The Gaggia Classic has been around for some time now. When a newer version of the coffee machine hit the market in 2015, the manufacturers tempered with the three-way solenoid valve which the Gaggia classic was known for. It resulted in a lot of disappointment for the Gaggia die-hard fans.
However, there is something new about the 2018 version. Has the Gaggia classic met its match in Ri9403? A classic coffee machine for a classic drink? Is this a match made in caffeine heaven? Let’s dig deeper.
The design of the Ri9403 differs only very slightly from the other classic coffee machines from Gaggia. Encased in a sanitized stainless steel, it is simple and straightforward.
The drip tray is chrome brass and is lightly rounded off on the edges. Unlike the 2015 models, the splitter is metal, which is much appreciated. The water tank has a slight tweak in the design where the metal frame has cutouts on the edges. This allows you to see the level of the water in the tank.
The group and the filter holder are made of chrome brass and guarantee optimal temperature from the full process of brewing to in-cup. They bear the same style, size and weight of the professional coffee machines.
If you have been using the older models of this coffee machine, you might have to adjust to the coffee buttons and steam buttons trading places. It is not difficult, but it gets a little getting used to.
The Ri9403 has a lot of features similar to the older models of the Gaggia classic. These include:
The solenoid valve When the 2015 model hit the market with a mechanical valve, it disappointed a lot of Gaggia classic users. But thankfully, the Ri9403 was introduced with the three-way solenoid valve. If you compare the sizes, it is slightly smaller in size than the original valves, but it does not compromise its performance.
It keeps the pressure of the water inside the filter holder constant. It also makes cleaning very easy.
Professional steam wand The Ri9403 comes with a professional steam wand which comes fitted from the factory. Unlike other domestic coffee machines, this steam wand has two holes which make the fluffiest froth for your cappuccinos. However, if you are using the machine for the first time, it has a bit of a learning curve.
Aluminum boiler The Ri9403 comes with a smaller boiler than its previous models. This makes the boiler heat up faster by up to 45 seconds, which is a huge number when you’re impatiently waiting for your espresso.
If however, you thought that the smaller boiler decreased the steam power in any way, you’ll be surprised. This aluminum boiler has impressive steam power.
Two types of baskets A great feature of the Ri9403 which you will love is the pressurized as well as the single baskets. So whether you like to make your coffee from scratch by grinding the beans or you like your coffee to be ready at the touch of a button, you can satisfy your needs.
Pressure valve The pressure valve in Ri9403 cannot be adjusted like the original. However, this does not affect the machine’s performance in any way. The 15 bar pump maintains the perfect pressure for every cup of espresso.
Buttons If you had used the Gaggia classic made in 2015, you would notice a difference. The Ri9403 is back with the rocker style switches much like the original versions.
As mentioned above the steam button and the coffee button are swapped in the Ri9403, so you need to look twice before pressing a button.
One significant addition which you will appreciate is the lights on the buttons. This new model has a separate light for each switch. The buttons are quite intuitive and using them is very easy.
The auto-off feature in the Ri9403 is 20 minutes, unlike the older versions, which was 9 minutes.
The water tank of the Ri9403 holds 2.1 liters of water, which is standard in all the Gaggia classics. The boiler of this coffee machine is 130 ml, which is a marked difference from that of 200 ml of the previous models.
The machine weighs 7.2 kgs or 15.8 lbs. It has a dimension of 23 x 38 x 24 cm.
This hand-operated machine is straightforward to maintain even though it performs on par with professional coffee machines. Components such as the water tank, Panarello, drip tray, frontal, and steam wand are all removable, which makes it very easy to clean.
However, the descaling cycle has to be done manually. It is recommended to use the Gaggia decalcifier, which will keep the performance of the machine consistent and also extend its longevity. Descaling must be done every two months or so.
Cleaning the filters also need to be done with Gaggia oil remover tablets for the best results. Cleaning the filters need to be done whenever you see a malfunction while brewing. Soaking the filters in boiling water for ten minutes usually takes care of the problem.
- The three-way solenoid valve is as good as it gets.
- The professional steam wand is perfect for frothy drinks.
- Heats up faster than the older versions.
- Cutouts on the water tank to check the water level.
- The rocker style buttons with lights.
- The three-year warranty from the manufacturer.
- The switches can be problematic.
- The placement of the portafilter, drip tray and the water tank is awkward.
The Gaggia classic Ri9403, in our opinion, is even better than the older ones. With all the features of the classic coffee machines that so many people loved, it is restored to its glory and performs even better.
The only thing we would ask you to be cautious about is buying the machine. Many 2015 models which were manufactured in 2018 are sometimes sold on the market as the 2018 models. So, the best option is to buy from a certified reseller or Gaggia direct to avoid getting duped.