Gaggia Classic notes

I’ve been doing some more maintenance on the Gaggia Classic. When I got it back from NY it was a bit choked what with the mineral deposits from that hard Catskill aqueduct water. So I disassembled it (photos here) but the one tiny port that I somehow didn’t read up on (or take apart and clean) was the 3-way solenoid valve (it requires a large wrench and possibly you’ll need to screw the 3-way solenoid into a piece of wood to get leverage on it, read Steven Heaton’s post here and Christopher Reed’s here).

Similarly, on the OPV valve (which I did disassemble, more info on that at Ruiz’s blog), I potentially over tightened the “over pressure” spring adjustment. So between the two (one likely blockage in the solenoid and too high of ‘over pressure’) I was getting some wonky behavior: occasional air-locks, high pressure into the puck, inability to clean by backflushing Cafiza.

Without a pressure gauge hooked up to a threaded portafilter all my “pressure adjustments” have been blind, however this time I did try and hit the recommended “over pressure flow rate” which is in the neighborhood of 130 ml for 30 seconds (using a blank basket). It does take a few adjustments to get it right, and I imagine if I put an actual gauge on it (which might be possible using a Presta valved bicycle inner tube and an actual bicycle pressure gauge) it’ll need to be adjusted further (10 Bars static, 9 Bars dynamic being the goal). My existing portafilter just has two spouts and is not threaded in the middle and I’d rather not splurge and spend another $50 for a portafilter I’m only going to use once, apparently there are a few floating around as loaners, so if you’re a Gaggia Users’ Group member and have one I’d be happy to pay a deposit and shipping to at least get the machine’s pressure set.

California Plate Tectonics

Day 0: Arrive SFO. C and I drink some beers with E overlooking the city, go pickup M, drop off E, go to bed.

Day 1: Wake up, it’s sunny in West Berkeley, get an espresso at Cafe Trieste, hike 8 miles with M on Sea View and Quarry trails in Tilden Regional Park. Call GTO. Run with GTO and his roommate up Strawberry Canyon trail up to MSRI, sunset over the bay, dusky redwood single track.  Roasted root vegetables.

Day 2: Wake up, sunny again, get an espresso at Trieste, M takes bus to the city. Run with GTO down past Berkeley Marina, past Golden Fields, out to the East Shore State Park with cool sculptures by the water, loop back via Cesar Chavez State Park. Dinner and drinks with E in the Mission. M doesn’t like Pirates, who does? He enjoys the ambiance of Latin American Club.

Day 3: Drive to Sugarloaf Ridge SP in Sonoma and hike for a few hours. Drive to Napa.  Buy a boat, I dare you.  Burgers & a bottle of Malbec at Gott’s Roadside. Ritual espresso from Oxbow Market  & a nice hand pour over Costa Rican single origin for M.

Day 4: Hike up to the Eucalyptus grove over the dirt track on Dwight with R&M.  Swung from the rope swing, hiked up then down from the insane house at the top overlooking Berkeley & the bay.  Colin Farrell is Crocket, living the dream.

Day 5: Pt. Reyes National Park with friends. Nice 10 mile hike down to the cliffs and shore overlooking the lighthouse. Drove to Marshall, drank Lagunitas, ate oysters, watched sunset. Land of milk and honey.

Day 6: Run with GTO on a nice big loop up Dwight up and over back below Sea View in Tilden, down Quarry, and back around. About a two hour run.  G Bombed down trails at the end onto the Berkeley dirt track. Vietnamese dinner with E; last night in SF.

Day 7: Fly to SD. Climb with L&B at a giant new gym.

Day 8: Hike Mt. Baldy via the “Baldy Bowl” (elev. 10,064′), about 8.4 miles roundtrip, about 3,900′ gain most of it in the last mile up the bowl. Crampons and ice piolets recommended and used. Took a bit more than 4 hours car to car.

Day 9: Run along coast south through La Jolla down to Wind & Sea beaches and back, about an hour. Drive to Joshua Tree & camp under a full moon; hear coyotes yipping.

Day 10: Start day climbing by 07:30 at Hemingway Buttress (east face, right) B leads a hard 5.9 to warm up (‘For Whom the Poodle Tolls’) & then ‘Head Over Heals’. I pull the bolt, sadly no heel hook for me.  Go to Lost Horse and climb three pitch ‘Bird on a Wire’. Walked to Jimmy Cliff & climb “The Harder They Fall”, easy 10a, then B solos the ‘Aiguille de Joshua Tree’.

Day 11: It rains in Southern California. Drive to Mammoth.  It’s snowing in Mammoth.

Day 12: Snowshoed big loop around Mammoth Nordic Trails, Inyo Forest welcome center. Deep powder. About 7-8 miles total.

Day 13: Drive to Lee Vining. Deep powder still being plowed, we have one pair of snowshoes &  poles for 4 people. Hike into Power Plant takes an hour. Hike to ice climbing takes another two hours. Ice climb on far right flow, traverse left above & top rope some WI 3 routes on the Chouinard Wall. Hike back. XL pizza in Bishop. Long drive back to SD.

Day 14: Run from Glider Port down Black’s Beach (aka Naked Man Beach), past Torrey Pines, back up through the preserve, down to the beach, back up final cliff staircase up to the Glider Port. Met with K, discussed logistics.

Day 15: Surf in LJ. Get up on small waves with a nice longboard.  The water is cold.  Climbing gym again in the evening.  Flight back east.

Finally, a 3oz insulated espresso shot glass

Like many residents of this city an occasional stop at the “Starbucks Public Restroom Service” happens, but as I was waiting on line I found a set of Bodum 3oz Insulated Shot glasses with ounce increment markings for sale ($10.95).

As far as I can tell these do not exist on the internet and I think they are an older version of the Bodum Assam 2oz shot glass.  The glass I’d been searching for was from a specialty coffee distributor called Rattleware who make a 3oz mini shot pitcher, but these insulated Bodums (with a silicone pressure regulation seal at the bottom, no less) appear perfect for pulling up to 3oz shots and are certainly nicer to drink espresso out of.

Bodum Assam 2oz, the version I have has straight walls and 1 & 2oz interval markings, allowing up to 3oz total volume

Bodum Assam 2oz: the version I bought has parallel straight glass walls and two 1oz interval markings, allowing up to 3oz total volume

Rattleware 3oz Mini PItcher

Rattleware 3oz Mini Shot Pitcher

Gaggia little Gaggia, the light of my life.

Found a used Gaggia Classic on newyork.craigslist.org.  Took the train up to Greenwich, paid the the cash to the pusher man in the back of his SUV and took home a “marginally used” single pump/single boiler w/3 way solenoid valve home espresso machine.  The Rancilio Silvia currently goes new for about $600 or more, the Gaggia Classic is usually just under $500.  I paid less than half of that so I feel good about it.  Now the grinding, that’s another story.  My vintage PeDe hand grinder goes pretty fine, but it’s still a bit coarse for the Gaggia.  I had Ellen at Sweet Leaf grind me some Hairbender with their Mazzer profi grinder and it’s perhaps too fine; I’ll try less tamp.  This morning it has tended towards a bit sour extraction though blonding doesn’t seem to be happening as quickly and I’m getting the full 30 seconds if not more, which makes me think it’s too fine.  With the Larry’s espresso I was using and the PeDe I was getting 15 seconds max but it was much sweeter, though likely much less extracted, so it’s a fine line.

So yeah, at this point I have some cleaning to do: back flush the porta filter basket and 3-way valve, and do a full descale of the system.  So far it doesn’t look like it was too heavily used though when I pulled the screen off the group head there was a pretty serious buildup of coffee soot/sludge so I’ll likely need to do a bit of cleaning around the group.

Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine

Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine

I did find a few terrific videos concerning grinding and cleaning I’ll link to here, from Seattle Coffee Gear and their blog here, The Brown Bean:


HTML5: http://youtu.be/N7Bn5IjZht8


HTML5: http://youtu.be/hLoaIWmufKk


HTML5: http://youtu.be/bxpOBZyK9MA


HTML5: http://youtu.be/uiP-6ZLJpp4