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Discussions > Espresso > Espresso Mods > Gaggia Classic...  
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sourbrew
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Dec 2007
Posts: 3
Location: New York
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic/Auber PID
Grinder: Solis 166/Maestro upgrade
Vac Pot: Santos
Drip: Melitta manual drip cone
Posted Fri Dec 21, 2007, 8:46pm
Subject: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

I installed Auber Instrument's Gaggia PID kit on my Gaggia Classic.  The kit installed very nicely.  I think the kit is invaluable when you consider that all the appopriate wires are included.  No soldering, no crimping.  Ready to go.  Worth every cent.  The SSR was lifted a little higher that the bottom of the vent slots to clear it of the vibratory pump.  I doubted the double sided tape would hold the handsome project box, but I've knocked it a few times- it's not going anywhere.  

http://auberins.com

The neutral AC tap on the rear of the machine came from the upper wire on my machine, not the lower wire as indicated in the kit instructions.  I suspect there must be some variation in machines, perhaps based on year.  Certainly a multimeter would be a help to confirm.  Referenced links:

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/217280
http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machinemods/320873
http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/215922#215922


I have the temp set at 232 and pull substantially better shots (20-30 minutes warm up time in the morning).  Actually, it's more like night and day.  I drink my espresso straight now- no significant sourness from what was previously significantly cooler brew water temperature.  Works fantastic for my one double-shot a day lifestyle(La Marzocco double basket).  Of course, it would take a few minutes between shots for the temperature to reset, but not a problem for the one-a-day shot.  As for buying the Expobar Brewtus- I've shelved that idea.  I would love nothing more than to upgrade to a larger, more stable machine, but I'm not sure I want to drag a 65 pound machine out from under the counter to add water.  When the kitchen is redone one day, the fun can begin.

For now, I'm very excited to be making decent espresso with my home equipment.  I installed a new center and outer burr and the Maestro ring upgrade for my Solis 166 (from Baratza's website-under Maestro parts).  I can now enjoy my Counter Culture Espresso Toscano blend.  Throw in a new Silvia steam arm, and my Gaggia has new life.  I used a dremel (didn't have a larger grinder) to grind down the outer diameter of the Silvia arm at the insertion end so it fits nicely.   I had to destroy the Gaggia steam arm (or shall we say steam stub) to get the male connector off,  but I won't miss it- I never used it anyway.  The new arm works well.  I'm waiting for my 3-hole tip (wholelattelove).  I know the boiler is small, but why not!
http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1126833848

This whole upgrade project has been tremendously fun and I recommend it (standard electricity safety rules apply, of course).  Total cost for PID kit-about $175.  The burrs were $35, the steam arm about $30.  This gets me another few years out of my machine.  I think a Rocky doserless is the next big purchase (I'm not to thrilled with the prospect of dishing out $700+ for the Mazzer mini electronic).
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sourbrew
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Dec 2007
Posts: 3
Location: New York
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic/Auber PID
Grinder: Solis 166/Maestro upgrade
Vac Pot: Santos
Drip: Melitta manual drip cone
Posted Tue Dec 25, 2007, 6:45pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

As noted by other contributors, I have also found the digital temp control invaluable for milk steaming.  I was never able to successfully steam milk to the right texture prior to the PID installation.  Now, I clear the wand around 280 deg, start steaming/stretching around 300-310, and by the time I'm done, the max temp on the controller reached is 320-325, dropping down a little from there toward the end of steaming.  The internal steam thermostat never kicks off.  I am using the smallest milk pitcher (12 oz), filled 1/2 way- this is good for at most two cappucinos, although I almost always make only one.

Just as important was installation of the Silvia steam arm.  The gaggia steam "stub" is quite poor relative to the longer Silvia arm.  The combination of the PID controller and new arm allowed me to get appropriate steamed milk texture.  I even started making some caffe latte art.  I went from never using the Gaggia for steaming to practicing single rosetta lattes.  I could not believe I was achieving in my cup what I have seen many times on this website (many thanks to those posting their steaming and latte art videos).

For single person use, I have to say the Gaggia is fast, as noted by ther contributors.  I pull a shot, flip the steam switch, and am steaming milk 90 seconds later.  I realize it is reasonably quick to make 1-2 drinks, but would take much longer to cycle the machine to make more due to boiler capacity.  Overall, I am extremely pleased with the PID and steam arm modifications.  Need to eventually get a Rocky doserless.
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coffeehounds
Senior Member
coffeehounds
Joined: 24 Dec 2007
Posts: 52
Location: texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Starbucks Barista Burr...
Vac Pot: Starbucks vac. pot
Drip: YUCK!!
Roaster: Soon
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 8:52am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

After reading these posts I am a little concerned.  I just bought a Gaggia Classic and thought it was a great machine.  Now I am reading about this PID mod and wondering if I should do that also?
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The_Mighty_Bean
Senior Member
The_Mighty_Bean
Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 465
Location: Bowie, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: "Beauty"  (the gentle and...
Grinder: Gi-normous Rossi RR45; 100...
Vac Pot: Have my eye on a Yama
Drip: French press purist, have a...
Roaster: Hairdryer and a wire whisk....
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 9:30am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

coffeehounds Said:

After reading these posts I am a little concerned.  I just bought a Gaggia Classic and thought it was a great machine.  Now I am reading about this PID mod and wondering if I should do that also?

Posted January 8, 2008 link

It is a great machine. But you know, this hobby works in steps and levels.... everybody tries to get closer and closer to the Holy Grail. ;)    

So, sure, eventually, if you want the best straight-up shots possible out of your machine. But first go get a naked portafilter with double and triple baskets and a small digital scale and teach yourself consistent dosing, distribution and tamp. Your net additional investment is about $70-$110.

Until you get those techniques down, you'll never know if the flavor variations in your shot were caused by adjusting the PID a degree, or something else.  Also, I didn't look at your profile, but if you don't have at least a Rocky-class grinder, you need to upgrade that before the PID. And finally, you will eventually have to decide whether you want to put a PID on a small aluminum boiler or upgrade your machine. There is plenty of archived discussion to that effect on CG.

~tMb, whose barista technique does not yet merit the PID mod :)
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JimOF
Senior Member
JimOF
Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 331
Location: Shearstown, Newfoundland
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Gaggia MDF
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup & Bodum French...
Drip: Drip? You drink drip???
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 11:44am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

All hail The Mighty Bean!!! He speaks wisdom and the truth.

Hound, as noted, don't get ahead of yourself. I know from experience (the Classic was my first "real" machine) that an un-modded Classic is a great machine to learn on.

 
THBFKAN (The Home Barista Formerly Known As "Newfie") says:

Happiness is a firm dry puck ;-)
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coffeehounds
Senior Member
coffeehounds
Joined: 24 Dec 2007
Posts: 52
Location: texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Starbucks Barista Burr...
Vac Pot: Starbucks vac. pot
Drip: YUCK!!
Roaster: Soon
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 11:49am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

What is a nakid porta filter?  Does it matter if I just make the espresso while I'M nakid?  Just kidding, I had to say that.  But really, what is a nakid PF?
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,263
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 1:49pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

coffeehounds Said:

What is a nakid porta filter?

Posted January 8, 2008 link

Hi Rob, Secret Search Button.

 
http://twitter.com/CoffeegeekCraig
http://www.facebook.com/craig.andrews.169
http://plus.google.com/u/0/100690035958728038289/posts/p/pub

Excellent coffee doesn't just happen!
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The_Mighty_Bean
Senior Member
The_Mighty_Bean
Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 465
Location: Bowie, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: "Beauty"  (the gentle and...
Grinder: Gi-normous Rossi RR45; 100...
Vac Pot: Have my eye on a Yama
Drip: French press purist, have a...
Roaster: Hairdryer and a wire whisk....
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 5:08pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

JimOF Said:

All hail The Mighty Bean!!! He speaks wisdom and the truth.

Posted January 8, 2008 link


Ooh,  I do appreciate reverence. Thanks, Newfie. <preens>


Dear Rob: this is one of the few occasions when it is socially proper, and even necessary, to view a little porn.  As you should already know, good porn requires some nudity.

Now go use Craig's secret search button, as well as Google, and you'll learn why the naked PF is such an important self-teaching tool.

~tMb
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sourbrew
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Dec 2007
Posts: 3
Location: New York
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic/Auber PID
Grinder: Solis 166/Maestro upgrade
Vac Pot: Santos
Drip: Melitta manual drip cone
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2008, 9:00pm
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

I had my Gaggia 5 years before doing this modification, so I did not rush into this.  It is easier to pull a shot with the digital controller (i.e. no need to temp surf), and without question made it easier for me to steam appropriately.  I didn't use the steamer for years before installing the PID.  I start steaming around 300-310, and I can be sure the boiler won't cut out on me.  Of course, all of this can be done without the PID controller- but it probably requires more practice.   I found it easier/more efficient with it.  

As for the steam wand mod- basically night and day.  

I did order the naked portafilter from ebay (ITALIAN COFFEE SHOP) and am looking forward to trying it.  Triple basket is next.
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coffeehounds
Senior Member
coffeehounds
Joined: 24 Dec 2007
Posts: 52
Location: texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Starbucks Barista Burr...
Vac Pot: Starbucks vac. pot
Drip: YUCK!!
Roaster: Soon
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2008, 7:02am
Subject: Re: Gaggia Classic PID mod
 

I have read up on the PID mod and I really want to do that however, I am afraid it is going to void my warranty...will it void my warranty?
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