How to pull two consecutive shots of espresso using Gaggia Classic
The short answer: you need to make sure the portafilter basket is very very dry. Use a tissue to absorb any water that might be trapped in the little pores on the basket (both sides).
Now if you’re wondering how I came to this answer, read along…
Last summer, I decided that a french press and a moka pot were not enough for my coffee game. I wanted to enjoy a decent cup of latte without stepping out of my cozy apartment. After days of research, I laid my eyes on the Gaggia Classic espresso machine. It does not have an attractive appearance. But it being a classic machine means that parts are easy to find if I ever need a replacement, and I’d very much likely to find an answer online if I run into any problems.
The machine finally arrived. I was excited to try it out. Of course at first I had difficulty pulling the perfect shot within the 25 s to 30 s time window. But with practice, I managed it at last. However, the next problem I encountered was frustrating and I could not find an answer that truly solves it.
You see, under my influence, my husband went from “oh I can’t have a sip of coffee (even it’s only 10 am) otherwise I won’t be able to sleep” to “it sucks that the coffee beans ran out and I can’t have coffee with breakfast.” That’s said, I need to pull two double shots of espresso in the morning before breakfast in order to make a flat white for him and a latte for me. The first shot was usually (more or less) perfect. It’s the second shot that always gave me trouble. There was either no flow or a very very slow flow (which leaves the espresso super bitter). Other owners of Gaggia Classic have also had this problem. Most people suggest that you need to wait 5-10 minutes between pulling two shots. They say it’s because the Gaggia machine has a small boiler and it needs time to recover. It sounded reasonable and I tried that. Sadly, it did not work 100% of the time. Maybe I needed to wait longer. I also tried turning off the machine after the first shot to let it cool down completely then turning it on again for the second shot. The second shot was still slower than desired and I did not have that much time in the morning to wait around.
This problem troubled us for months. Until one day, my husband found out that after pulling the first shot, the water flowed perfectly from the group head without the portafilter in place. Hence, he concluded that the boiler cannot be the problem, because hot water definitely came down without a problem. It must be the portafilter. We thought very hard what was the difference in the portafilter between the first and the second shot. We had a habit of rinsing the portafilter after dumping the coffee grounds. The only difference between the two shots was whether the portafilter was dry before we put coffee in it. Therefore, we made sure the basket was completely dry before grinding coffee into it. We took the basket out of the portafilter and used a tissue to wipe both sides to suck any water out of the pores. Viola, the second shot was PERFECT!
We no longer rinse the portafilter between two shots. Just to be sure, we still give it a good wipe before the second shot. There is no more waiting around for the boiler to “recover.” Now, my husband and I can both enjoy equally good coffee with our breakfast, at the same time.