Over the past few decades I have had several cheaper espresso machines (around and just above the £100 mark) and have gotten progressively more particular about my morning drink. While all of my earlier machines will eternally have a place in my heart, none of them ever produced for me the quality of espresso that the Classic delivers time and time again. I decided to go with Gaggia’s best selling baby on the momentum of countless positive reviews. This model has been going strong for decades and there is no end in sight. It is important to me to have a strong community of co-consumers as well as continued technical/mechanical support from the manufacturer on any large purchases that I make and with the Classic I have both of those. Besides that, it features engineering design on par with the price range.
Get a good portafilter basket if you can
This model wouldn’t have had such longevity if it didn’t last and work quite well. Mine only takes about 5 mins to reach brewing temperature but I always let it go a little bit long in addition to running hot water through the portafilter before I put my grounds in it just to make sure my coffee comes out piping it. Said portafilter’s size is one of the best features of this machine’s design because it is actually up to commercial standards at 58mm. But this does lead me to one slight annoyance. The Classic comes with pressurised portafilter baskets which take some of the real crafting out of the brewing process as well as lower the ceiling on your espresso’s final quality. You can get decent baskets for something like £5 but it seems silly to me that they didn’t include them in order to cater to more capable home baristas as well. Whatever, quality espresso requires extra effort right?
It makes quality espresso!
To elaborate further on making drinks with this machine, once you press the brew button you’ll have a hot cup of espresso in less than thirty seconds and it will have plenty of crema. This is a guarantee with locally roasted beans, a fine grind, and the proper tamp. I will admit, it took me about a week to get my skills up to snuff but now I proudly serve espressos and cappuccinos for guests with my Classic (treats I would never have offered with my old machines). This machine is best for someone who has the patience and time required to make quality espresso.
It is easy to clean as well
Aside from its brewing ability, the Classic has a few other design quarks to make your life a little easier. How important it was for me to find a machine with a water reservoir I can remove; luckily, Gaggia was thinking of me! It isn’t too tricky to pull out either and neither is the drip tray, though I wish that was metal instead of plastic. This model also has a cup warming surface on top which does get pretty fiery to the touch. As far as maintenance goes, the only thing you need to do to keep this machine running right is regular descaling; be careful not to back flush for it can damage the solenoid valve. This valve is near and dear to my heart because its job is to release the excess water directly into the drip tray so you have a dryer puck to empty from your portafilter. This machine is also E.S.E. pod compatible but I have never even attempted to use these because I am becoming more and more what I used to label a ‘coffee snob’. This leads me to my only real disappointment with the Classic.
The milk wand is kind of a let-down…
The standard Pannarello milk frother is a bust. When you have espresso this wonderful, microfoam in your steamed milk is a necessity and this attachment never provided it. Though there were never huge bubbles in my froth, I was always left wanting. It was also awkward to get a container on milk under it and then back out again without spilling it both directions. My solution was to upgrade the wand itself and rig the new one on and I am now completely content with every drink I make using this setup. Truthfully, I had heard about this issue ahead of my purchase and was prepared to get the new wand from the beginning. To me, one such hiccup does not damn a quality appliance like this one.
The Gaggia Classic is still my favourite
Hands down, my Gaggia Classic is my favorite buy with the last 5 years of my life. With it, I have learned to make much better espresso than I had in 20-something years previous. It was time for me step up my game and the Classic brought me a long way. Now I even prefer my home brew to what I taste at most cafés I try out. I recommend this to friends and family of course, but also to anyone reading this who fancies their espresso tastes as particular. This is a coffee lover’s machine.