Gaggia Classic 14101 Espresso Machine | In-Depth Review

If you are looking for an espresso machine and don’t know where to start, still searching, or have some idea that it might be the Gaggia Classic 14101 Espresso Machine, you have come to the right review. Some tips about common usage and regular maintenance are listed below and easily accessible via the table of contents.

First,

any person reading this and expecting to push a button and out comes a gourmet latte should instead see other posts, like what constitutes the best fully automatic espresso machine and some examples. If your budget is considerably higher, we’d recommend you check out the best espresso machine under $1000 – the perfect guide.

This machine requires manual work and some customers who own this unit claim that it is pretty much as manual as it can get. So if you want to brew, or learn to brew an espresso like a barista, read on!

Want To Get One Now? Check Out The Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine From Amazon Now (Free Shipping)!

This Review Is Only About The Gaggia Classic 14101 – Why?Gaggia-Classic-14101_angle_view

The Gaggia Classic 14101 is by far the more popular classic espresso machines even among coffee aficionados around the world. As such, Gaggia proudly touts this as one of its best selling prosumer models. For a lot of people, this is the entry level of choice. As I mentioned above, this classic machine requires a bit of work and start-up time.

If you are looking for a machine that you can just power on and push a button for a quick espresso or speed-latte, this is not the machine for you and certainly not for people who are in a rush in the morning (refer to the recommended heating time below).

A Brief History – Gaggia is?

One of the first things you will notice about the brand name is the name itself – Gaggia. If you guessed that it is the name of a person, you guessed right. The company itself was founded by Achille Gaggia in 1947 but he applied for a patent on the first steamless coffee machine 9 years earlier so he could use it commercially in his own shop. Today, Gaggia is owned by Saeco International Group, which in turn is under the electronics giant Philips. Today, Gaggia is one of the well-known and respected brands in coffee and espresso, making quality machines ranging from manual to super-automatic espresso machines.

Does It Work Straight Out Of The Box?

For those looking to buy this brand-new, the set up of the machine requires some work but should be relatively straightforward. Online videos are available that guide you through the entire process right from removing the unit from the new packaging itself (courtesy of Gaggia)!

For your convenience, we have the video here so you know what you are getting into (~ 8.5 minutes long):

How Big Is It? Will It Occupy Too Much Space In My Kitchen?

This machine will fit on most kitchen countertops as it only measures 8″ (W) x 14.25″ (H) x 9.5″ (D) and weighs around 20 pounds. Although small and considered a good entry level barista-training level machine, this machine was built to last with commercial-grade construction using heavy-duty materials and a brushed stainless steel housing, making the unit versatile and rugged.

General Operation And Some Technicalities

Gaggia-Classic-14101-water-tankWater is poured into the 72oz removable water reservoir on the top right part of the machine so even though the machine isn’t that big, make sure you have enough clearing at the top if you place the unit underneath kitchen cupboards. The other option is to remove the blow off tube (aka decompression duct) and the entire drip tray. Then, pull out the water reservoir each time, which could be a hassle.

The 15-BAR 55 W vibration pump and 3.5oz boiler are powered by 1425W; the brew boiler uses most of the energy at 1370W. Some other websites may display 17½-BAR pump but Gaggia’s own site shows 15 BARs.

Regardless, 15 BARs is sufficient for espresso since that is the required pressure to bring the brewing process to about 10 BARs. Right about when the viscous espresso starts to flow, is when the pressure eases down to 9 or 9½ BARs.

Something worthy of note here:

…the heating element(s) is usually situated inside the boiler.

However, this unit uses two separate and external heating elements “wrapped” around the boiler resulting in more even heat distribution and less corrosion or calcification of the elements. Two heating elements are needed. This because they are not in contact with the water and one heating element may not heat the water fast enough, consistently, and to the required temperature.

Gaggia-Classic-14101-buttonsHeating Time – Not For Those In A Rush

The initial warm or heat up time takes about a minute, although Gaggia recommends giving it up to 7 minutes (including initial warm-up). During this time, you can grind your coffee beans with your separate grinder, gather your cup(s), milk, etc. But once the boiler is ready, it’s good to go.

What About The Brewing System?

Gaggia-Classic-14101-grouphead-portafilterThe brew group is made of heavy-duty, marine-grade brass with chrome plating and has a three-way solenoid valve to accommodate immediate pressure release from the grouphead. So, once the espresso pull has ended, the portafilter can be removed from under the grouphead and the next espresso shot prepared.

The commercial-style portafilter itself is also made of the same heavy-duty brass material and chrome plating, giving you that “heavier” feel and further extending the heat stability. The portafilter measures 58mm and comes with the same size 58mm tamper, two commercial stainless steel filter baskets, and a coffee scoop. The machine is designed to deliver two shots at a time although one of the filters is for 1 cup or 1 ESE coffee pod.

What Is The New Turbo-Frother?

Gaggia-Classic-14101-frothing-wandGaggia has replaced the old metal frothing wand with a new “Turbo-Frother” wand which has caused some mixed reviews. Some customers have said steaming is faster (due to more rapid insertion of air), drier, and easier to clean. Some others have found it makes huge bubbles and causes a lot of spluttering. Other customers have just simply opted to take out the turbo frother, which will make the wand shorter, but more usable.

The whole point of the turbo frother is to allow entry-level customers, with little or no experience in pump-driven espresso machines, to simply froth milk. But those who have their own steaming technique or know-how may find this new turbo frother problematic.

One way is to omit your technique and literally stick the frother in the milk, half-way from the top of the milk to the bottom of the pitcher, and let it froth. There are after-market ways  to get around it but this could affect your 1-year limited warranty.

Not to denigrate this machine but it is an entry level classic espresso machine so it doesn’t have a large boiler with the power of upper-end models for good frothing. That’s why it needs an adaptor like this turbo-frother for that extra kick. Other manufacturers call it by different names such as froth enhancement-systems, automatic frothers, and so on. But it’s all based on the same principle of forcing small amounts of air with steam, or “infusion”. Basically, you don’t need much of a technique in this frothing process.

Now, Maybe You Can See Why Many Customers Give This Machine A Thumbs Up. Click Here To See The Latest Price Of the Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine From Amazon.

Here is a tip: Workaround for excess or large bubbles.

For some customers concerned about the big bubbles, there is a possible quick solution with a bit of work. First, you use a spoon to take off the top layer of massive bubbles, then swirl the milk around in the pitcher and tamp the base of the pitcher (gently bump the pitcher against the table), you should be able to get a nice, denser foam layer you are expecting.

Does The Machine Require Regular Maintenance? Descaling or Backflushing?

Yes. All machines need regular maintenance, especially the higher end models. Gaggia recommends a full descaling every 2 months using their own branded descaler where the instructions are located right on the packet. However, this may vary depending on your water hardness level and usage frequency.

Now, do pay attention to this:

…because Gaggia explicitly states that warranty does not apply if the machine is damaged due to scale build up!

So be sure to follow those instructions.

Backflushing, different from descaling, is another topic that is important.

Here is a tip: STEP-BY-STEP Quick and Concise Backflushing Instructions:

PREREQUISITES:

  • You will need a 58mm back-flushing disc and some Urnex Cafiza to do the job.
  • There are a number of videos online to help with this basic step and you will remember the basic steps once you go through the process once.

STEPS:

  1. Turn the machine on and fit the backflushing disc in the portafilter (remove any filter that is there already).
  2. Then you put 1 tsp of the Cafiza in the disc and attach it to the grouphead.
  3. You hit the brew button for about 3 seconds or so until you see whitish soapy liquid come out of the decompression duct.
  4. Turn off the brew switch.
  5. Wait a couple seconds.
  6. Repeat STEPS 3 to 5, for 5 times.
  7. Remove the portafilter and dispose of the soapy water in the drip tray.
  8. Turn on the brew switch and rinse it out.
  9. Place the portafilter back in.
  10. Repeat steps 3 to 5, for 5 times. The first time you do this at this step, there should already be less whitish soapy liquid.
  11. After 5 times, you should notice not a lot of soapy water coming through at this point.
  12. That’s pretty much it. Congratulations.

Final Thoughts

The Gaggia Classic 14101 Espresso Machine is a well-built, entry level espresso machine that will last a long time and help you along the way to become the barista you imagined. The price is just a bit higher than other espresso machines in this class, but not a bank-breaker for most. This unit is available on Amazon. So be sure to check them out and add the machine to your wish list if you’re not ready to buy just yet. You will need a separate coffee bean grinder that produces a “fine espresso grind”, like Gaggia’s own MDF Burr Grinder or Rancilio’s Rocky Burr Grinder, if you don’t have one already.

DO NOT buy a blade-type grinder to use with this machineplease.

Gaggia-classic-14101-accessoriesHere is a summary of the machine’s key features:

  • Solid construction from heavy duty materials made to last.
  • Brushed stainless steel housing.
  • Unique double heating element wrapping the outside of the boiler.
  • 3-way solenoid valve for portafilter removal and quick processing of next espresso shot.
  • Commercial-style and brass group head and portafilter with chrome plating.
  • 15-BAR pump (some discrepancy here but Gaggia lists it as 15).
  • New Turbo-Frother – great for new users.
  • 72oz removable water tank.
  • Accessories include a tamper, two filter baskets, and a coffee scoop.

Like This Machine? Click Here To Get Your Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine From Amazon Today! Free Shipping!

 

About this Research & Review:

* More than 17 project hours (subject to increase) invested researching and producing this article.
* The Research & Analysis component of the project is usually a combination of:

  1. Analyzing country-specific appliance manufacturer’s / authorized distributor’s documentation and website.
  2. Cross-referencing e-retailer’s listed specifications of the appliance against the manufacturer / authorized distributor.
  3. Only Assessing Verified customer reviews and comments (positive & negative) from reputable e-retailers.
  4. Physical inspection of the small appliance where possible / available.

* Stated hours may increase due to our constant checking for manufacturer’s updates, news, etc.

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