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Gaggia Classic review

An espresso machine for those who want to become baristas at home

The Gaggia Classic ready to brew an espresso on a kitchen countertop
(Image: © TechRadar)

TechRadar Verdict

The Gaggia Classic is an expensive but easy-to-use espresso machine. Suitable for novices and those who’d like to reach barista level, it comes with a range of filters and lets you customize the strength and volume of coffee, too. We found it brewed rich, intense espresso and with the steam wand it was easy to texturize milk, too.

Pros

  • +

    Manual control over brew

  • +

    Can pour two espressos at once

  • +

    Built-in steam wand

Cons

  • -

    Some dripping after espresso is poured

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Doesn’t come with a milk jug

One-minute review 

Having started life in Italy in the 1930s, Gaggia is a brand that knows what it takes to produce smooth, rich espresso. And it has provided consumers with the ability to enjoy good coffee at home since the 1940s, when the company launched its first espresso machine. 

The Gaggia Classic is the brand’s iconic espresso machine. First launched in 1991, it has remained largely unchanged. It was given an incremental update in 2019, that saw rocker switches, which were taken off in 2009, re-instated for greater control for making coffee, allowing you to brew with your desired level of water. This made it a contender for a spot in our best coffee makers list as it's one of the best espresso machines we've tested.   

It features three coffee filters that can brew single and double espresso from ground coffee or Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods – the flatter-style pods rather than the taller, doom-shaped pods associated with Nespresso. As well as a single and double espresso filter, there’s also a crema perfetta filter that’s designed to make coffee with body and a thick crema, without having to experiment with the coffee grind size.  

The Gaggia Classic has a 2.1-liter water tank and offers the ability to brew two cups of coffee at the same time. It includes a steam wand for texturizing milk, enabling you to make some of the most popular barista-style drinks such as cappuccino, latte or flat white, along with a plastic tamp and measuring spoon.

At $449 / £459 / AU$899, this is one of the most expensive espresso machines we’ve tested. However, for those who want premium build quality alongside the ability to make an intense, smooth espresso in as little time as possible, it’s worth the investment. It will also suit those who’d like to experiment when it comes to creating the perfect brew. 

The side view of the Gaggia Classic on a kitchen countertop

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Gaggia Classic price and availability

  •  List price: $449 / £459 / AU$899

The Gaggia Classic, which is known as the Gaggia Classic Pro in the US, will set you back $449 / £459 / AU$899, making it one of the most expensive espresso machines we’ve tested, and is available from Gaggia.   

It’s also available in a limited edition to celebrate 30 years of the Gaggia Classic, featuring a design by the Italian artist Pierpaolo Gaballo comprising three acrobats. However, only 3,000 Gaggia Classic 30 models have been made, at a price of $499 /  £499. 

The Gaggia Classic and its accessories on a kitchen countertop

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design

  • Comes with three filters
  • Offers 15 bars of pressure
  • Built-in steam wand

The Gaggia Classic is a stylish and well-built espresso machine, made primarily from stainless steel. Measuring 8 x 9.5 x 14.2 inches / 23 x 38 x 24cm, and weighing in at 16 lb / 7.27 kg, it’s one of the bulkier coffee makers we’ve tested, and it will take up a fair amount of kitchen countertop space. 

It’s available in an array of colors including stainless steel, red, grey, black, blue and white, as well as a limited edition version featuring a design from Italian artist Pierpaolo Gaballo. As we’ve already mentioned, this model is only available in the UK. 

The 2.2-quart / 2.1-liter water tank sits at the rear of the machine and is filled by removing the black plastic cover from the top of the espresso machine. On the front of the unit, you’ll find three black rocker switches for power, dispensing water, and activating the steam wand, with a red LED above each that illuminates when the switch is in the “on” position.

The Gaggia Classic produces espressos using 15-bar pressure and comes with three filters: single and double espresso, as well as a crema perfetta filter that can produce coffee with a thick crema without having to experiment with grind size. It can be used with ground coffee or Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods, which are quicker, easier, and less messy than using ground coffee – but, arguably, these don’t produce coffee as good as you’ll get using freshly ground beans.

The machine will accept cups up to 4.7 inches/ 12cm tall, plus also included is a steam wand that can be used to create velvety-smooth warm milk for longer, coffee-based drinks such as latte and cappuccino. 

The Gaggia Classic comes with a plastic tamp for creating a smooth finish to the ground coffee when it's in the filter and a measuring spoon; however, there’s no jug included for texturizing milk. 

The Gaggia Classic on a kitchen countertop having just brewed an espresso

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Performance

  • Can brew two coffee at once
  • Espresso has thick crema
  • Easy to texturize milk

We found the Gaggia Classic simple to use. It proved super-easy to brew intense, smooth espressos with very little experimentation required.  

However, do note that how well the coffee is tamped (compacted) will affect the strength and how quickly or slowly the hot drink is brewed. If it’s too compacted, the coffee will be very strong and will be dispensed slowly. Conversely, if the coffee isn’t compressed enough then the drink will be poured quickly but will be weak when it comes to strength. 

On test, we found the espresso machine took 23 seconds to brew a single shot of espresso; however, since the rocker switch allows you to control the amount of water used, the volume of coffee the machine dispenses can easily be personalized to suit you. The temperature of the coffee was 165 F / 74 C and the crema was thick and reformed when a teaspoon of sugar was sprinkled on top.

Twin spouts mean it’s possible to pour two evenly sized drinks at once, and we found you could comfortably place two espresso cups side by side on the drip tray. Our decibel meter registered 62dB while the machine was pouring an espresso, around the normal sound level of a conversation, which is more than acceptable in our opinion. 

The steam wand took 60 seconds to produce a jug of hot, texturized milk with thick and velvety bubbles, and a temperature of around 133 F/ 56 C.  We found the wand just as effective for texturizing oat milk, too. 

Our decibel meter hit 84db while the Gaggia Classic was steaming milk, which is equivalent to the sound made by a bedside alarm clock – it certainly wasn’t one of the louder steam wands we’ve tested.

Overall, the Gaggia poured drinks neatly, without much splashing, but there is some dripping once the drink has poured. As we’ve already mentioned, the espresso machine can be used with ground coffee or ESE pods, which make far less mess than ground coffee.

The side view of the Gaggia Classic on a kitchen countertop

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Should I buy the Gaggia Classic?

Buy it if… 

You want to become a barista
The Gaggia Classic is a great machine for those who want to learn about coffee and try their hand at being a barista themselves.

You want a stylish, well-built appliance
Made primarily of metal, the Gaggia Classic is a good-looking, well-built appliance and is ideal for those who like their kitchen appliances to attract attention for the right reasons.

You regularly make coffee-based drinks with milk
With a built-in steam wand that can be used as soon as an espresso has been brewed, this coffee maker is ideal for those who regularly make milk-based drinks. 

Don’t buy it if… 

You’re on a budget
At $449 / £459 / AU$899, this is one of the most expensive espresso machines we’ve tested. If your budget is tight, look elsewhere.

You want the same volume of espresso every time
The Gaggia Classic won’t automatically stop dispensing water when brewing coffee; it’s up to you to decide when you have the perfect volume. If you’re looking for a machine that does it for you, then avoid this machine. 

You want lots of customization options
You can personalize coffee volume to your liking, but customization options such as choosing the temperature or style of coffee drink are missing on the Gaggia Classic.

First reviewed: September 2021

Carrie-Ann Skinner
Carrie-Ann Skinner

Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.