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Gaggia Classic Pro vs. Breville Barista Express

Gaggia Classic Pro vs. Breville Barista Express

At Consiglio’s we pride ourselves on knowing the ins-and-outs of the automatic and manual espresso machines we carry. Which is why we’re so eager to share just what makes each brand (and machine) so unique. This week, we dive in to comparing the Gaggia Classic Pro and Breville Barista Express manual espresso machines.

The Gaggia Classic Pro and Breville Barista Express went head-to-head in our Best Home Espresso Machine article, with the Classic Pro coming away with the title of Best Manual Espresso Machine Under $750, while the Barista Express had to settle with the title of Runner Up in the same category - in this article, we take a look into the specifications, strengths (pros) and weaknesses (cons) of both the Gaggia Classic Pro and Breville Barista Express to give some deeper insight into why the Gaggia Classic Pro came out on top.

Gaggia Classic Pro vs. Breville Barista Express

Gaggia Classic Pro Manual Espresso Machine:

We’ve covered the Gaggia Classic Pro here extensively at Consiglio's - it featured heavily in our Best Home Espresso Machine article, and in the past we’ve compared it directly to Silvia M in our Gaggia vs. Rancilio comparisson.

The Classic’s roots can be traced back to the 1930’s, when Achille Gaggia first filed a patent for a steam-free espresso machine. The modern Gaggia Classic Pro was launched in 1991 - more than 50 years after Achille Gaggia’s first patent, and backed by all of the knowledge, expertise and design excellence the Gaggia brand developed along the way. The Gaggia Classic Pro has now been available on the market for more than 25 years - meaning that it truly does come by the “Classic” name honestly - it’s been tried, tested, and has held its ground at the top of the domestic manual espresso machine market for decades!

 

 

Breville Barista Express Manual Espresso Machine:

While the Breville Barista Express isn’t steeped in the same rich history as the Gaggia Classic, it has made a splash in the domestic manual espresso machine market - what it lacks in backstory, it certainly makes up for in innovation. The Barista Express was designed to directly address the needs and wants of a modern consumer market - it heralds itself as an almost “automatic” manual espresso machine, with the convenience and programmability to match. The question is: how does it stand up to the tried-and-true Gaggia Classic?

 

 

Specifications: Gaggia Classic Pro vs. Breville Barista Express

 

Name

Gaggia Classic Pro

Breville Barista Express

Dimensions
(LxWxH)

23 cm x 38 cm x 24 cm
9 in x 14.9 in x  9.4 in

31 cm x 40.6 cm x 33.7 cm
12.5 in x 16 in x 33.7 in

Weight

8.0 kg
17.6 lbs

9 kg
20 lbs

Frothing Style

Manual Frothing Wand

Manual Frothing Wand

Grinder

N/A

Integrated Conical Burr Grinder

Grinder Capacity

N/A

250 grams (8 oz)

Water Tank Style

Removable

Removable

Water Tank Capacity

2.1L (71 fl. oz)

2L (67 fl. oz)

Pressure

15 Bar

15 Bar

Portafilter Size

58mm (Commercial Standard)

54mm

Solenoid Valve

3-Way Solenoid Valve

N/A

Body/Housing

Stainless Steel

Plastic

User Interface/
Controls

Basic rocker switches and rotating knob

Push-buttons, indicator lights, pressure gauge

Warranty

1 year

1 year

 

In comparing the specifications of the Gaggia Classic Pro and Breville Barista Express side-by-side, their strengths and differences become abundantly clear - the Classic features a solid stainless steel construction, and bases its design off of the standard for commercial-use espresso machines. Much like the Rancilio Silvia, the Gaggia Classic Pro uses the industry standard 58mm portafilter, and also incorporates a three-way solenoid valve. The Gaggia Classic Pro is made in Italy and offers several key improvements, including a commercial stainless steel steam wand, rocker switches and temperature ready lights.

The Breville Barista Express, on the other hand, shows its innovations with its integrated grinder and programmability/customization options - while the Classic uses a rocker-switch based control interface (again, much like the Rancilio Silvia), the Barista Express has an expanded push-button control system, and indicator light display.


Gaggia Classic Pro vs. Breville Barista Express: Strengths and Weaknesses
(Pros and Cons)

 

 

Gaggia Classic Pro

 

Breville Barista Express

Strengths (Pros)

Stainless Steel Housing: The Gaggia Classic is nothing if not well made - the stainless steel housing is a testament to the construction quality and durability of the machine. It’s meant to do two things: make great espresso drinks, and last.

Classic Design (commercial inspiration): The Gaggia Classic draws on commercial use espresso machines to base its design in the very best - it uses tried-and-true standards that are proven to work, and implements them for the domestic, home-use market. The 58mm portafilter, stainless steel housing, and three-way solenoid valve are all indicative of the rich history of excellence and expertise that backs the Gaggia line. It’s clear that every bit of the Gaggia Classic’s design is rooted in years and years (and decades and decades) of experience.

Ease of Use: The Classic’s simple rocker switch control interface is exactly that - simple. It’s easy to understand (the switches even come with handy pictures on them), and even easier to use. The Gaggia Classic Pro includes a stainless steel commercial steam wand and temperature ready lights. While it lacks the customization and programmability of a newer machine (like the Barista Express), it's more intuitive to set-up, understand, and get familiar with.

 

 

Integrated Grinder: The most easily identifiable difference between the two, the Barista Express features an integrated conical burr grinder, while the Classic… well, has no grinder at all. With the integrated grinder, the Breville Barista Express offers the convenience of grinding fresh every time you make an espresso, conveniently housed in the same machine - no need for a secondary grinder. The grinder can also be controlled to dose for either one or two espresso.

Innovative Design: As mentioned above, the Barista Express was designed to bring manual espresso machines into the world of automation and convenience - thus, it clearly has innovation on its side. Where the Classic is tried-and true, the Barista Express represents innovation and technological evolution.

Programmability: In the vein of innovation, the Barista Express offers programmability options - something not possible with the simple rocker-switch interface of the Gaggia Classic.  

Weaknesses (Cons)

Lack of Programmability: Again, one of the more obvious differences between the two machines, the Gaggia Classic lacks the programmability options of the Barista Express. That said, it’s important to consider how much is lost here - while with the Barista Express you can program your preferred beverage length to brew at the touch of a button, you also get the same control with the Classic Pro (you just have to flip the rocker switch back off once your espresso is as long or short as you want it to be). How much is lost, really, in those 28 seconds or so?

Simplicity: There’s no way around it - the Gaggia Classic Pro is a simple espresso machine. It has one job (make delicious espresso drinks), and it does it well, but there are no “bells and whistles”. It even looks simple - there is no button, switch, or control anywhere that isn’t absolutely essential. If fancy or flashy is what you are after, the Gaggia Classic Pro might not be the machine for you.

 

Plastic Housing: While the Gaggia Classic boasts a stainless steel exterior, the Barista Express sadly has a plastic body. As the first visual element of the machine, the plastic exterior sadly leaves you thinking about the possible quality and durability of the rest of the unit.

Crowded User Interface: Sure, the Barista Express gives you a lot of options - you can program and customize everything from grinder size to grind amounts and beverage volumes. Once you get it setup, everything is as easy as the touch of a button. In the meantime, though? Make sure you have the user manual handy for the first couple weeks, and be prepared to invest some time in troubleshooting issues that pop-up along the way.

Young Design - Hasn’t Stood the Test of Time: Simply put, the Breville Barista Express is a newer machine. It’s innovative, and offers a lot of exciting new design features, but it hasn’t truly yet stood the test of time.

Gaggia Classic Pro vs. Breville Barista Express: Summary

 

Ultimately, what makes each the Classic Pro and Barista Express unique is also their downfall when compared side-by-side. Both machines are great, given that you’re looking for what they are - want a simple, tried-and-true, machine that’s sturdy, easy to use, and has stood the test of time? Look no further than the Gaggia Classic Pro. Want an espresso machine with an innovative edge, with convenience, programmability and customization at the forefront of the design? The obvious choice is the Breville Barista Express.

While our choice is the Gaggia Classic Pro, the Barista Express might just be the machine for you. If you need more information about either, never hesitate to contact us at info@consiglioskitchenware.com.

 

Let us know YOUR FAVOURITE  in the comments below.

 

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Comments

Peter - February 13, 2018

I have used a Brasilia Lady for years. It is manual and simple to use. Only 4 buttons. It is solid, no plastic, and has a 300ml brass boiler and a 3-way solenoid. It used ground coffee or E.S.E. espresso pods. It makes great espresso either way and produces a nice crema. I’d stick with simple and avoid the electronics. It’s the coffe that counts.

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