valve. Also a couple of plastic bits instead of metal, lower power intake, and a panarello style steam wand that was more difficult to modify. Then finally in 2019, they released classic Pro. An improvement among the best semi-automatic entry-level espresso machines available in the market.
Gaggia Classic Pro Review : Key Features
We know it may look strange to declare a conclusive statement of an article towards the beginning. But we thought this may be good for anyone who just needed to quickly check out what we think. So, overall, these are the key features from our Gaggia Classic Pro review to help you make up your mind.
And that is, in our humble opinion, it is not just as good, but wait, it’s even better! Then the highly cheered original Gaggia classic model. To quickly answer why we’ve come to this decision. We’ll get into the details below. But in a nutshell:
- It has used a 3-way solenoid valve. It was one of the fantastic things about the original model. But it also has the factory-fitted, professional steam wand.
- In about 45 seconds it heats up.
- There is a drip tray of a lower profile that is now available. It has made it easier to see the water level in the water tank. We think this is just a perfect rounding off of the front of the orthodox drip tray which makes the new classic more pleasing aesthetically.
The new version of the 2019 Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine, on the face of it, looks pretty similar to the previous models. The drip tray’s front edge is rounded off. We think it is a good move. It’s only a small touch nonetheless but we think it makes the model look slightly more modernistic. It has an anti-burn cover on the pressure overflow pipe. As well as the new steam wand of the pro model.
On the side of the metal framework, the model has a slight cut-out. It offers another way to look at the water tank level. Again we think is a clever change.
The coffee and steam buttons have interchanged their positions. It may throw you off a bit at first if you are used to the older versions. Other than these little details, it’s very familiar in appearance the Gaggia Classic.
The Solenoid Valve Is Back
Some of their models, including the more recent release of 2015, had a mechanical valve rather than the 3-way solenoid valve.
Actually, switching to the mechanical valve was a sensible move on paper.
Although they’re not as stout, they actually need less maintenance than the solenoid valves. If you reside in an area with harder water, it’s a bit more vital to keep on top of your descaling routine with a machine that has a solenoid valve instead of a mechanical valve.
But, the fans spoke out. They wanted the strength of the good old-fashioned solenoid. And Gaggia obliged.
Actually, the newer solenoid valve is a little smaller than the older versions. But we’re told that it’s just as stout, and that size won’t be a problem.
Anodized Aluminum Boiler
Gaggia as in the 2015 classic featured version has a larger 200ml vs 130ml in size. The boiler was made of stainless steel. But the new 2018/19 released version has gone back to a smaller aluminum-made boiler. So far we can testify, the boilers on the classic pro is anodized aluminum.
We’ve found this hard to get a definite answer on. But we believe it is indeed anodized. Meaning there’s a layering to ensure that the water in the aluminum boiler isn’t coming into head-on contact with the aluminum.
One thing to mention, though, is that if you do reside in an area where water is harder, it is vital to keep on top of the descaling process.
This isn’t just to take care of the machine. But in theory, the limescale can create pitting on the boiler’s surface. Theoretically, this can cause harm to the coating over time. By allowing the water to be in direct contact with the aluminum.
Another word of caution is to ensure that you are using a proper descaling substance. Some folks use different types of descaler not knowing the exact choice mentioned by the makers. Thus it can also damage this layering.
Gaggia has created a descaler which is made exclusively for their domestic models. So it’s worthwhile picking that one. Or at least contact them to find out if the descaler you are going to use is compatible and won’t cause any damage to the machine.
Faster Warm-Up Time
One of the positives of the smaller aluminum boiler vs a stainless steel larger boiler which previous models have used is that the new Classic Pro warms up faster at around 45 seconds mark. We are assuming that the increased power also helps in this regard.
Smaller Boiler But Enough Steam Power
The larger size of the boiler the more it would naturally provide steam power. But actually, we are impressed with the level of steam power on this new classic. All you have to do is just begin the steaming. After around 7 to 8 seconds from switching on the steam, the machine can indicate that the steam is ready. You’ll have a lot of steam power to accurately texture enough milk for serving one or two milkies.
The New Professional Steam Wand
One of the reasons we think this version is better than the previous ones as it comes with a factory-fitted proper and professional steam wand.
For us, a machine that comes with a panarello wand is an obvious standard domestic espresso model.
Home baristas demand full control over the steam. For creating a wide selection of different drinks, and not just a thick cup of cappuccino foam that a panarello will be capable of.
The new steam wand does look similar to the steam wand of Rancilio that people have been operating to mod their Classic cups over the years. But the biggest divergence is that it has a couple of holes tip as opposed to a single holed steam tip.
Having the idea of more than one steam hole is the reason why it helps the milk to get spinning. In that way, it distributes the micro-foam evenly over the milk.
The Water Tank
There is not much to brag about on the water tank against the other models. It’s the same 2.1L large-capacity water tank.
The thing to note here is that we did often find it hard to tell by looking at the tank what the level was. Maybe due to the lighting in our test setup.
The new metal frame design consists of cutouts on the edge. Enabling you to check out the water level in there too. It is we believe indeed a nice little touch.
The new classic model comes with both single baskets and pressurized baskets.
So if you have no engrossment in acquiring the home barista syndrome, and you need to simply purchase pre-grounded coffee rather than to also purchase a grinder and grind your own coffee beans. Then you’d better use the perfect crema pressurized baskets. It will help you to achieve better outcomes from pre-grounded coffee.
If you may think of yourself to be a home barista. In that case, you want to do everything all by yourself. Including grinding the coffee beans, spending the time for each bean to dial in the grind before dosing, and tamping your preferred coffee into the portafilter. In such a case, you would go with the non-pressured standard baskets.
Actually, it’s a good idea to keep the perfect crema baskets for when someone gives you pre-grounded coffee as a gift. So you can at least utilize it if you ever run out of coffee beans.
You may just be thinking of buying the classic version; purely because you want to have a great espresso machine. And you have no interest in go through a new hobby.
In that case, you should go for the pressurized baskets. Just ensure you don’t lose small pin of the pressure basket. It will be in the bag with the baskets. Until for a rainy day put the standard baskets away.
Key Technical Specifications
- Frother – The Gaggia Classic Pro is almost foolproof. There are only three switches and a dialer to turn the milk frother on and off.
- Size and Spaceing – This largely plastic-free model is compact as its housing wrapped with brushed stainless steel. If you don’t have ample counter space in your kitchen, and while you still have to have a grinder, we’ve found it way easier to have this small model along with the grinder.
- Power and Pressure – Attributes that make this a recommendable device are the 15 bars of pressure, and 1450 watts of power. Basically, it is equivalent to the Breville Barista Pro model. Our favorite close competitor espresso machine against Gaggia in this case.
- Solenoid Valve – The three-way valve of the solenoid does a great job stopping pressure from building up in the group head. It keeps things a lot cleaner.
- Steam Wand – The steam wand of the machine is not specifically special one way or another. But wait, that is a good thing, to be honest. After switching off the group head valve, turn on the steam valve. Wait for the indicator light to turn on. Blow out any stuck in water inside the chamber. Turning the valve in one direction draws it and upends the pressure. Going in the reverse direction eases and switches it off. Again, do make sure to turn off the group head valve (the middle switch on the machine) before starting up the frother (the right switch).
- Warming Plate – Also on top, a more or less standard quality warming plate is available. A full-sized 58mm portafilter with non-pressurized and pressurized baskets (the former for pre-grounded pods or espresso), and a drip tray of stainless steel with an easy-to-remove reservoir available for collecting spillage and overflow.
Essentially you’ve got almost everything you require and nothing of you don’t in this model. This is accurately what you expect with an espresso machine that’s worth consuming your counter space. Something we should all have a little more in our life.
How To Use gaggia classic pro
Setup And Brewing Process
- Cleaning the Water Tank – The Gaggia Classic Pro arrives more or less set up for the user. Just make sure to clean the reservoir with soap water before fitting it into place in the base of the unit. You can either pour from the top or detach it to fill. Pick that is much more convenient for you.
- Warming Up The Machine – Before you get started preparing your shot, make sure to switch the power button on. This gets your machine ready. But if you put down the portafilter during this time, it’ll be warmed up, too. Espresso can be sour when it’s prepared cold. If the blistering water from the boiler touches the cold portafilter, it can cause funky stuff to your brew.
- Fit The Portafilter Basket – The next step is to insert the basket with the type of coffee you like (freshly ground, pre-ground, and/or ESE pod). Just ensure that you will be utilizing the little plastic riser piece only if you are going to go with one of the pressurized baskets.
- Grinding – Once your portafilter is set to go, start grinding your coffee (if you’re grinding by yourself) and load it up in the basket. Please remember, tamping and grind size are two key parts. Having your coffee grounds somewhere between the consistency of flour and table salt is a good rule of thumb to follow. But what worked well with one roast or even batch may not good enough with the next. So be open to some experimentation. The same goes for the brewing duration. Simply give it a good enough even tamping pressure. Also, it’s more crucial that you spread your grounds evenly throughout the basket.
- Brewing – Between almost 25 to 35 seconds of brewing should be good enough. But a 35 seconds brewing might almost incinerate one kind of coffee, it could be just perfect for another kind. Play around with your coffee and machine to find the information and balance. This should be part of your learning process, after all.
- Observe – Lock in your portafilter into the brew head. If the light underneath the brew switch is on, that indicates the machine is ready to go. Flip it, and find delight in the caramel-colored liquid that offhandedly runs in two evenly perfect streams into your demitasse/cup. If the coffee stream is but a slow drip it means that your coffee grind size for that particular bean is either too fine, or you have rammed it with way too much vigor. Pro tip: use a demitasse or a small measuring cup with measurements on it. So that you can see how much of the removal you like. You want an evenly colored, steady trickle.
The Frothing Procedure
Our favorite topic about the Gaggia Classic Pro model, especially when in comparison with similar machines, is that you can manually adjust the steaming wand using the knob. On some other machines, such as the Breville Barista Express, the steam is either off or on. And the ON produces a high-pitched shriek that’s remindful of a squealing swine. If you are having guests, you can only imagine the nightmarish glares once they hear it from the machine somehow. This attribute, we might add, is especially nifty for frothing different kinds of milk. Which all have their own boiling points and consistencies. But here are the steps we’ve found best for frothing:
- After switching on the steam wand, wait 6 – 8 seconds to warm up the wand and then purge.
- Keep the wand handle straight to 3 o’clock angle.
- Angle the steam wand left of your milk jug’s spout.
- Now tilt the jug face towards you/the user. Keep the entire jug 2 o’clock-wise from your direction.
- Better to fill half of the jug with milk.
- Make sure to dip the wand tip just below the milk’s surface.
- Let the steam wand do it’s magic.
- At the end clean the wand and purge.
This, Gaggia Classic Pro semi automatic espresso machine is indeed a real, bona fide of an espresso machine. You can’t forget to turn it off. If you definitely don’t want to have steam and the brew switches on at the same time. But it is just generic responsibility of having a professional-grade machine. You’ll surely get used to that. The sleeping barista within you will get better for it.
Working With The Steam Wand
When it comes to the steam wand, you’re confined to working with particular angles. As well as purging it of extra water needs either awkwardly placing your glass under or twiddling it around. So that it divulges into the drip reservoir. Overall, not that much of a big deal.
Jagged Hazardous Edges
The single important issue that we have experienced with the Gaggia Classic Pro and their original model before it, is that the housing of stainless steel has unfinished corners. It leaves jagged hazardous edges. Our observation period for the time being showed that we’ve missed locking in the portafilter. And jammed the thumb right into one of the jagged corners. Taking a nice little bite out of our knuckles. If you remain a little more careful or get used to handling the machine then you’ll be fine. However, it is still worth mentioning and minding.
The Plastic Tamp
Lastly, our latest inspection of the Gaggia Classic Pro review found out an undersized plastic tamp. It feels a bit cheap on the brand’s behalf. Given they have previously made a pretty stainless steel one. We suggest that you go for a proper 58mm tamper that fits the machine’s portafilter. It will make tamping easier and even.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a volatile machine when put in comparison with a machine like the Breville Barista Express. But if you are interested to learn how to play with a real espresso maker, and you also have a quality burr grinder or not supported by an all-in-one coffee maker for any reason, this is a powerful but compact machine that will grant you well. At the same time, it will last with the best of them.
- 3-way solenoid valve for comfort.
- Robust, modern, stainless-steel design.
- Easy to use yet offers a learning experience.
- Commercial-grade attributes for better coffee.
- Compatible with ESE pods and coffee grounds.
- No-nonsense espresso machine at a more economical price.
- User needs time to learn.
- Relies upon internal pressure normalization.
- Forthing wand is not stout enough for microfoam.
- Lacks PID to sway temperature for prime extraction.
- Single boiler needs switching between steaming and brewing.
From the Gaggia Classic Pro review, we can declare, it has both gotten some major internal surgery and a facelift. Honestly, all of these steps are great. At the same time, it’s still the trusty and old espresso maker that has won over so many fans’ hearts over the years.
With appropriate care, it should span over a decade or two. If you can’t mend it by yourself, look for your local espresso technicians.
While the above factors are great, it’s beginning to appear evident that other brand makers are way more advanced tech-wise. Nowadays, almost the same price range as the Gaggia, you can buy Breville coffee machines with PID.
In the same way, specialty coffee making has pushed manual brewing at the forefront. Espresso technology has also developed and altered. Stuff like pre-infusion, single dosing, temperature profiling, naked portafilters, and so on are establishing as mainstream features. To become a “Pro” rather than a “Classic,” you must have to incorporate and support such changes.
With enough patient and time, you can make a contemporary espresso with the Gaggia Classic Pro. But the focus here is to take that effort and time. It is not just a case of plug-and-play. But if you do possess the patience as well as interested in a new hobby, this is still indeed an excellent coffee machine for peeps who like brands with a famed history.