There’s something to be said about overly simple semi-automatic espresso machines. While they may not have as much street cred as a fully manual espresso maker, they come pretty close.
The simplest forms of semi-auto machines are geared towards the espresso enthusiast who wants as much control as possible over their beverages, particularly in regards to the actual espresso shots.
With these machines, it’s all about the inside; what makes it all work.
The Gaggia Classic recognizes this fact, and has created a superior semi-automatic espresso machine that is well within an affordable price range. This espresso maker is certainly very basic in its operation, but consistently produces quality shots and effortless milk frothing.
It offers an authentic espresso experience from start to finish, and has just enough modernized features to make it usable for novices.
The Classic has a very traditional look that would be right at home in many established italian cafes. Its grey and stainless steel aesthetic gives it a versatile appearance that can compliment pretty much any kitchen it finds itself in.
Keeping with the theme of simplicity, the control knobs, buttons, and levers are all very minimum. The tall and narrow shape makes it easy to fit into smaller counter spaces as well.
The Classic boasts a high amount of power in terms of pressure; 15 bars in all. This allows it to heat up very quickly, while also making multiple beverages in a row, which is helped by the large 72 ounce removable water reservoir. Given the machine’s size, the water tank capacity is very impressive.
The portafilter includes single and double shot brew baskets, and there’s even one solely for espresso pods, if you want to go that route. If so, you can easily switch to a 9 bar pump setting for optimal results. 9 bar pump setting.
Regardless of the type of shot you’re needing to pull, the process is always quick and easy. The Classic comes with everything you need, including a custom-fitted tamper. All of this fits under the removable drip tray on the bottom, helping you save more space in between uses, and avoiding the need to sit all of the accessories out on the counter.
The Classic’s steam wand is a pannarello design that makes it much easier to create dense and velvety microfoam every time. The steam wand can also double as a water spout for brewing hot tea, or if you just need to add some hot water to your shots for an americano.
Thanks to a three-way solenoid valve, you don’t have to worry about used coffee pucks crumbling all over the place. The valve ensures an immediate pressure release from the grouphead after the shot-pulling process has been completed. If you’re needing to make drinks back-to-back, this really comes in handy.
The Gaggia Classic is about as simple as it gets, but that’s a good thing in this case. No frills, no fuss, no unnecessary features that don’t really add anything of value, just well-designed, powerful, and efficient espresso maker that is built to last for years on end.
We’re pretty partial to traditional semi-automatic machines like the classic. It’s hard to single out any one thing, because it all works together to create a great espresso experience.
First of all, the machine doesn’t take forever to heat up. After flipping the on switch and filling the reservoir, it only takes a few minutes until it’s ready for action. The top has plenty of space for a mug or two, so you can heat them up while you wait as well.
The interface has just a few switches, and it’s all very self-explanatory from the moment you use it. And the added pressure amount lets you go right to using the steam wand, which is something we always appreciate.
The narrow size is nice as well. As long as you have the counter clearance, the Classic can be easily wedged in between some other appliances, or stored in a cabinet if you have the room. And the storage compartment helps you keep everything nice and tidy.
We have to mention the shot quality again. This machine is flawless in that regard. As long as you’ve done your part with the grind and amount, you can always count on the Classic to deliver perfect shots with the right amount of crema and richness.
Every time an espresso machine is available in just one color, we’re going to complain about it. Is that a little superficial? Maybe, but it’s always nice to have some extra color options beyond the usual stainless steel and grey look that’s standard on pretty much every espresso machine.
Also, we know the Classic is trying to embody it’s name, but implementing some cleaning alert indicators would be helpful, and allow novice users to keep better track of when the machine needs to be cleaned or descaled.
It’s important that you know you're getting a traditional semi-automatic espresso machine when ordering the Classic. This is not some automated push-button machine, so you’ll need to be familiar with how to properly prepare a shot.
Don’t worry, it just takes a small amount of practice.
Oh, and since the Classic is a little taller than some espresso machines, you may want to measure your counter and make sure it can fit under any overhangs.
The Gaggia Classic’s intentions are clear, and it definitely pulls it off. This simple, alluring, and durable espresso maker has a lot to offer for those willing to master the art of pulling their own espresso shots.
We love how minimalist it is, and the inclusion of things like the pannarello steam wand, large water reservoir, and ample storage space at the bottom just push it into an even higher tier. The fact that the Classic is under $400 just makes it all even better.
If you were looking for the most affordable and quality espresso machine that provides an authentic espresso experience, this is it.