The Gaggia Classic Pro may be the best prosumer home espresso machine under $500, and that’s what we’ll talk about today. We’re going to talk about the building materials and the build quality. We’re going to talk about the features, haptics, and ergonomics.
We will look at the pros and cons of the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso machine, as well as talk about partner acceptance, and finally, we will talk about all the mods you can do on this machine. So let’s get right on into it.
Design and Build Quality Gaggia Classic Pro
So the Gaggia Classic Pro is made out of stainless steel. It is a really lovely brushed stainless steel, and it is magnetic. Some people will say, well, stainless steel can’t be magnetic. But I have looked into it, and some variants are, in fact, magnetic so that you can put your WDT tool on the side, for example.
It comes with a huge water container and is made of a smoky plastic material. Which is something we’ll return to a little bit later. There are two tubes, one for sucking up water and the other for putting the shunted water off the over-pressure valve and back into the water reservoir. The next thing to mention is that it does come with a three-way solenoid valve, which is what the little metal stem is for.
So that just gets put into the little hole coming out of the housing. So after you do your espresso extraction, the pressure on the puck is released by that valve, and the extra water is put down into the drip tray. Next is the drip tray, and we’ve got a stainless steel cover to it, and it is a pretty large plastic drip tray. I will return to the drip tray later when it comes to cons in the next section.
So let’s talk about the control elements. We’ve got three switches on the top, and the toggle switches are pretty robust. They are really meaty switches, so they’ll last a long time. We’ve got the first one for power. The power button flips back on its own. It’s got a 20-minute timer on it, so it will turn the machine off after 20 minutes if it’s not being used. Then we got a brew button, which engages the pump, and a steam button, which engages the heating element to heat up to steaming temperature.
If you press both the power and brew buttons simultaneously and open the steam wand, you’ll get water out of the steam wand. Let’s move on to the steam wand valve. It is hard, black plastic, and doesn’t give me the best feeling. I prefer that this was made out of a better different material. It feels like a hollow plastic, and you can bend it a little bit, so I wish they would use something else, but so far, it has worked for me just fine.
But it is slippery to grip, especially if your hands are wet, so keep that in mind. Then we got the steam wand, and it is not a non-burn steam wand, so be careful when you touch it because it does get hot. It’s got a two-hole tip on the bottom, and the steam wand only swivels back and forth. There are two things to mention about the steam wand. It does not swivel up and down, so it doesn’t rotate. The angle is fixed, and there’s little space between the steam wand’s tip and the espresso machine’s casing.
There needs to be more space to get your milk pitcher in there. So, how do you fill the machine up with water? It’s just got this little plastic top that you can take off, and there’s an integrated funnel, so you pour the water in from the top, and I find that very ergonomic and very convenient.
Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine also comes with a very hefty portafilter. The portafilter does 512 grams, so it’s very sturdy. It is chrome-plated brass and comes with a double spout. It also comes with three different baskets. It comes with a single or double basket, a pressurized basket, and a little nipple that you can put in here to use with that pressurized basket.
There are a couple more things to mention regarding this machine’s features. As I said, it turns off after 20 minutes but has a swift heat-up time. And not only does the machine heat up quickly, but it also heats the portafilter, which is a huge advantage.
Most machines in the cheaper range do not heat the portafilter, and that’s important. You want the whole path of the espresso to be at the same temperature, ideally. So from the shower screen down onto the basket, onto the portafilter, and down into the cup, which is ideal also pretty warmed. You want all to be at the same temperature for the best extraction.
So kudos to Gaggia for making the Classic Pro Espresso Machine heated brew group. One more thing to mention as far as heating is concerned, the boiler inside is made of aluminum. That will put some people off, but you should say that the inside is not stainless steel but an aluminum boiler.
Ergonomic for Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
So Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine is my favorite prosumer espresso machine in the sub $500 category, but it is an entirely manual machine. That means there is no volumetric dosing. So you start and stop it with the on-off switch—the same thing for the steam. If you turn the steam on and forget about it, you might burn out the heating element.
So keep that in mind.
It is a completely manual machine. Also, after you steam, the boiler will be scorching, so you must remember to cool down the boiler afterward by running water through it and opening up the steam valve. That’s something important to me to keep in mind with this.
You’re buying a stick shift car, whereas, with other machines, you’re buying an automatic. Something else to remember with this machine is that there’s no low water sensor in the water tank. So considering there’s no low water sensor, sometimes I’ll pull a shot and run out of water, which is annoying.
Pros and Cons of Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
Build quality is one of the pros for the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine. It has got excellent build quality. Pros number two is perfect espresso and milk steaming capabilities. Number three is it’s got a very high mod ability, and we’ll come to that later.
There’s one more thing I want to mention. This machine is terrific because so many people love it, and there are excellent communities behind it. You’ve got Facebook communities, I’m sure there are Reddit communities on this, and you can even order all kinds of parts to modify this machine online.
Now, let’s talk about this espresso machine’s cons, mostly about ergonomics. So one con for me, and my biggest dislike, is that the water container is a smoked color. And actually, this machine is designed because it throws a shadow, so it’s tough to see how much water you even have in there.
So that isn’t very pleasant. The second thing that was a little different is that the steam wand was on a ball joint so that you could freely angle on it and adjust it a further away from the base because it’s not that easy to steam milk. The third thing is steaming milk with this machine does require a lot of practice.
The fourth thing I see as a con is that there needs to be more space between the portafilter and the top of the drip tray. So if you put a scale on there and try to fit an espresso cup underneath, you can’t. That will not work, and so that’s like super annoying.
What you can do instead is get a bottom list portafilter. I do have one of those, and it’s what I generally use. Or you can remove the drip tray and put a little cup underneath to catch the water that comes off of the puck after the extraction. Now you’ve got some space, so you can fit just about whatever you want underneath.
Partner Acceptance Factor (PAF)
For those who might not know what Partner Acceptance Factor is, here is a simple definition. The partner acceptance factor (PAF) measures the performance of an espresso machine. It is used to gauge the quality of the espresso produced by the machine. It is calculated by dividing the volume of espresso extracted from the machine by the total weight of coffee used.
A higher PAF indicates a more efficient espresso extraction, resulting in better-quality products. The ideal range for PAF is between 0.75 and 0.85, with values outside of this range indicating a potential issue with the machine.
But then I think from a design constraint, that isn’t very pleasant. So that’s going to bring us right away to our partner acceptance factor. This is a great machine to use if you’re really into espresso and if you are okay with everything being manual because you’ll get for the money and produce excellent results in the cup.
However, the partner acceptance factor on this machine is inferior. The reason is because of what I’ve mentioned; it is manual. So you have to remember to start and stop on your own. You have to remember to turn the steam off; steaming with this machine is a challenge.
And also, in my household, my wife thinks this machine is ugly. She doesn’t like the straight edges, and she doesn’t like the look of the industrial buttons, but that’s just all a matter of taste. What do you guys think? For me, it’s handsome, especially with the brushed aluminum, and I like the rocker switches.
The ergonomics of this machine make it not the best candidate regarding the partner acceptance factor.
Modding Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
So far, I’ve just installed two mods. I’ve got the nine-bar spring in the machine. I’ve also got a dimmer on so I can adjust the water flow. And in addition, there are many other mods you can do.
One of the most popular is the PID mod, which would be great to add to your machine. You can add lights to the machine to see better into the water reservoir. You can add a nanometer, and the most incredible mod I’ve seen so far is the Gajuino mod.
So the Gajuino mod makes Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso a decent machine. It monitors the pressure and the temperature, converting this into an automatic espresso machine that can follow flow and temperature profiles. Maybe someday, I’ll try that mod myself when I get a little time.
Performance Test on Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
Today, we’ll make ourselves an espresso, and to do so, we’ll use my trusty little hand grinder, Timemore Nano, and we’re going to go ahead and put 15 grams of beans in there. So next, we’ll do a little bit of WDT-thing, ensure everything is distributed nicely, and give her a good tamp.
Let’s go ahead and lock that in the machine, and I would like to measure the extraction for a two-to-one ratio. So, I’m going to get myself set up with the scale. So we got that two-to-one ratio quickly in about 20 seconds or so. I will grind one click finer next time to get that ratio closer to being done in about 25 seconds. But let’s see, how does it taste? There is a bit of bittersweet chocolate in there and a bit of sweetness too.
Alright, so that’s that. There’s our espresso extraction. Now let’s move on and do some milk steaming. So as I’ve mentioned, milk steaming with this s challenging. Some tips, get some fatty milk, like three and a half percent fat. It’s easier to do regular milk than it is to do soy milk or oat milk.
Here is the essential thing with the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine. You have to turn the steam switch on and wait about 20 seconds. You don’t want to wait for the light to light up because it’s too late by that point. By that point, it has reached its thermostat to be at that steaming temperature, and it’s not actively heating anymore, and you’re going to run out of time quickly.
So at 20 seconds, we’ll let out the condensation, and I’m going. So you want to inject some air right away and get it rotating. If you do this right, and it does take practice, inject air, bring it to rotate, and then start incorporating. This can make delicious milk foam. You can see it at the top, beginning to turn into paint and starting to blend nicely,
Remember to turn that off and wipe it off immediately, where it’s going to get really crusty. Okay, now we’ve got some excellent milk, and here’s a second tip. I like to use the two-pitcher method. Get yourself one empty cup to incorporate the milk further; because it’s a bit foamer on top, I’m just going to pour this one into the empty cup, and next, dump my espresso in there. And one last tip is to add a little cocoa powder on top. That makes it a little bit prettier for your latte art.
How does it taste? It is very smooth and an excellent milk foam you can make with this machine, but it requires practice, and I need to get back into a better routine with this machine and with doing some latte art.
And now it’s essential to cool down the boiler. So we need to flip the two buttons and open the valve. Then, the boiler is cooled and ready for the next espresso extraction.
I hope this article on Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso machine was helpful to you, and if so, please give it a like. Until next time, I say happy coffee drinking and happy espresso drinking.