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Thread: How good is the Gaggia Baby

  1. #1
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    How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi All,

    I thought i was the only one who had an unusually strange obsession with coffee until i found this sight !

    Iam looking at buying my first good coffee machine, and am looking at getting the Gaggia Baby. I was wondering if anyone had any experience or views about it? Is it a good starting point. My budget is $600 max. I want to be able to make coffees for many guests at dinner parties which i cant do with my current cheapo coffee machine.

    Your feedback would be greatly appreciated :)

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    I dont think the gaggia baby will cope with that many brews in a short period, the steaming capability will definitely become a bottle neck.

    A silvia and sunbeam grinder would be a minimum recommendation. New these will be close to $800. To really churn out the cappas and lattes youd be looking at a hx machine starting at around $1100 + grinder.

    Any of the gaggias including the cheaper evolution or carezzza would make the same brew as the baby.

    Ive gone from a gaggia baby, *to a silvia to a hx machine and I wont be goiing anywhere for a while yet!

    There are many posts in this and other forums discussing these issues. Happy searching

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    The Baby Gaggia & Faema Family were machines that were way ahead of their time 30 years ago, and the (internal) design still hasnt been bettered in a domestic machine.

    The Baby is still in production as far as I know, and it is still a well thought out domestic esp. machine but with the usual limitations we might attach to most domestics. It was always housed in a mammoth looking and heavy body that makes it look like it has more capacity than it really does.

    It "performs" well enough ( in terms of it being a domestic machine) but by far the biggest problem for me personally is the aluminium boiler. Others will differ in their opinions here Im sure, but I have no time for the blockages that occur over time in these machines (due to aluminium corrosion) and if you see the cheesy corrosion often found inside these boilers, you might get as put off as I.

    Another thing would be to consider Mauires advice seriously because if you want to entertain groups of people on a regular basis, I dont personally consider that any domestic machine is really up to the task. That said, the silvia does have probably the best capacity for entertaining in terms of domestic machines, but you will have to budget a little more money than was stated above because stocks are limited and the RRP is on the march.

    Regardz,
    FC.

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    My budget is $600 max. I want to be able to make coffees for many guests at dinner parties...
    Hi jasonzein,
    It is near impossible to supple a posse, using a single boiler machine. Doable, but stressful. The lag period when switching between brew and steam temps makes things very slow. I gave up on offering steamed milk to guests, just espresso.

    Alan Frew has an article where he outlines a plan of attack so one can prepare 6 milk based drinks in under 6 minutes using a single boiler machine.
    http://coffeeco.com.au/articles/challenge.html

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby


    I second what FC said about the Al boiler. I had a Gaggia Classic last year and it performed very well. In fact it still sets the bar for best espresso. However, a few weeks ago I got my hands on what looked to be a Gaggia Espresso in prisitine condition. So I snapped it up for parts. As it was in such good condition I was hesitant to pull it apart. However, having enough working machines, I set to work. When I opened the boiler, a white milky substance poured out. Were looking at a machine barely 2 years old. The interanls were already heavily corroded, so much so that the boiler would have needed replacing as the sealing surfaces were heavily pitted. Scarey stuff from such a new machine.

    My advice to all Gaggia owners is to fully flush the boiler before use and to use either RO or distilled water to prevent this sort of corrosion. Any ions in the water will allow the corrosion to continue.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    As much respect as I have for Alan, I have to say that those cappuccini look quite nasty.

    I have a silvia and I basically dont offer coffee to guests on the machine unless they are prepared to have a serious wait time or unless there are only one or two. I very much doubt that a silvia will do much more for you.

    If serving multiple people at that budget is a must, I would get one of the Sunbeam EM6900s (the one that Paul Bassett helped design). It has two thermoblocks so that there is no lag time between brewing ans steaming and no compromise on temperature stability when under demand.

    Thermoblocks have hitherto been regarded as woeful in terms of temperature stability, but Ive heard that the Sunbeam produces really good espresso ... perhaps because it uses monstrously huge filter baskets. This is a big plus for serving multiple guests because (a) using more coffee gives you a slightly larger margin of error and (b) using more coffee means that you can extract a greater volume of espresso, so you can actually extract the contents of a double basket into two cups to make respectable bases for milk - twice as efficient when serving multiple people. I dont know if it will perform as well as the silvia in terms of espresso quality, or maybe even better, under use for one person, but Id imagine that the quality under the pump will be significantly better.

    Steam power on this machine is apparently not great, so itll take a little longer to steam than with a silvia ... but you wont have to wait as long for it to be ready to steam. Probably faster in net terms and it avoids the conundrum that you face with a single-boiler machine - make all your espresso first and have all the crema fade to nothing, then steam all your milk at once and add it to cold espresso, or flush HEAPS of water and wait for ages to get the boiler back down to brew temperatures.

    You have to appreciate that any machine below $1k is always going to be a compromise.

    The only other solution that I can think of is buying a single-boiler machine and a smaller one or a stovetop steamer to pull out when company comes over.

    ... now for the big question; do you have a grinder? If you dont, you need one.

    Cheers,

    Luca


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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Thanks guys for such quick feedback.

    When i meant many guests i guess i meant about 5-6 coffees in one night. The most important thing for me is good espresso, for 1-2 people which will be its stock standard usage.

    On the topic of beans and grinder, i get my coffee from a place called Campos in Newtown in Sydney.

    When you buy the beans, they ask you what machine you have, and they have a special grind for every type of machine. They really seem to care about the total coffee experience, i recomend a visit to their cafe. Best coffee in Sydney that i have tasted.

    jason

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonzein link=1145368077/0#6 date=1145424909
    Thanks guys for such quick feedback.

    When i meant many guests i guess i meant about 5-6 coffees in one night. The most important thing for me is good espresso, for 1-2 people which will be its stock standard usage.

    On the topic of beans and grinder, i get my coffee from a place called Campos in Newtown in Sydney.

    When you buy the beans, they ask you what machine you have, and they have a special grind for every type of machine. They really seem to care about the total coffee experience, i recomend a visit to their cafe. Best coffee in Sydney that i have tasted.

    jason
    5-6 guest is demanding with a Gaggia but possible. Itll take about half an hour.

    As for having the coffee pre-ground, there is no way that theyll be able to give you exactly the right grind for your machine (especially if its a Gaggia or Silvia) and the coffee you buy will undergo accelerated staling. So while it might taste nice within the first hour, by the end of the day it will be quite stale. Furthermore, the grind that is correct for fresh beans is different for stale beans. Most people here grind immediately before brewing to both ensure freshness (and maximum flavour) and to mate the grind setting with the machine to ensure a proper extraction (30 ml in 30 sec for a single/ristretto and 60 ml in 30 sec for a double). There is really no other way to do it with this type of machine.

    Regards,

    Mark.




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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonzein link=1145368077/0#6 date=1145424909

    When i meant many guests i guess i meant about 5-6 coffees in one night. The most important thing for me is good espresso, for 1-2 people which will be its stock standard usage.

    jason
    Hi Jason

    For the price (around $400 on Evilbay *:)) and the number of coffees youll mostly be making, I dont think you could go wrong with the Baby. I used one for 11 years, and while the making of multiple cappuccinos (ie more than two) could be slow, its short blacks were certainly on a par with machines costing *several times more. Thats not to take anything away from the Silvia - its a great machine. But it does cost considerably more too. I suppose it all depends on how much you want to spend.

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Thanks again guys

    Iam now in a dilemma as to whether to get the Gaggia Baby or the Sunbeam EM6900. As i understand, the Gaggia Baby would probably have better temperature stability for the shots, and the Sunbeams strength, is that it can brew and steam at the same time. In this case, i would go for the potentially better espresso in the Gaggia as mostly ill be making 1-2 coffees at a time. Does this sound reasonable? Any further thoughts.

    jason

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Some unemotional comment:

    I wouldnt buy either because of:

    a) gaggia aluminium boiler (already explained) and

    b) sunbeam over large coffee filters. I had a fellow coffesnob member in my place a few weeks ago & we were trying to see if we could fit "regular" large sized commercial filters in the group handles of the sunbeam. No such luck, the dimensions of the group handle are just minutely different from the standard commercial size, that you cant mix and match with the regular commercial filters. Personally, when I want a cuppa, I just want a standard cuppa, I dont want to be forced to injest an overly strong tasting, and caffeine laden espresso, because someone in sunbeans design department decided that just because Paul Basset likes to make triple strength espressos, the rest of the world should follow suit. Id ruther drink three standard espressos over a short period of time and enjoy each one for what it is, than drink one triple strength or triple size...

    c) I wouldnt be swayed by any comment in this forum and others like it about so called "temperature stability". Once you have become familiar with the proper technique for running whatever machine you buy, its not an issue and mostly only the subject of endless discussion without any real practical conclusion.

    d) the ability to make coffee and steam *milk at the same time is *in domestic use* overrated and in most cases not an issue. This is mostly only ever used as argument for deciding whether to buy one machine that can, over another that cant after which, if you buy the machine that can do, you may never actually use this "capacity" ever again. If you ask the question of people using semi commercial or commercial machines at home where they really do have good capacity to do both at the same time, you will most probably find they dont often use the ability to do so... I use a 2 group fully commercial machine in my showroom to make my 3 cups of coffee per morning, and I never steam milk and brew coffee at the same time. This is pretty much normal "domestic use".

    In this instance you are picking these 2 models I believe from the point of budget. Adding say a couple of hundred dollars more to get something "more suitable" (and I realise this is an individual thing) may sound a lot in the immediate term....but when you are looking at atleast a good 10 to 15 years use out of a good quality non electrical appliance brand name espresso coffee machine, its an insignificant investment over time in a better piece of equipment.

    Just my thrippeny bits worth!

    Regardz,
    FC.


    *

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby


    Id go with the Sunbeam. According to Alan Frews review, he did manage to find standard filterbaskets that fit the portafilter and managed to pull shots identical to those from a Gaggia Classic. Steaming is probably on par with the Gaggias but far below the capability of a Silvia.

    So far reports from this machine are very encouraging, whether using the supplied filter baskets or aftermarket filter baskets. Warranty is good as well. I know a couple of preofessional baristas that give this machine a good rap. One guy even sold his Wega HX machine and bought a Sunbeam and is purportedly very happy.

    Read Alans Frews report first (http://www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/sunbeam.html) before you go any further. Its far from a perfect machine, but it doesnt have the Al boiler of the Gaggias and the thermoblock is lined with stainless steel. A very nice touch.

    It would be best to try before you buy if at all possible.

    Regards,

    Mark.

    BTW: The thermal stability of the Gaggias is woeful (and would be no better than the Sunbeam). That doesnt prevent them making a decent shot though.

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Yo!

    Im new here on CS.. Been using a Baby for 18 months and recently bought a Rocky to complement it.. (Well, i havent been making good shots for the first 16 months). After a lesson at Home Barista Institute on Victoria St, Melb, ive learnt the basics of extracting and frothing.. They know their stuff.. You guyz should try their coffee...

    Erm... I will attach a photo of a double shot i extracted with my baby.. I only drink espresso with milk.. And it taste good(better than most of the cafes out there). The frothing part is a bit tricky... I have to purge the water in the boiler to cool it down... Then start frothing it immediately when the boiler starts to kick in.. Thts the crappy part of having a freaking 100ml boiler.. I am able to produce silky smooth froth at times.. made a few rosettas... pretty good..
    and sometimes the stupid boiler just stops boiling when it reaches 50 degreesC .. Thts pretty frustrating considering that the milk was texturing so well at the beginning and the milk gets more and more bubbly at the end due to the lack of steam! Oh... I forgot the mention that i modified my steaming wand.. Followed the forum here on CS and changed the gaggia wand to a silvia wand! That made a huge difference...

    I also mod the pressure of the pump.. 90mls in 30 seconds with a 55w pump... So the pressure shud be around 9-10 bars.. Once again... Thanks to CS..

    Since the boiler is so tiny and the heating element is so powerful.. the machine is fully capable of making espresso in just 2 mins.. I will first let the water flow through the pf and into the cups... temperature is unstable but hu cares? i dun think i can taste the difference when it goes with milk.. The frothing part takes me 2 mins... All in all, i can make 2 lattes in approx 4 mins not including the 2 mins it takes to warm up...

    I also try to shoot a 1second burst of water into the group... I had a laugh.. no idea whether it will help..

    Ive been looking around for a semi commercial machine(What does HX mean anywayz?)... Hmn.. Ive played around with an Expobar Office Control and it has a volumetric dosing controller... Would be good to have that one.... The cheapest price i can find in the whole of melbourne is 1455 + 20 buckz delivery.. They are selling it for approx AUD$1200 in US!

    Do you guys think tht it is a good enough machine? I am happy extractiing espresso with my baby.. But frothing milk is hell... :-[.. I definitely wont upgrade to a silvia even though it is better than my machine... I am sure my machine can make a good enough shot as a silvia...
    Any ideas on how to stop the heating element to go off when i froth my milk?!

    I thank everyone in advance!

    Jerome




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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    I just want to repeat what everyone is saying about gaggias boiler. Being a previous gaggia owner and having pulled one apart, I could not believe the level of corrosion in my boiler. And I always used bottled water as well. I knew about this before I bought it as well, but being budget consious I bought the gaggia. Now I have no idea what health problems it might bring in the future. Should have saved the $400 and bought me a proper machine to begin with.

    Stay away from Gaggias!

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Oh no! This is bad news! Man.. When i was just starting to fall in love with my machine... Well.. i guess not everyone knows wat is happening inside their machine.. Thanks anyway.. any chance i can mod my boiler? I had a laugh.. sounds radical i know... Oh well... I think i hav to convince my dad to buy me a new toy!

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome link=1145368077/0#14 date=1148728689
    any chance i can mod my boiler? I had a laugh.. sounds radical i know...
    Hi Jerome,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs [smiley=thumbsup.gif].

    I dont think that this would be a viable option in reality, without significant major surgery and if you had to pay someone else to do it for you, then you would, most probably, be better off getting a new machine.

    Having said all that though, plenty of people are very happy with the quality of coffee that the various Gaggias produce, including the Baby, and all that might be necessary from your perspective is to regularly descale the Boiler. I suppose one day the Boiler will give up the ghost and maybe when that happens, that will be the time to upgrade. Now that you have a good grinder, you should be able to dial the Baby in to making some really terrific brews, especially if youre roasting your own beans..... cant beat fresh ;D, and thats what were all about here at CS. All the best,

    Mal.

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Hey guys,

    I opened my machine n unscrewed the boiler just to see the extend of corrosion in the boiler.. I really need professional opinion on this! Its a white flaky thing sticking to the wall of the boiler.. no holes or any big grooves between the chrome grouphead and the boiler.. I hav no idea whether the white flaky substance is calcium buildup or leftover of aluminium corrosion...

    I poured some concentrated hot citric acid solution in the boiler, waited for a few minutes and then poured out the solution... the colour of the solution is chalky white... Hav no idea whether it is the aluminium or the scale once again!

    Ive read online about the properties of aluminium... It corrodes in alkali and acid.. that means tht i shouldnt even use citric acid because it is acidic.. What do you guys think?

    researchers link high aluminium intake to Alzheimers and Osteoporosis.. But there are still not definitive link. I definiitely do not want to be ill in the future but i cannot live with my coffee now! My dad refused me a new machine.. hmnn.. Expobar office... me, spoiled brat? I had a laugh i know! My dad wants me to work to buy my own machine... Fair enough... its a big sum of money after all..

    Anybody willing to hire me as a barista? I live in Carlton, Melbourne.. I had a laugh... Im a big fan of coffee... I will not want to work as something else!

    Thanks Mal for your reply... but in my case, whether or not i descale my machine, will the aluminium still corrode? Acid and alkali will both corrode aluminium...

    I hope someone can help answer my question about the flaky substance...

    Thanks so much to the CS community again!


    Jerome

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Jerome,

    Aluminium corrosion can appear white and flakey. Bit hard to tell without a photo. It can be in the form of a powder that can wash away, if it is corrosion then after the powder/flake is gone then there would be a change in thickness of the boiler where it was (depression). If it is light powder, the thickness change may not be noticeable then you may be able to clean it up and continue on. If serious corrosion has happened then the boiler integrity may be questionable. Cleaning it up with citic acid will be ok provided you wash it out with fresh water throroughly.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome link=1145368077/15#16 date=1148791210
    Thanks Mal for your reply... but in my case, whether or not i descale my machine, will the aluminium still corrode? Acid and alkali will both corrode aluminium...

    I hope someone can help answer my question about the flaky substance...

    Jerome
    Hi again Jerome,

    While its ok to use a mild acid solution like Citric Acid in an Al Boiler, it is definitely extremely unwise to use any kind of Alkali based cleaner..... this will vigorously attack the Al and produce highly volatile Hydrogen gas as a by-product, not good :o.

    From your description, it definitely sounds like an Al compound residue due to corrosion. Like Matt G says though, so long as the Boiler integrity hasnt suffered, it should be ok to use for quite some time to come. I know a lot of people are pretty touchy when it comes to Al Boilers and if I was going to buy a new machine tomorrow, then I would steer clear of them too but only from the point of view of longevity. Since you have one and if its still doing the job, why not just clean it up and keep using it..... I would if it was mine.

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome link=1145368077/0#14 date=1148728689
    any chance i can mod my boiler?
    Gold is inert. You could coat the inside in gold ;P

    ... actually, the boiler in the Versalab M3 is partly gold, according to their patent application :o

    Cheers,

    L

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    plating with gold?! I had a laugh.. not worth my money to buy the gold cyanide solutions and deal with the poisonous cyanide waste! nice suggestion though!

    I guess i will just stick to my machine for the time being... The boiler is in very good condition when i opened it up to inspect.. I guess it will last for quite some time before the corrosion makes a hole in the wall! Should i try to remove the white flaky stuff in my machine or should i just leave it there? Anybody have any idea how to test for aluminium cations?

    My only worry is that every single cup of coffee i make will be laced with aluminium! Hmn.. Gives me the creeps when i drink my coffee!


    Thanks so much for replying anywayz...


    Jerome

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    The aluminium corrosion wont be doing anything for you - its just taking up space ;) You are better off to get rid of it and find out the true amount of damage. Leaving it will usually just cause the corrosion to get worse plus its more lilely to end up in your cup! Really all any aluminium alloy wants to do is revert to its natural state, some faster than others. I guess theres not much more you can do to prevent any further corrosion :(

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    Re: How good is the Gaggia Baby

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight

    The white flakes are almost certainly Aluminium hydroxide. An acidic solution will remove them. If you use citric acid, then the Aluminium will become bio-accessable (ie water soluble). So make sure you flush out the boiler thoroughly afterwards. BTW, I wouldnt worry too much about scale in this or nearly any single dual purpose boiler machine (unless your water was really hard). These machines routinely completely flush the entire contents of their boilers in normal use. Especially the Gaggias with the small 120 ml boiler. So scale depositing will be extremely slow. Scale buildup is really only a major concern in heat exchanger machines, where the contents of the dedicated steam boiler are rarely flushed, allowing the ion content to rapidly buildup with use.

    The reason the boiler corrodes is due to the dissimilar metals in the machine. Galvanic corrosion results when two dissimilar metals are in electrical contact, allowing a current to flow. When you use water with ions in it, it allows galvanic corrosion to occur. So Id suggest using RO (reverse osmosis) or distilled water, which should have very low ion content, to slow or stop the corrosion. The best bet would be Millipore water which has a resistivity of more than 18.5 MOhm/cm, but thats not easy to get you hands on. So try RO water, which is available as drinking water in most supermarkets.

    Gold coating the boiler would be difficult. It is not easy to electroplate aluminium. It is possible, but will require careful surface treatment. Not really something youd want to do if youre not an electroplating specialist.

    Regards,

    Mark.



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