Upgrade from Gaggia Classic.

Equipment, technique, or just drinking the stuff

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Upgrade from Gaggia Classic.

Postby JKH » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:38 pm

My long-serving Gaggia Classic needs a service - despite descaling and backflushing, I think there's a blockage somewhere between the water reservoir and the brewhead. It appears to work fine, heats up as normal, delivers steam but there is no water flow at all after the 'note' of the pump changes as it normally does when the water hits the resistance of the coffee in the portafilter (I hope I've explained that well enough). It's the sort of change of note one gets when using a blank portafiilter, if that helps.

I have a very reliable local firm who will service it for me, but also have the chance to get an Ascaso Dream for around the £300 mark, or an Isomac Zafiro for £500 or so.

Is either of these a significant step up from the Gaggia or, if not, what would be? I realise this might have been answered ad nauseam in previous threads, but would be grateful for advice. The ability to steam and make espresso simultaneously isn't at all important - it will almost be an exclusive espresso machine, 8-10 cups per day.
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RE: Upgrade from Gaggia Classic.

Postby bruceb » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:03 am

I am not familiar with the Ascaso machine, but the Zaifiro is generally considered to be quite a good machine. Temperature stability and reproducibility will definitely be better than with the Gaggia. I believe the build quality is quite good.

That said, given considerable effort, you probably can make as good an espresso with the Gaggia, assuming you have a good grinder to use with both machines. It probably is considerably easier to pull a good shot with the Zafiro and it definitely will be better at making a number of shots, one after the other. In the end it probably comes down to the question of how much spending £500 or so is going to hurt. If it is tolerable I would probably go with the Zafiro.
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RE: Upgrade from Gaggia Classic.

Postby dr.chris » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:18 pm

I'd just add that for me going from a gaggia evolution up to the lovely Anna (as an espresso drinker) the biggest difference was that occasionally I'd get a very good coffee from the gaggia and with Anna its normal.

When it comes to cappucinos there is no comparison at all - not that that is my thing - but its what the wife tells me.
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Postby Danomar » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:40 am

I owned a Gaggia Classic for a few years. I used it at work—for an inexpensive machine, it probably is as good as you will get before spending twice as much. The Gaggia is cheap, but the group design is very clever.

I have read many horror stories of people trying to de-scale the Gaggia Baby/Classic group. It requires at least some disassembly. The machine simply is not designed for long-term use. As I wrote before, it is cheap.

The Zafiro is a very competent machine. You will be paying for the heavy metal, chrome, and E61 group, but it will likely prove much more durable than the Gaggia. Despite its low production values, the Gaggia does maintain very good temperature stability over a few shots. That said, I have read about many Zaffiro thermostats failing, so buy it from a reputable dealer if possible.

I agree with Bruce: A good grinder is much more important than an espresso machine. I would not spend any money fixing the Gaggia. You can get a nice used one off eBay for less than the cost to get it repaired.


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Postby petikas » Thu May 10, 2012 7:09 am

I also have a Gaggia Classic for the last 7 years and the damn thing still goes strong making the excuse for a new machine more difficult to justify to the other half of the household! :p

That being said, when I upgrade I'd probably look into something that is easier to use that the Classic in terms of successive shots and milk steaming.

I read that the Zafiro is an excellent choice for pure espresso drinkers but I would consider a low-end (cheap) heat exchanger machine as an alternative just for the occasional cappuccino or latte. For me spending £500 and still having to wait for the boiler to warm-up to steaming or cool-down after steaming for every milk based drink would be a huge negative for a new machine.

I find that the NS Oscar despite some obvious shortcommings, (no hot water spout, no expansion valve etc), it has generally good reviews, low price, a large boiler (temp stability, steaming power) and thus I think an overall good value for money.

I would consider an Ascaso in the same class as the Classic (more or less), not an upgrade.
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Postby AJJ » Thu May 10, 2012 4:07 pm

petikas wrote:For me spending £500 and still having to wait for the boiler to warm-up to steaming or cool-down after steaming for every milk based drink would be a huge negative for a new machine.

I was in the same boat a few years ago and as I mainly make milk based drinks I decided the only route to go was double boiler so I bought a Dalla Corte Mini.
Ok, it cost a fortune but it still amazes me how good it is even after 3 years of daily use.
Going back to the Classic once or twice I realised how frustrating it is at steaming milk, although the Rancilio wand upgrade was a big improvement.
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Postby Debbie » Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:02 am

Coming late in on this one, but this morning my Gaggia Classic refused to pump water out. Major disaster on a Saturday morning!!!

I'll have a go at giving it a descale later today, but it has given me around 10 years service, so I can't really complain if it's given up the ghost.

Right, while Im drinking my cafetiere coffee I'm going to browse the forum for advice on possible replacement/upgrades.
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