I'm looking forward to learning to use the new Gaggia Classic that's on its way to me and I could use some help from the knowledgeable folks here. I am totally inexperienced with espresso making. Never done it. Never seen it done (well, sure, seen it done in coffee shops, but never paid much attention). But in the next day or two the machine will be here and I'd like to make the most of it. Any help and support you all could provide would be very much appreciated.
My thought is that I would try to ease into the espresso making world gradually. I would start out by using the pressurized filter basket (I know, bush league) so that I don't get overwhelmed at the beginning with grind size, tamping, etc. I would learn the basic operation of the machine for a month or two, then get a grinder, use the non-pressurized filter basket, and after that, see where things go.
So my most urgent need right now is what I should be focusing on in this next month or two, though suggestions would also be appreciated on how best to make the transition to "proper" espresso making and what I'll need to be doing differently (other than, of course, engaging in grinding and tamping). I suppose hints on how to prepare the machine for first use would be helpful, but if there is a prior thread on this or a link, please point me in the right direction.
My objective at the beginning will be to make two cappuccini (or lattes) in the morning, which would require three shots apiece (so six shots in all, pretty much back to back). So, do I steam the milk first or last? Whichever way it is, what are the steps I need to take to switch the machine over from one function to another? How long will I need to wait in between pulling each set of two shots? Is there any cleaning needed of the filter basket/portafilter in between pulling each set of shots? Are there any other steps to be taken in between pulling each set of shots? Priming? What else do I need to know to do or look out for?
There you have it. Some very basic questions. I'd be grateful for your help.
Practicing without a grinder and using the pressurized baskets and pre-ground coffee won't prepare you for proper use of your machine, because putting ground coffee into the filter basket, screwing the portafilter into place, and pulling a shot doesn't require much training. It's dialing in the grinder and learning to work consistently (dosing, distributing, tamping, temperature surfing) that's hard. With the pressurized baskets and pre-ground coffee you'll probably get seemingly good results as far as looks are concerned, but they'll taste disappointingly. And once you start brewing your espresso properly, i.e. with a grinder and the non-pressurized basket, you'll be even more disappointed, because your results won't even look good at the beginning.
Pulling six consecutive shots with the Gaggia Classic will be very hard with its 100 ml boiler, after all six shots equal around 150 ml of espresso. Since it's a SBDU, you should pull the shots first and froth milk later, because it takes some time for the boiler to cool down again to brewing temperature after steaming.
However, it seems to me, you bought your first machine without giving it much thought, because it simply doesn't fir your needs well.
*** "This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee)
I agree. It will make you coffee.. but that's it. It probably won't be all that great coffee, but it'll be coffee. You need the grinder component and cheap beans to play with before you can start learning. Then you learn what works and what doesn't work.
You need to find out what happens when you have a gusher or when you choke your machine. You need to learn how to tamp properly and suffer the consequences when you don't. (Believe me, it's not that hard and it's not like the machine is going to blow up and kill you if you get it wrong. :-)
Since it's a SBDU, you should pull the shots first and froth milk later, because it takes some time for the boiler to cool down again to brewing temperature after steaming.
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