Comparable to top-priced machines. Reviewers say the Gaggia Classic produces a nearly perfect espresso at close to half the cost of high-end machines. However, if you want nothing but the best, experts recommend the Rancilio Silvia (*Est. $700), which has a brass boiler that's less susceptible to corrosion.
Powerful machine, flavorful espresso. Owners posting reviews at Amazon.com, CoffeeGeek.com and WholeLatteLove.com say the Gaggia Classic's performance is on par with the top-rated Rancilio Silvia for a much lower price. They say the Gaggia is good for pulling multiple shots in a row because the pressure is released instantly after a pull so the portafilter can be immediately refilled.
Editors of Food & Wine magazine call the Classic a "powerful, industrial-caliber Italian machine," and say it "delivers perfectly extracted espresso." Editors of CNNMoney.com agree, saying it's "near perfect, with a robust, rich flavor and that subtly viscous consistency that distinguishes espresso from plain ol' joe." Editors at SweetMarias.com also praise the Gaggia Classic for its powerful 17-plus bars of pressure.
Easy to use, but a little slow. According to experts, the Gaggia offers the best of both worlds to users who like the convenience and consistent quality of pods but also want to learn the art of making espresso. That's because the Classic can use ground coffee or Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods. Users recommend it for newbies because it has simple, easy-to-use controls, although some say it takes practice to get the right grind and tamp. Several wish the Gaggia had a clear, calibrated water tank to better judge water levels.
It takes longer for the Gaggia Classic to heat up than other espresso machines, say editors at Food & Wine magazine, although SweetMarias.com clocks it at less than five minutes. Charles Passy at CNNMoney.com finds the Classic "generally easy to operate, except that it lacks the calibrated water tank of some of the other semiautomatics we tried." He notes that removing the drip tray is a bit more complicated because there's a part in the way, adding an extra step to an otherwise simple cleaning process. The 72-ounce water reservoir is removable for easy cleaning.
Consistent daily performer. Several users who have owned their machines for years say the Gaggia Classic is very durable and holds up well to daily use. However, some owners complain about the cheap plastic frothing wand and aluminum boiler. SweetMarias.com editors say corrosion and calcification are mostly avoided thanks to the boiler parts being located outside the water reservoir.
"It's called the 'Classic' and [has] been around for decades for a reason," says one owner posting feedback to CoffeeGeek.com. "It's a great espresso machine that can suit your espresso needs for years to come."
Boxy but not unappealing. The Gaggia Classic has a sturdy, yet boxy, appearance. Owners don't mind its looks, but it won't win any style awards. Finished in stainless steel with black accents, its neutral design will blend in with most any décor. Moreover, editors at Food & Wine magazine say the Classic's compact size won't clutter countertops.
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Review Credibility: Very Good The Gaggia Classic places second in this older five-model roundup, just behind the Breville 800ESXL. Passy gives the Gaggia a B grade, even though he says it makes a better espresso than the Breville. This model lacks a calibrated water tank, but Passy claims it produces "near perfect" taste.
Review: A Whole Lotta Lattes, Charles Passy, October 2007
2. Food & Wine Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good The Gaggia Classic is named runner-up in Food & Wine magazine's list of best pod espresso machines. Donnelly says it delivers "perfectly extracted espresso," but it takes longer to heat up than others. She also loves the Gaggia's compact size.
Review: The Best Pod Espresso Machines, Kristin Donnelly, March 2008
Review Credibility: Very Good Editors at SweetMarias.com praise the Gaggia Classic's high-quality internal components, including a high-output, 55-watt pump that produces more than 17 bars of pressure. They say it would be even better if it had a brass boiler instead of aluminum.
Review: Gaggia Espresso Machines, Editors of SweetMarias.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good Prince recommends a number of espresso machines in different price categories and for various levels of expertise. He primarily focuses on models that are easy for espresso novices to use, and says the Gaggia Classic is comparable to the Rancilio Silvia at a fraction of the price.
Review: Getting Into Espresso Machines, Mark Prince, Not dated
5. Whole Latte Love
Review Credibility: Very Good Here owners praise the Gaggia Classic for producing excellent espresso with perfect crema. Nearly 200 reviewers call the machine durable and easy to use, but several complain about the frother, a feature that has recently been updated to make it more functional. Overall, the Classic gets 4.6 stars out of 5.
Review: Gaggia Classic Brushed Stainless Steel Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine, Contributors to WholeLatteLove.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Good More than 100 Amazon.com contributors say the Gaggia Classic is a good entry-level machine that produces excellent coffee. Some dislike the frothing wand, saying it's cheap and the sleeve falls off, creating a mess. The Classic gets an overall score of 3.9 stars out of 5.
Review: Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Good Here owners give the Gaggia Classic high ratings because of its solid construction and ease of use. At least one complains about its aluminum boiler, which is more susceptible to corrosion than brass. More than 75 users give the Classic an average rating of 8 out of 10.
Review: Consumer Espresso: Gaggia Classic, Contributors to CoffeeGeek.com, As of January 2013