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Gaggia Espresso Evolution Review: The WALL-E of Home Espresso Makers

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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I’ll admit, it’s difficult for Gaggia to disappoint me – they’ve got their home espresso machine game down. Consequently, I’m feeling pretty excited to embark on this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review.

I’ll admit, it’s difficult for Gaggia to disappoint me – they’ve got their home espresso machine game down. Consequently, I’m feeling pretty excited to embark on this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review.

This is a brand new beginner-friendly espresso machine from the Italian powerhouse, and I just can’t wait to dig into its features. On the surface, the Espresso Evolution seems to be a beginner machine that’s beefed up with some advanced features. Let’s get into it!

Ideal for Beginners

Gaggia Espresso Evolution

Budget-friendly with great features

Great value

Adorable design

Easy to use

PID controller

Pre-infusion function

Lots of plastic

Overview: Gaggia Espresso Evolution Review

As I mentioned, I’m generally impressed with Gaggia espresso machines. As it happens, Gaggia is an Italian manufacturer that’s been around for decades. Needless to say, they’ve had plenty of time to work through any design quirks, and it shows.

That doesn’t mean that all Gaggia machines are perfect for everyone. Rather, Gaggia knows how to read the market and target their machines at specific audiences.

In this case, the Gaggia Espresso Evolution is the ideal beginner’s espresso machine. In other words, it has a streamlined user interface and is super affordable, costing only $249.00. What’s more, a pannarello steam wand, pressurized portafilter baskets and ESE coffee pod compatibility are ideal for newbies to the espresso world.

Gaggia Espresso Evolution Overview

Even better, Gaggia has included some innovative communication features that make it a breeze for beginners to brew and steam with the stainless steel single boiler. I’ll talk more about this feature later on in this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review.

While still a beginner machine, the Espresso Evolution includes advanced features like pre-infusion and a PID controller. These functions make it that much easier to brew quality espresso, no matter your skill level. Plus, the Memo function even lets you customize your shot volume. And once it’s set up you can pull automatic, repeatable shots with as little as a press of a button.

Finally, features aside, the compact size and retro design means this espresso maker can find a home in pretty much any kitchen. That said, some consumers may be disappointed by the bright red colorway and the abundance of plastic in the design.

Still, you won’t find me complaining much about the plastic in this budget-friendly machine. After all, Gaggia had to keep prices down somehow!

Gaggia Espresso Evolution Features

Now that you know the basics of this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review, let’s break it down further.

Size and Design

As I said, the Espresso Evolution is super compact. It has a 7.8-inch (19.9-centimeter) wide footprint, a depth of 10 inches (25.5 centimeters) and is 11.9 inches (30.3 centimeters) tall.

Since the removable 33.8-ounce (1.2-liter) water tank loads from the side, I doubt even those with overhanging cabinets would have a hard time topping it off. For what it’s worth, the tank is also transparent, so it’s easy to see when it’s getting low.

What’s more, this machine weighs only 8.2 pounds (3.7 kilograms). For an espresso machine, that’s basically featherweight!

But again, this is due to the fact that the thing is largely made of plastic. Now, I said I wasn’t going to complain about this, but I’m still going to be honest.

In fact, pretty much the whole machine is plastic – including the group head, portafilter and steam wand. I don’t quite get how that is possible or safe, but supposedly it’s fine. I’ll just give a little shrug and leave it at that.

Still, there is a wee bit of stainless steel in the design, which I can count on one hand: the removable drip tray grate, boiler and maybe the cup warmer, though I can’t tell for sure. Admittedly, it’s possible that I’m missing a few things with this assessment. I sure hope so – let me know in the comments if you’ve sniffed out some more steel in this design.

Moving on, the aesthetic of the Gaggia Espresso Evolution is boxy and retro. As it happens, the model I’ve linked to is a ruby red color, which I suspect you’ll either think is stylish or garish. Normally I like shiny silver gadgets, but this one is growing on me.

User Interface

Gaggia Espresso Evolution User Interface

The user interface may be my favorite thing about the Gaggia Espresso Evolution. I know that’s odd, but it’s just so cute!

I’m sure you’re a little confused about my enthusiasm, so let me back up for a second. The user interface of the Espresso Evolution is very slimmed-down: just three backlit buttons for power, espresso and steam. Plus, there’s also a knob for steaming and hot water on the side.

That’s about it. What more could you need?

As it happens, Gaggia wasn’t satisfied; they also wanted to add some alerts for their users. So, cue the blinking lights.

This thing blinks for everything. Is the boiler heating up to brew temperatures? Well, the coffee button is blinking. Is the boiler getting ready for steaming milk? What’ll ya know – the steam button is blinking.

Incidentally, lights also blink when you’re setting up the Memo function, and when the boiler is adequately cooled down to brewing temperatures after steaming milk.

The Espresso Evolution isn’t a smart coffee maker by any means, but all these flashing lights make it seem like the WALL-E of home espresso machines. Even better, it’s just as cute as the real deal.

Boiler

The Gaggia Espresso Evolution has a stainless steel single boiler. Actually, it’s one of the only parts of the espresso machine that is made of stainless steel. I, for one, am glad that Gaggia didn’t prioritize cost over durability in this case.

Even better, the boiler is PID controlled. This is a huge help for new baristas who aren’t familiar with the temperature surfing often required of single boiler machines.

For the newcomers, I’ll explain what this means. Since there’s only one boiler to switch between brewing and steaming temperatures, there’s always a lag as the boiler adjusts to the next function. Brewing temperatures are much lower than steaming temperatures, so it’s critical that the boiler is set up properly.

The PID controller ensures the boiler stays in adequate brewing and steaming ranges. What’s more, it’s likely what communicates with the user interface and makes the lights flash when the boiler has reached the right temperature for the requested function.

Still, you won’t be able to pull a shot and steam milk at the same time. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll likely have to shell out quite a bit more than the Espresso Evolution’s asking price.

Automatic Pre-Infusion

Let’s keep the advanced features train rolling. This baby has automatic pre-infusion, a feature you’re not likely to see on many espresso machines in this price range.

Pre-infusion helps promote even extraction by wetting the coffee grounds with low pressure at the very beginning of the brew. Incidentally, it doesn’t take an expert coffee taster to find that pre-infusion makes espresso shots more balanced and flavorful.

Portafilter

Gaggia Espresso Evolution Portafilter

The Espresso Evolution’s portafilter is this machine’s biggest downside in my book. That said, this could be a dream machine for those of you looking for a purely beginner espresso maker.

More specifically, this Gaggia espresso machine has a 53mm portafilter made of ABS plastic, which matches the plastic group head. As I mentioned earlier in this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review, I’m a little unsure about the safety and durability of a plastic group and portafilter, but I’ll let it slide for now.

In addition to the portafilter itself, the Espresso Evolution comes with two dual-walled pressurized baskets. For the uninitiated, pressurized baskets help novice baristas achieve balanced shots of espresso with thick crema.

However, true espresso fanatics complain that pressurized baskets result in a lack of nuance and clarity in the final cup. I tend to agree, but I still consider them to be good options for new home baristas.

Anyway, one of the baskets is for freshly ground espresso and it has a 16-gram capacity. Then, there’s a basket for pre-ground coffee or Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods, complete with an ESE pod adaptor.

Allow me a disclaimer here. I still don’t advocate for single-use coffee capsules, and I’d recommend anyone looking for convenience opt for a super automatic espresso machine instead.

Still, I can see the appeal of having a beginner-friendly home espresso machine that can brew great espresso with both fresh espresso beans and convenient ESE pods.

Tamping

Since the Gaggia Espresso Evolution has pressurized baskets, it’s okay if you’re not an expert at tamping. After all, pressurized baskets help get rid of any inconsistencies and reduce the risk of channeling.

That said, unless you’re using ESE pods, you do still need to tamp the grounds. Fortunately, the portafilter handle is ergonomic and seems to encourage good tamping form. 

Still, you’ll need to invest in a quality espresso tamper, since the 2-in-1 coffee scoop and tamper that Gaggia provides simply belongs in the trash.

Pannarello Steam Wand

Gaggia Espresso Evolution Steam

The pannarello steam wand is another of the Espresso Evolution’s beginner-friendly features. The wand is plastic with a removable tip, making for easy cleanup.

While some folks are disappointed by the frothing quality of pannarello wands, they are great options for newcomers to the home barista world. I wouldn’t necessarily try to make a cortado with the Evolution’s pannarello wand, but making a frothy latte macchiato should work out just fine.

What’s more, the steam wand doubles as a hot water dispenser. Incidentally, when the boiler is in brew mode, the steam button will be dim. In that case, turning the steam wand knob will dispense hot water for tea and americanos.

However, once you press the steam button, the boiler begins to warm up to steaming temperatures. In the meantime, the coffee light will dim and the steam button will blink as it warms up. Once the boiler is ready for steaming, the steam light will be solid and turning the knob will dispense steam.

While I’m on the subject, lowering the boiler back down to brew temperatures after steaming is super easy. As with other single boiler machines, simply purge the steam wand for several seconds to bring the boiler temp down.

Once the boiler is back to brewing temperature, all three buttons will blink once. Turn off the steam wand knob and the coffee light will be lit up again to show that it’s ready to brew.

Memo Function

Gaggia’s Memo function invites a little bit of customization into this semi-automatic espresso machine. Essentially, it allows you to program your preferred shot volume into the brew button.

Fortunately, doing so is pretty simple. I’ll explain the process in the “How to Use” section of this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review.

Once you’ve programmed the button to your preferred specs, you can pull shots automatically. And when you’re ready to switch it up, no worries – simply repeat the process to program a new shot volume.

Drip Tray

The Espresso Evolution has a removable drip tray with a stainless steel grate. Naturally, the tray is removable for cleaning and dumping excess water, but this serves another purpose too. In fact, you can pull shots without the drip tray in order to increase the cup clearance and make room for tall travel mugs.

How to Use the Gaggia Espresso Evolution

Since this is a beginner machine, using the Gaggia Espresso Evolution is easy as pie. Still, I’ll walk you through the basics of using this machine and programming the Memo Function.

As always, hand wash and thoroughly dry all removable parts. Then, fill the water tank and press the power button. Wait thirty minutes while the boiler heats up and preheats the group head and portafilter.

In the meantime, get all your espresso accessories sorted and ready to brew. Naturally, you’ll need a quality espresso grinder like the budget-friendly Breville Smart Grinder Pro. In addition, a tamper and coffee scale will boost your espresso quality immensely.

Gaggia Espresso Evolution How to Use

Once the espresso button is lit up and stops blinking, the boiler is ready to brew. Now it’s your turn! Dose 16 grams of espresso grounds into your portafilter, tamp with even pressure and place the portafilter in the group head. Finally, tare an espresso cup on your scale and place both on the drip tray.

Now it’s time to program the Memo function. Start your phone’s stopwatch feature and press and hold the brew button. Keep pressing the button throughout the entire brew, until your shot has reached your desired specs – say, 30-35 grams of espresso in 25 seconds or so.

Once your shot is where you want it to be, release the brew button. Now that shot volume is saved into the brew button, and the next time you pull a shot all you have to do is press it once.

If you want a latte, you’ll have to press the steam button and wait a couple minutes while the boiler heats up. But don’t worry – your espresso will still be perfectly drinkable after a few minutes of waiting.

Gaggia Espresso Evolution Cleaning

Cleaning and descaling your new espresso machine should be a breeze. Of course, it helps that Gaggia includes a Mavea water filter with the Espresso Evolution, which helps prevent scale build-up.

Still, I can’t seem to find any mention of other included cleaning accessories in the Espresso Evolution box. So, it’d be good to buy a microfiber cleaning cloth and a nylon brush for some basic maintenance.

There’s also supposedly an LED alert on the machine when it needs to be cleaned, though I don’t see anything else about this feature.

Gaggia Espresso Evolution Technical Specifications

Gaggia Espresso Evolution
Manufacturer

Gaggia

Model number

EG2115/03

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Plastic

Color options

Lava Red, Stone Black

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

53 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

40.6 fl oz / 1.2 l

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

6.0 in / 15.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1900 W

Weight

8.2 lb / 3.7 kg

Dimensions

11.9 x 7.8 x 10.0 in
30.2 x 19.8 x 25.4 cm

Warranty

2 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 3 x filter baskets, pod adaptor, plastic coffee scoop / tamper

Current price on Amazon

$249.00

All specifications

Gaggia Espresso Evolution vs Classic Pro

Gaggia Classic Pro Overview

I can’t finish this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review without first shouting-out Gaggia’s original sweetheart, the Gaggia Classic Pro.

With a $399.00 price tag, the Classic Pro costs nearly twice as much as the Espresso Evolution. Plus, on the surface it offers fewer features – no PID controller, no volumetric control and fewer beginner-friendly features.

But honestly, that’s kind of the point. The Classic Pro may seem simple, but it’s a beast. In fact, it’s got a better quality build, replete with stainless steel housing. Plus, professional 58mm portafilter baskets and the single boiler design challenge espresso connoisseurs to up their coffee game.

Even better, the Classic Pro is time-tested, durable and reliable. That’s said, it’s known for having a steep learning curve, and there isn’t any built-in technology that’d give you a hand while you learn.

Meanwhile, the Espresso Evolution is decidedly a beginner machine, with tons of accessible features. In particular, the blinking lights and PID controller make it so newbies don’t have to temperature surf blindly.

Still, the beginner-friendly pannarello steam wand and pressurized portafilter baskets mean you can’t grow your baristas skills with the Espresso Evolution; you’re stuck with a beginner machine until you decide to shell out for a new model.

All this is to say that if you’re only looking for a beginner machine, the Espresso Evolution is your guy. But if you have an inkling that you may get really into the espresso thing, you’re better off paying a bit more for the Classic Pro. You’ll likely struggle at first to brew quality espresso, but once you get the hang of it the Pro gives you a lot to work with.

See Also: Gaggia Classic Pro Review

Gaggia Espresso Evolution vs Classic Pro Comparison Chart

Gaggia Espresso EvolutionGaggia Classic Pro
Manufacturer

Gaggia

Gaggia

Model number

EG2115/03

RI9380/46

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Plastic

Stainless steel

Color options

Lava Red, Stone Black

Black, Chrome, White

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

53 mm

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

40.6 fl oz / 1.2 l

71.0 fl oz / 2.1 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

6.0 in / 15.2 cm

3.3 in / 8.4 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1900 W

1450 W

Weight

8.2 lb / 3.7 kg

18.7 lb / 8.5 kg

Dimensions

11.9 x 7.8 x 10.0 in
30.2 x 19.8 x 25.4 cm

14.2 x 9.5 x 8.0 in
36.1 x 24.1 x 20.3 cm

Warranty

2 years

2 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 3 x filter baskets, pod adaptor, plastic coffee scoop / tamper

Included Accessories: Tamper, Coffee scoop, 4 x Filter baskets, Instruction manual.

Current price on Amazon

$249.00

$399.00

Gaggia Espresso EvolutionGaggia Classic Pro
Manufacturer

Gaggia

Gaggia

Model number

EG2115/03

RI9380/46

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Plastic

Stainless steel

Color options

Lava Red, Stone Black

Black, Chrome, White

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

53 mm

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

40.6 fl oz / 1.2 l

71.0 fl oz / 2.1 l

Number of boilers

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

6.0 in / 15.2 cm

3.3 in / 8.4 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1900 W

1450 W

Weight

8.2 lb / 3.7 kg

18.7 lb / 8.5 kg

Dimensions

11.9 x 7.8 x 10.0 in
30.2 x 19.8 x 25.4 cm

14.2 x 9.5 x 8.0 in
36.1 x 24.1 x 20.3 cm

Warranty

2 years

2 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, 3 x filter baskets, pod adaptor, plastic coffee scoop / tamper

Included Accessories: Tamper, Coffee scoop, 4 x Filter baskets, Instruction manual.

Current price on Amazon

$249.00

$399.00

Verdict: Gaggia Espresso Evolution Review

Ideal for Beginners

Gaggia Espresso Evolution

Budget-friendly with great features

Great value

Adorable design

Easy to use

PID controller

Pre-infusion function

Lots of plastic

Now that I’ve reached the end of this Gaggia Espresso Evolution review, I can say that it seems Gaggia has done it again. This is a great entry level espresso machine, with a pretty seamless user interface and beginner-friendly features.

While the pressurized portafilter baskets and pannarello steam wand don’t give you much room to grow your barista skills, I think this machine is a good option for those who want a simple and convenient way to make espresso at home.

What’s your favorite beginner-friendly espresso machine? Do you think the features on the Espresso Evolution would have helped you in your espresso journey? Let’s chat in the comments section below!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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