Gaggia Classic Pro Review
Pros: Good espresso, makes a good dry cappuccino
Cons: Poor overall milk steaming performance, use and cleaning presents a bit of a learning curve
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Gaggia Classic Pro
$433.98 at Amazon
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|Pros||Good espresso, makes a good dry cappuccino||Great espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact design||Easy to use, quick and convenient, decent frothed milk||Good espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensive||Inexpensive, good milk-heating element, easy to operate|
|Cons||Poor overall milk steaming performance, use and cleaning presents a bit of a learning curve||No built-in grinder||Uses expensive capsules, limited flavors available||Doesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinder||Poor microfoam, slow to heat up, limited to 14 grams dose|
|Bottom Line||Good espresso and makes a decent cappuccino, but the steam wand will likely disappoint latte lovers||One of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality results||This easy-to-use espresso machine and milk frother package is a great choice if you don't mind paying a little extra in the long run for convenience and so-so espresso||Offers good taste and overall quality at a far below average price||This basic machine may be appealing due to its low cost, but there are better options for producing good espresso if you're looking to save money|
|Rating Categories||Gaggia Classic Pro||Breville Bambino||Nespresso Evoluo||Gevi||De'Longhi Stilosa|
|Espresso Quality (40%)|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Ease of Cleaning (15%)|
|Milk Quality (15%)|
|Specs||Gaggia Classic Pro||Breville Bambino||Nespresso Evoluo||Gevi||De'Longhi Stilosa|
|Dimensions||8" x 9.5" x 9.5"||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||9" x 12.2" x 12.3"||13" x 10" x 16"||8.1" x 13.5" x 11.2"|
|Milk Frother||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Electric Stand Alone||Steam Wand||Steam Wand|
|Measured Water Tank Capacity||72 oz||47 oz||54 oz||42 oz||34 oz|
|Cost per Shot||$0.45||$0.45||$0.85||$0.45||$0.37|
|Lifetime Cost per Shot||$0.64||$0.58||$0.93||$0.50||$0.42|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price||176||118||93||51||46|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price||105||70||52||30||28|
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 a 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.
In our opinion, we think the espresso from the Classic Pro 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 about this machine's espresso.
That good taste likely comes from the very consistent and stable pressure and temperature the Classic Pro can produce and maintain. 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.
Unfortunately, the milk steaming capabilities of the Classic Pro don't quite live up to its espresso brewing proclivities. Therefore, its milk drinks were amongst our least favorite of the bunch. However, its propensity to create a lot of fluffy foam can make for a decent dry cappuccino.
The Classic Pro also comes with a filter basket that can accept most pre-ground espresso capsules 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 this machine.
Ease of Use
When it comes to brewing your espresso, the Classic Pro keeps things very simple. However, many things tangential to the actual brewing process have eccentricities. Though you can't adjust any sort of temperature or pressure profile, the Classic Pro offers 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 too small for the portafilter, so it's hard to get all the coffee packed down evenly. You can certainly upgrade to a properly sized metal tamper, but considering the price of this machine, we would have expected such a device in the box.
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 various orientations, the wand on the Classic Pro 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, as aerated milk increases in volume.
Additionally, while the initial setup of the Classic Pro is fairly easy, the manual doesn't lend much guidance. For instance, we found out the hard way that a small tube needed to be connected to the wastewater nozzle to avoid a big mess…bottom line, we recommend that you watch a few YouTube tutorials before using this machine for the first time.
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 off-putting.
Ease of Cleaning
Here again, the Classic Pro isn't particularly hard to clean, but other semi-automatic models are easier. The process is pretty standard — rinse and clean the portafilter and steam wand, empty the drip tray, and clean out the milk pitcher. In general, we found this to be simple, but there is a small plastic piece in the portafilter that tends to hang onto some gunk and that necessitates a bit more precision when wiping things clean. The angle of the steam wand also makes purging and wiping it a bit awkward, particularly if the machine is placed on a lower table or counter.
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 40 minutes to complete and requiring 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 again suggest finding a YouTube tutorial before attempting it for the first time.
The steam wand on the Classic Pro is serviceable but falls well short of cafe quality. The biggest weakness 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. When trying to make a latte, we found that the 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 is ideal.
The price of the Gaggia Classic Pro feels fair for a relatively capable semi-automatic machine. However, we've seen other models in this price range that are just as adept at pulling shots but have better steam wands, so we think this machine is a good value only if you find it on sale.
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 power, and other machines in the same price range offer better steaming capabilities. This machine is likely more suited to straight espresso or dry cappuccino lovers.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell
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