Cafelat Robot or Gaggia Classic Pro

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
MntnMan62

#1: Post by MntnMan62 » Nov 11, 2019, 4:37 pm

I'm looking to get my first espresso machine and have been looking pretty closely at the Robot. The reviews really sound great. Quality build. Once dialed in, produces great shots. My alternative would be some sort of semi-automatic machine and the Gaggia Classic Pro is just a little more than the Robot. But I've also read that temperature control is difficult with the Gaggia. But I've also read reviews from people who really like it as a quality machine for a first purchase. Heck, if I had the money I'd buy a Lelit Bianca. But alas. I'll be using the machine to make a latte for myself in the morning and maybe a decaf mocha for my wife on occasion. And even my son might have a drink or two every now and then. And it is possible I'll be using it occasionally in the evening for decaf coffee drinks. I'm not too worried about the frothing wand because at this point I'm already making milk froth with a manual plunger style frother that works pretty well. I welcome any thoughts from people who have either used both and can compare the two. I realize they are very different and it's sort of apples and oranges.

LObin

#2: Post by LObin » Nov 11, 2019, 5:02 pm

Seems like a machine with proper steaming capacities would suit you better. Not saying the manual frother isn't good but I doubt you would use it anymore once you have a real steam wand. Since you have obvious interest for manually controlled machines (Robot, Bianca... kinda) have you thought about a Pavoni Europiccola or Professional???

You could produce shots that are similar to the Robot (with a few differences like dose and yield...) and have solid steaming (even more so if you convert to a single hole tip), all this within or below your budget.

If you are truly happy with your manual frother, my 1st choice would be the Cafelat Robot for the forgiveness, espresso profile and the fun factor!

Haven't noticed any mention of a grinder... :?:

Cheers!
LMWDP #592

MntnMan62

#3: Post by MntnMan62 » replying to LObin » Nov 11, 2019, 5:18 pm

Thanks for the response. I guess I don't want a steam wand to be the driving factor for my purchase. My preference is quality of the espresso produced. I'm going to look into the Pavoni Europiccola or the Professional. Although fully manual is not necessarily my preference. But the low cost of entry for a Robot combined with the apparent ability to produce some good espresso is appealing. But if I can find a semi-automatic machine that can offer similar taste in the cup to the Robot, for a similar price, I'd consider that. Hence my considering the Gaggia Classic Pro. But having checked a bit, I'm finding that at that price point, it is very difficult if not impossible.

As for a grinder, I plan on either buying a refurbished Baratza Vario, or a new one, or a Niche Zero. Leaning towards the Zero though.

LObin

#4: Post by LObin » Nov 11, 2019, 5:32 pm

Can I strongly suggest getting a Niche Zero? Done.

You won't get the same shot quality from a single boiler vs a Robot. That's my opinion backed by multiple experience with various single boilers and small to commercial levers.

In all honesty, I haven't had a chance to try the Cafelat Robot but, just like for the NZ, the support and positive reviews are abundant so you know what you're getting.

So if it comes down to Gaggia vs Robot, for me it's Robot hands down.

If I can just insist a bit more on the Europiccola option... ;)
Lots of lever gear heads have had some of their memorable shots on a Europiccola. Gen 1 and early gen 2 are quite popular. It takes some time to master group temp and dose/yield but...there is something special about the process and routine of doing a Cappuccino on a Europiccola...

James Bond knows what I'm talking about...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3UQmKiVH9E

So does Gonzlab...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Drc064TvQ

Cheers!
LMWDP #592

wnesensohn

#5: Post by wnesensohn » Nov 11, 2019, 6:04 pm

FWIW, I've got a Gaggia CC (I think I bought it in 2007?) which should be pretty similar to the current Classic Pro, and also own a Robot.

I'd say the CC is a capable machine and you can have some good coffee from it, but if you're starting out, there's many things which can (and usually do) go wrong. You'll have to learn how to...

* dose
* adjust grind
* tamp
* temp-surf

because the Gaggia is quite sensitive to all of this. You might get a lot of gushers if you're starting out, because it's not forgiving to errors in technique. It will just power through whatever you've got in the basket, and it will make imperfections in the puck very obvious. This is probably good to learn, but for me it was frustrating as well. The robot is much more forgiving and will still produce something drinkable even if you don't get everything right. Sometimes I even throw together some different beans, grind them to whatever the grinder was last set at without dialing it in (which would be impossible, given the ad-hoc nature of my "blend") and go with it. Today was such a day, and while the shot ran for almost a minute, it was still what I'd consider a very fine espresso.

I'm of course biased, and the Robot probably isn't for everyone as the handling can feel tedious especially when you're starting out, but I'm certain that it'd have saved me a lot of frustration in the beginning had I started with the Robot instead.

And even if you don't come to like the Robot after all, you'll still have improved your technique and can sell it afterwards with little loss or give it to your son. Chances are that you'll want to keep it though :)

MntnMan62

#6: Post by MntnMan62 » Nov 12, 2019, 12:54 am

Thanks for your responses. I like what I'm hearing from both of you. I was already leaning towards the Robot but you have really confirmed for me what the right choice is. The Robot it is. Barista version in that light green color. And a black Niche Zero will look sharp on the coffee counter with my other gear. Thanks for your help in this. It's greatly appreciated.

thirdcrackfourthwave

#7: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave » Nov 12, 2019, 3:31 am

MntnMan62 wrote:I'm looking to get my first espresso machine and have been looking pretty closely at the Robot. The reviews really sound great. Quality build. Once dialed in, produces great shots. My alternative would be some sort of semi-automatic machine and the Gaggia Classic Pro is just a little more than the Robot. But I've also read that temperature control is difficult with the Gaggia. But I've also read reviews from people who really like it as a quality machine for a first purchase. Heck, if I had the money I'd buy a Lelit Bianca. But alas. I'll be using the machine to make a latte for myself in the morning and maybe a decaf mocha for my wife on occasion. And even my son might have a drink or two every now and then. And it is possible I'll be using it occasionally in the evening for decaf coffee drinks. I'm not too worried about the frothing wand because at this point I'm already making milk froth with a manual plunger style frother that works pretty well. I welcome any thoughts from people who have either used both and can compare the two. I realize they are very different and it's sort of apples and oranges.
I have a Robot and a Gaggia Classic. At this point I have pulled hundreds of shots on the Robot and thousands on the Gaggia. I don't know the difference between a Classic and a Classic Pro so YMMV.

If I had to choose one I would pick the Robot. FWIW the Gaggia is currently only used to steam milk for DW. And ya know it doesn't do the best job steaming.

Coincidently, or not, yesterday I was talking with BIL and SIL about espresso and DW piped in that using the Robot hurt her pinky. Not sure you need a pinky to use a Robot but whatever. I told DW she was free to go back to Gaggia and pull shots on it--free country free kitchen. Anyhow this morning I did the first side by side shots. There is no doubt it is easier to pull a good shot with the robot. The well pulled shot with both--hands down the Robot will offer a better shot with better depth. FTR DW said she couldn't tell the difference BUT she took some real baby sips and doesn't drink straight espresso and that is about 90% of all coffee I do drink so. . . .I think observations about temperature control and temperature surfing with an unmodified Classic are true.

Other things that haven't come up which all things being equal (and of course they are not) are maintenance and time. If you don't need steamed milk I think the decision is easy. If you have any questions fire away.

User avatar
C-Antonio

#8: Post by C-Antonio » Nov 12, 2019, 9:03 am

I havent used the robot, but I used the baby faemina quite a bit. As for gaggias I had, and still have, several including the more recent classic pro.

What I can tell you is that if I had to pick a setup id put them side by side and use them both. I dont consider one better than the other, just different in the shot they produce. Convenience, mood and whats the situation at that moment would make you choose one over the other. Same goes for steam over the plunger, sometimes its just a matter of whats faster to clean.
Once you have experience and know your machine well the problem of temperature management is very relative, with any machine, its not that difficult like some make it look.

I find that more often than not its the fiddling too much with things, the overdoing and overthinking that messes up the results. Pay attention to your machine and learn its behavior, you will have good shots from it.
“Eh sì sì sì…sembra facile (fare un buon caffè)!”

LObin

#9: Post by LObin » Nov 12, 2019, 9:20 am

LObin wrote:Can I strongly suggest getting a Niche Zero? Done.

You won't get the same shot quality from a single boiler vs a Robot. That's my opinion backed by multiple experience with various single boilers and small to commercial levers.

In all honesty, I haven't had a chance to try the Cafelat Robot but, just like for the NZ, the support and positive reviews are abundant so you know what you're getting.

So if it comes down to Gaggia vs Robot, for me it's Robot hands down.

If I can just insist a bit more on the Europiccola option... ;)
Lots of lever gear heads have had some of their memorable shots on a Europiccola. Gen 1 and early gen 2 are quite popular. It takes some time to master group temp and dose/yield but...there is something special about the process and routine of doing a Cappuccino on a Europiccola...

James Bond knows what I'm talking about...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3UQmKiVH9E

So does Gonzlab...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Drc064TvQ

Cheers!
Oups... please delete.
LMWDP #592

LObin

#10: Post by LObin » Nov 12, 2019, 9:35 am

MntnMan62 wrote:Thanks for your responses. I like what I'm hearing from both of you. I was already leaning towards the Robot but you have really confirmed for me what the right choice is. The Robot it is. Barista version in that light green color. And a black Niche Zero will look sharp on the coffee counter with my other gear. Thanks for your help in this. It's greatly appreciated.
That truly is one of the best "modern" combo out there. Single dosing and manual profiling without any electronics. Simplicity, beauty and efficiency.
Bravo!

Although... I really thought the James Bond video made a strong case for a Europiccola!:D
LMWDP #592