Gaggia Classic Pro Review: Great for Beginners
The Gaggia Classic has been a go-to model for entry-level espresso makers for years and recently Gaggia has released an updated version called the Classic Pro. The Pro model is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary progression, building off of the elements that made the Classic a much loved espresso maker. Keep reading this Gaggia Classic Pro review to see if it is a worthy successor!
Summary: The Gaggia Classic Pro
- Manual steam wand gives great frothing control
- Comes with a variety of portafilter baskets
- Switching between brewing and steaming takes some time
The Classic Pro is designed and manufactured in the outskirts of Tuscany, the heartland of espresso. Each and every Classic Pro is infused with the rich history of Italy, representing over 80 years of innovation dating back to Achille Gaggia’s first pump driven espresso machine in 1938– Gaggia
Gaggia Classic Review: How Good is the Pro?
The Gaggia Classic Pro is the newest rendition of Gaggia’s beloved semi-automatic espresso machines. Featuring a new commercial steam wand and the functional yet attractive Gaggia style, it is no wonder this espresso machine is a popular pick for beginners and expert espresso brewers alike. Read on this Gaggia Classic review to see if it is right for you!
Brewing Capability – 5/5
The Classic Pro is a remarkably capable entry-level espresso maker. While many espresso makers at this price come with smaller portafilters, the Gaggia comes with a commercial sized 58mm filter basket. The industry-standard sizing is a plus, allowing you to easily apply the methods you learn on the Gaggia to other commercial espresso machines.
Like all coffee makers, starting with freshly ground beans is the secret to success. But what if that isn’t an option? Gaggia has you covered, since the Classic Pro’s pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets are both compatible with ESE pods.
“Make Life Easy” Features – 4/5
The main downside to the Classic Pro is its only has a single boiler. This means that you cannot steam milk and brew espresso simultaneously. Switching between brewing and steaming takes about a minute, giving the boiler time to adjust for the desired function.
Pro tip: Drop the water temperature by activating the espresso pump without installing the portafilter to speed up the transition from steaming to brewing.
With the Gaggia’s downside out of the way, let’s move onto the features that make it great for beginners and experts alike! The machine is incredibly simple and only has three switches and a knob. In a world of needlessly overcomplicated devices, this is a refreshing design choice.
Another handy feature is the way you can fill the water reservoir from the top or remove and fill the water tank from the front of the machine. Considering the space restrictions of most kitchen counters, we appreciate that Gaggia has given users options here.
With new pump bushings, the Classic Pro is quieter than the model it replaced. We can all appreciate a quiet espresso machine, particularly when brewing those early morning coffees without waking up the whole house.
Finally, the Gaggia has a 3-way solenoid valve. This piece of technology means that after you are done brewing your espresso a valve diverts the pressure and excess water from the group head straight into the drip tray. (1) The result is when you remove the portafilter your coffee grounds will be a tidy dry puck instead a soupy mess.
Milk Frothing – 5/5
The Gaggia Classic Pro and the former Gaggia Classic can make cappuccinos, like the other machines in this list. The biggest difference between the two models is the steam wand. While the earlier model used a panarello-style steam wand that injected air into the steam, this unit uses a proper commercial steam wand.
Panarello wands are common in cheaper machines and do a good job maximizing foam production from undersized boilers, but make less satisfying foam and offer far less control. The Classic Pro’s upgraded steam wand means that this machine can finally froth and steam milk as well as it makes quality espresso.
As this machine is a single-boiler design you’ll always have to decide whether you want to brew your espresso first or steam the milk first. There are arguments to be made for both methods. When the milk is steamed and immediately poured, it tends to be easier to create latte art with, thought the espresso loses some flavor as it sits. Conversely, if you allow your foamed milk to sit it tends to separate into dry foam on top of steamed milk. (2)
Just as brewing decent espresso shots require precise amounts of heat, steaming your milk will produce the best results when kept to a specific temperature range. (3)
The SCA recommends heating milk to 55–65°C (139–149°F) with a maximum temperature of 70°C (158°F) and minimum of 50°C (122°F).
Ultimately, the choice depends on your own preferences and brew routine. Test it out and tell us what you think!
Cleaning – 3.5/5
On a daily basis, the Classic Pro is generally easy to keep clean. Its well-sized drip tray is easy to remove and empty. The 3-way solenoid valve allows you to knock the coffee grounds out of the portafilter with ease, just as you would expect to do with commercial machines.
The exterior is brushed-stainless steel and can simply be wiped clean as needed.
The descaling process is where the Gaggia loses some points as the process is time-consuming and involves cumbersome disassembly. Gaggia’s decalcifying instructions include 20 steps and cleaning the grouphead involves removing screws and, depending on how well the machine wants to cooperate, possibly requires using needle-nose pliers. (4)
Build Quality – 5/5
Gaggia is known for their build quality and the Classic Pro is no exception. This Italian espresso machine is sleeker than the Classic model it replaces although still leans towards a utilitarian rather than purely stylish vibe. The body is stainless steel which is an uncommon feature at this price; usually, you’d expect to see a metal facing on a plastic body. The plastic drip tray fits snugly into place and blends in nicely with the overall shape and aesthetic of the machine.
Rather than rely on buttons, the Classic Pro has three rocker switches. It is great to see Gaggia using durable parts here because the control panel is a common point of failure in all appliances.
Things we liked:
- Commercial-sized portafilter
- Excellent milk froth
- Durable stainless-steel body
Things we didn’t like:
- Time-consuming descaling process
- Single boiler
Do Not Buy The Gaggia Classic Pro If…
- You want a machine that does all the work for you – The Classic Pro is a semi-automatic espresso machine. This means that you are responsible for grinding, tamping, and timing your shots. If that sounds more involved than you were hoping for, perhaps you should consider a super-automatic machine like the Gaggia Brera and the Gaggia Anima Prestige.
- You want a sleeker looking machine – The Classic Pro is a great espresso maker, but its design language is simple and utilitarian. If you want an espresso maker with a bit more visual presence take a look at the Breville BES 840XL Infuser. The Breville is slightly more feature-rich than the Gaggia, but has a less intuitive interface and a larger footprint. Read our full review of the Breville Infuser for more information. Or if you have more budget, the Oscar II by Nuova Simonelli and the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine (or its PRO version) would make great choices.
- You want a built-in grinder – Perhaps you don’t own a grinder, or just like the idea of having your espresso maker be the first and last stop for your coffee beans before meeting your cup. In either case, the Breville Barista Express is a good choice for an espresso maker in this price range that includes its own grinder. Here’s our Breville Barista Express review.
- Your budget is under $200 – Of course, budget is one of the main things consider when getting a gear. An espresso maker under $500 just isn’t for everyone. If you do not have a budget for the Classic Pro, go ahead and consider the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista or the DeLonghi EC155 instead.
The Gaggia Classic Pro offers the excellent brewing that we’ve come to expect from the Gaggia Classic and improves it with a commercial steam wand. This machine is a great choice for those just getting into semi-automatic espresso machines, but also makes for a compelling budget-oriented choice for experienced users.
Clever design choices like its front or top fill water reservoir and the satisfying tactile switches are proof that Gaggia was really trying to make an espresso maker that is easy and fun to use everyday.
- Brady. (2010, December 26). More than you ever wanted to know about three-way solenoids Retrieved from https://www.baristaexchange.com/profiles/blogs/more-than-you-ever-wanted-to
- Espresso: Preparing Milk Drinks with Espresso, Steaming Milk. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://legacy.sweetmarias.com/library/espresso-preparing-milk-drinks-with-espresso-steaming-milk/
- Klimanova, Y. (2019, February 9). What Temperature Should Your Cappuccino Milk Be? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/02/what-temperature-should-your-cappuccino-milk-be/
- Semi Automatic Maintenance. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gaggia-na.com/pages/semi-automatic-maintenance