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Gaggia Classic Pro Review

A good overall machine that offers an improvement in espresso quality over most super-automatic machines, but has some milk steaming limitations
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Price:   $449 List | $449 at Amazon
Pros:  Good espresso, makes a good dry cappuccino
Cons:  Poor overall milk steaming performance, use and cleaning presents a bit of a learning curve
Manufacturer:   Gaggia
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 16
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 30% 5
  • Ease of Cleaning - 15% 5
  • Milk Steaming - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Gaggia Classic Pro makes clear improvements on its predecessor and generally provides a good morning coffee experience, but does have some limitations that may dissuade some users. We think most people will be pleased with its espresso, which comes out fairly rich and bold once you've got the hang of the machine. The steam wand, on the other hand, is a bit weak. We found it capable of creating very fluffy milk, which is great if a dry cappuccino is your drink, but it lacked the power to create the creamy microfoam that is the cornerstone of a latte. Its ease of use and ease of cleaning also leave some things to be desired, but fall well short of being dealbreakers. Ultimately there are other machines in the same price range that can make a better latte and are a bit more friendly to use and clean, so if dry cappuccinos aren't your thing you may want to leave this one off your short list unless you find it on sale.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Gaggia Classic Pro
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $449 List
$449 at Amazon
$1,500 List
$1,299.00 at Amazon
$600 List
$579.99 at Amazon
$600 List
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$400 List
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Star Rating
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Pros Good espresso, makes a good dry cappuccinoExcellent espresso and milk steaming, can pull and steam simultaneously, multiple programmable features, relatively user friendlyGreat taste, cafe quality lattes and cappuccinosGreat taste, exceptional lattes and cappuccinos, mostly automated milk steamingGreat taste, great milk steaming
Cons Poor overall milk steaming performance, use and cleaning presents a bit of a learning curveExpensive, requires some effort and a learning curveExpensive, requires some effort and a learning curveExpensive, no built-in grinderHas a learning curve, no pressure gauge to help beginners, no grinder
Bottom Line A good overall machine that offers an improvement in espresso quality over most super-automatic machines, but has some milk steaming limitationsA great choice for those that want the best possible at-home espresso quality, but comes at a hefty priceA perfect choice for those that don’t mind putting in a little work to get the best tasting shotA top-notch machine that offers the best (mostly) automated milk steaming we've foundGood choice for experienced baristas that already have a good grinder
Overall Score Sort Icon
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89
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77
Rating Categories Gaggia Classic Pro Breville the Dual... Breville Barista... Breville Bambino... Breville Duo Temp...
Taste (40%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (30%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease Of Cleaning (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Milk Steaming (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Specs Gaggia Classic Pro Breville the Dual... Breville Barista... Breville Bambino... Breville Duo Temp...
Dimensions 8" x 9.5" x 9.5" 14.7" x 14.8" x 14.7" 13.2" x 12.5" x 16" 7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2" 15.5" x 13.3" x 17.6"
Warranty 1 Year Limited 1 Year Limited 1 Year Limited 1 Year Limited
Milk Frother Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand Automatic Steam Wand Steam Wand
Cost per Shot $0.45 $0.45 $0.47 $0.47 $0.47
Lifetime Cost per Shot $0.64 $1.08 $0.72 $0.72 $0.64
Cost per Latte $0.73 $0.73 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Straight Shot - Percentage cost vs. Cafe 15% 15% 16% 16% 16%
Latte - Percentage Cost vs. Cafe 15% 15% 15% 15% 15%
Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make p list price 176 588 237 237 158
Number of Cafe replacement lattes to make up list price 105 351 141 141 94

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you're willing to put up with the extra sweat equity required by a semi-automatic machine the Gaggia Classic Pro offers good shot of espresso, but falls a bit short on the milk side of things. Overall it's a decent morning companion, as long as you're not a latte drinker,

Though we have run into other models in the same price range that offer slightly better experiences.

=

Performance Comparison



Taste


In our opinion, we think the the Classic Pro's epresso reaches near cafe quality. We found it to impart a bold and rich taste and to produce a decent crema that pleased our taste buds. When we directly compared it to a cafe shot or one from some of the more capable machines we did notice a slight relative lack in robustness and flavor, but when enjoyed in isolation we didn't have any major complaints for this machine's espresso.


That good taste likely comes from the very consistent and stable pressure and temperature the Classic Pro is able to produce. If you really like to toy with your espresso's brewing process you may be disappointed that you can't adjust this pressure or temperature profile at all - meaning the only control you have over your brew is the coffee and specific grind size that you use. However, it does make the overall brewing process a bit simpler.

We thoroughly enjoyed shots pulled with the Gaggia.
We thoroughly enjoyed shots pulled with the Gaggia.

Unfortunately, the milk steaming capabilities of the Classic Pro don't quite live up to its espresso brewing proclivities. Therefore, its milk drink were amongst our least favorite of the bunch. However, its propensity to create a lot of fluffy foam did make for a decent dry cappuccino.

The Classic Pro's steam wand can make very fluffy foam for cappuccinos but struggles with the fine microfoam needed for a proper latte.
The Classic Pro's steam wand can make very fluffy foam for cappuccinos but struggles with the fine microfoam needed for a proper latte.

The Classic Pro also comes with a filter basket that can accept most pfe-ground espresso capsule and pods. In general, we've found the taste extracted from these pods is determined much more by the pods themselves rather than the machine used to brew them, and that those pods can't match the quality of fresh espresso pulled with the Classic Pro.

Ease of Use


When it comes to actually brewing your espresso, the Classic Pro keeps things very simple and straightforward. However, many things tangential to the actual brewing process have eccentricities that make the task a bit difficult, but not overly so.


Though you can't adjust any sort of temperature or pressure profile, the Classic Pro offers a simple and fairly easy extraction just by flipping the brew switch. Getting the coffee into the portafilter, however, can be a bit difficult. First, you must use a separate grinder (or use pre-ground coffee and the pressurized basket). Then you need to tamp the coffee down, and the only tool that comes in the box to aid in this task is a fairly flimsy-feeling plastic tamper. Apart from being flimsy, the tamper is actually too small for the portafilter, so it's hard to get all the coffee tamped down evenly. You can certainly upgrade to a metal and properly sized tamper for not too much, but considering the Classic Pro's price we would have expected such a device in the box.

The Classic Pro's relatively spartan interface.
The Classic Pro's relatively spartan interface.

We also found the design of the steam wand to be less than ideal. Where other models have a ball joint that lets you position the wand in a number of orientations, the Classic Pro's wand has very little play. This makes it a bit awkward to get the milk in the right position to steam properly. Also, if you're making a latte and thus have a decent amount of milk in the pitcher, it can be difficult to extract the pitcher from the steam wand without spilling once the milk as been aerated and increased in volume.

Additionally, while initial setup of the Classic Pro is fairly easy, the manual doesn't lend much guidance for the process. For instance, we found out the hard way that a small tube needed to be connected to the waste water nozzle to avoid a big mess…bottom line, our recommendation is that you watch a few youtube tutorials before using this machine for the first time.

The tamper is annoyingly just a bit smaller than the portafilter.
The tamper is annoyingly just a bit smaller than the portafilter.

Though we ran into numerous annoyances when using this machine, none were so egregious that we disliked using it. Sure, other models on the market offer more streamlined experiences, but we certainly wouldn't call the Classic Pro's experience off putting.

Ease of Cleaning


Here again, the Classic Pro isn't particularly hard to clean, but there are definitely other semi-automatic models that make cleaning a bit easier.


The process for cleaning the Classic Pro is standard for semi-automatic machines — rinse and clean the portafilter and steam wand, empty the drip tray, and clean out the milk pitcher. In general we found these processes to be simple, but there was a small plastic piece in the portafilter that tended to hang onto some gunk and that necessitated a bit more precision when wiping things clean. The angle of the steam wand could also make purgering and wiping it a bit awkward, particularly if the machine is placed on a lower table or counter.

The drip tray is fairly easy to remove and empty.
The drip tray is fairly easy to remove and empty.

Long term cleaning (descaling) of the Classic Pro is a bit more difficult than the average machine. The solution is not included with your purchase, ao that will need to be bought separately. The process itself is quite involved, taking us 40 minutes to complete and requiring our undivided attention for the vast majority of that time. Also, while the process isn't particularly complicated, the manual again left us somewhat wanting for information, so we would suggest finding a YouTube tutorial before attempting it for the first time.

Milk Steaming


The Classic Pro's steam wand is serviceable, but falls well short of cafe quality.


The biggest weakness of the Classic Pro's steam wand is the seeming inability to create that finely textured, creamy microfoam that has come to define a good latte. You can either get warmed milk or very fluffy foam, without much in between. This is great if you like your espresso with just a dab of milk, or if you're a fan of very dry cappuccinos. However, if you're a latte fan, we think this steam wand will likely be a bit disappointing.

We wish the steam wand had a bit more play  it can be a bit awkward to use because of its orientation.
We wish the steam wand had a bit more play, it can be a bit awkward to use because of its orientation.

Additionally, if you want to attempt a latte with this machine, we found that its wand generally putters out before a full pitcher of milk is up to temperature, which results in the drink being a bit less hot than most people would probably like.

Value


The Gaggia Classic Pro's price feels fair for a relatively capable semi-automatic machine. However, we've seen other models in the price range that are just as adept at pulling shots as the Classic Pro, but have better steam wands, so we think this machine is a good value only if you find it on sale.

Conclusion


The Gaggia Classic Pro offers a fairly good experience to those that want to learn the craft of making espresso at home at a relatively reasonable price. However, its steam wand lacks a bit of power and there are other machines in the same price range that offer better steaming capabilities, so this machine is likely more suited to straight espresso or dry cappuccino lovers.


Max Mutter and Michelle Powell