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Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Bambino Plus

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Last updated: December 27, 2023

Quick answer: I’d recommend the Breville Bambino Plus over the Gaggia Classic Pro to most people. I’d only recommend the Gaggia Classic Pro if you’re willing to modify the machine by changing its OPV spring and adding a PID to it.

Although the Gaggia Classic Pro and Breville Bambino Plus are similarly priced, the two espresso machines are aimed at a very different type of home espresso maker.

In this comparison of the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Bambino Plus, I’ll explain why  I think that:

  • The Breville Bambino Plus is better suited to more “normal” espresso drinkers (someone who doesn’t obsess over the nuances of the drink) and people who will mainly drink milk drinks.
  • The Gaggia Classic Pro is better suited to an espresso hobbyist who’d be keen to experiment with different roast profiles and modify their espresso machine as their palate (and budget) develops.

Let’s get started.

Should I Get the Gaggia Classic Pro or Breville Bambino Plus?

I’d recommend that you’d get the Breville Bambino Plus if you want a machine to make a good espresso or milk drink (latte, cappuccino, etc) without delving into the minutiae of espresso brewing.

The Bambino Plus can self-regulate its brewing temperature well and has an automatic steam wand for hands-free milk steaming. The Gaggia Classic Pro has neither of these, making it a much more hands-on espresso machine.

Best if You Won’t Mod Your Machine
Breville Bambino Plus
$499.95
The Breville Bambino can pull consistent quality espresso shots without you needing to open up and modify the machine.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 01:44 am GMT

I’d recommend the Gaggia Classic Pro over the Breville Bambino Plus if you’re already “into” espresso, or you’re the nerdy type who’s likely to get into the nuances of espresso brewing.

The two advantages that the Gaggia Classic Pro has over the Breville Bambino Plus are:

  • Longevity: The Gaggia Classic Pro is more durably built than the Bambino Plus and can be repaired if any of its internal components break down. The Bambino Plus cannot be repaired in this way and will need to be replaced if its pump or heating element deteriorates.
  • Modification potential: The Gaggia Classic Pro can be easily opened up and modified to improve its espresso shots and ease of use. While opening up your machine will void its warranty, there’s a big community of modders online and a lot of step-by-step guides on how to change pretty much every aspect of the machine.
Best for (Potential) Espresso Hobbyists
Gaggia Classic Pro
$499.00 $449.00
The Gaggia Classic Pro’s can be easily modified and repaired, making it a durable espresso machine that can be improved as your palette (and budget) develops and grows.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/02/2024 07:39 pm GMT

What are the Differences Between the Gaggia Classic Pro and Breville Bambino Plus?

I’m going to run through the differences between these two espresso machines in order of how much they contribute to their performance and usability (from most to least important).

The table below shows these differences in this aforementioned order:

Breville Bambino Plus Gaggia Classic Pro Which is better?
Steam wand
More powerful automatic steam wand on ball joint
Less powerful manual steam wand on pivot joint
Breville Bambino Plus
Pump pressure
9 Bar
12.5 Bar
Breville Bambino Plus
Temperature control
Self regulates temperature within 2 Fahrenheit
Subject to temperature swings of over 10 Fahrenheit
Breville Bambino Plus
Ease of repairing
Internal parts cannot be repaired/replaced
Internal parts can be repaired/replaced
Gaggia Classic Pro
Ease of modification
Suitable for modding
Not suitable for modding
Gaggia Classic Pro
Cup clearance
4.5 inches
3 inches
Breville Bambino Plus
Shot volume control
Automatic, adjusted shot volume control
Manual shot volume control
It depends
Heating system
Thermojet
Boiler
Gaggia Classic Pro
Outer material
Mainly plastic
Mainly stainless steel
Gaggia Classic Pro

Steam Wand: Breville Bambino Plus as Automatic Steam Wand, Gaggia Classic Pro has a Manual Steam Wand

The Breville Bambino Plus has an automatic steam wand that lets you steam milk hands-free. The Gaggia Classic Pro only has a manual steam wand. This automation aside, the Breville Bambino Plus steams milk is far better than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Automatic vs Manual Milk Steaming

The Breville Bambino Plus’s milk-steaming system allows you to preselect a temperature (one of 122, 158, 194 Fahrenheit) and one of three textures. You then just put your steam wand in your milk pitcher and the machine will automatically steam your milk to that temperature and texture.

You can see a video of someone demonstrating the Bambino Plus’s automatic steam wand below:

As you can see, the Bambino Plus’s automatic milk steamer is pretty much foolproof. The only way you can mess it up is by not putting your milk pitcher directly on the heat sensor in its drip tray.

You can also use the Bambino Plus’s steam wand manually if you prefer. If you want super silky microfoam for latte art then you’re best off using its steam wand manually.

The Gaggia Classic Pro does not have an automatic steam wand, you can only steam your milk manually.

Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Bambino Plus: Manual Milk Steaming Performance 

Automation aside, the Breville Bambino Plus’s milk steamer still far outperforms the Gaggia Classic Pro.

The Bambino Plus’s steam wand in manual mode is better than the Gaggia Classic Pro’s for two reasons:

  • The Bambino Plus can steam milk faster than the Gaggia Classic Pro: A test by barista and coffee YouTuber James Hoffmann showed that the Gaggia Classic Pro takes 10 seconds longer to steam 5 oz of milk than the Bambino Plus (42 vs 32 seconds respectively). This means that the Bambino Plus will create thicker, creamier frothed milk than the Gaggia as less water has been pushed through it. Hoffmann also commented that the Gaggia Classic Pro’s milk steamer was not powerful enough to roll your milk around fully, meaning that its milk foam’s texture won’t be as consistent as the Bambino Plus’s
  • The Bambino Plus’s steam wand is on a ball joint, Gaggia Classic Pro’s is on a pivot joint: You can rotate the Breville Barista Plus’s steam wand 360 degrees, making it easy to maneuver in your milk. The Gaggia’s steam wand can only move left and right so you need to awkwardly move your jug around the steam wand, rather than move your steam wand in the milk.

The Bambino Plus’s milk steamer is so much better than the Gaggia Classic Pro’s that I’d always recommend the former machine if you plan on making milk drinks at least semi-regularly.

Steam Wand Winner: Breville Bambino Plus

Pump Pressure: Breville Bambino is Set to Brew at 9 Bars of Pressure, and Gaggia Classic Pro is Set to Brew at 12.5 Bars of Pressure

The Gaggia Classic Pro’s higher brewing pressure means that it is more prone to channeling than the Breville Bambino Plus.

Espresso should be brewed at nine Bars of pressure. 

The Gaggia Classic Pro is set to brew at 12.5 Bars of pressure because apparently, this will create a nicer drink if you brew with pre-ground coffee and pressurized portafilter baskets (I have not tested this myself. That’s just what I’ve seen people say).

The main problem with brewing at 12.5 Bars of pressure is that it makes channeling more likely. This is where your brewing water finds more loosely packed spots in your espresso puck and all run through these channels.

Circles show where channels have formed in the coffee bed. Brewing water runs through these holes, over-extracting the coffee around them

Severely channeled espresso is revolting – a combination of mouth-puckering sharpness and harsh bitterness.

You can minimize the chances of channeling with the Gaggia by making sure you properly distribute your ground coffee during puck prep. However, with all the best puck prep in the world, you’re still significantly more likely to get channeling with the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Bambino Plus.

That’s why I’d always recommend changing the Gaggia Classic Pro’s brewing pressure by replacing its OPV spring.

You can see a video on how to do this here. You can buy the OPV springs featured in the video here.

While it doesn’t look too difficult (no messing around with electrical wires), opening up your machine will void any warranty on it.

This over-pressurized brewing simply isn’t a problem with the Bambino Plus. It’s set to brew at 9 Bars of pressure out of the box and does so reliably. 

While channeling is still possible with the Bambino Plus, it’s far less likely than with the Gaggia Classic Pro due to this lower brewing pressure.

Pump Pressure Winner: Breville Bambino Plus

Temperature Control: Breville Bambino Plus Uses a PID Temperature Control, Gaggia Classic Pro Uses a Thermostat

The Breville Bambino Plus has a PID that precisely controls its internal brewing temperature. The Gaggia Classic Pro has a relatively crude brewing temperature control. You’ll need to develop a temperature surfing routine to pull consistent shots with the Gaggia Classic Pro but not the Breville Bambino Plus.

A change of a few degrees Fahrenheit in brewing temperature can noticeably affect the way your espresso tastes.

While the Breville Bambino Plus can automatically control its brewing temperature to the nearest two degrees Fahrenheit, the Gaggia Classic Pro can be subject to swings of well over ten degrees Fahrenheit.

You’ll therefore have to manage the Gaggia Classic Pro’s temperature manually if you want to pull consistent shots with the machine. 

This is called “temperature surfing” – you’ll likely have seen people talking about it when researching espresso machines.

Temperature Surfing with the Gaggia Classic Pro

The basic principles of temperature surfing with the Gaggia Classic Pro are:

  • Lower the machine’s brewing temperature by pressing its brew button. This releases hot water from the machine’s group head (where you’d lock in the portafilter) and simultaneously pulls cold water into its boiler from its water tank to replace the hot water that’s been brewed out.
  • Raise the machine’s temperature by pressing its steam button. This will start the process of the boiler heating up your water to 293 Fahrenheit (145 Celsius) to produce steam for the milk steamer. Starting this process and then pressing the brew button will trick the boiler into brewing at a higher temperature.

There is very little consensus on what the best temperature surfing routine is with the Gaggia Classic Pro. Click here if you want a glimpse into the extent to which people debate this topic online.

The long and short of this difference in temperature system is that you’ll have to play around a lot more with the Gaggia Classic Pro in order to get consistent shots than with the Breville Bambino Plus.

The Bambino Plus’s brewing temperature cannot be adjusted. 

While this means less messing around, it also makes the Bambino not the best machine for brewing with lighter roasts.

These require a higher-than-normal brewing temperature. While you can achieve this by pressing the Gaggia’s steam button before the brewing button, you cannot raise the Bambino Plus’s temperature manually.

Temperature Control Winner: Breville Bambino Plus

Ease of Repairing: Gaggia Classic Pro is Much Easier to Repair and Maintain than the Breville Bambino Plus

The Gaggia Classic Pro can be easily opened up and repaired if one of its internal parts malfunctions. If this happens to the Bambino Plus then the machine will need to be replaced.

Most espresso machine technicians will be willing to fix a Gaggia Classic Pro’s faulty pump, boiler, or wiring. There are also plenty of tutorials on how to fix nearly every aspect of the machine yourself.

The same cannot be said for the Breville Bambino Plus – once its pump or heating system is broken, the machine will need to be replaced.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is a potential buy-it-for-life product with the right care and maintenance. You’d be lucky if the Bambino Plus lasts you five years.

Ease of Repairing Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro

Modification Potential: The Gaggia Classic Pro Can Be Far More Easily Upgraded than the Gaggia Classic Pro

Although it’s possible to soup up the Gaggia Classic Pro to the point where it far outperforms its price tag, I think it’s telling that the three most common Gaggia Classic Pro modifications are things that the Breville Bambino Plus already has.

The three most common Gaggia Classic Pro modifications are:

  • OPV modification: This changes the Gaggia’s brewing pressure from 12.5 Bars to 9 Bars.
  • Adding a PID: This removes the need to temperature surf. 
  • Changing to a lower profile drip tray: This gives you an extra inch of cup clearance so you can brew with scales under your cup.

All three of these changes (which together cost in excess of $150 and take a couple of hours to do) just give the Gaggia Classic Pro features that the Breville Bambino Plus already has out of the box.

While the Gaggia can be modded further to include features that the Breville Bambino Plus does not have (watch this video if you want to see how far it’s possible to take things), these further modifications are even more expensive and difficult to do.

The average espresso drinker, or even an espresso hobbyist, probably won’t want to make them.

Modification Potential Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro

Cup Clearance: The Breville Bambino Plus has 4.5 Inches of Cup Clearance, and the Gaggia Classic Pro Only has 3 Inches

This means that you can brew with a scale under your cup with the Breville Bambino Plus but not with the Gaggia Classic Pro.

My espresso glass on my scale is 3.5 inches tall

You’ll need to brew with a scale under your cup when “dialing in” (initially calibrating your grind size and dose volume) with both espresso machines.

In fact, you’ll want to brew with a scale under your cup with every shot you pull with the Gaggia Classic Pro since the machine does not have automatic shot volume dosing. This makes its lack of cup clearance extra frustrating. You’ll have to brew with its drip tray removed if you want ultra-consistent shots.

The Bambino Plus has no such problems, with its 4.5 inches of space between the drip tray and portafilter spout giving you ample room to brew with a scale under your cup.

Cup Clearance Winner: Breville Bambino Plus

Heating System: Gaggia Classic Pro has a Boiler Heating System, and Bambino Plus has Thermojet Heating System

Although the Gaggia Classic Pro takes longer to heat up than the Breville Bambino Plus, I prefer its boiler heating system because it is far more durable than a thermojet.

Here’s how the two espresso machines’ heating systems work:

  • Gaggia Classic Pro’s single boiler heating system: When you turn the machine on it draws 5 oz water from its water tank into an internal boiler and heats it to 230 Fahrenheit (110 Celsius) or 293 Fahrenheit (145 Celsius) if its steam button is on. Its heating element then turns off when these temperatures are met.
  • Breville Bambino Plus’s thermojet heating system: When you pull a shot the Bambino Plus will instantly heat only the water used in that shot to 200 Fahrenheit just before it comes out of your brew group.

The table below shows how these two machine’s heating systems affect each espresso machine’s overall performance:

Breville Bambino Plus (thermojet) Gaggia Classic Pro (single boiler)
Initial heat up time
3 seconds
2 minutes
Transition from heating to steaming
<10 seconds
40 seconds
Does it heat up the brew group (this increases extraction)?
No
Yes
Durability
Less durable
More durable

I personally prefer the Gaggia’s single boiler heating system to the Breville’s thermojet. A boiler is far more durable than a thermojet and can be easily repaired/replaced. A boiler also contributes to better extraction (and therefore better espresso shot quality) than a thermojet as it heats up the machine’s brew head.

Heating System Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro

Shot Volume Control: Breville Bambino Plus has Automatic Shot Volume Dosing Whereas Gaggia Classic Pro has Manual Dosing

Breville Bambino Plus has one button for single and double shots. These will automatically stop brewing once a certain (customizable) volume of water has been brewed out. The Gaggia Classic Pro has one rocker “brew” switch that you need to turn off yourself to end the brew.

Above: Breville Bambino Plus’s buttons. Below: Gaggia Classic Pro rocker switches

The Breville Bambino Plus’s automatic volume dosing makes it easier to get consistent shots than the Gaggia. Once you have calibrated the machine’s shot volume by brewing with scales under your cup you can save that volume for every subsequent shot.

The Gaggia Classic Pro’s manual volume dosing makes it easier to pull espresso variations like ristretto and lungo. It also makes it easier to re-dial in the machine if you want to experiment with different roast profiles.

Shot Volume Control Winner: It depends (Bambino Plus is easier to use, Gaggia gives you more control)

Outer Material: The Gaggia Classic Pro has a Stainless Steel Housing, Breville Bambino Plus’s Exterior is Largely Made of Plastic

The Gaggia Classic Pro’s stainless steel body makes it more sturdy and weighty than the Breville Bambino Plus.

That’s not to say that the Bambino Plus is flimsy. 

While the Bambino Plus is far less durable than the Gaggia Classic Pro, this has far more to do with its internal build (in particular its heating system) than its external build.

Still, stainless steel is always nicer than plastic.

Outer Material Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro

Now that I’ve run through these two espresso machines’ features, I’m going to pit them against each other across the following criteria:

  • Espresso quality
  • Milk steaming performance
  • Ease of use
  • Design and build quality
  • Value for money
Criteria Winner
Espresso quality
Gaggia Classic Pro (but only just)
Milk steaming performance
Breville Bambino Plus (by a long way)
Ease of use
Breville Bambino Plus (by a long way)
Design and build quality
Gaggia Classic Pro
Value for money
Draw

Espresso Quality

The Gaggia Classic Pro can make better-tasting espresso than the Breville Bambino Plus because of its ability to work with finer grinds and superior thermal retention.

The combination of being able to brew with finer grinds and increased thermal retention (the latter of which is due to its boiler heating up its brew group) means that the Gaggia Classic Pro extracts your ground coffee better than the Breville Bambino Plus.

Improved extraction means a more complex flavored and better-bodied espresso shot.

That’s not to say that the Bambino Plus doesn’t make good espresso – both machines can produce high-quality espresso shots. The Gaggia is just capable of producing slightly better-tasting espresso (especially if you’re brewing with lighter roasts).

I should note that while the Gaggia Classic Pro has a higher espresso quality ceiling than the Breville Bambino Plus, it tends to produce less consistent shots. 

This shot inconsistency is due to the Gaggia having poorer temperature control and a higher brewing pressure than the Breville.

Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro (but only just)

Milk Steaming Performance

The Breville Bambino Plus is much better at steaming milk than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

The Breville Bambino Plus can steam milk faster, and its steam wand is more easy to maneuver than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Add to this that the Bambino Plus has an automatic steam wand (which the Gaggia Classic Pro doesn’t have) and there’s no contest in which espresso machine has a better milk steamer.

Milk Steaming Performance Winner: Breville Bambino Plus (by a long way)

Ease of Use 

The Breville Bambino Plus’s lower brewing pressure, PID, and automatic milk steaming make it a much easier espresso machine to use than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

The Breville Bambino Plus is easier to use than the Gaggia Classic Pro in three ways:

  • Less chance of channeling: The Bambino Plus’s lower brewing pressure means that it’s less likely to channel than the Gaggia Classic Pro. This gives you more room for error with your puck prep – one of the harder techniques for a beginner espresso maker to master.
  • No need to temperature surf: The Bambino Plus’s PID temperature control means that you can get consistent quality espresso shots without a temperature surfing routine. This is not the case with the Gaggia Classic Pro.
  • Automatic milk steaming: The Bambino Plus lets you make a latte without learning how to use a steam wand properly. The Gaggia Classic Pro does not have this feature.

There’s no debate here about which espresso machine is easier to use. 

The Bambino Plus is so straightforward to use that I’ve named it the best espresso machine for beginners.

Ease of Use Winner: Breville Bambino Plus (by a long way)

Design and Build Quality

The Gaggia Classic Pro is far more durable than the Breville Bambino Plus, although the Bambino Plus is the more feature-rich of the two espresso machines.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is a far more sturdily built espresso machine than the Breville Bambino Plus.

The Classic Pro can last you a lifetime – especially if you are willing to open it up and repair it (or get a technician to do so). The machine is a regular on the buy it for life subreddit – a forum dedicated to durable products and machinery (see example threads talking about this here and here).

The Bambino Plus probably won’t last you upwards of 4-5 years. Its thermojet heating system just isn’t built to last and once it deteriorates it cannot be replaced.

Although the Bambino Plus is nowhere near as durable as the Gaggia, I do think that it’s a better-designed espresso machine from a workflow perspective. 

In particular, I hate the lack of cup clearance that the Gaggia Classic Pro gives you, this alone makes the Bambino Plus a more ergonomic machine than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Design and Build Quality Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro

Value For Money

While you get far more features for your money with the Breville Bambino Plus, the Gaggia Classic Pro will almost certainly last you a lot longer than the two machines.

This makes comparing their value for money quite difficult – it just depends on what you value.

One way of looking at this is by asking yourself: “Am I willing to buy the Gaggia Classic Pro, spend an extra $150 (and about half a day of time) changing the machine’s OPV spring, drip tray, and add a PID temperature control to it.”

If you are then you’ve basically got a buy-it-for-life Bambino Plus – a far more cost-effective machine than the Bambino Plus itself.

However, if you’re not willing to make these mods then I think you get more for your money with the Breville.

Value For Money Winner: Draw

Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Bambino Plus: Final Verdict

I’d recommend the Breville Bambino Plus over the Gaggia Classic Pro if:

  • You’re going to be making a lot of milk drinks with your machine.
  • You are not willing to open up and mod an espresso machine.
  • There’s going to be a lot of you using the machine and you might not all be that interested in the nuances of espresso making.
Best if You Won’t Mod Your Machine
Breville Bambino Plus
$499.95
The Breville Bambino can pull consistent quality espresso shots without you needing to open up and modify the machine.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 01:44 am GMT

If you see yourself as a potential espresso hobbyist (or are already one) and aren’t scared of modding an espresso machine, then go with the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Best for (Potential) Espresso Hobbyists
Gaggia Classic Pro
$499.00 $449.00
The Gaggia Classic Pro’s can be easily modified and repaired, making it a durable espresso machine that can be improved as your palette (and budget) develops and grows.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/02/2024 07:39 pm GMT

You can find out more about these machines in my Gaggia Classic Pro review and my comparison of the Breville Bambino vs Bambino Plus.

FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions by people who are comparing the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Bambino Plus.

Is the Bambino Plus Worth It?

The Breville Bambino Plus is only worth it if you are going to make full use of its automatic steam wand. If you are just going to be making black espresso drinks, or steaming its milk manually, then I’d instead recommend the Breville Bambino. This is exactly the same as the Bambino Plus, minus the automatic steam wand (and with a $150 reduction in cost).

What are the Cons of the Gaggia Classic Pro?

The main con of the Gaggia Classic Pro is that its steam wand isn’t very powerful. This means that you’ll struggle to get consistent milk foam texture, especially if you’re steaming larger quantities of milk. I also don’t like how it only has three inches of cup clearance as this means that you cannot brew with a scale under your cup.

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