I have a background working with commercial machines, so this was a whole new experience for me. I like being able to control all the aspects of the brewing process, especially steaming the milk. The Gaggia Classic has become a staple, and for good reason. It's a great way to break into the world of home espresso machines at an affordable price. It features a single boiler, meaning you can either pull a shot of espresso or steam milk, but not both at the same time. There are pros and cons to which you do first, so really it's up to you. Milk steams at a higher temperature than espresso brews. So if you pull a shot first you'll have to wait for the boiler to heat up for about thirty seconds before steaming the milk. If you steam the milk first, you'll have to flush the steam out through the grouphead and wait for the boiler to refill. In each instance it takes about thirty seconds to either heat up, or cool down and refill the boiler. In general it's recommended to pull the shot and wait for the water to heat up for steaming, but I preferred the other way around. Here's why: a shot of espresso is smaller in volume, so to me it makes more sense to steam the milk first, because it can retain its heat longer than the espresso. Try it out both ways and see what you think! Now as far as steaming the milk goes, the Gaggia Classic features a pannarello wand, which makes it super easy to just place the milk pitcher under the wand and let it go. If you do you'll get really great frothy cappuccino milk. Personally, I like to have more control over how much air is added into the milk (more air = more froth), because I don't prefer froth. So if you're like me don't worry, there's a secret! If you remove the wand and use the tip that's left you'll be able to add as much or as little air as you like. Now, this is a little more advanced of a technique, but if you're feeling adventurous give it a shot. With this method you'll want to submerge the tip in the milk. To add more froth simply lower the pitcher until the tip is slightly above the surface until you have the desired frothiness. It takes some practice to get the balance level you like, but hey it's fun to play around anyway. So it's easy to use, and there is a good amount of flexibility with this machine, plus it makes a great cup of espresso. The only thing I didn't really prefer is the lightweight aspect of the machine. It's nice and small, which saves on counter space, but it moves around a little when you're tightening the portafilter to the grouphead--so you'll have to keep it steady with your other hand. There is a base you can buy for the machine, or if you're feeling resourceful and crafty I'm sure you could create a little base of your own.
Gaggia Classic Brushed Stainless Steel Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
OverviewBack to Top
The Gaggia Classic is one of our best sellers since we began Whole Latte Love in 1997. Over time, Gaggia has added improvements designed to enhance the user experience while staying true to their commitment to produce espresso equipment that is on par with the best in the industry.
New to 2003 Gaggia has replaced the nickel plated carbon steel housing with brushed stainless steel. This produced a machine with an even more durable housing that will not rust or flake overtime. The portafilter handle was also upgraded to include a stainless steel dispensing beak. This improved consistency of the espresso flow when split between 2 demitasse cups or shot glasses. The main design of the portafilter remained the same at a whopping 1 pound of chrome plated brass with a commercial size, 58mm diameter. Gaggia also uses a massive chrome plated brass brew group, which is where the portafilter handle locks onto. Heat stability and retention is remarkable with this much mass, and is a Gaggia standard that only the Rancilio Silvia can match. All Gaggia espresso machines received a new Pannarello style frother to replace what was known as the Turbo Frother. This wand has proved to be both easier to use, and clean. Our testing showed that it is less finicky and requires less technique to produce frothed milk quickly, and of good quality. Also new is that Gaggia has finally dumped the pod adapter and replaced it with a stainless steel combination single shot/pod basket. For those that know, the old pod adapter was a true contraption; it was difficult to attach and too much effort to remove if you wanted to use ground coffee as well. The new pod basket was designed with the approval of Illy, who has been a founding member of the ESE (easy serving espresso) consortium. Our internal tests, and those of Illy USA, performed by both East and West Coast divisions has backed up this claim as well. With this approval all Gaggia machines can use espresso pods from any roaster that is ESE approved - the largest standard in the coffee industry.
The overall wattage of all Gaggia machines stay at an industry high 1425 watts. The electric pump accounts for 55 watts and is the strongest in it’s class. The remaining wattage is directed to Gaggia’s unique boiler system that incorporates not 1 but 2 heating elements. Unlike every other manufacturer at this price range, Gaggia does not position them in direct contact with water. They are actually embedded into the sides of the boiler which prevents a major reason espresso machines are brought in for warranty repair - corroded heating element. This design has proved to be highly efficient by causing the entire boiler to become a heating element. A fast method that further supports temperature stability.
The Classic further distinguishes itself by sporting a 3 way solenoid valve. This is a feature generally only found on commercial and prosumer equipment. It’s main purpose is to relieve the pressure that develops during the brewing process. As you may have read, espresso is brewed best at 8 to 9 bar or atmospheres of pressure. With a single bar being 14.7 lbs of pressure per square inch you can calculate that espresso is brewed at 132 lbs per square inch. The 3 way solenoid valve instantly relieves that pressure and diverts it to the drip tray. You may notice the chrome tube leading to the drip tray in the larger image. The benefit of this is that the quick release of the pressure takes much of the water left over in the group and leaves a relatively dry coffee puck. Drier puck means less coffee grounds to clean.
We recommend that you consider a quality burr grinder capable of producing a commercial grind like the Baratza Maestro Plus or Gaggia MDF for best results. Includes two stainless steel filter baskets (single/pod and double shot), coffee tamper and 7g measuring scoop. Available in Brushed Stainless Steel (Satin Finish).
FeaturesBack to Top
Features & Benefits: Coffee
Commercial Size and Style Portafilter Handle
Some of the most crucial elements for producing high quality espresso are influenced by the Style, Size and Construction of the portafilter. Style: This portafilter is designed like a commercial machine and works in the same way. The coffee is ground fine and is tamped (pressed) firmly into place. Size: The size of the portafilter is also the same as a commercial machine. Is has a large diameter (58 mm) so that the water is distributed evenly over a wide surface area. Construction: The portafilter is made up of two parts, the handle and the filter holder. The handle is made of high quality plastic. The heavy chrome plated brass filter holder keeps the temperature stable throughout the entire brewing process, therefore producing a quality cup of espresso.
Commercial Brewing Group
This is the portion of the machine that the portafilter locks into. It is made of chrome plated marine brass which provides a superior brewing environment through maximum heat stability and component longevity.
The Gaggia boiler system is very unique. It is designed of highly conductive aluminum with two heating elements. The heating elements are embedded into the exterior sides of the boiler, providing even heat distribution. Having the highest wattage system available, incorporated into a low volume boiler (3.5 ounces) provides excellent temperature stability and will heat up quicker.
3 Way Solenoid Valve
The three-way solenoid valve is a commercial feature that relieves the water pressure off the coffee when the brew switch is turned off. This serves two functions; it dries out the coffee to prevent dripping and makes it easy to knock the coffee out of the portafilter with one knock.
High Quality Controls with Temperature Ready Light
The Classic contains three rocker arm switches. The one on the left is the main power switch. It has an indicator light built into it that is illuminated whenever the machine is turned on. The middle switch is the steam switch. When turned on it will heat the boiler up to steam temperature. The far right switch operates the pump and is also known as the brew switch. To start the brewing process just turn on the brew switch, wait until you have reached your desired volume and then turn off the switch. There is an indicator light built in that is illuminated whenever the boiler reaches operating temperature.
Preheating your cups is very important. The Classic has a cup warmer that will hold up to five espresso cups. It is a passive type heater which means it is heated with the residual heat from the boiler.
Features & Benefits: Frothing and Hot Water
Hot Water Dispenser
If you want hot water for any reason, be it Hot Chocolate, Tea or Americanos it is very easy to do. Just turn on the pump (brew) switch and open the steam knob. Hot water will start to stream out.
Improved Pannarello Steam Wand
The Gaggia Classic comes equipped with a new Pannarello steam wand. The new design makes great froth every time with no problems.
Features & Benefits: Care, Maintenance & Other
The large removable 64oz reservoir can be refilled from the top any time during the operation, for an endless supply of coffee.
ESE Pod Capable
Comes ready to use with pods or ground coffee. Use the single shot filter basket with Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods. Pods are single serve prepackaged shots that are designed to be quick and clean.
Thermostat and Safety Switches
The Gaggia has three temperature controls. There are two thermostats and one high limit. There is one thermostat for maintaining brew temperature and one for maintaining steam temperature. The high limit will turn off the power to the boiler in the event of a malfunction thus preventing the boiler from overheating.
The Classic is made of stainless steel for extreme durability and a professional appearance. The drip tray is chrome plated while the drip grate and pan are made of a durable plastic.
Hello, I have had my Gaggia for less than a year. I noticed today that I have hard time moving the handle to the right to lock into position. It worked before and now it seems very 'tight'. With or without coffee, the same issue with turning the handle. Do you know why? Nothing is 'stuck' in the...
Have you attempted fully dismantling and cleaning the brew head components? odds are, some coffee has accumulated around there and is making for a rough attachment. Alternatively (and less likely), the group gasket may be drying out or wearing down prematurely. As these typically have a 2-ish...
I'm in the market for a new espresso machine (upgrading from a low-end De Longhi model). Could you run through a comparison between the Gaggia Classic Brushed Stainless Steel Semi-Automatic vs. the Gaggia Brera Espresso?
The Gaggia Classic is a semi automatic machine and would require preground espresso or a grinder. The Gaggia Brera has a superautomatic machine that has a built in grinder and would grind, tamp and brew your coffee and espresso for you. You would have more flexibility to adjust settings with...
Thanks Eric. I'd love to know more about what 'things' specifically besides the grinding I'd be able to do with the classic. I do have a grinder that I'm happy with, so that's not an issue.
I just unpacked my machine, and there are a couple different modifications to the directions, and I'm not sure which one to follow. One of them states that "this machine includes a variation on the accessories supplied. The ground coffee filters (1 cup and 2 cups) and the pod filter have been...
Honestly, I would suggest disregarding the included instructions and watching this video instead. It will give you a much more clear impression of what's different between the three baskets.
Thank you for the link. Along with another video clip that I watched, it has helped to clear up some of the inconsistency of the user's manual and supplements.
Hello, can you let me know what I should purchase in order to clean/descale and backflush the Gaggia Classic? Looks like I need a blind filer, but then I'm not sure if the cleaning solution for cleaning/descaling and backflushing is the same.
To descale a Gaggia Classic, you'd be best off using either the Gaggia Liquid Decalcifier, or Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler. Each of these are aluminum-safe, and therefore compatible with the boiler used by your machine. For backflushing, look into Urnex Cafiza, a powdered backflush detergent....
I received a Gaggia Classic as a gift, and I'm having trouble figuring out the filter basket part. Three baskets are included: 2 of them seem similar (both have a .7" diameter grid on the bottom), while the third has a grid the same width as the interior grid.
One (or two?) of these I assume...
It does seem confusing. The two baskets with small pin holes are to be used with the plastic pin. The small one for pods or single shot, the larger for double shots. You use these baskest if you dont have a true espresso grinder that will make the coffee fine enough. These baskets will help you...
I just recieved my new unit yesterday, pulled a shot last night and had a great dry puck. Pulled shots this AM and every one was wet, why isn't the solenoid working correctly? Does tamping pressure or length of shot pull affect it engaging when I switch off the pump?
This would be a great question for our technical support team. They can be reached at 1-888-411-5282 option 3
I have a gaggia classic with a rubber insert in the portafilter. This has just torn. Can you help me find replacement part? Thanks Rich
Gaggia does not produce that rubber disc any longer. They now have a “pressurized filter basket” that does the same thing. You can find it at this link. http://www.wholelattelove.com/Gaggia/ga_pressurized_filter_basket.cfm
Does Gaggia Classic come with a tamper or do I have to buy it separately? And if so can you please advise what's the best tamper in terms of value/cost.
This machine does come with a plastic tamper but I would recommend upgrading it to something more substantial. If you are looking for the best tamper as far as value/cost is concerned it would be the Rattleware Tamper. You will need a 58 mm tamper and it can be found at the link...
Our Gaggia is about 1 year old. After making the coffee, the coffee holder is extremely moist and still has water in it. Before, it was relatively dry. Also, the ready indicator oftens goes off after it is on. I am wondering if the water is not getting hot enough or the pressure is not strong...
I did give the group head a cleaning but it did not help. I guess the next step is to give it a good descaling. I will proivde an update on how goes after the descaling.
Have you descaled the machien recently? Give the group head a good cleaning and descale. This should help clear up the solenoid valve.
Is the Double spout separable from the filter handle? Looks like it should unscrew for making one cup. Can't unscrew it
Thank you for your question. Yes, this spout is unscrewable, and can actually be switched out for a single spout. The spout is pretty firmly attached when you receive the portafilter from the manufacturer, so you might need to secure the portafilter with a c-clamp and use a wrench to unscrew it....
The reason they are hard to unscrew is because Gaggia uses Loc-Tight or similiar product so that the double spout remains in a fixed position. Beside the method listed above, I prefer to find the closest fitting phillips (or similiar) screw drive that will pass thru the center diffuser hole (the...
I have had a Gaggia Classic for about 3 months. When I brew an espresso with ESE pods it takes more than a minute to make a single shot. I tried brewing without a pod in the filter and it takes less than 10 secondsl to make a shot. Any suggestions on how to speed up the process? By thie time...
Thank you for your question. It sounds like your pressurized filter might be blocked. There are a couple of ways to clean it. You can soak it in some descaler and hot water for half an hour. You can also drop the basket in a pot of boiling water. You can also take a needle or a pin and poke the...
What kind of warranty do you have on refurbished espresso machines like the Gaggia Classic?
Thank you for the question. The refurbished model comes with a 6 month warranty.
I've owned this machine for over three years, and I cant get a consistently good shot.
-I have thoroughly cleaned and descaled the machine carefully following instructions.
-I am using a Rancillio rocky grinder, which has clean burrs and seems to work perfectly.
-For a double shot I...
I had similar issues with my Gaggia Classic and it all got down to bad grinders. I had a Baratza Preciso, purchased directly from the manufacturer (refurb) and I was seeing the exact same thing. My double shoots (18 grams) were running fast in about 13 seconds. If I went to almost 0-2 setting...
Thanks so much Daniel- this is what I've suspected even though its been a constant problem with my Rancillo Rocky- I'll look into getting the grinder refurbished/replaced and take it from there. Good to know the machine is capable of pulling great shots.
I have had mine for about three yrs, cleaned it, it is not performing as before, coffee shots bitter, tried diferent settings on my grinder, if the setting is at the espresso number, it clogs, if I set it back to acourser grind it works, but not enough crema and sometimes bitter, what is up with...
how much should I dilute the descaling solution?
With any descaling solution, always dilute it as per the manufacturers' instructions. These vary from one brand to another, but are typically found on the packaging.
how much should I dilute the descaler
Unfortunately, the amount of dillution varies from one product to another. Rather than worry about it from the perspective of the machine, try to find the suggested dillution from the manufacturer's packaging for the descaling solution you are trying to use.
Hello, do you have this model or another gaggia machine that it works with a 220V? I'm from Chile and I'm very interested in this model or somthing similar, but I have de voltage compatibility problem (here we use 220V). I really appreciate any suggestion. Thanks!
At this time, we only have these machines available in US-friendly configurations; That is to say, 110V at 60hz, with a standard US AC plug on the cord.
Hello, is this the model: 14101 ?
in your specs it states that it has a 15 bar pump. in other places they say 17.5 bar pump, can you please confirm the bar preassure of the pump ?
Our listing is correct. This machine is a 15 bar pump. Please see the link to the Gaggia website here http://www.gaggia.com/e/machines.manual.RI9303_01.specifications.html
Hello, we have a Gaggia Clasic that we have been using for about 13 months. Here within the last month it seems to pressure to make the shots has decreased dramatically to the point where it barely drips out. We had not changed the grind or anything when this started so when it started pulling...
Most likely you are experiencing the symptoms of advanced scale buildup. If you haven't descaled this machine in the past 6-8 weeks, then that is the first step. It is important to use a proper descaling solution. I personally prefer...
Is there a possibility to place a water filter in the gaggia classic's water reservoir.
Nandor, thank you for your post. We unfortunately do not have a water filter that will work with the Gaggia Classic.
Hi, for some strange reason, It seems that my Gaggia Classic suddendly lost pressure... I poured a shot early morning and everything went right. I tried to pour another shot a couple of hours ago and suddendly pressure was much lower. Grinding in the second shot was actually a little coarser (I...
Thanks for the suggestions, looks like you figured it out correctly. It looks like that I somehow did something wrong (not sure what, the shot where I experienced low pressure was, paradoxically, with the "safe settings", where I returned after the early morning shot with finer grinding - not...
First impression, without more information, is that your grind was more than a little coarser; perhaps much courser. Go back to original grind for comparision. This machine is usually VERY reliable so first place to look for solutions is changes in your bahavior (no criticism intended). If the...
Antonino, that is the glory of making your own espresso. Just when you have it handled, you can totally blow it, with just one small change. This may sound a bit arrogant but I have found a solution that works for me. I own several machines, all Gaggia. Two Achille manuals and a Classic. I use...
SpecsBack to Top
|Dimension - Width (Inches):||8|
|Dimension - Height (Inches):||14.2|
|Dimension - Depth (Inches):||9.5|
|Housing Materials:||Stainless Steel|
|Drip Tray Material:||Plastic|
|Drip Tray Cover Material:||Stainless Steel|
|Drip Tray Capacity (Oz):||16|
|Power Cord Length (Inches):||44|
|One Touch cappuccino|
|One Touch Cappuccino:||No|
|Steam Wand Style:||Pannarello|
|Usable Length (Inches):||3.75|
|Height Off Counter (Inches):||4|
|Number Of Holes:||1|
|Optional Steam Tips Or Wands:||Latte art Pannarello|
|Reservoir Or Plumbed:||Reservoir|
|Reservoir Capacity (Oz):||72|
|Water Level Visible:||Yes|
|Type Of Controls:||Rocker|
|Size (Inches):||7 x 5|
|Passive / Active:||Passive|
|Material:||Chrome Plated Brass|
|Commercial Filter Baskets Included:||2|
|Pressurized Filter Baskets Included:||Single/Pod & Double shot|
|Ground, E.S.E. Pod And Capsule Compatible:||Ground & ESE Pod|
|Bottomless Portafilter Available:||Yes|
|Tamper Size (Millimeter):||58|
|Material:||Chrome Plated Brass|
|Capsule / Pod Friendly:||Pod|
|Number Of Boilers:||1|
|Brew Boiler Data|
|Brew Boiler Type:||Small Volume|
|Brew Boiler Watts:||1370|
|Brew boiler Volume (Oz):||3.5|
|Brew Boiler Material:||Aluminum|
|Brew Boiler Orientation:||Vertical|
|Brew Boiler Heater Location:||External|
|Maximum Pressure (Bar):||15|
|Self Priming Pump:||Yes|
|Initial Heat Up (Seconds):||65|
|Recommended Heat Up Time (Seconds):||420|
|Brew Temp (F) (2 Oz Shot In Paper Cup):||176|
|Brew Time for 2 Oz:||25|
|Brew Temp (F) (8 Oz Shot In Paper Cup):||174|
|Time To Produce Steam (Seconds):||39|
|Time To Steam 8 Oz Milk (Seconds):||32|
|Hot Water Temp 8 Oz (F):||168|
|Hot Water Time 8 Oz (Seconds):||11|
|Hot Water Recovery Time (Seconds):||17|
|Sound Level - Brewing (Db):||63|
|Descaler Used:||Gaggia Descaler or Urnex Cleancaf|
|Country Of Manufacture:||Italy|
|Repairs By:||Whole Latte Love|
A little over a week ago, we told you about our Twitter contest. All you had to do to enter was follow us and retweet a contest-related phrase to enter. We had hundreds of entries and were ecstatic to have our fans participate. But, ultimately, there could only be one winner and this time it’s Sheila Culver of Davenport, IA. Just one retweet got her a Gaggia Classic semi-automatic espresso machine. If you’re not Sheila and aren’t the proud new owner of a Gaggia Classic, there’s still hope. Our second annual Brew-BQ contest is in full swing until July 15. Be sure to submit a recipe for your chance to win a Gaggia Brera super-automatic espresso machine.
The Coffee Grinder – we have discussed coffee grinders here in the past and defined what a weight measuring coffee grinder can do. Now I’m going to tell you a seldom revealed astonishing fact; the quality of the coffee grinder directly affects the taste and crema of the espresso! For instance you can experiment starting with a very good espresso machine like the Gaggia Classic. Make espresso shots using grounds of the same coffee from various coffee grinders like a low end burr grinder, then go up in quality to a better home burr grinder, then to a prosumer-commercial burr grinder and on to a high end commercial conical burr grinder. You will actually notice how much better the espresso is using coffee grounds from each coffee grinder! In keeping with the spirit of our espresso-as-science experiment and the ability to be consistent, we had talked about the very good Baratza Vario-W Coffee Grinder. The next step up, in my opinion, would be a prosumer-commercial grade machine like the Ceado E37 Coffee Grinder, which is a programmable dosing grinder that has amazing burrs and will give you a better espresso because of the burrs and the design of the grinder. It also lets you program the dose electronically based on grind time. So again you can be consistent in the amount of coffee you use. Here is a link to learn more about this amazing grinder. Ceado E37 Coffee Grinder. The next step up to a commercial grade machine may seem like a little much for home use; however, a great choice would be the Mazzer Kony as it has conical burrs and it is also available in an electronic version for producing consistent doses of coffee grounds. This coffee grinder or any commercial conical burr coffee grinder would permanently end any further need to upgrade your coffee grinder. A coffee grinder like this will absolutely give you the best chance of making a truly superior espresso. Looking at the coffee grinder as one of the controllable variables in our espresso-as-science experimenting we find that selecting the best grinder we can afford is one thing we can change and get a predictable result. That is, if we keep everything else the same, tamp, amount and type of coffee, and the size of the shot, then adjusting the grind and tasting the shot results will determine what grinder and grind fineness will give us the best tasting results. For most people the grinder and grind settings would be the variable that would give them very noticeable results quickly. The Espresso Machine – So far we have looked at many of the variables involved in making great espresso. Another variable is the espresso machine. Many espresso aficionados consider the espresso machine to be the most important one. I do somewhat agree that the machine is an important part of producing quality espresso. With the correct machine you have the potential to make a great tasting shot of espresso. I say potential because so many factors go into making a great espresso. Many of these factors are going to be based on the user’s knowledge and skill at crafting an espresso from what they have to work with. Again if we look at this as a science experiment one of the factors that can be controlled if you have the proper machine is the brewing water temperature. Espresso coffee taste will vary considerably when brewed at different temperatures. I always tell people about wine and how to relate wine temperature and how it affects wine almost the same as coffee. Actually wine and coffee have many similarities as far as how they are cupped, tasted and have different characteristics based on where they are grown and even how good or bad the growing season was. Back to temperature and wine; If you order a really good bottle of white wine somewhere and it is kept in the beer cooler at near freezing you know when you get that wine it will only taste cold. It is not at the proper temperature for the wine to let you in on all the nuances and flavors the vintner has worked so hard to get in that great bottle of wine. As the wine warms up and gets to the proper temperature for serving then you start to notice the flavors of the wine such as oaky, fruity, flowery, and all the other great descriptions of the wine. Coffee is the same way. Temperature plays a very large roll in how exactly the espresso will taste. The whole idea of looking at this as a science experiment is to learn how you can control many of the variables in making espresso. Having a machine where you can control temperature is a huge advantage at being able to make an espresso that may be the best you have ever had. Spending your money on the right equipment will give you the potential to make an espresso shot that is downright amazing. The ability to control temperature is going to let the espresso have different tastes. You may be able to pick out chocolate, berry, caramel, fruit and also something like currants. Notice the similarity to wine descriptions. If you invest in a machine that allows you to control the brewing water temperature, like one of my favorites the Expobar Brewtus IV Espresso Machine, and you keep all the other variable parameters consistent, you will get to the point where you know exactly the temperature that will yield the best tasting espresso coffee. Having an espresso machine that will brew at exact temperatures will certainly help us in our quest to make the perfect shot. Since our love of espresso coffee and our ability to be scientists should have a goal and a plan to get there I will discuss how this all ties together in part three of espresso as science and perhaps reveal what this all means!
We receive numerous calls from customers asking the same question, “What is the difference between the Gaggia Classic, Baby Class and New Baby?” Well in response to this question we have created a video showing you the similarities and the differences of these three machines.
Some very good news came in the mail a few weeks ago. One of our most established semi-automatic espresso machines, a legend in its own right, the Gaggia Classic has earned some well-deserved accolades from a respected source. Also, honorable mentions went out to machines from Krups and DeLonghi. Consumers Digest, an a review-based, consumer-interest magazine, has named the Gaggia Classic the Best Buy for the Premium Espresso Machine Category in its August issue. The Krups 5220, whose updated version is the XP5240 Pump Espresso Machine with Precise Tamp, was named the Best Buy for the Mid-Range Category. Rounding out the pack, the DeLonghi EC155 was awarded the Best Buy designation for the Economy Selection. Machine features, ease of use as well as drink and construction quality were all taken into account for the Consumers Digest Best Buy Selections. All three award-winning machines can accommodate ESE pods and ground espresso; they also come with single and double-shot filter baskets. In addition, the Classic, 5220 and EC155 all feature 15-bar pumps and durable construction. So, with all due fanfare, let’s take a look at what the experts at Consumers Digest had to say about these standout machines... Premium Best Buy - Gaggia Classic The Gaggia Classic has been with us, at Whole Latte Love, since our company was founded in 1997. The Classic is a mainstay on the espresso scene. It has been praised by Consumers Digest, and countless others, for the innovative aluminum boiler, equipped with two powerful heating elements—allowing the machine to warm up quickly and maintain consistent brewing temps. In addition, the Classic is outfitted with a number of other features not commonly found in a consumer espresso machine including a three-way solenoid valve, as well as a large 64-ounce removable water reservoir. While not mentioned in the Consumers Digest article, the Gaggia Classic also comes with a chrome-plated 58mm brass portafilter and brew group. These are professional-grade components that help to create a controlled, temperature-stable environment for better espresso extraction. As with most Gaggia semi-automatic machines, the Classic features a Pannarello steam wand for easy steaming and frothing. An intuitive interface and durable stainless-body help the Gaggia Classic earn high marks with the experts and Whole Latte Love customers alike. Midrange Best Buy - Krups Precise Tamp System Espresso 5220 The Krups 5220, which has since been upgraded to the XP5240 model, was praised for its user-friendly Precise Tamp System. Tamp pressure is automatically applied, to ensure that you get the proper extraction every time. The XP5240, the successor to the model mentioned in the Consumers Digest article, has a modern stainless-steel body as well as a powerful 1400-watt thermoblock boiler that heats up in less than a minute. Consumers Digest considers the 5220 a mid-range machine; we would recommend versions of this model to beginners looking for a hassle-free brewing experience. Economy Best Buy - DeLonghi EC155 Espresso Machine It’s rare to find a pump-driven espresso machine under $100, but that is exactly what the DeLonghi EC155 offers. As mentioned by Consumers Digest, this DeLonghi semi-automatic machine has two autonomous thermostats—one for brewing and the other dedicated to steaming functions. A self-priming pump also helps the EC155 stand out from the rest of the economy class. Although, a largely ABS-plastic exterior makes it appear slightly less formidable than the Gaggia Classic. A longer warm-up cycle, clocking in around 10 minutes, is also reason enough for some to consider upgrading. But, all in all, the DeLonghi EC155 is a solid option, if you’re looking a no-frills espresso machine. We’re proud to represent all three brands mentioned the Consumers Digest Best Buy index. We believe all of these machines can more than hold their own in their respective categories, but tell us what you think. Did Consumers Digest hit the nail on the head or did the experts miss the mark?
Spring is just around the corner and with it comes extended daylight hours. If you've been cooped up all winter, now is the time to take advantage of the longer days. To make sure you get the most of your spring days, we're back with our picks of solid espresso machines sure to give you perfect pick-me-up brews. Best of all, there's a machine for every budget! Economy Machine One of our newest semi-automatic machines, the Capresso EC100, proves that you can make good espresso and cappuccino without breaking the bank. This Espresso and Cappuccino Machine comes in under $150, yet does not scrimp on the features and benefits. Peel back the attractive polished black panels and you'll find a powerful 15-bar pump, capable of extracting crema-rich espresso. The EC100 is also backed by a stainless steel ThermoBlock heating system for respectable temperature stability. This Capresso model is a great starter machine, can accommodate pods as well as ground espresso. Like milk-based beverages? The EC100 has creative milk solutions to deliver rich cappuccinos and lattes. This model comes with a unique frothing attachment, leave it in place to froth or detach it from the wand to steam. Designed to make brewing and frothing hassle free, the Capresso EC100 features exceedingly simply controls. This machine is a solid choice for beginners. It even features a handsome exterior, with stainless steel accents, to ensure that it'll look great on your kitchen counter. Mid-Range Machine Our mid-range machine spotlight is a true classic. The Gaggia Classic is one of our most popular semi-automatic espresso machines. Costing just under $400, the Gaggia Classic gives you, arguably, the best value for your money. Though it is designed for home use, the Classic has a slew of high-end features including a commercial-grade brew group and chrome-plated brass portafilter as well as dual heating elements and a three-way solenoid valve. These features help to create a very impressive brewing experience. One of the qualities that differentiates the Gaggia Classic from its peers is the remarkably quick warm-up time; from a cold start this machine is ready to brew in roughly 5 minutes. You'll also get three portafilter baskets—a pressurized, non-pressurized and pod basket. This allows the Classic to be completely flexible and accommodate a wide range of brewing preferences. Due to its flexibility and impressive capabilities, along with a history of reliable performance, the Gaggia Classic has earned a devoted following, one which includes our very own sales rep. Mike R. In fact, he has even written a blog contemplating whether or not the Classic is the perfect machine. This Gaggia model is recommended for value-conscious espresso lovers. The Classic has a nice stainless steel housing unit that makes for easy cleaning and maintenance; Gaggia has done a great job of integrating very utilitarian features into this compact machines. High-End MachineIf you're looking to duplicate café quality results at home, the Expobar Brewtus IV may be the perfect machine for you. This prosumer espresso machine is a brewing and frothing marvel. Engineered for complete temperature stability, the Brewtus IV has dual copper boilers backed by 1250-watt heating elements. Since one boiler is dedicated exclusively to brewing and the other is used for steaming, frothing and dispensing hot water, the Brewtus IV can meticulously control its environment to deliver temperature appropriate espresso. A Gicar PID control takes it one step further, letting you adjust boiler temperatures to create optimal extraction conditions for any kind of roast. This prosumer favorite operates using a vibration pump and comes equipped with a steam boiler switch. The switch is unique to Expobar; it will let you turn off the steam boiler and run just the brew boiler. Doing so will decrease warm-up time. With the steam boiler deactivated, the Expobar Brewtus IV can be ready to brew within 15 minutes of a cold start. As you can see, a good espresso machine and can be had with any budget. Don’t get overwhelmed by your choices; give our Sales Department a call, our trained representatives can match you up with the perfect machine!
In the sales department, we get calls from customers who are researching machines, Most people have usually narrowed it down to a few machines that fit their needs. Those with budgets in the $1000 range for a machine, they inevitably consider the Rancilio Silvia and the Gaggia Classic. I love getting these calls, because whichever way the customer goes, I know they will be satisfied with the machine, whichever one they choose. Each machine has reasons it would be a slightly better fit for a particular customer, and I regularly talk to customers who have had either one of these models for 10 years plus. So what are the pros and cons of each machine, and which one fits you best? Gaggia Classic: Pros and Cons Let’s start off with the Gaggia Classic. It is a proven model that has been around for over 25 years. The Classic can compete with a number of machines, not just the Silvia. Pro- Small volumetric boiler – Gives you a quick heat up time. The machine will give you a ready light in about three minutes but it is really ready to rumble in about five minutes. Pro- All stainless housing, rocker switches, 3 way solenoid valve – All great features that really make the unit stand out. Striking looks with the stainless housing, durable rocker switches that almost never wear out, and the three way solenoid that makes for easy clean up and adds to the machine’s life-span. Pro- Includes pod, pressurized and non-pressurized baskets all in a commercial portafilter – The Classic is one of the most versatile machine that we sell. It can brew pods, pre-ground with the pressurized baskets or for the ultimate control, non-pressurized baskets. The chrome-plated brass portafilter also lends to a stable brew temp across the machine. Con- Small boiler – The double-edged sword of the smaller boiler is that if you need to steam a lot of milk, over 10 ounces, you will notice the machine’s boiler size, and inherent lack of ‘steam stamina’. Con- Aluminum boiler – This is a non-issue to some people. Others don’t like aluminum being the primary component of the boiler’s alloy. It’s actually because of the aluminum boiler that it is able to heat up so quickly. Con- Water reservoir placement – While refilling it is easy due to a funnel through the middle of the machine. But removing the reservoir for cleaning does require that you first remove the drip tray. Not a huge con, but it can become a nuisance. Rancilio Silvia: Pros and Cons The Rancilio is another proven machine that has been on the market for about 12 years and has a near cult following. So loved, this machine has a number of after market modifications for it, and we’ve heard back from people that they have had the housing anodized with other metals to completely “trick” their machine out. Pro- All stainless housing, rocker switches, 3 way solenoid valve – Like the Classic above, the Silvia also sports a stainless steel housing, with a nice black accent down the middle. The rocker switches are nice and durable. Silvia has the ever-important three-way solenoid valve. (check out my blog ‘A Three Way Solenoid? What is That?’ for a better understanding of this feature). Pro- Large 12 ounce boiler – The Silvia sports a beefier 12 ounce boiler, made out of brass. The Silvia benefits better ‘steam stamina’ from the larger boiler size. Pro- Commercial portafilter with non-pressurized baskets, and pod adaptability – The Silvia’s commercial portafilter made of chrome plated brass and works extremely well with the non-pressurized baskets, gives you great control over the shot with your grind and tamp techniques. And if you wish, there is a pod adaptor kit that is sold separately and allows you to brew pods. Con- Finicky of the grind – The Silvia is very particular of the grind fineness and consistency. You will need to buy a Gaggia MDF or Rancilio Rocky to brew at it’s best. Con- Larger 12 ounce boiler – Requires a longer warm-up time. About five minutes for the ready light to come on, but really ready to rumble in about seven minutes. Con- Pod adaptability – While pod capable with the adaptor, the machine is a one or the other machine. With the pod kit actually changing the group head, you cannot do ground on a pod-kitted Silvia and vice-versa. Both are Winners… If you need a machine that heats up quick, can brew out 2-3 long shots to fill your travel mug as you run out the door, the Classic may be more suitable. If you’re looking to have a latte for you and each of your family every night as you wind down for a moment together, the Silvia would fit better for you. But the floor is open to debate. Which machine do you have, and why does it fit you better?
Could there ever be such a thing as “the perfect machine”? Could anyone be audacious enough to claim that such a machine exists? Well, I am here to stake that claim for the Gaggia Classic. In my opinion, the Gaggia Classic is, if not the world’s perfect machine, certainly the most versatile. With the most recent version, Gaggia is now shipping the units with a total of 4 filter baskets. The unique thing about the Classic is it lets you brew any way you choose. It comes with a single and double pressurized basket, ESE pod basket and a double shot non-pressurized/commercial basket. So, you can you brew your coffee with the pressurized basket, and alleviate the anxiety of having to get the perfect grind for it, you also have the option of still brewing with the non-pressurized basket as well (for those of us that like that extra control over the brew process). Finally, Gaggia includes the pod basket so that you can use ESE pods as well. Some machines come pod and ground ready, while others come with pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets, the Classic is the only machine on the market prepared to accommodate all three brewing styles. In my house, when my wife wants a latte, and doesn’t want to deal with messy coffee grounds, the Gaggia Classic allows her to use the pod basket with an ESE pod. If my mother-in-law is over, and wants a beverage, but can’t quite get the grind and tamp right, she just switches over to a pressurized basket and uses preground coffee to brew. Finally, I prefer to brew with the non-pressurized basket, in my brew style. The versatile Classic lets each of us brew using our preferred method. All in a machine that even has an under-five-minute warm up time. A handsome stainless steel housing, with a three way solenoid valve, at a reasonable price; you can’t beat it.
We, Americans, love our milk-based drinks. We go out and purchase both expensive and inexpensive espresso/cappuccino machines that can do the job but, unfortunately, most of us don’t know the nuances of frothing that we need in order to create a quality drink. This blog is directed towards those of us who have a machine equipped with a Pannarello wand/Tubro frother. All of these Pannarello wands have air intake holes that mix air with the steam to create froth. They are designed in such a way so we can adjust our technique and inject the amount of air needed to create the type of froth that we want. You may have heard that a commercial wand is needed to make a nice froth. Yes, they are nice, but with a little practice you can do an amazing job with out it. Most of the Pannarello wands have air intake holes near the top, while some, like the Jura machines have a two-position wand, you move it up for steam and down for froth. First locate the air intake, once you have located it, follow the technique below. Always froth your milk when it is coldest, directly out of the fridge. Start by leaving the air intake hole above the surface of the milk. As you are frothing your milk you will notice that it will start to expand and bubbles will appear on the surface. Keep frothing until you have all the froth that you want, and the pitcher is warm to the touch. Then, cover the air intake hole with the milk and keep steaming the milk until the temperature rises to around 160 degrees. Even if you can’t see the air intake hole you will be able to hear when it is sucking in air and when it is not. Try moving the pitcher up and down with your eyes closed and you will clearly hear the difference. For those who have the Jura machines with the two-position wand use the up position for frothing and the down position for steaming. After you are done frothing, swirl the milk in the pitcher to mix it until it has the consistency of latex paint. Pour the milk into your espresso and you will have a wonderfully made latte. For more info see my blog "The secret of a great latte” Every wand and machine is a little different, and it will take some practice until you are comfortable with the wand. While practicing pay attention to the amount and type of froth your machine creates and then make air intake adjustments as necessary. If you inject air for too long you will get to much foam, it will overflow the pitcher, the froth will be cold and it won’t mix together with the hot milk on the bottom of the pitcher, so don’t overdo the amount of air.
Ok so you just received your new semi-automatic machine and are getting ready to make a nice cappuccino. You have watched the local Barista, done your online research and have quickly come to the conclusion that you are getting conflicting information on how to properly make a cappuccino or latte with your new machine. In some instances, you may have seen the drinks being made by brewing your espresso and then steaming and frothing your milk. Likewise, you may have also watched videos that show a latte being made in a glass cup where the espresso is being poured into the steamed milk. So which is it you might ask. "Do I brew first or do I steam first"? The consensus with our team here is that it is better to steam/froth your milk first and then brew your espresso. This especially holds true when using a single boiler espresso machine like the Gaggia Classic or Rancilio Silvia. This serves three main purposes: First, it is much more fast to make a latte or cappuccino by cooling the machine to brew after steaming then to wait for the machine to heat to steam after brewing. You can very quickly have the machine ready to brew simply by switching to the brew button and running hot water through the steam arm. The wand will change from producing steam to producing hot water very fast. Once you have hot water instead of steam you are ready to brew. This should take mere seconds with most mid level semis like the Gaggia machines. Second, it is better for the machine and its internal components to be at the cooler brew temperature then the hotter steam temperature. In fact, Rancilio states in their manual that the steps mentioned in point one is necessary in the normal operation to prevent the machine from burning out heating elements and boilers. Third, performing step one with the mid level semi-automatic machines is a great way to maintain a relatively consistent temperature when brewing. If you start brewing at about the same time after the steam turns to hot water you can maintain a consistent brew temperature with every shot. This is something known as temperature surfing which is a topic all of its own.