For months everyone around the office anticipated the arrival, the blessed event as a lot of us called it, of the Gaggia Baby Twin. When the Baby Twin finally touched down in our warehouse it instantly became one of our best sellers.
Aww, look at the Baby...
I hoped the Baby Twin would be as nice, if not better looking than the high-res pictures we'd been seeing around the office. The Baby Twin boasted loads of stainless steel, so I was expecting a lot from this moderately priced machine. When I opened the box I was pleasantly surprised because it wasn't overdone, the Twin would look great in virtually any kitchen.
The drip tray, steam wand, and turbo-frothing attachment were made of stainless steel, not plastic, showing Gaggia's commitment to performance as well as good looks – which in today's day and age, is impressive. But I wasn't sold yet, while the Baby Twin sure looked the part, I've been around espresso machines long enough to know that looks can be deceiving. So it was time to plug it in and put it to the test.
Before I started brewing, I gave the manual a quick once over. It seems the internal workings of this machine were filled with high-end components, guaranteed to provide the performance I was expecting. The Gaggia Baby Twin offers up an innovative new take on home semi-automatic espresso machine design due to its double boiler system. The double boiler and the added feature of a 3-way solenoid valve to relieve the pressure from the brewing process was the icing on the cake for me. This process diverts the pressure and the excess water from the portafilter to the drip tray, eliminating sloppy coffee grounds, yielding a solid puck of coffee, which, once you're finished brewing, is the mark of a proper extraction.
The Baby Twin also uses a commercial quality brew group molded of marine-grade, chrome-plated brass, which is impressive by anyone's standards. The benefit to using such a heavy-duty material ensures temperature stability, as well as unmatched durability. Even the portafilter on the Baby Twin is commercial size. Measuring 58mm, the portafilter has a durable handle and weighs more than a pound.
Now that I was a tiny bit more familiar with the machine, it was time to turn this Baby on. Because of the double boiler, I expected the wait time for the machine to be a few minutes, but in all reality, it only took a couple. The ready to brew temperature indicator was located below the indicator dial on the top front of the machine - it looks like an "M" and flashes if the machine is not at the correct brew temperature.
The last thing I checked out before brewing was the control panel. The Gaggia Baby Twin has a modern touch ring control panel with green backlit buttons. Featuring two programmable brewing buttons, so that you can save your personal settings, as well as use the manual brewing option. The steam temperature and hot water are also controlled on the touch ring, which, once you've perfected your skills, will allow you to switch seamlessly between brewing and steaming – one boiler specifically dedicated to brewing and a thermo block strictly for steaming.
Now I will admit, I tried this Baby out in our break room, where we're privileged enough to have a Mazzer Major grinder at our disposal. I ground some Buzzopolis and was ready to pull my first shot using the manual setting. Since this was the first time I brewed with the Baby Twin, I immediately began to scrutinize the shot itself. It looked perfect, smelled perfect and tasted just as good. The Twin produced a thick golden crema and the aroma coming from the shot was too good to ruin with milk – so I drank it, and of course brewed a second. That was just as good. Strong, yet not overpowering, which in the coffee world, is a beautiful thing.
Now it was time to find myself some milk in the refrigerator and get the steam thing going on. I pulled a third shot and without spilling milk all over, got the milk pitcher under the turbo-frothing attachment. This feature is optional, but creating luscious foam and steamed milk for cappuccinos and lattes can be a tricky, so it's nice to have, especially if you're a novice, or you've got friends and family who always want to try things out. Of course, if you're willing to go on your own, you can use just the steam tip to froth – practice does make perfect I've learned.
The turbo-frother had me steaming and foaming milk flawlessly, thick, fluffy mounds of micro-foam were ready for me to pour. You see, the turbo-frother is similar to a Pannarello wand, which evenly distributes steam throughout the pitcher. I will note, for the record, this is where the double boiler really shows its strength. There was absolutely no wait time between brewing and steaming and the pressure remained steady through the entire steaming process.
We'll keep her...
I stood there for a few more minutes, playing around with the machine, making cappuccinos for everyone that walked in until I ran out of milk. The Baby Twin performed admirably, and I was pleased. Admirably enough that I'd recommend it to any espresso lover who is looking to invest in a quality semi-automatic machine for home use at this price-point. And because it's made by Gaggia, I know it's got the quality components that will stand up to years of use.
What I'm trying to say is that if I can get this type of extraction each and every time, plus steam like an old pro using the turbo-frother, this machine is the one for me.
Wrap it up, I'll take it.
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