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Gaggia Classic Pro Review

Good espresso and makes a decent cappuccino, but the steam wand will likely disappoint latte lovers
gaggia classic pro espresso machine review
Credit: Gaggia
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Price:   $449 List | $433.98 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  ⋅  Jun 24, 2021
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 19
  • Espresso Quality - 40% 7.8
  • Ease of Use - 30% 5.4
  • Ease of Cleaning - 15% 5.3
  • Milk Quality - 15% 5.5

Our Verdict

The Gaggia Classic Pro makes clear improvements on its predecessor and generally provides a good morning coffee experience, though it does have some limitations. 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 lacks the power to create the creamy microfoam that is the cornerstone of a latte. Ultimately other top-ranked espresso machines in the same price range can make a better latte and are a bit more friendly to use and clean.

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Price $449 List
$433.98 at Amazon
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Pros Good espresso, makes a good dry cappuccinoGreat espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact designEasy to use, quick and convenient, decent frothed milkGood espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensiveInexpensive, good milk-heating element, easy to operate
Cons Poor overall milk steaming performance, use and cleaning presents a bit of a learning curveNo built-in grinderUses expensive capsules, limited flavors availableDoesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinderPoor 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 loversOne of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality resultsThis 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 espressoOffers good taste and overall quality at a far below average priceThis 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%)
7.8
8.3
5.4
6.3
5.0
Ease of Use (30%)
5.4
6.4
8.6
5.7
7.0
Ease of Cleaning (15%)
5.3
7.0
8.4
5.7
7.3
Milk Quality (15%)
5.5
10.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
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.

Performance Comparison


gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - this machine pulls a decent shot but underwhelmed us in other areas.
This machine pulls a decent shot but underwhelmed us in other areas.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Espresso Quality


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.

gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - we thoroughly enjoyed shots pulled with the gaggia.
We thoroughly enjoyed shots pulled with the Gaggia.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - the classic pro's steam wand can make very fluffy foam for...
The Classic Pro's steam wand can make very fluffy foam for cappuccinos but struggles with the fine microfoam needed for a proper latte.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - the tamper is annoyingly just a bit smaller than the portafilter.
The tamper is annoyingly just a bit smaller than the portafilter.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - the classic pro's relatively spartan interface.
The Classic Pro's relatively spartan interface.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - the drip tray is fairly easy to remove and empty.
The drip tray is fairly easy to remove and empty.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Milk Quality


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.

gaggia classic pro espresso machine review - we wish the steam wand had a bit more play, it can be a bit awkward...
We wish the steam wand had a bit more play, it can be a bit awkward to use because of its orientation.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Value


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.

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 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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