The Gaggia classic is a machine that home baristas have been using since 1991 when it was first launched. A huge number of home baristas all over the world, started out with the classic.
The original classic was solid and simple. No control panel, no frills, just three rocker switches, but a proper boiler rather than a thermoblock (most entry level machines have thermoblock boilers) & a full pro sized 58mm portafilter.
It had a panarello steam wand as is the norm with home espresso coffee maker machine 2020, but people quickly discovered that it was really simple to mod the classic with the Rancilio Silvia steam wand.
The classic proved to be a very reliable machine, which I can vouch for as my Gaggia Classic was made in 2003, and it’s still going strong.
Gaggia was aquired by another Italian firm called Saeco in 1999. Saeco didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken, and the classic remained the same, until Philips bought Saeco in 2009. Production of the classic was moved from from Italy to Romania, and they modernised the production of the Classic, which in the opinion of many Gaggia classic fans, lead to the Classic no longer being the classic, for quite some time.
Over the years they changed just about everything but the looks. They changed the boiler, they removed the mechanical 3 way solanoid valve, and the Classic then became just another domestic espresso machine very similar to the other cheaper machines on the market, but in the body of the classic.
This came to a head with the 2015 version which was about as far away from the original classic as you could get, you couldn’t even easily mod the wand with this model.
But then, in 2019, things changed. They moved production back to Italy, and re-designed the classic almost exactly back to it’s original specs, but with one big improvement. The same small boiler is back, the 3 way solenoid valve is back, the good old fashioned rocker switches are back – and they added a professional steam wand, meaning that owners of the classic no longer have to mod the classic with the Rancilio Silvia steam wand.
So in my humble opinion, from experience (and I’ve had a lot of experience with the Gaggia Classic) the classic is a very valid choice as a first home Barista machine.
I’ve been really happy with it over the years, and I still have it now. In fact if you watch my YouTube videos, you’ll probably see it on the shelf behind me. It’s not always there, by the way, I do still use it as my home espresso machine when I’m not reviewing other espresso machines.
It doesn’t have a PID, which means the temperature isn’t going to be as stable as with a PID machine – you can mod them with a PID, but how much difference it’s going to make is arguable, the money would probably be better invested in upgrading your grinder.
If you’re going for a used classic, make sure you get one pre-2009. My first machine was a 2003 Gaggia Classic I bought used on eBay for £100, paired with a Sage smart grinder pro which I managed to get new for around £140 if I remember correctly. More recently, though, the pre-2009 classics really seem to be holding their value, they regularly sell for over £200!
If you’re going to get a new Gaggia Classic Pro, I’d highly recommend that you get it from Gaggia Direct, the UK distributor. Because you get a 2 year (or 3 years for an extra £20) UK warranty, directly with them, with their own service team – and I can tell you from experience that they know what they’re doing, and their service team are great (they service my classic).
I’m not not going to go in depth into the Gaggia Classic, if you think this may be the machine for you right now and you want to learn more, see my in depth Gaggia Classic Review.