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Gaggia 'Perfect Crema' and low quality coffee
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Senior Member

Joined: 18 Aug 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Manchester
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Evolution
Posted Sun Aug 18, 2013, 11:56am
Subject: Gaggia 'Perfect Crema' and low quality coffee

Hi coffeegeeks :)

I've recently bought a Gaggia Evolution espresso machine and I'm trying to make my low quality espressos better at the lowest cost possible, using a pressurized filter basket.

Before you let me have it for not buying expensive beans/a burr grinder/..., here's a tldr; explanation:

I bought the Gaggia second-hand on eBay for 12 pounds (19 dollars) without knowing much about espresso. I figured it would be like the automatic commercial machines I've used back when I was in customer service at the mall. But after trying a few brews, I discovered that this machine -- understandably, in retrospect -- doesn't just produce a perfect espresso at the push of a button.

Now, I'm not a coffee purist (yet), but I'm trying to make and enjoy better stuff than the instant coffee I've been consuming for the past few years. I don't make a lot of money, so purchasing a grinder and expensive coffee is simply not an option. Sad but true.

I used the cheapest Aldi coffee for the first few brews and it was just atrocious. It created something that looked like espresso for five seconds and just pretty much water afterwards and no crema whatsoever. I experimented with different amounts of coffee and different tampering but it didn't get much better. I then decided to buy a more expensive brand (Lavazza, which was recommended in the guide that came with it), but, though better, that wasn't much of an improvement either.

Long story short(er): I want to improve my coffee, but I'm not willing to pay much for it. If it turns out to cost too much to enjoy a decent espresso, I'll see no other option than to sell the machine on again on ebay and go back to instant.

My only other option that might improve my brew then seems to be to use a pressurized filter basket, which might hopefully make my low-quality espresso passable.

I understand these pressurized baskets aren't exactly popular with people who are serious about coffee, but I hope you can see why I'm turning to them.

Anyway, the machine is pretty old and it's hard to find accurate information, so I decided to try my luck on these forums:

  • Would this pod filter & pin fit on the portafilter that fits on my gaggia evolution machine? The description doesn't mention the Evolution, but it does mention the Gaggia Dose, which I think uses the same ones.
  • What if I just get the pin? The basket in the pic in the link above looks pretty much identical to the commercial filter basket I have now..
  • Would this really improve my brew? I'm not looking for the perfect espresso at this point, just something decent considering the price I've paid for the machine (less than 20 dollars) and the beans (pre-ground lavazza of the cheaper variety)

Sorry for the length and verbosity.. Thanks in advance for the expert advice if any :)
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Senior Member
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,083
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sun Aug 18, 2013, 10:46pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia 'Perfect Crema' and low quality coffee

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

In order to brew decent espresso you'll need regular filter baskets and a capable grinder, because a pressurized portafilter is for people who don't want to be bothered with correct grinding and tamping. You get seemingly good results without craftsmanship.

In a pressurized PF the coffee is forced to pass through small openings, thus generating pressure. That way it creates foamed coffee (bubbles made of air) that has nothing to do with real crema, which is an emulsion of water and aromatic oils that forms tiny bubbles around carbon dioxide released from the coffee beans during extraction when water is pressed through finely ground fresh coffee at around 9 bar and the right temperature. Since extraction has already taken place when pressure develops in a pressurized portafilter, no crema can arise. It may look like it, but it certainly doesn't taste like it. It's a fake. Also your espresso will lack body. You can taste the difference.

The cheepest sollution will be regular filters and a hand grinder like the Hario Skerton, for example.

"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, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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Senior Member

Joined: 18 Aug 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Manchester
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Evolution
Posted Mon Aug 19, 2013, 3:26am
Subject: Re: Gaggia 'Perfect Crema' and low quality coffee

Thank you for the clarification! I'd been under the impression that a pressurized filter basket creates real crema of a lower quality or something like that instead of a total fake. In light of what you said, I'll scrap my plans of getting one. Moreover, I hadn't considered a hand grinder, and at about 20 pounds, that's definitely an affordable solution.

Thanks again for the info. I'll look for a decent burr grinder and find myself some cheapish coffee beans -- after I get through the packs of pre-ground I've already bought ;-)
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Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,083
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 7:41am
Subject: Re: Gaggia 'Perfect Crema' and low quality coffee

You do yourself no favors with preground.  Cheap electric burr grinders that are sold in mega stores are not good espresso grinders.  Hand grinders can be really good.

Couple of quotes from my sticky.

Here's the "Little Rule of Fifteen" I learned from this site:
(suggested by Darkow)

Green coffee is good for about 15 months from the day it was picked
Roasted coffee, whole, is good for about 15 days from the time it was roasted
Ground coffee is good for about 15 minutes from the time it was ground

Hard Fact Number Three, the grinder is more important than the machine.  The grinder affects the flavor in the cup more than the machine.  You can have a $3,000 dollar machine and a $30 blade chopper grinder and not get good espresso.  But you can have a $1,000 dollar grinder and $400 machine and get good espresso. It is not uncommon to spend more on the grinder than the low end starter machine. Good espresso electric grinders start about $350.  You can get hand grinders for $40 that will work.  Getting your coffee ground at the shop and taking it home will not give you good espresso.  You have to be able to adjust the grind for your machine and in 15 minutes the coffee is stale and you will not get the crema you would with fresh ground coffee.

"Please read before you post New Machine buying question."


Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 8,265
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia 'Perfect Crema' and low quality coffee

Before you buy a hand grinder, though there are many that can grind for espresso, many more can not and would waste the money spent on them if the reason for the purchase is espresso.

I know you are not willing to spend much, however more than your wishes is required. A good grinder gives a CONSISTENT grind, not just fine, you need the consistency for proper extraction, a mix of boulders and sand will not give a good extraction. The sand will give all they have and go into overextraction along with all the nasty flavors that go along with that while the boulders will never give up any of the goodness in them. A consistent grind will extract EVENLY from ALL the grounds at the same time.

Ever hear, garbage in= garbage out? This is SOOOOOOOOOO true of espresso, quality beans, properly roasted average starting price is about $12 for 12 oz, yes that is 1 U.S. $ PER OUNCE of weight in beans!

In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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