Quieter brewing, excellent milk frothing, and easy cleaning are just some strong points of the Gaggia Classic Pro. The latest upgrade to the Consumer’s Digest Best Buy in 2011, this espresso machine has exciting features you can only find in commercial machines. It has brushed stainless steel casing so it won’t rust and cleaning is just a single wipe away.
The two exciting features make this espresso machine interesting — improved pump mounts and commercial-grade steam wand. The former reduces the noise we know when brewing and frothing, while the latter helps you achieve barista-quality latte arts. If you aren’t satisfied with all of these, continue reading our in-depth review.
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What is Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine?
A semi-automatic pump espresso machine featuring commercial-quality features, Gaggia Classic Pro somehow simplifies the complexities of being a barista. Of course, you should know the basics — coffee quantity, ground size, etc. — yet, brewing and frothing/foaming are made fast and easy.
Actually, this is the latest upgrade to the go-to entry-level coffee machine, the Gaggia Classic that everyone loved. Crafted at the heartland of espresso, Tuscany, Italy, it has everything you need to kickstart your career as a barista. As the latest rendition of the well-loved Gaggia Classic, the Pro model has commercial-grade features but still has the same affordable price tag.
- Brushed stainless steel body is sleek and easy to clean
- Can accommodate both coffee grounds and pods
- Not very noisy when brewing and frothing
- Standard 58mm portafilter that’s the same as commercial coffee machines
- Can extract double shot espresso quickly — in less than 30 seconds
- With pressurized filter basket to use any coffee and still get nice crema
- Quick heat-up, especially if you want to steam milk
- Water tank has a big capacity and can refill from above
- Excellent coffee quality, better than other competitors
- Single boiler — can’t brew and froth milk simultaneously
- Drip tray has smaller capacity
- Can’t use bigger cups/mugs only up to 2.75 inches
- Need to keep the drip tray in place, drain pipe directly pours water into it
- Can’t dispense steam for more than 60 seconds — the boiler will be empty
- Pulling out and putting back the water tank isn’t an easy process
Design and Specifications
At first glance of the Gaggia Classic Pro, you’ll notice elegance with its brushed stainless steel casing and minimal buttons and controls. As a semi-automatic espresso machine, you won’t expect to eliminate manual work. But, with this machine, you’ll surely learn something that you can use in other commercial espresso machines.
This coffee maker has a small footprint with a dimension of only 9.50 × 8 × 14.20 inches and a weight of 20 lbs. It has a compact construction where you can only see three buttons in front of it — ON/OFF button, BREW button, and STEAM button, each with a dedicated indicator light. Right below these buttons is a big Gaggia Classic imprint.
Actually, many may not notice it, but the top of the machine is a cup warmer where you can put around two cups to warm them. It’s not specified in the product manual, but the Gaggia Classic has this feature, as well. You can also see at the top of the machine the Water tank lid where you can refill water without the need to remove the tank.
However, if you want to remove the water tank, you can do so by pulling it below the brew unit. You must remove the drip tray (and the grid) and the drain pipe before you can pull out the water tank.
The 47 oz. water tank is transparent, which you can see the MAX water level in front, while you are brewing. Likewise, if the machine is placed sideways, you can also clearly see the water level from the cutout they made on the stainless steel body. Aside from that, you can hold this part when removing the water tank out.
We mentioned the drain pipe. It’s there for a purpose — it’s the passage of the excess water from the coffee grounds. This coffee maker has a three-way solenoid valve that relieves pressure off your ground coffee to have a dry and easily disposable puck.
As mentioned many times above, it has a commercial-grade steam wand with two holes. This is used both for steaming/frothing milk for your cappuccinos or just simply dispensing hot water. Towards the upper portion on the right side of the unit, you can see a Steam/Hot water knob used to increase or decrease the flow of steam or water out of the steam wand.
Both the drain pipe and the steam wand have a rubber grip where you can hold to prevent burns while operating the machine – a clever add-on. The steam wand is movable so you can bring it away from the grid to accommodate bigger frothing pitchers. Likewise, you can bring it towards the grid to dispense water, when necessary.
Features and Functionalities
You might expect something more from a semi-automatic espresso machine. And, surely, Gaggia gives you some exciting functionalities in its Pro model that you can only see in commercial coffee makers.
Commercial-Style Portafilter — It comes with 58mm chrome-plated brass portafilter that you can use in nearly all commercial machines out there. It weighs only around 1lb with double spouts and a reliable handle.
Pressurized Filter Basket — If you want to use just any coffee without grinding, with the pressurized filter basket, somehow you can still get a nice crema in your coffee. To do this, you should put the frothing jet device in the filter holder before you insert the pressurized filter basket.
Commercial Steam Wand — This has two purposes — steaming/frothing milk and dispensing hot water. However, since the steam wand has two holes on the tip, it will allow you to make nice-textured frothed milk. With the right quality of milk and practice, you’ll be able to get café-grade milk foam and froth.
3-Way Solenoid Valve — This is a good feature to get that nice dry puck after brewing. When you switch the BREW button off, the valve opens and relieves water pressure from the coffee grounds. The water from it will go to the drain tube (also called by some as a blowout tube) towards the drip tray.
Improved Pump Mounts — Including in the upgrade is the mounting on the vibration pump which effectively reduces the noise while brewing. Yet, even when it’s not as loud as your commercial espresso machine, it’s still capable of extracting excellent coffee beverages.
Fast Heat-Up — With a single boiler, this machine will be ready to brew in five minutes. For steaming milk, you only need to wait 30 seconds.
Seamless Design — Compared to its predecessors, the Pro model gives you better access to the water tank with the drip dray seamlessly attached to the bottom of the unit. The casing has a cutout that reveals the edge of the water tank for two purposes — check the water level and place your fingers there when you pull the tank out.
Auto Switch-Off — After 20 minutes of inactivity, the machine will automatically turn off. This is for safety and energy-saving purposes. If you need to use the machine, turn it on like normal.
Setup and Operation
Even though this espresso machine has different features, the setup and operation are quite simple and straightforward. First-time users can easily understand the operation by just reading the product’s manual. So, we don’t need to give you all the step-by-step guide, but an overview, plus some best practices when operating the machine.
First thing you need is to fill the water reservoir up to the MAX level. It’s best to remove it, rather than refilling it — you should also clean it. Upon returning the water tank, you should ensure that the two silicone tubes are inside the tank and that they are properly hanged — not twisted or blocked.
Now, you may plug the unit into a compatible power source. Press the ON/OFF button to turn the machine ON and the indicator below the button will light. When using it for the first time, you need to purge water out of the steam wand. Press the STEAM button, slowly turn the Steam/Hot water knob counter-clockwise, then press the BREW button to dispense hot water.
Using a bigger container, dispense the content of the water tank through the steam wand. To stop dispensing, simply press the STEAM and BREW button again. Then, close the knob by turning it fully to clockwise.
Next, you need to fill the water and then, run through hot water. This time in the brew unit to preheat the portafilter. Insert the filter basket to the filter holder and fit it into the brew unit.
To do this, you need to insert the filter holder around 45 degrees to the left, then turn it to the right in such a way that it locks in place. Ensure the filter holder is perpendicular to the machine or tilted towards the right. Press the BREW button to run hot water in the brew unit to warm the filter.
This is it. You need to refill the water and you’re now ready to brew your first cup of coffee. Using the provided filters — 1 CUP or 2 CUP filter — put your desired coffee quantity.
Put the filter basket in the filter holder and then fit it under the brew unit. Put an espresso cup under, then, press the BREW button to start extracting your coffee. Once you have enough coffee — 1oz for single shot and 2oz for double shot espresso, press the BREW button again to stop brewing.
Wait until the last drop of coffee falls into your cup. After you stop brewing, you’ll notice that water will flow through the drain pipe towards the drip tray. It’s the liquid from the coffee grounds so you’ll have a dry coffee puck.
Simply turn the filter holder from right to left, then pull it out. Tap the portafilter on the surface and the dry puck will be out. You can throw them away or put it somewhere for recycling, maybe.
If you want to steam milk, remove the cup of coffee from the machine and put the milk in the frothing pitcher. Press the STEAM button to ready the machine to steam. When the light indicator lit, simply turn the Steam/Hot water counter-clockwise to remove any condensation and then, turn clockwise again.
When you get steam out of the Steam wand tip, it’s now time to froth milk. Dip the tip of the steam wand at an angle just below the surface of the milk. Not too deep to produce milk foam or not too shallow to only make bigger bubbles. Submerging the wand at the right depth allows you to get a perfect milk foam.
It’s manual frothing, you need to stop it when you think it’s enough. To do it, you have to turn the knob fully clockwise before pressing the STEAM button.
To get just hot water, press the STEAM button and BREW button. Press the button again to stop the process. The Steam/Hot water knob allows you to control the steam pressure. Note that you can only dispense steam at a maximum of 60 seconds or you’ll empty the boiler.
Brewing Capacity and Process
Though it has commercial features, it’s not designed to fit in taller mugs. You can only get a maximum of double shot espresso. So, if you need more servings, you might need to spend more time brewing the coffee.
This machine comes with a double pressurized filter basket that you can use for any coffee, a single and double shot regular filter baskets, coffee scoop, and tamper. If you have finely ground coffee, you can use the regular single shot or double shot filter and fit it into the filter holder.
With the scoop and tamper provided, you can measure the right quantity and level the coffee in the filter, respectively. If you like to use pods, use the traditional 1 CUP filter and make sure that the packaging fits well inside the filter. Make sure, as well, that the rim of the filter holder is clean.
Now, you can insert the filter holder into the brew unit. As mentioned in the previous section, you have to pre-warm the filter holder first and use a warm espresso cup to maintain the optimal temperature of your coffee.
Press the BREW button to start extracting coffee. I’ll take around 20 to 25 seconds to get a double shot serving or you can stop it when you think the quantity is enough. Press the button again and pull out the cup away from the machine.
If you need to prepare a latte or cappuccino, you need to get milk foam. You can prepare milk froth using the process mentioned above. You can also get just hot water for your cereal with the procedure described above, as well.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Since the body of the coffee machine is made of stainless steel, you can easily wipe the liquid spills with cloth, not abrasive. Every after steaming/frothing, you should quickly purge steam through the steam wand and wipe it with cloth. It’s recommended that you make a quick wipe off the surface every after use — just be careful as it may be hot.
Aside from cleaning the steam wand and the surfaces of the unit, it’s also recommended that you’ll clean the filters and the filter holder to remove residue of the previous brewing. For the water tank and the drip tray, simply use fresh water and dishwashing liquid, but never use abrasive cleaning tools.
If it’s not used for two weeks, you can set up the machine as you did for the first time. Similarly, it’s recommended to do descaling every two months to remove any mineral buildup in your machine. This will allow you to achieve the best-tasting espresso every time you extract your coffee from the Gaggia Classic Pro
Accessories and Add-on
To help you brew your first cup of coffee, all you need to have is your favorite coffee grounds or coffee pods. This coffee maker is sold with accessories like the 58mm standard portafilter with pressurized filter, traditional 1 CUP, and 2 CUP filters, frothing jet device, measuring spoon, and tamper.
The frothing jet device is to be used when you use the pressurized filter basket. It’s a small two-way pin, so you better take care of it and not lose it. Though it didn’t come with a frothing pitcher, you can use any stainless steel container with a spout since you can move the steam wand.
Who is this Product for? / Should You Buy This?
Firstly, most of us will check the price of the item. Compared to some semi-automatic pump machines out there, it costs a bit more. But, since it has features only found in commercial coffee machines, the extra cost is understandable.
Yet, we don’t think it’s a coffee maker for real baristas. It’s so basic and you can’t even do brewing and steaming at once. No grinder, which means you need to buy pre-ground coffee, but it comes with a pressurized filter basket to get nice crema for any coffee.
However, the 58mm portafilter is a huge advantage of this machine, plus the fact that you can get just hot water from it. The pressurized filter basket also allows you to learn how real baristas do their coffee. Lastly, with time and proper technique, the commercial steam wand is something that beginners can enjoy and develop real skills.
Simple, yet feature-packed. A good add-on to anyone’s kitchen because of its elegance — a brushed stainless steel casing is just stunning. It has useful upgrades that make brewing coffee interesting and exciting.
As a semi-automatic espresso machine, you should also learn some tricks — the right grind size and quantity, water, and the perfect milk froth. These things are teachable, but only you know which combination is perfect for your taste. Since the Gaggia Classic Pro has professional features, it’ll be easy for you to use other coffee machines, especially those commercial-grade found in hotels and coffee shops.