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Gaggia Classic vs. Breville Infuser | What's Best for you?

Gaggia Classic vs. Breville Infuser, What’s Best for you?

Gaggia Classic vs. Breville Infuser

In the market for a serious espresso machine? Not sure what machine you need to “level-up” your barista skills and morning ritual?

Let’s chat semi-automatic machines for a minute.

For the newbie home brewers among us, a semi-automatic espresso machine requires you to do some of the work to get the perfect shot.

You’ll have to tamp the beans, monitor the extraction and froth the milk. For both machines in our match-up, you will also need to grind the beans yourself using a separate grinder.

It’s a little more effort but semi-automatic machines give you a lot more control over what you consider to be the perfect drink. With a little practice, you can familiarize yourself with the basics of espresso brewing (check out my free course to get you started!).

shot

The Final Shot: The Breville Infuser is our top pick in this head to head. The pressure gauge is a huge advantage, as is the commercial-style steam wand. I also have a lot of faith in the pre-infusion dousing the Breville gives the grinds to improve the overall quality of the pulled shot..

It doesn’t take long to acclimate to the process and before you know it, you’ll be brewing a latte to rival even the snobbiest baristas.

We’ve selected a pair of the most popular and best regarded machines, the Gaggia Classic and Breville Infuser, and reviewed them head to head to parse out which is the best option.

You’ll want to be sitting down for this, so grab a cup of coffee. I’ll wait right here.

Breville Infuser vs. Gaggia Classic Head to Head

 
NameBreville InfuserGaggia Classic 14101

Size (L x W x H)
12.5 x 10.25 x 13.25 in9.5 x 8 x 14.5 in

Weight
17 lbs20 lbs

Pump Pressure
15 Bar17.5 Bar

Frothing Wand
YesYes

Water Tank Size
61 oz72 oz

Grinder
No GrinderNo Grinder

Programmability
YesNo

Similarities

Both the Breville Infuser and Gaggia Classic are high-quality, semi-automatic espresso machines. They will set you back less than $500 each, while including many of the features that make semi-automatic espresso makers ideal for home use. They are both highly rated by users.

One of the best features that the two machines share is a 3-way solenoid valve for dry puck extraction. The puck is the ground coffee inside the portafilter, and the drier it is, the easier it is to knock out. With both machines, you can brew, tamp, rinse and be done with your cleaning tasks.

Both machines also have a large removable water tank, giving you an easy way to fill the machine. The Breville tank is 61 ounces while the Gaggia tank is 72 ounces. The difference is small, but worth noting as you would have to fill the Gaggia Classic a bit less often.

Neither includes a built-in grinder, so if you plan to brew freshly-ground whole beans, you’ll have to purchase a separate one.

It’s worth noting that straight ristretto or espresso isn’t the only beverage you can make with these machines. For the occasional herbal tea or Americano, these makers have hot water dispensers that give you near-boiling water. They also both include swivel milk steamers/frothers for lattes and cappuccinos.

sharedfeatures

Shared Features:
  • Dry Puck Extraction
  • Removeable Water Tank
  • Cup Warmer
  • Steam Wand
  • Water Dispenser
  • Uses Ground Coffee

Differences

HeatTemperature Regulation

The Breville Infuser features an advanced thermocoil system for heating the water, this technology pumps the water through a heated coil for maximum heat consistency. It also uses PID technology to regulate the temperature for perfect flavor extraction.

The Gaggia Classic does not use PID; however it has a marine-quality brass grouphead and portafilter for helping regulate temperature.

Automatic Indicators

If you like the convenience of automatic reminders to clean parts of your espresso machine, the Breville Infuser will indicate when it needs to be cleaned and when to empty the drip tray with light up buttons on the front of the machine.

The Gaggia Classic does not have any automatic indicators, but you can easily schedule routine cleaning tasks with a calendar or reminder on your phone.

Steam Wand

The steam wand of the Gaggia Classic features a pannarello intake hole for milk frothing, a convenient feature if you are new to brewing espresso and milk drinks. You can recognize pannarello wands by the large black plastic casing that usually covers them. Pannarello wands pull the milk through in such a way that it’s easier to add body to the froth.

The Breville Infuser is a classic commercial style steam wand that is a smaller, metal-only style. This gives you more control over making the froth yourself, something experienced users might find useful and is my personal preference. It’s also easier to clean.

Pressure Gauge

The best feature of the Breville Infuser is the brewing pressure gauge on the front of the machine. Ideal espresso pulling pressure is 9 bar, and seeing the dial visibly indicate pressure at every moment of brewing makes it easy to achieve the correct results. Incorrect pressure can lead to over- and under-extraction that will influence the taste of the espresso.

The Gaggia Classic relies on internal pressure calibration, and some users have found it beneficial to mod the machine to reduce the pressure. This isn’t necessary, but the guage on the Breville Infuser makes it a moot point.

Pre-Infusion

Another key feature of the Breville Infuser model is the ability to regulate a pre-infusion period at the beginning of the brew. When you tamp espresso into the portafilter, many factors can influence the consistency of the puck, like clumped grounds or air channels.

A pre-infusion will gently moisten and expand the grounds before pushing the full pressure of water through the puck, resulting in a better espresso pull. The Gaggia relies on your manual tamping technique to make the puck uniform.

58mm Portafilter

One aspect where the Gaggia is superior to the Breville is the size of the portafilter. The Gaggia Classic uses the industry standard portafilter size of 58mm. I’ve lost or broken a few portafilters myself, so I know there’s always a chance I’ll need a new one. I can even find 58mm portafilters at a lot of brick and mortar stores.

The Breville Infuser has a harder-to-find portafilter of 54mm. Breville as a manufacturer tends to favor this size. You can shop their company for portafilters and accessories, but the 58mm will always be the more common size.

The portafilter that ships with the Gaggia Classic is made of chrome-plated brass, which can help hold heat in with the grinds so there is less heat loss. Water temperature greatly influences the quality of your finished espresso, so the longer the water stays hot, the better.

Water Filter

A really nice added feature of the Breville Infuser is the water filter, which filters the water before it runs through your machine. Tap water can produce build-up on the working parts of an espresso maker, leading to problems down the road. You can use descalers to help with this problem, but starting with the cleanest possible water is the best idea.

The Gaggia Classic doesn’t have a water filter, but you can use filtered or bottled water to achieve the same results. The Breville Infuser will also require you to change the water filter, another maintenance task that some users may want to avoid.

Summary

It’s a more expensive machine, but the Breville Infuser has a few key qualities that makes it my recommendation over the Gaggia Classic. The pressure gauge is a huge advantage, as is the commercial-style steam wand. I also have a lot of faith in the pre-infusion dousing the Breville gives the grinds.

The Gaggia Classic shouldn’t be overlooked, though, especially if you want a stripped-down, no-frills machine. It’s a favorite of many users, and is made by an authentic Italian company.  If you want a machine that is simple to use and is already calibrated to make great espresso, the Gaggia might be the one for you.

Of all the semi-automatic espresso brewers out there, I think we’ve covered two of the best choices. Now go forth and brew!

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Questions? Leave a comment below!

Chatting about coffee is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better.

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Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines

Week 2 - Coffee Beans

Week 3 - Types of Drinks

Week 4 - Advanced Brewing

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4-Week Free Espresso E-mail Course!

Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines

Week 2 - Coffee Beans

Week 3 - Types of Drinks

Week 4 - Advanced Brewing

Join Mike (me) and learn all the basics of making great tasting espresso!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

About the Author Michael York

I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!

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