Filter Basket on Gaggia Classic

About a month ago I updated my OPV setting on my Gaggia Classic based on the information that I had come across online.  My espresso’s appear to have improved because of this, although I am still a tiny bit scheptical.

The thing that initially kicked things off was my initial frustrations when first getting the Gaggia Classic, something wasn’t ringing true and my coffee would not improve no matter waht I did to the grind, tamp, coffee.  Then I read about the fact that the basket itself may be the problem.  So I looked in the portafilter and checked the basket.

The basket appeared to have many holes and looked pretty normal to me.  In my haste I thought there was nothing to worry about.  Then I read in another post that there is a single hole in the POD portafilters and it’s visible from the underside.  So I removed the basket from the portafilter and “Hey Presto”

So my machine was supplied with ONLY POD compatible baskets.  They make an espresso but not a very good one and  it explains why not much was changing when I altered the grind and never had any discernable change in shot pull times.  Basically everything has to come through the tiny hole and the plastic bit ends up being a throttle so that the high pressure fluid from the hole does not spray up your walls.  (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME IF YOU LIKE YOUR KITCHEN, CHILDREN, EYES…ETC You can test this buy removing the plastic plug and leaving the POD compatible basket in.  When you run the machine you will have coffee going everywhere)

So online to CoffeeHit and new basket arrives, quite a difference

I put my new basket into the portafilter and then ground some of my coffee.  I then switched on and the coffee gushed out of my portafilter with no crema and was the most awful espresso ever.  Not all bad though as now the coffee is the restriction in the basket (I think) rather than the little hole in the POD compatible basket.

So redial the grinder to a finer grind and try again, shot pull is still fast but there is the first noticeable change since having the machine.  Espresso is still bloody awful but there was a hint of crema and the pull took 10 seconds.  After a bit of fun and some dialling in the pour started to get closer to the 25 second mark and real crema emulsion is flowing from the portafilter.

So, in summary, the change of the basket has made a hell of a difference and I can now taste my espresso and get a really good pour.  I didn’t realise that you truly can have floral notes, hints of caramel, blackcurrent flavours all mixed in with the brown coffee liquid.  I think regulating the OPV has helped but the biggest difference has been using the machine as intended with the correct basket.  Why Gaggia supply them like this I will never know as it is impossible to make an espresso with the POD baskets.  Maybe Gaggia know better and there is a knack but I can’t find it and my coffee taste like never before now the machine is like it was originally designed.

Hope this is of use to some of you.

James