Articles From Whole Latte Love

Gaggia Syncrony Compact Espresso Machine

Posted: 08/20/03

Gaggia is still fairly new to the Super Automatic espresso machine market, but don’t let that fool you. The Gaggia Syncrony has been a massive success and is a tough act to follow. Gaggia’s newest Super Automatic espresso machine successfully pulled this one off without a hitch. Instead of releasing another machine and simply changing the color and adding a small feature to increase the product line, Gaggia created a product that was much needed in the Super Automatic espresso machine market. There are some fantastic machines out there, but what we needed was a great machine with popular features like a bypass doser that would not consume your kitchen counter. Not having to pay out the nose for the features and small size would be nice as well. Then came the Gaggia Compact.

The first thing you notice about the Gaggia Compact is that it looks remarkably different than the other machines out there. It looks like something straight out of the Jetsons. At about 11" wide and just over 15" high this machine fits just about anywhere. The design hosts no wasted space. Smooth rounded edges and slight bulges throughout break the boxy look. The housing is made of a durable thermoset ABS plastic. Its satin silver color is not "over the top", but rather soothing. The water reservoir wraps gently around the back. It looks great but the awkward shape can make it a bit difficult to remove, fill at the sink and carry back without a spill. Filling the water reservoir in place seems much more sensible with this machine. This is more of an annoyance than anything. The bean hopper sits directly in front of the water reservoir. Gaggia CompactIts lid has some nice finger holds to help you remove it for filling. The swivel base helps by making the water reservoir and bean hopper more accessible. The cup warmer provides over 45 square inches of space for your cups while evenly spaced raised dots help keep them in place. Also located up there is the door for the bypass doser. The control panel lacks a digital display, but for the price I wouldn’t expect one. However features like pre-brewing and pre-grinding typically only found on digital machines, can be found on the Compact. This makes up for the missing display...a big plus. Three small LED indicator lights and five jellybean looking buttons round out the control panel. Another plus here, two of these buttons are for programmable cup volumes. Again, a feature found mostly on more expensive machines. The front of the machine appears tall and lean. The overhang is only about 2" deep which helps save space. Some machines have so much room you could park a car under there. Gaggia must have thought about people and their fascination with coffee mugs because you can fit just about any cup under the spouts. With 4.25" of clearance, getting your favorite mug under the spouts should not be an issue. Of course you can pull the spout down for the little guys. The steam wand features Gaggia’s latest tool, the Turbo Frother. I’m picky, and this one does a good job, and pulls off easily for a thorough cleaning. The wand does swivel a bit but you’ll need to move it off to the side in order to get any kind of pitcher under there for frothing. That was minor annoyance number two. The stainless steel drip tray has plenty of room to work on and is deep enough that you won’t be emptying it multiple times a day. The way the tray reflects light onto the front of the machine is dazzling. Maybe it was intentional; maybe it was a happy accident. Either way it adds some more class.

There’s not much to operating this machine. Any machine without a digital display will take some getting used to; you’ll need to remember what the blinking lights mean. Gaggia CompactBy pushing a button this machine will grind, tamp then brew your espresso drink. No fuss. No mess. The steaming power is great and the Turbo Frother makes it seem even better. Opening the machine up to empty the dump box took me a minute to figure out. I’m not one for manuals. If I had looked in the manual I would have had no problem. The entire front of the machine opens like a door after pushing in a small, non-descript button on the side. The button is a little difficult; you’re actually pushing to release a plastic tab. Once open, you slide the drip tray assembly forward. The dump box sits inside the assembly and just pulls straight up. Everything felt solid; nothing was flimsy or felt like it would snap if I sneezed hard.
The Gaggia Compact does what you would expect it to do. I won’t bore you with the regular stuff. What makes the Gaggia Compact different is that it has a lot of the features that you would normally only find on much more expensive machines. Here are some of them:

  • Bypass Doser: Some like caffeine, some do not. This feature lets you use pre-ground coffee via a chute, bypassing whatever beans are in the hopper. Great for those that prefer decaf at night.
  • Programmable Buttons: Simply hold down one of these buttons until you have your preferred volume.’s programmed. Now just hit it once to get what you want. Use one for an 8oz mug and the other for a 3oz espresso. You decide.
  • Pre-brewing: This can be a nice feature for some. With this feature on, the coffee grounds are moistened for a second before brewing in an effort to extract more flavor from the beans. For those that are always in a hurry, turn it off and shave a few seconds off your morning ritual.
  • Pre-grinding: Perfect for dinner parties! Pre-grinding will grind a shot and have it ready for the next time you hit the brew button. Hit the button and it will brew instantly, no waiting for the grinder. While it’s brewing, it will grind the coffee and line up for the next shot.
  • Decalcification Cycle: Water contains minerals. These minerals build up and take their toll on espresso machines over time; so decalcifying is necessary. You’d think a cycle for this would be standard...but it’s not. Thankfully the Compact has it.

That about sums up the Gaggia Compact. No machine is perfect and the couple annoyances I cited wouldn’t make me flinch when making a purchasing decision on this machine. I give this machine a big thumbs up. Like I said, I’m picky. Giving a machine a "thumbs up", let alone a big one, doesn’t happen often.