View Full Version : Gaggia MDF, Gaggia Classic... not sure how to use them!

25-05-10, 10:18
Hi Folks,

A few weeks ago I posted a message asking which coffee machine gear to buy. I ended up getting the Gaggia MDF, Gaggia Classic and a Gaggia base. They look really nice :)

The problem is mostly with the grinder at the moment. I have filled it with beans, and I can turn it on and off, but I am not sure how to actually use it properly. Do I leave it one grinding a load of coffee for a minute or two, or do I turn it on for 10-15 seconds and then off?

Then when the coffee is ground, do I pull the leaver once, twice or do I just keep pulling it until the holder is full or has an estimated 7g in it?

If I grind coffee, how long can it stay in the grinder for until its stale? I am not a total coffee geek, while I like fresh coffee, I am not going to insist on roasting my own beans. then grinding them *every* time I want a cup! Starbucks pre-grind stored in a cupboard was find until now!

I think if I can work out how to get the grind right, making the espresso should be easy!

Thanks for the help!

25-05-10, 11:30
Grind only as much coffee as you need for each coffee that you make. This will be 14-18g of coffee for a double espresso

If you have a set of scales this will help, but 2 tablespoons of coffee is a rough average, and in the case of a Gaggia Classic, a level portafilter is +/- 2g of the recommended dose.

Coffee starts to go stale immediately and after several minutes the gases (previously trapped in the bean) have evaporated, leading to a loss of flavour the longer the grounds are left to sit around.

You won't notice much of a difference in taste after several minutes though.

If you don't use the grounds after an hour or so then throw them away and grind fresh the next time you make a coffee.

26-05-10, 09:48
OK. Tried again this morning :)

Turned the Gaggia Classic on to warm up. I also turned the steamer option on too. I warmed the espresso cup by running it under boiling water.

I left the grinder running for around 60-90 seconds on setting 6, then made two pulls on the grinder, this filled the portafilter. I then tempered the coffee and put it in the Classic.

Once the light was flashing I started the machine going. There was a few bubbles that came out at first, but I think that was because I had the steamer setting turned on. Whats the correct way to use the equipment to make a Latte/Cappuchino? Should I prepare the milk first, then make the shot or the other way around (which is what I am used to doing).

The espresso cup was filled in around 12 seconds from the start of liquid coming out to the time the cup was full, so I think I might need to tamper harder.

The creme was good, but I don't think it was strong enough and it was missing "something". I will try again tonght and see how I go :

Can anyone recomment a 20 coffee tamper? Looking for metal/dark wood one to match the kitchen.


26-05-10, 11:58
Glenn is right to encourage you to grind fresh each time. Whenever I start a new bag of beans, I weigh the portafilter and coffee until I feel the coffee tastes right. It might take a few sessions to get there, by tweeking amounts, tamping pressure and grind setting. Once I know what the right amount looks like, then I do not need to weigh on subsequent sessions.

My procedure with your equipment would be:
1) Switch on Classic to warm up, ideally at least 15 minutes prior to brewing. I leave the steamer alone.
2) I always prime the machine just to make sure there is plenty of water in there. Since I generally have milk drinks, the boiler may have been left empty from the previous session.
3) I put the portafilter in the machine to warm up too
4) 15 minutes or more has passed so I get the rest of my equipment ready. I pour boiling water from a kettle into my cups and then place on top of the machine (sometimes I do this right at the start)
5) I flush the portafilter while in the machine. Then I dry it.
6) I pour some fresh milk from the fridge into my jug in readiness
7) I pour some beans into the grinder and then grind fresh into the portafilter.
8) If starting on a fresh bag, I weigh the amount and look for about 14 to 16 grams initially with a double basket.
9) I tamp the coffee, with no knocking or banging.
10) I put the portafilter into the machine and empty the cups of their water
11) I switch the machine pump on and watch the lovely coffee flow into my cups.
12) Using my experience, I watch for just before the coffee looks watery and switch off the pump.
13) I put the cups back on top of the machine to keep warm.
14) I switch on the steamer and wait for the green light
15) When green, I first blast any initial water into the drip tray.
16) I then plunge the steam wand into the milk jug and watch the foam rise. I try to keep the bubbles small, sometimes swilling the jug.
17) Once at the right temperature I switch off the steam plus all of the other buttons, and remove the wand from the milk jug.
18) I move the wand back over the drip tray and give the steam a quick blast to clear any excess milk.
19) I pour the milk into the coffee, with a rather poor attempt at latte art.

This all becomes automatic after a while, and I have had to rehash my attempts at documenting it above. I also feel like a coffee now :)

From your description, I think the coffee came out too quick with your current settings, so I might suggest you grind finer rather than tamp harder - I prefer the results.

26-05-10, 12:24
So are you advising I weigh out around 7 to 10 grams of beans, put these into the grinder, and then use everything that comes out each time? Obvioulsy I would weigh the first time, then estimate for the rest of the packet, then re-weigh as I try new beans.

I have topped up the ginder with 1/4 of the packet of beans at the moment! :)

I didn't even realise my machine had a green light for the steamer! It seems to have a on/off | steam | "go" switch. The on off has a light, and the "go" has a light. Should one of these go green? The most I saw as an indicator was the "go" switch flashed. Not sure what that ment. The Gaggia instructions are not that detailed.

26-05-10, 01:44
You could weigh the beans.

I guess the amount of beans required (again with experience). I weigh the portafilter, zero the scales, fill with ground coffee and weigh again. I grind more if necessary, or scoop a little out.

I believe the steam switch starts heating the water to a hotter temperature and it is ready when the green light appears. On my Gaggia coffee, it is the same green light as that used to indicate the water temperature. When green, I then turn the knob on the right (anti-clockwise?) which allows the steam to come out of the steam wand. I turn the knob the other way (clockwise?) and then switch off the steam button.

You might have a look at some of the videos on YouTube which may help with the procedure.

27-05-10, 09:18
Made my first decent cup last night!

The espresso shot was perfect. From the moment the coffee came out to the moment the espresso cup was very nearly full was 20 seconds. The creme was perfect. The taste was smooth but complex (I feel a right twonk saying "complex" but thats the only way I can describe it!).

The MDF needed three pulls so the coffee was very slightly mounded in the portafilter, then pressed fairly hard with the tamper - don't flame me, but I used the coffee that was ground in the morning :) I used the plastic tamper that came with the Classic, but I have ordered a Happy Donkey wooden tamper jsut to finish my kit off.

I am a latte drinker, so the only issue now is I don't have a thermometer and proper milk jug just yet. I don't think my milk was right, I heated it until the just was hot to touch, but as I was pouring I noticed a lot of the milk was just hot milk, rather than "thick" with tiny bubbles. My attempt at latte art was more of a splodge than a rosetta :) A Rattleware latte art pitcher, thermometer and tamper mat should be delivered from CoffeeHit today so I can improve on that tomorrow.

The last question I have is... I have a part from the Gaggia Classic that I don't know what it does! its a thin piece of plastic, thats around 15cm by 8cm with the corners "cut off". It seems to fit in the drip tray, but I don't really know what to do with it, I can't see the point in it going under the drip guard.

27-05-10, 09:56
Congratulations on your first good cup! And may it be the first of many.

Yes, that plastic part goes in the drip tray underneath the metal grating. One thing it does is prevent splashes when the pressure-release jet hits. I am not sure what other function(s) it may serve but at any rate that's where it goes.

27-05-10, 11:04
The last question I have is... I have a part from the Gaggia Classic that I don't know what it does! its a thin piece of plastic, thats around 15cm by 8cm with the corners "cut off". It seems to fit in the drip tray, but I don't really know what to do with it, I can't see the point in it going under the drip guard.

Does the bit of plastic float in water?, if so it might be some sort of bonkers Gaggia "your drip tray is full" indicator, as in when it floats up to the drip tray you can see it and are reminded to empty the tray. Never seen that bit with a Gaggia so I am just guessing from your comment that it fits in there.


27-05-10, 11:24
Glad to hear you are enjoying the coffee experience. You accessories will make a big difference too.

27-05-10, 09:40
You can safely remove the drip tray plastic bit - it serves no purpose that I can see.

02-06-13, 01:41
Out of curiosity, how does this Gaggia MDF grinder rate? I see some for sale...
I imagine if it was made by them, it's good enough for Gaggia Classic espresso ground?

02-06-13, 02:49
You can safely remove the drip tray plastic bit - it serves no purpose that I can see.

I believe it is there to stop any hot water splattering up from the pressure discharge.

02-06-13, 05:29
Seems to be a bit of confusion so i suggest you download and read the manuals for the classic and the MDF also check out the videos from Seattle coffee gear on youtube. AFAIK the classic only has red lights and none should flash!

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it but the classic can come with upto 3 different baskets each has its uses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSZR7YwPFvA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlS0lxb2edU

How to steam : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYONShA8ca4

When it comes to steaming a thermometer is required. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7OEGkbYn_w

Also worth checking the grind is right http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdyCPNCYebc

FROm what i read the MDF isnt great and nowhere near as capable as the Classic, but thats just what i have read.