Should You Get The Gaggia Classic Evo Pro

BY BORIS POVOLOTSKY - 14 May 2023

Gaggia Classic Pro

Gaggia Classic Pro is the most beginner-friendly and budget-friendly Italian espresso machine. The popularity of this machine only increases over time, and for a reason: It’s a great machine. With careful maintenance, it’ll last you forever. It looks like a robust and solid professional espresso machine without conquering the entire kitchen top. The performance is pretty good for a beginner machine, roughly speaking, although I’ll elaborate on this in just a bit.

In a nutshell (TLDR): Gaggia Classic Pro is a reliable Italian espresso machine. It’s cheap, beginner-friendly, produces great coffee, and features a professional steam wand. However, without modifications, it’s possible to quickly outgrow the machine wanting more power, and temperature stability. I think it’s best to find a second-hand Gaggia Classic Pro.

The Gaggia Classic is not an innovative espresso machine, it was designed in 1991 and still carries pretty much the same design. In 2023, Gaggia introduced a new model with several new features, it’s called “Gaggia Classic Evo Pro”. The major improvement is the 9-bar brew pressure out-of-the-box without cutting the OPV spring. Additional changes are in a much more protective boiler and a new group plating which looks more appealing. The new model is supposed to be less noisy, too. Check out the changes in more detail in this video. Overall, existing Gaggia Classic users should not upgrade to the newest model, and new buyers can still get a used Gaggia Classic Pro for a good price, given it’s maintained well.

Beginner Friendly

As I said, it’s very beginner-friendly in the sense that it’s pretty straightforward to understand how to operate this machine correctly. This doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to make a good cup of coffee ;)

The machine has 3 rocker switches. The left is for turning it on, the middle is for brewing, and the right switch is for preparing the steam. It takes about 25-30 seconds for the steam to get up to temperature. Later on, I’ll introduce a hack to make steaming faster.

It takes about 15-20 minutes for the machine to get to a stable temperature. You can flush some water after 8-10 minutes to fast forward the process by heating the group head, but, with such a small boiler you’ll be introducing cool water from the tank, so it’s up to you. I used to rush the process all the time sacrificing the little temperature control I had, resulting in mixed-quality of shots.

The portafilter is a 58mm size which is the most popular size, and that opens up a huge market of accessories for you to choose from. I really liked the portafilter, the G logo, and the robustness of this portafilter. It fits all aftermarket baskets, I used an IMS 18g basket. The machine doesn’t arrive with a naked portafilter so you’ll have to purchase one. The less friendly parts. The drip tray and the water tank. The water tank is visible and you can tell when you have to refill your water, however, accessing the water tank is inconvenient. The drip tray is O-K, at least it doesn’t block all of your cappuccino and latte mugs as some machines do. It’s easy to remove, and ok to wash, but it is just small, and as soon as it’s full - it’ll spill around and make a mess (ugh…). So it’s best to empty it before it fills up to the top.

Accessories

Perhaps the disappointing bit of this article.

The tamper that comes with the Gaggia Classic Pro is just a joke. Send an email to Gaggia, and tell them to either stop including their plastic tamper with the machine OR charge a bit more and add a tamper that represents them as a reputable brand.

It comes with a scoop and filters. Filters include both pressurized and non-pressurized. If you’re a citizen of Dripping Coffee, you’ll probably ditch the pressurized baskets and put them in a box in case you end up selling this machine in the future. Those baskets are aimed at beginner users who use pre-ground coffee and pods. We grind our coffee, and we use non-pressurized baskets, got it?

Steam & Brew

bottomless naked brewing

As soon as the machine is ready, i.e. up to temperature after approximately 15 minutes, you can begin brewing. You grind your coffee into your portafilter, level it, tamp it, insert the portafilter into the group head, and click the middle rocker switch “BREW”. Time and weigh your shot, as a rule of thumb, aim for a 25-second shot with a 1:2 coffee ratio. If you ground 16g of coffee, expect 32g (-+4) of beverage. Look here for How to make the perfect espresso.

If you’re making a milk-based drink, a cappuccino or a latte, click on the right switch and wait until the LED turns on. Start steaming by turning the side steam knob all the way. It’s best to measure the temperature of your milk so you know when to pull out (~145F). A hack I mentioned earlier: start steaming 3-4 seconds before the steam light turns on.

Why does that work? When the light turns on, the machine stops heating the elements, and the temperature or the steaming pressure begins to decrease. By steaming before it turns ON, it keeps heating the elements maintaining a stronger and more consistent pressure throughout the steaming process.

Who Is This For?

You should consider buying the Gaggia Classic if you’re exploring the coffee world and want a deeper touch with espresso with a hands-on barista experience. If you’re okay with maintenance, experimenting, and potentially wasting coffee in the process of mastering your technique, then this machine might be a good fit for you. Remember, to make the most out of this machine, you must own a good-quality coffee grinder, otherwise, I don’t see a point in owning such a machine.

Why NOT buy it?

Despite being an espresso machine from a famous historic Italian company, the Gaggia Classic Pro has some significant “flaws”. I have outgrown this machine quite fast. Within 6 months, I already wanted a better machine. I was frustrated by its poor capabilities to maintain a good temperature for consecutive shots (back-to-back shots) as well as suffering from inconsistent steaming pressure in back-to-back shots. The first cup would always take significantly less time than the second.

The factory setting pump pressure is set to 15 bar. To lower it to 9 bar, I had to cut the OPV myself and reinstall it. You could order 9-bar OPV online if you don’t want to cut it yourself, although, it’s really not a big deal. Another example is temperature control which suffers immensely due to no PID and a small boiler. For better temperature control, you must install a 3rd-party PID. Probably the most popular kit out there is by Mr. Shades, where you can also order OPV kits.

Most “issues” are typical for single boiler machines in this budget range, and are not unique to the Gaggia Classic Pro. No entry-level machine offers great temp stability along with a powerful and consistent steam pressure shot over shot. Not that I’m aware of, at least.

Overall

To be honest, I was a very happy user of the Gaggia Classic Pro and I would recommend it to anyone who’s after a first-time hands-on home barista experience. A machine that looks like a professional espresso machine and will impress any of your guests and be a great conversation starter over coffee and whatnot. It’s entirely possible to get accustomed to the disadvantages and improve some of the shortages, by adding a PID, tweaking the OPV, and giving the machine a larger cool-down time between consecutive shots.

The two main contenders in this category are Rancilio Silvia and Breville Bambino Plus. Rancilio Silvia is a great entry-level machine that you can easily find second-hand, which I recommend. OTOH, Breville is a little bit different. It’s significantly smaller, it offers a rather elegant and automatic feel. It’s entirely different mechanically, too: it gets up to temperature much faster and is ready to brew your shots within minutes. I think it’s suitable for most people, but not for all. Personally, I’d prefer a more robust machine like the Silvia or the Gaggia Classic Pro, even if the coffee they make is equally good.

The bottom line, you really can’t go wrong with the Gaggia Classic. The worse that can happen is you get upgraditis and will be looking for your next upgrade too soon. In which case, welcome to the club, a.k.a my condolences!


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