Go to any nice café, order an espresso, and take a look at the machine they use. That espresso machine cost at least several thousand dollars and likely even tens of thousands of dollars. And yet, uninformed consumers somehow expect to get a good cup of espresso from some machine they found on sale at Walmart for $149. The truth is that good espresso is hard to make and requires high-end hardware. But there is some good news: with Gaggiuino, you can upgrade your affordable Gaggia espresso machine to a professional level.
The Gaggia Classic espresso machine costs around $400 and the Gaggia Classic Pro costs around $500. Those prices put both machines in the middle of the pack for entry level espresso machines, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad machines. In fact, they’re quite good. While other machines in this price range prioritize fancy design aesthetics or sleek user interfaces, the Gaggia machines use simple — but high-quality — components. Everything inside is built well, the machines simply aren’t smart enough to take advantage of the hardware. Gaggiuino is a DIY upgrade that fixes that by adding sensors and sophisticated control, along with a nice user interface.
Gaggiuino enables a huge range of new features and some of those features depend on the controller you choose to use. The standard controller is an Arduino Nano, but you’ll enable more features if you use an STM32 “BlackPill” development board. Both give you features like a sleek UI on a touchscreen, brew and steam control, an auto shot timer, pre-infusion, manual flow control, and pressure profiles. But with the BlackPill you also get flow profiles, weight/dose metering, steam boost, and more.
Some of the components required for the upgrade depend on whether you have a Gaggia Classic or Gaggia Classic Pro, and if you’re using a Nano or BlackPill board. But some of the components required for all include: a 2.4” Nextion touchscreen LCD, a MAX6675 thermocouple, a 40DA SSR (Solid-State Relay), a dimmer module, and a pressure sensor. The new sensors let the controller monitor things like pressure and exact temperature, which are very important for brewing good espresso. But a huge part of the Gaggiuino upgrade is also about the software and its developers put a lot of love into getting it right.
Gaggiuino is one of those projects that illustrates the utility of the maker community. For less than $700 (including the Gaggia machine and upgrade components), you can have an espresso machine that rivals high-end models that costs thousands of dollars.