The Gaggia Classic has garnered a dedicated cult following since its release back in 1991, with thousands of coffee drinkers spending decades modding and raving about it.
I recently set out to discover if the new Gaggia Classic Pro was still worth the hype.
Dive into my Gaggia Classic Pro review to discover just what sets it apart from other models.
Gaggia Classic Pro Review – My Ratings & Top Features
Overall, I would rate the Gaggia Classic Pro 4 out of 5 stars.
I love its simple and minimalist approach to crafting quality espresso shots, but I think certain cheaper elements could be improved.
Who Should Buy The Gaggia Classic Pro?
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a great espresso machine for beginners looking for an accessible way to learn and practice the craft of brewing espresso. Knowing how to dose, tamp, and lock in a portafilter beforehand will help smooth the learning curve.
Why I Decided To Review The Gaggia Classic Pro
After reviewing many complicated and flashy espresso machines, I found myself craving a simpler brewing process with a more analog home espresso machine.
When a friend let me take their Classic Pro for a spin, I just had to put it through its paces for this review.
Cups Brewed Per Day
Level Of Experience Needed
Beginner - Intermediate
Home brewing enthusiast who started with a simple cafetiere collection and is on a journey to up their game.
Money Saved Per Year
Favorite Drink To Brew
Espresso and cappuccino
What’s It Like To Live With The Gaggia Classic Pro
What’s In The Box?
My Classic Pro espresso machine arrived in a double box package, which was a very good sign.
The first brown box was sturdy with simple red Gaggia branding. The second internal box was the colorful yet solid product box.
Inside, my new espresso machine was nestled in molded foam inserts, with a manual and accessories box tucked under the interface, which is fairly standard for espresso machines.
I loved its industrial look right away - it felt understated but still subtly drew the eye to my counter.
A couple of nice touches were that the water tank was wrapped in plastic and the drip tray was taped down.
The water tank also contained the power cable and three-way solenoid valve, which you need to insert yourself.
Contained in the accessories box were:
Setting up was incredibly quick and straightforward, thanks to both the manual and pared-back design. Once I cleaned the necessary parts and put it all together, I was ready to go.
Pulling My First Espresso Shot
When it comes to making espresso and with the Classic Pro, simplicity is the name of the game.
The user interface consists of three simple rocker switches - one for power, one for brewing, and one for steaming.
There is also a knob on the right-hand side for controlling the steam and hot water process. No fancy brew cycles, no pre-programmed drinks - just the essentials.
Filling the tank is simple but quite fiddly when it comes to extracting the tank from the machine.
I quickly learned that I prefer filling it with a jug using the funnel at the top rear and the level indicator on the side.
The new and improved single boiler heated within only a minute or two. This is very impressive compared to other semi-automatic and manual machines on the market.
Now, I have mixed feelings about the commercial 58 mm portafilter. The heft and balance of it are great, but I do not love the plastic handle.
To be honest, I immediately threw out the plastic tamper and coffee scoop and used my own.
They both felt flimsy, and the tamper is a little too small for the portafilter, meaning that you cannot get the required pressure and need to move it around while tamping.
If you can order upgrades while buying this great machine, I recommend doing so.
As there is no built-in grinder, I went with my separate grinder. I initially went with an 18-20 gram dose with my burr grinder and got to work.
It took less than 30 seconds for my coffee grounds to complete the 9-bar extraction process.
The temperature stability and surfing were a breeze to handle, thanks to the portafilter and chrome brass-plated group head.
The resulting inaugural shot had beautiful crema, but the coffee itself was quite one-note and too hot.
On my second go, I purged the group head into my cup first and went for a 22-gram double shot, which seemed to do the trick.
While my first shot was a bit disappointing, my second shot was full-bodied and complex with a perfect crema. This latter shot was near cafe quality with rich and bold flavor.
However, this is to be expected with a machine whose drink quality relies on your skill and getting to know the machine.
You can use ESE pods with this machine, but the coffee drinks will not be as decent as those with freshly ground beans. The end quality will vary depending on what ESE pod you choose.
First Time Frothing Milk
Steaming milk is a simple manual process with the Gaggia Classic Pro espresso maker and its steam wand. .
As the Pro uses a single boiler, you will need to wait about 15-45 seconds for it to reach the proper temperature to froth milk.
By the time you dispose of your puck and fill your jug, it should be ready to go, and the steam button light indicator should be on.
The steam wand and knob sit on the right-hand side and are commercial quality. A two-hole tip is perfect for crafting light and airy foam.
However, the lack of a ball joint makes things feel a little awkward and stiff when you go to steam milk.
The resulting milk was creamy and fluffy, perfect for a dry cappuccino. However, the steam wand does not let it get quite hot enough for perfect latte foam, so no latte art for me.
I also found that I could only brew two standard-size cappuccinos back-to-back before this semi-automatic machine literally ran out of steam.
Americano fans will be pleased to know you can also get hot water from the steam wand.
How Much Control Do You Have Over The Machine?
Baristas who love to control every micro-step of the brewing process to pull their perfect espresso may be disappointed with the Gaggia Classic Pro.
Unlike other coffee machines on the market, you cannot adjust the temperature or pressure - the machine handles it for you.
This makes things much simpler for beginners, but micromanagers may want to invest in a prosumer machine instead.
How Does It Handle Different Roasts?
As there is no built-in grinder, the world is your oyster when it comes to using your own beans.
I tried everything from the most basic IKEA beans to my fancy Whittards beans - each double shot tasted delicious and complex.
You can even use pre-ground coffee and ESE coffee grounds with the Gaggia Classic Pro, thanks to the pressurized baskets that come with it.
Look, Feel, and Size Of The Machine
Out of the box, the Gaggia Classic looks very chiseled and industrial, boasting six different color options to suit a range of color palettes.
I love how it shirks the sleek curves of other models in favor of a sharp and defined minimalist look.
Its rugged construction and sturdy build draw the eye even without the flashy style of fancier models.
In terms of dimensions, the 14-inch tall exterior easily slots under my standard landlord-issue cupboards, and its 9.5-inch length and 8-inch width save valuable counter space.
I love how clean and compact it all is.
At 20 pounds, you can easily move this espresso machine around to do deep cleans or maintenance - no need to worry about roping in a friend for heavy lifting.
It is just hefty enough that pulling shots does not move it around like other lighter consumer machines.
What Drinks Can It Make?
The sky is the limit when it comes to making espresso drinks with the Gaggia Classic Pro.
You are not faced with any pre-programmed drinks menu; you are just handed the reins for the basics that make most specialty drinks.
The brew head and commercial wand work perfectly together to provide anything you can dream up.
That being said, it worked best when making purely espresso-based drinks. As much as I love a milky coffee, the steaming capabilities are not quite there for lattes.
Dry cappuccino and Americano fans will love the professional steam wand, though.
How Easy Is It To Use?
Simplicity is key when it comes to the Classic Pro, but that does not mean it is without a learning curve.
Beginner coffee fans that are happy to practice and learn new skills will be able to rustle up decent brew.
This machine grows with you as you can easily modify it once you have a handle on the basics.
Its simple user interface and no-frills approach to brewing coffee will help make the first time easier for newbies.
How Long Does It Take? (From Heat Up To First Sip)
Thanks to rapid-heating tech, you can get that first blessed sip of morning coffee in as little as five minutes, depending on your drink and skill.
The Gaggia Classic Pro heats up in only a minute or two, making it a great option for impatient home baristas.
Does It Have A Water Filtration System?
There is no water filtration system built into the Gaggia Classic Pro. Because of this, I recommend using filtered water only with the Pro to minimize limescale buildup in the machine.
How Hard Is It To Clean and Descale?
Unfortunately, neither cleaning nor descaling solution comes with your purchase, so I recommend purchasing them simultaneously with your espresso machine to save time.
Gaggia recommends that you stick to their brand-name cleaning products to avoid damaging the machine's internal parts.
Both the cleaning and descaling processes are simple enough, thanks to the detailed manual instructions, but they both take time to do.
The cleaning process is very typical of semi-automatics, requiring you to handwash some parts and empty and top up others.
You will need to do a deep descale of your machine every 2-3 months, depending on how hard the water in your area is.
This process is simple but takes around 40 minutes to do effectively by hand.
Regular maintenance ensures that your home espresso machine keeps making decent coffee for years.
While replacement parts for the Classic Pro are readily available, the two-year warranty is on the high end of the average and brings peace of mind.
My Favorite Parts About The Gaggia Classic Pro
My Least Favorite Parts About The Gaggia Classic Pro
Gaggia Classic Pro Vs Similar Machines
Gaggia Classic Pro Vs Classic Pro Limited Edition
There is little difference between the Classic Pro and the Limited Edition version. They share many of the same features and dimensions.
However, the Limited Edition comes with unique art on its stainless steel housing as well as a longer warranty and a slightly smaller tank.
Additionally, it is more pricey due to the artistic touches in its design.
Gaggia Classic Pro Vs Gaggia Classic
The Gaggia Classic was initially revealed to the public back in 1991 - how does the revamped Pro compare to its predecessor?
The original Classic featured a lesser quality vibration pump mount, a Pannarello steam wand that often got replaced with better steam wands, a poor drip tray design, and different style buttons and indicator light system.
The temperature stability was also more flawed than its newer design.
However, pre-2009 models were high quality and have years of mods and forums dedicated to getting the best from them. Plus, you can get used ones for really good prices.
Gaggia Classic Pro Vs Breville Bambino Plus
The Classic Pro is often put against the Bambino Plus as they share many similar features, like a fast heat-up time.
However, some key elements push the Bambino Plus ahead for some customers.
The Bambino Plus features pre-infusion, volumetric shot control, automatic and manual milk frothing, and a PID temperature control system.
The Plus also comes with a 54 mm portafilter and a smaller water tank. Baristas who want more control over their coffee tend to prefer the Bambino Plus.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Yes, the Gaggia Classic Pro can make hot water through the steam wand.
It is possible to use plant-based milks with the Gaggia Classic Pro. However, as an oat milk fan, I recommend getting ones that are designed explicitly with baristas in mind, as they will froth better.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is made in Italy.
A Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine will typically last over ten years with the right care and maintenance. Gaggia is famous for its workhorse machines and loyal modding fanbase that provides spare parts at a decent cost.
Conclusion - Is The Gaggia Classic Pro Worth Your Money?
To conclude this Gaggia Classic espresso machine review, I highly recommend this espresso machine to beginners willing to practice and learn it over time.
It is a simple yet effective machine that focuses on the bare essentials while giving endless possibilities for modding in the future.
However, picky latte fans and larger households will find themselves wanting, thanks to the small boiler and steaming wand.
Gaggia Classic Pro