In this article, we have a fierce match-up of two semi-automatic espresso machines: Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic. These two models are similar that they come with a large water tank, a steaming and frothing wand with a water dispenser, a built-in cup warmer, and an included coffee tamper. However, there are also several things that set them apart.
Continue reading below to learn further about:
– The size and weight of each espresso machine
– Which model that requires less frequent refilling
– Which model that is generally easier and more intuitive to use
– The distinctive features of each espresso machine
– The performance of Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic
– Which model that is more recommended for the money
Design and Dimensions
Let’s start from the physical dimensions of these two espresso machines. This is an important factor to consider – especially if your countertop does not have much space available – because espresso machines can be quite big and bulky. Make sure that the product that you choose will actually fit inside your kitchen. See also: Gaggia Brera vs Saeco Intelia.
Breville Barista Express is the bigger and heavier machine of the two. It measures 12.5 inches deep, 13.25 inches wide, and 15.75 inches tall. The weight is about 23 pounds. This model requires a significant amount of surface area, so it is not the most recommended option for a small or crowded kitchen.
The overall appearance of Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic is modern and professional. It has a metallic finish, which gives it a sense of solidity and sturdiness. The housing and controls are indeed well-built and durable. Many people have praised its excellent build quality.
Gaggia Classic, on the other hand, is slightly smaller and lighter. It measures 9.5 inches deep, 8 inches wide, and 14.5 inches tall. Meanwhile, the weight is about 20 pounds. Compared to Breville Barista Express, Gaggia Classic is considerably more space-friendly. It will be much easier to fit into your kitchen, especially if your kitchen is small or crowded by other appliances.
The overall appearance of Gaggia Classic is classy and elegant. It has managed to set a distinctive look by choosing not to put everything on the front panel. It has a brushed metallic finish on most of the housing, with some parts having a black finish. The housing is also sturdy and durable. The build quality is very good.
The next difference between Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic is the water reservoir capacity. For a coffee machine, a large water tank is almost always a good thing. A large water tank will save you from frequent refilling. Many people love coffee, but not many people enjoy refilling their coffee machines.
Breville Barista Express has a water reservoir capacity of 67 ounces. This is quite huge. It is sufficient for at least 49 espresso shots. So, it is great for personal use as well as for a group of people. However, that number will be lower if you use the hot water dispenser for other purposes, such as making a cup of Americano, tea, or hot chocolate.
Gaggia Classic has an even bigger water reservoir, despite the smaller overall size. It has a capacity of 72 oz – great for personal use as well as for a group of people. If you only use it for making espresso, it is sufficient for 53 espresso shots. Again, the number will be lower if you use the hot water dispenser. Nevertheless, if you really dislike refilling your coffee machine, the slightly higher capacity of this model is a plus point.
Obviously, one of the biggest differences between Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic is the grinder. This is apparent right after you see these espresso machines side by side. If you want fresh coffee with the richest flavor, there is no other way – you need a grinder.
Breville Barista Express comes with a high-quality grinder. It is a top-notch stainless steel conical burr grinder, which is a good choice for the proper coffee preparation. The performance is impressive. It delivers the desired grind level and coarseness consistently.
Well-ground coffee is one major factor that affects the quality of the espresso shot. The built-in grinder definitely doesn’t disappoint. Besides the consistent performance, it is also able to preserve the richness and quality of the coffee fairly well. The burr don’t get hot too quickly.
It allows you to save the settings for the grind level and coarseness saved on the machine. The operation is neat and convenient, without any mess. Breville Barista Express is also equipped with a bean hopper which can hold and seal up to 0.5 lbs of coffee beans at once.
Gaggia Classic does not have any integrated grinder. It only takes ground coffee. So, either you use pre-ground coffee to make your shots (which is practical, but some hardcore coffee enthusiasts may protest), or use a separate stand-alone grinder.
When choosing a coffee grinder to pair with the Gaggia Classic espresso machine, consider going for a high-quality unit. You should choose a conical burr grinder, instead of a cheap grinder with stainless steel blades. This is very important because stainless steel blades can get hot very quickly during the operation, and the heat will degrade the quality of the coffee. By using a conical burr grinder, you can preserve the rich flavor of the coffee better.
Displays and Settings
Although both Breville Barista Express and Gaggia Classic are semi-automatic espresso machines, there are still some differences in their operation methods. Overall, Breville Barista Express is a little bit more automated and easier to use than Gaggia Classic. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your preference.
Breville Barista Express is equipped with a pressure gauge display. There is a center dial which will allow you to monitor the pressure change and determine the ideal extraction point. This is useful if you want to experiment with the settings to get the very best espresso shot.
Breville Barista Express is a good choice for people who want to save some settings on the coffee machine. On this machine, you can save the grind level and the coarseness, so that you won’t need to dial them up manually all the time. However, Breville Barista Express won’t allow you to adjust the steam pressure; it has been pre-programmed for the optimal steaming and frothing.
Gaggia Classic takes a more hands-on approach. This is because it does not have any function that is programmable. You will need to dial the desired settings for every shot. Hence, it is more suitable for experienced users, and is a great choice for people who believe that manual control is the only way for the best espresso shot.
Gaggia Classic doesn’t have an integrated grinder, so it does not have too many things that you need to control. Unfortunately, it does not have a gauge control, so you can only use the default pressure – but this is not really a bad thing. For frothing, it does allow you to adjust the steam pressure, so you can customize the milk character to suit your liking.
Breville Barista Express comes with a 15-bar pressure pump and a dual boiler system. Gaggia Classic comes with a 17.5-bar pressure pump and a high-voltage boiler. So, which one is better?
Honestly, both machines are more-or-less equal. They both are great. The minimum pressure that you need to get the ideal espresso extraction is 9 bars. A more powerful pressure pump ensures that the coffee is properly extracted within a relatively short time, but the performance difference between Breville Barista Express and Gaggia Classic is negligible. Both are capable of delivering high-quality shots.
Their boiler systems may have different internal workings, but they both are able to heat up the water very quickly. Again, the difference in their heat-up lengths is negligible. They both are also quite durable.
Milk Steaming and Frothing
Each of these two models is equipped with a milk steaming/frothing wand. As mentioned above, the steaming wand of Breville Barista Express is not adjustable. The one on Gaggia Classic is adjustable.
Breville Barista Express is quite faster when heating up the water for steaming the milk. It takes only about 20 – 30 seconds. In addition, although the steam wand requires a purge every after use, this is done automatically by the machine. The steam wand is made from stainless steel.
Gaggia Classic is notably slower when heating the water for steaming the milk. It takes about 50 – 60 seconds. You need to purge the steam wand manually every after use in order to maintain the milk quality and hygiene. The steam wand is made from plastic, but there is an optional upgrade available for a chrome steam wand.
Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic
All in all, Breville Barista Express is more recommended. It gives a better value for the money, as it comes with an integrated conical burr grinder. It is easier and more practical to use. It can save your grind settings, and it also has a nice pressure gauge display. The overall performance is excellent. It also has a better quality steaming wand.