Well built and simple to use, the Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition is a true celebration of this well-known coffee machine. With this model you get quality espresso and excellent milk frothing, combined with a true statement piece. As far as mid-range manual machines go, this is truly an excellent choice.
There was a time when the Gaggia Classic was king of the home espresso machines. Robustly built, capable of producing excellent espresso and sporting excellent design, the name Classic was fitting. Today, we have the Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition, which retains the same quality of machine packed inside a funky new design.
It’s a model of outstanding beauty, and a great mid-range machine for anyone who wants quality results with the minimum amount of hassle.
Design and features
- Solidly built
- Fun new design
- Useful water tank filler
This limited-edition model features exclusive acrobat artwork by Italian artist Pierpaolo Gaballo on the machine’s sides. The illustrations are brilliant, bringing that Italian flare back to the well-known coffee machine. Buy this edition of the Gaggia Classic and you’ll also receive an exclusive bit of artwork that you can frame.
While a lot of higher-end coffee machines – such as the WPM KD-270S – are quite big, the Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition is relatively compact at 380 x 230 x 240mm. It’s small enough to squeeze onto a kitchen counter without taking up too much space.
There was a point in Gaggia’s life, after its acquisition by Philips, that its construction was a little on the cheap side. Fortunately, these days are way behind the company.
The Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition is ruggedly built and feels tough. Most importantly, the rocker switches are back. Each one (power, espresso and steam) audibly clicks when you hit it, with feedback excellent. This is what I loved most about the original: that industrial feel and feedback to let you know you’ve hit a button.
With a hefty group handle, this machine feels more professional, too. In the box, you get a choice of three portafilters. There are two regular ones –single and double – plus the Crema Perfetta filter and accessory. These are designed to deliver perfect espresso with less than perfect coffee.
It’s an option, but the only way to make truly great espresso is to get the right grind, using a proper grinder, and then tamp properly. It’s good, then, that the Crema Perfetta is just an option.
With the handle in place, there’s only room beneath for a 7cm mug. If you want to make lattes or use taller mugs, you may need to make a shot of espresso first and tip this into a different cup.
There’s a 2.1-litre water tank that pulls awkwardly out of the front of the machine. To get the tank back into place, you have to drop in the two hoses, then slide it back. It’s a little clumsy, but you shouldn’t need to remove the tank often, since there’s a flip-up lid and filler hole at the back, allowing you to fill the machine in-situ.
- Espresso can pour fast
- With the right tamp you can get good results
- Spot-on temperatures
To get the best out of the Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition, you need to use freshly ground coffee. It’s important to get the grind, right, too. I started off with too coarse a grind, and hot water was run through the coffee far too quickly.
Going for a finer grind and high-pressure tamp, I could slow the flow of coffee, getting my double shot in just under 30 seconds, which is about right. The result was a dark shot of coffee, topped with a golden-brown, oily crema.
Taste was pretty spot on, too. My Fairtrade Peruvian coffee has a bold, acidic taste, which was delivered in full here. At 62.3ºC, the espresso was just the right temperature, too. I’d say that you’d have to spend a lot more money to get anything better.
- Simple to use
- Able to purge the wand before and after use
- Good milk frothing results
Milk frothing is often the area that lets many a coffee machine down, but the Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition does a decent job. There’s a single boiler in this machine, so you can only steam milk or pour coffee. And, once you’ve steamed milk, you’ll need to run the machine to get its water back down to coffee temperature.
Using the switch on the front, you can pre-heat the Classic to milk temperatures. There’s then a steam dial on the side to control output. The advantage of this system is two-fold: you can purge the wand of water and milk residue at the start and end of frothing, and you get fine control over the steam output.
Thanks to the professional steam wand, it’s relatively easy to get a jug of milk with a fine texture. It’s a little frothy to start off, but a gentle tap of the jug and swirl to mix things means that I could produce a decent flat white, with a good pattern to the drink.
- Basic cleaning is required
- Descale regularly
Aside from topping up the water and cleaning out the drip tray with soapy water, there isn’t much in the way of maintenance with the Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition.
It will need descaling regularly, although you can’t set a water hardness level to have a light come on when it’s time to clean. Instead, follow the instructions in the manual to keep the machine working in its best condition.
Available direct from Gaggiadirect.com for £499
Should you buy it?
If you want quality results without paying top-end prices, this fun and quality espresso machine is a great buy.
You’re paying extra for the artwork, and if you spend more money elsewhere, you can get a more powerful and customisable experience.
The Gaggia Classic 30 Year Limited Edition looks absolutely fantastic: it’s a real statement piece. Fortunately, it isn’t style over substance; it’s a great mid-priced coffee machine, capable of producing excellent espresso and steaming milk well. If you want the best results and more customisable espresso dispensing, then you’ll have to pay a fair bit more for one of the alternatives on my best coffee machine list.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every coffee machine we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main coffee machine for the review period
Tested for at least a week
We roast our own beans for regular coffee machines, so we can fairly compare each machine; pod machines are tested with a variety of compatible capsules
Depending on capabilities, we test each machine’s ability to make espresso and cappuccino
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You get exclusive artwork on the outside plus an art print in the box.
Yes, it has a steamer wand.