Gaggia Classic Pro Review – Still The Best Home Espresso Machine In 2021?

The Gaggia Classic Pro is regarded as the best affordable machine for making espresso so tasty it compares favorably with what you’d expect in coffee shops.

Its relatively low price means it’s one of the most widely liked semi-automatic espresso machines for home baristas who are serious about espresso.

Not only that but there is a range of mods and hacks available online to turn this excellent machine into something truly special, offering outstanding capability and performance.

Let’s dig deeper into the Gaggia Classic Pro so you can get a better idea of whether it’s the right espresso machine for you. 

Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine review (RI9380/46)

New Gaggia Classic Pro At A Glance

Pros:

  • Professional level steaming and brewing performance
  • Solid, stainless steel build and aesthetically pleasing design.
  • Compact, making it easy to store and fit on limited countertop space.
  • User-friendly – perfect for beginners.
  • Mods and DIY upgrades are possible. 

Cons:

  • As it’s a single-boiler machine, it has a transition period between brewing the espresso and steaming milk.
  • Requires a separate coffee grinder.
  • For an entry-level machine, it is fairly expensive.
  • It lacks PID, OPV, pre-infusion, or similar more advanced features.

Build Quality And Design

Great Aesthetic Design

The first thing you’ll notice on seeing the Gaggia Classic Pro is its simple, elegant design. The front panel has three rocker buttons. The first is the power button, the second for brewing, and the third for steaming. Easy to understand icons show at a glance what each is for. A light under each button denotes the current status. Elsewhere, the brass group head is positioned centrally, while beneath that is a drip tray with a stainless steel wand to its right. A removable 74 fl. oz water tank sits behind the drip tray.

Gaggia Classic Pro RI9380 Espresso Machine design

This design looks beautiful, and also contains all you need to make the perfect espresso.

Now Gaggia Classic Pro is available in six stylish colors, so depending on your preference and kitchen color scheme, there is likely one to suit you. Each color is gorgeous. We love the classic blue. However, the polar white and cherry red are also stunning. Meanwhile, if you have an eye for detail, you’ll notice a rugged texture.

The Gaggia logo was on the bottom right of the previous model. However, this model sees it at the front and center. This is a lovely touch as it adds a pleasing symmetry to the design.

Solid Materials

The Gaggia Classic Pro is reassuringly sturdy – this is a machine that is built to last. Moreover, Gaggia manufactures the device in Italy to ensure better quality control in the build. Meanwhile, the one-piece housing, cup warming plate, and drip tray are made from stainless steel.

Compact Footprint

The machine is perfect for domestic use, with measurements of 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches, ensuring it is compact enough for most countertops.

Additionally, you can fill the water tank from the top and take out the drip tray to remove the water tank from the front. This means that even if you have low cabinets above the machine, it will fit comfortably.

Gaggia Classic Pro water tank

Portafilter And Filter Baskets

The machine has a substantial chrome-plated 58mm brass portafilter weighing a hefty 510g. It also has three filter baskets – one pressurized and single and double non-pressurized baskets. There is also a tamper. However, it is plastic and somewhat flimsy, so we suggest investing in a sturdier metal tamper for tamping your coffee grounds more evenly.

The overall design is user-friendly and simple, while it is very well-built. Gaggia offers a limited one-year warranty on the product, which may not seem long enough. However, this machine is built to last.

Gaggia Classic Pro portafilter

Espresso Performance

For Most Espresso Drinkers

The machine is aimed squarely at the entry-level market. It has an optimized factory setting with consistent pressure and precision brewing temperatures. After dialing in, the machine produces consistent shots each time. The setting is perfect for most espresso lovers.

The 58mm portafilter is the size you’d expect in a commercial setting and is significantly larger than the 51mm and 54mm portafilters you’d usually find in machines at a similar price. As a general rule, 58mm portafilters allow for better extraction, accounting for its popularity in commercial espresso machines.

There is a 15 bar pressure pump, so even if you’re using a pressurized filter basket and pre-ground coffee, you can expect a decent espresso topped with a rich crema.

There are only three buttons on the Gaggia Classic Pro, so there is hardly any learning curve for those new to espresso making. However, on the downside, this means that you can’t change the brew settings incrementally depending on your preferences and beans.

However, if you need a machine that can easily and consistently deliver satisfying espresso shots, the Gaggia Classic Pro is perfect. Also, compared to manual espresso machines priced similarly, it produces a better espresso.

For Serious Espresso Snobs

If you’re an espresso connoisseur, the high pressure may hinder your efforts to get the perfect shot. That’s because while 15 bar pressure is excellent for a pressurized filter basket, it needs to be lower for the unpressurized basket. Another drawback is the absence of PID control, which can lead to an unpredictable brew temperature.

However, there are ways to upgrade the machine inexpensively if you’re keen on improving your espresso making.

Gaggia Classic PRO OPV Mod

You can resolve the high-pressure problem with an OPV mod kit, which you can purchase online. Also, many YouTube tutorials demonstrate how to lower the machine’s pressure to the optimum nine-bar level. Search under ” Gaggia classic pro 9 bar mod.” Here’s one of the most informative:

Temperature Hack (Install A PID)

You can also buy an affordable PID kit, though you will need some DIY skills to install it correctly. Here’s how:

If you don’t mind making modifications, this is an excellent and fun espresso maker. There are plenty of excellent tutorials online to help you upgrade it in several ways. The bottom line is that this adaptability means you can get even better espresso without needing to pay double for a premium espresso machine.

Milk Steaming Capabilities

A significant improvement from the previous model is the steaming wand, which is commercial grade rather than the old Panarello wand. There are two holes at the tip, and it produces powerful steam for exquisitely textured microfoam for milk drinks like latte or cappuccino.

The inferior Panarello wand found on the older model and cheaper machines doesn’t offer as much control and produces larger bubbles. Because of this, it’s difficult to generate the necessary microfoam for gorgeous latte art. However, the improved steaming wand on the Gaggia Classic Pro is a big step forward for milk frothing, making it an excellent machine for lovers of milk-based espresso beverages.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is a single-boiler espresso machine, so you can’t brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously – you’ll have to either pull a shot or steam milk first. The machine needs approximately 50 seconds to get to the correct frothing milk temperature.

Gaggia Classic Pro steam wand

Or you can steam the milk first, then released the pressure and water. This method means you’ll need to turn the steam switch off after steaming, then turn on the brew switch and steam knob. Water will then begin coming out of the steaming wand. The boiler will then refill, and you can make the espresso once it reaches the brewing temperature.

There are advantages and drawbacks with either method, so your choice will ultimately come down to preference.

Ease Of Use

We’ve already mentioned the simplicity of the design and the fact there are only three buttons. Under each is a light to indicate when it is ready to use. So, even the most inexperienced espresso barista will find it easy to pull an espresso shot or froth some milk for latte art with this machine.

One point to consider is that it’s a semi-automatic espresso machine, so you will need some skill and experience to perfect your espressos. You can read more on making better espresso at home in our guide.

There isn’t a standalone water outlet. However, the steam wand can release hot water. Press the brew and steam buttons simultaneously, then open the steam nozzle, and you’ll have hot water. It’s a good option if you require Americano without needing to rely on a separate hot water source.

A three-way solenoid valve controls the filter basket’s water pressure, and brewing will leave you with dry coffee pucks meaning you can knock it out without creating a mess.

The large, deep stainless steel drip tray is removable, and you can either fill the water tank from above or remove it from the front.

Value For Money

This machine stands alone in its ability to make cafe-quality coffee at such a reasonable price. However, you’ll also struggle to find a rival that possesses a commercial steam wand, 58mm portafilter, and a build of this quality for the same price.

The Gaggia Classic Pro pulls better-quality shots than a host of other beginner-friendly semi-automatic coffee machines. Yes, there are some features it lacks compared to other machines, but it’s hard to beat for the quality of the finished beverage alone.

It’s worth noting that the machine doesn’t have a built-in grinder, so you ought to consider purchasing a separate grinder if you don’t already have one.

Overall, this is a fantastic option for espresso enthusiasts who’d rather not spend a fortune on a high-end espresso machine. It’s the standout option in this price range. 

What’s New In The Latest Model?

gaggia-classic-pro-vs-classic

The Italy-based Gaggia Classic espresso machine has been on the market for over 30 years. In that time, it has earned a solid reputation among espresso lovers. However, that wavered in 2009, when the manufacture of the machines moved from Italy to Romania, while some of the features were downgraded.

Thankfully, in 2019, the machine was upgraded. As a result, the new Gaggia Classic Pro enjoys excellent new features and the return of old favorites after the company took on board feedback.

Gaggia Classic vs Gaggia Classic Pro

Let’s detail what’s new in the Gaggia Classic Pro:

  • Manufacture is once again in Italy rather than Romania.
  • The three-way solenoid valve didn’t exist in the previous model.
  • The professional steam wand with two holes is a big improvement on the inferior Panarello steam wand of the previous model. So, you can expect a far better steaming performance on the Gaggia Classic Pro.
  • The pump mounts have had an upgrade. Now, the vibration is decreased, and the machine brews more quietly.
  • The rocker switches on the front make for a better aesthetic, and there are more attractive colors to choose from.

Taken together, the improvements listed above result in one of the best home espresso machines you can buy.

Alternatives

Machines Of The Same Quality

Rancilio Silvia – The Rancilio Silvia is regularly compared to the Gaggia Classic Pro, and there are similarities. For example, each has a commercial steam wand, brass brew head, 58mm portafilter, and solid build quality. Both are made in Italy, too, while the espresso each creates is gorgeous and close to cafe-quality results.

Choosing between the two machines is difficult. However, the Rancilio Silvia is more expensive. Having said that, if you prefer the look of the Rancilio Silvia, it is an option worth considering without breaking the bank. Check our detailed review of Rancilio Silvia.

If You Have A Limited Budget

De’Longhi Dedica EC680 – The De’Longhi Dedica EC680 won’t brew espresso as beautiful as the Gaggia Classic Pro, but it costs half as much, making it a popular budget option. You can also get better-quality espresso by using a better, non-pressurized portafilter, providing you have a good burr grinder.

If You Don’t Have A Separate Burr Grinder

Breville Barista Express / Pro – If you don’t have a burr grinder, you’ll struggle to make the most consistent fine grinds for the perfect extraction. If you’d rather not buy a separate grinder to do the job, the Breville Barista Pro is a good option. As well as an integrated burr grinder, the device has PID and adjustment options, neither of which are available on the Gaggia Classic Pro. You should also consider the Breville Barista Express, which is also one of the most popular semi-automatic espresso makers for a decade. Check our detailed review of Breville Barista Pro.

Our Verdict

If you’re new to home espresso making or looking to upgrade from a cheaper espresso machine, the Gaggia Classic Pro is a brilliant option.

The Gaggia Classic has enjoyed an excellent reputation for over three decades, and the latest model has a range of excellent upgrades. Overall, if you’re a home barista who desires premium espresso that is easy to make, it’s a great espresso machine for the price. Hope this Gaggia Classic review helps you know better before buying.

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