Breville Barista Express Vs Gaggia Classic Pro: Which Is A More Suitable Purchase?

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Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro, which is my pick? Well, it’s a tough decision because both are the best-selling products on the market. But if I have to choose one, I will go for the Barista Express because of its versatility to switch between automated and manual stages.

The Breville Barista Express is a semi-automatic machine, meaning that I can take advantage of the machine’s automation while manually controlling the espresso extraction quality. It uses the single thermocoil heating system combined with PID temperature control for higher water consistency. Its built-in grinder has enough grind settings to dial in the proper fineness. Its pressure gauge and separate hot water dispenser are handy and help me a lot in my espresso-making learning journey.

For me, the Gaggia Classic Pro is one of the ideal machines for beginners. It has the capacity to handle a broad array of tasks while allowing users to identify specific areas they want to work on. In my own experience, the Gaggia Classic Pro can produce good-quality espresso and frothy milk textures, but it requires a lot of time and effort for practice. However, it is a complete manual espresso machine, so it is inferior in the realm of convenience and utility.

Breville Barista Express Vs Gaggia Classic Pro: Comparison Chart

Image
The Winner (#1)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
The Runner-up (#2)
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo Pro, Small, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express BES870XL
Gaggia Classic Pro RI9380/46
Dimensions (LxWxH)
13.8 x 12.5 x 15.9 Inches
9.5 x 8 x 14.2 Inches
Weight / Power / Voltage
17 Pounds / 1750 W / 110–120 V
20 lbs / 1425 W / 110-120 V
Water Tank Capacity
67 oz
72 oz
Built-in Grinder
Bean Hooper Capacity
8.8 oz
-
ESE Pod Compatibility
Heating System
Single thermocoil + PID temperature control
Single boiler
Heat-up Time
Within 5-7 minutes
Within 5-7 minutes
Pump Pressure
Stainless Steel
Brushed Stainless Steel
Pre Infusion Function
Auto Purge Function
Milk System
Manual Steam Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Control Interface
Buttons & Pressure gauge
Rocker switches
Flexible Shot Control
Auto-Off Mode
What I Like
Price
$699.95
$449.00
The Winner (#1)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express BES870XL
Dimensions (LxWxH)
13.8 x 12.5 x 15.9 Inches
Weight / Power / Voltage
17 Pounds / 1750 W / 110–120 V
Water Tank Capacity
67 oz
Built-in Grinder
Bean Hooper Capacity
8.8 oz
ESE Pod Compatibility
Heating System
Single thermocoil + PID temperature control
Heat-up Time
Within 5-7 minutes
Pump Pressure
Stainless Steel
Pre Infusion Function
Auto Purge Function
Milk System
Manual Steam Wand
Control Interface
Buttons & Pressure gauge
Flexible Shot Control
Auto-Off Mode
What I Like
Price
$699.95
More Info
The Runner-up (#2)
Image
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo Pro, Small, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Gaggia Classic Pro RI9380/46
Dimensions (LxWxH)
9.5 x 8 x 14.2 Inches
Weight / Power / Voltage
20 lbs / 1425 W / 110-120 V
Water Tank Capacity
72 oz
Built-in Grinder
Bean Hooper Capacity
-
ESE Pod Compatibility
Heating System
Single boiler
Heat-up Time
Within 5-7 minutes
Pump Pressure
Brushed Stainless Steel
Pre Infusion Function
Auto Purge Function
Milk System
Manual Steam Wand
Control Interface
Rocker switches
Flexible Shot Control
Auto-Off Mode
What I Like
Price
$449.00
More Info

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Barista Express Vs Gaggia Classic Pro: Differences

In the Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro match, the lead is for the Barista Express with a score of 4-0 against its rival. In all assessments, the Barista Express proves convenient and user-friendly. However, the Gaggia Classic Pro is also a competent opponent owing to its durability and good extraction performance at its price range.

Coffee flavor & Brewing system

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Coffee input & Grinder

The built-in grinder is one of the features that makes a significant difference in the price tag between the Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro. The Barista Express features a stainless steel conical burr grinder with 16 grind size settings. Besides, if you find that the grind is not fine enough, even when you’ve changed the grind fineness setting, you can access the top burr and reduce its grind range.

The top burr range of the Barista Express can be adjusted
The top burr range of the Barista Express can be adjusted

On the other hand, the Gaggia Classic Pro is not built with a grinder, meaning if you want to use freshly ground coffee beans, you need to purchase a separate grinder. This means you can also use the pre-ground coffee bought from the supermarkets if you’ve not got a good grinder yet. Additionally, the Gaggia Classic Pro is compatible with ESE pods for easy and quick espresso-making, suitable for use on hectic days. 

Heating system

Both machines use a single heating element, so they cannot brew and steam at the same time. The difference is that the Gaggia Classic Pro utilizes the boiler heating system while the Barista Express uses the thermocoil one. Yet, they heat up quickly but not instantly, about 5-7 minutes to reach the right temperature.

The boiler system with dual thermostats of the Gaggia Classic Pro ensures the brew group head is also heated when the boiler is heating up. This contributes to keeping a consistent temperature during the extraction, resulting in good-tasting espresso cups.

On the other hand, the thermocoil heating system of the Barista Express is equipped with PID temperature control, providing excellent temperature consistency shot after shot. The equipped PID control also effectively diminishes the temperature variation often happening with the single-heating system. 

Moreover, the Barista Express offers an advanced temperature setting for adjusting the brewing temperature by ±4oF, and this feature is not included in the Gaggia Classic Pro’s setting.

Brewing performance

Both the Breville and Gaggia machines have pre-infusion followed by the 15-bar high-pressure extraction for the brewing process. This procedure ensures the water is infused uniformly into the coffee ground to expand for an even and optimal extraction. In this way, the resulting espresso cups will have a nice aroma, beautiful honey color, creamy body, and thick crema.

However, the Barista Express allows me to control the pre-infusion time manually. Thus, I can have a longer pre-infusion duration for a stronger-flavor cup. Yet, the longer pre-infusion should come with a shorter extraction time and vice versa to avoid over-extracted or under-extracted espresso shots.

Design & Convenience

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Drink options & Programmability

Like other entry-level manual espresso machines in the market, the Gaggia Classic Pro does not have program settings. Using it is very straightforward. Simply turn on the machine, weigh and grind the coffee bean into the portafilter, tamp the coffee ground, insert the portafilter into the brew head, press the brewing switch, and then stop the brewing process manually after getting the desired amount.

Therefore, to manage the brewing process with Gaggia Classic Pro, you should use a small scale to weigh your coffee ground amount and the extracted volume.

Using Gaggia Classic Pro is very straightforward
Using Gaggia Classic Pro is very straightforward

On the other hand, the Barista Express has auto-dosing and auto-shot volumetric control so that you don’t have to keep an eye on your extraction to avoid overflowing your cup. Particularly, the machine allows you to set the grind amount suitable for the chosen filter basket. You can also easily pull single or double-shot espresso with a touch of a button. 

Additionally, on the Barista Express, you can change the volumetric presets or manually override them if you want to. With that convenient programmability, I can get consistent pull most of the time without meticulously weighing the amount and volume. Once all things are set, I just need to press the button, and the machine will do the rest.

Barista Express offers both automatic & manual dosing and volumetric shot control
Barista Express offers both automatic & manual dosing and volumetric shot control

Capacity & Dimension

I feel that the Gaggia Classic Pro boasts a more solid built quality because its frame is all metal, giving a sleek and retro look. Meanwhile, the Barista Express has some plastic parts on the case; however, it is not easy to break and looks very stylish on the countertop.

Moving on to the capacity, I am surprised that the Gaggia Classic Pro has a larger water reservoir than the Barista Express, though its dimension is more compact. Its 72 oz water reservoir is removable from the front, not from the back of the machine like the one on Barista Express. 

Additionally, the Gaggia’s water tank can be filled either from the front or the top, and the water level is very easy to track. The removable frontal water tank is also an ideal feature if you have a low-hanging cabinet and reduces the need to move the machine back and forth every time for refilling.

However, there is one thing I do not like about the Gaggia Classic Pro’s water reservoir: it is not completely sealed, making it easy for dust to get its way into the reservoir. The back water tank of the Barista Express has a lid, effectively sealing the water content from dust and other environmental factors.

Water tank of Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro
Water tanks of Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro

Pressure gauge & hot water dispenser

The Barista Express has both a separate hot water dispenser and pressure gauge, setting it apart from the Gaggia Classic Pro. The Gaggia Classic Pro does not have the pressure gauge, but its switch control interface is very user-friendly. After some testing and going through the manual, I can easily make a good espresso using my acquired skills.

Talking about the pressure gauge of the Barista Express, I do like it. It is truly a nice assistant helping me with my espresso-making learning process. It can tell me when my shot is well-extracted. Once I notice the needle of the gauge located in the espresso zone, I can be confident that I’ve pulled a nice-bodied and flavorful shot. Meanwhile, if the needle is out of the optimal zone, it’s a sign for me to adjust variables like the grind fineness or grind amount.

The pressure gauge of Barista Express
The pressure gauge of Barista Express

Additionally, the Barista Express is equipped with a separate hot water dispenser situated to the right of the brewing group head. It is handy and convenient for preparing an americano as I can get hot water immediately after pulling my shot, just by turning the steam knob to the hot water position.

Meanwhile, the Gaggia Classic Pro delivers hot water from its steam wand by pressing the brew and steam switch at the same time after turning the steam knob in the clockwise direction. For me, integrating the steam and hot water functions of the Gaggia Classic Pro is a bit inconvenient to use. So, I’m more on the side of the Barista Express in this round.

Other utilities

The Barista Express has the auto-off function while the Gaggia Classic Pro does not, so I pick the Express as the winner of this round. In fact, the Gaggia Classic Pro has the standby mode (auto-off after 20 minutes), but this function is only available for the products distributed in WE (Western Europe) markets. 

The Barista Express will go into sleep mode after an hour of inactivity and then automatically shut off after 3 hours from the last interaction. Moreover, the Barista Express includes the cleaning kit to support the cleaning routine and a storage tray to keep the unused filter basket and other accessories neatly.

The separate hot water spout of the Barista Express
The separate hot water spout of the Barista Express

Milk system

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Generally, both machines feature commercial manual steam wands. This means both of them require you certain milk texturing techniques to get nice milk froths for different milk-based espresso drinks. Besides, it takes a while to transition from brewing to steaming as these machines utilize a single heating element for operation. However, the steam wand of the Barista Express is better in ergonomic and auto-purge function. 

The steam wand of the Gaggia Classic Pro is not on a ball joint like the Barista Express’s, so it does not move upward and downward, limiting the wand’s movement range as well as the steaming space. As a result, it makes texturing milk with Gaggia Classic Pro more difficult and takes more time to practice. 

On the other hand, the steam wand of the Barista Express can rotate 360 degrees, supporting me to easily modify the angle for greater air infusion to create microfoam. 

Moreover, the Barista Express is equipped with an auto-purge function, allowing the machine to automatically release excessive heat when lowering the wand. This is very convenient, especially for the heating system, to get the right temperature for the next brew. Meanwhile, on the Gaggia Classic Pro, I have to purge the steam manually.

The manual steam wand of Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro
The manual steam wand of Breville Barista Express vs Gaggia Classic Pro

Cleaning & Maintenance

Winner: Breville Barista Express

The semi-automatic Barista Express wins this round owing to its convenience in cleaning and maintenance. The Barista Express has the descale mode, reducing the manual work of cleaning and descaling for users. Conversely, doing the cleaning and descaling cycles on the Gaggia Classic Pro is completely manual, and there is also no indicator reminding you to run these cycles.

Regarding the Barista Express, it has both cleaning and descaling alerts for you, so you don’t need to remember the time yourself. Besides, the descale mode on the Barista Express makes descaling the machine faster and easier as I just need to press the button or turn the knob one time to initiate the cycle, and then the machine will do the rest.

The clean/descale indicator on Barista Express
The clean/descale indicator on Barista Express

Moreover, the auto-purge function of the Barista Express’s steam wand contributes to making the cleaning less daunting. I am no longer afraid of forgetting to purge the milk wand after use. It is worth noting that no matter which machine you use, either the Barista Express or Gaggia Classic Pro, you should wipe the steam wand with a damp cloth and ensure it is purged after every use. In this way, the machines can function well and not damage your drinks’ flavors.

Besides, the rest of these two machines are easy to clean and maintain. Their drip trays and water tanks are easily removed for cleaning regularly. It is also essential to wash the drip tray regularly to avoid unpleasant smells caused by coffee drips and milk residues.

Quick Rundown of Breville Barista Express

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Visit earn-cashback.breville.com purchase to claim. Valid Aug 1, 2023 until Jun 30, 2024
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute, helping you make the perfect cup of Cappuccino or Latte
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Utilizes thermocoil heating element & PID temperature control
  • Can adjust brewing temperature
  • Pressure gauge useful to track extraction pressure
  • Low-pressure pre infusion followed by 15-bar high-pressure extraction for full-bodied and creamy espresso shots
  • Features cleaning and descaling alerts
Cons
  • Relatively tall and sometimes cannot fit under low hanging cabinet

Quick Rundown of Gaggia Classic Pro

Sale
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Evo Pro, Small, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Solid Steel Housing, Made in Italy
  • 9 Bar Espresso Extractions
  • Stainless Steel 58mm Commercial Portafilter
  • Commercial Three Way Solenoid Valve
  • Commercial Steam Wand

Last update on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Straightforward controls
  • Compact footprint with large frontal water tank
  • Quick heating up time (around 5 minutes)
  • Feature a pre infusion function and 15-bar brewing extraction to deliver well-rounded pulls
  • Affordable price with good performance
Cons
  • The steam wand is not ergonomic, taking more time to practice

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