Gaggia Topazio - Espresso for the budget minded

Great coffee should be available to everyone. Gaggia's Topazio espresso-cappuccino maker and partner grinder, the Gaggia MM, bring cafe style espresso based drinks within the reach of virtually everyones budget.

The technicians at the CoffeeCrew gladly accepted a sample from EspressoTec - Vancouver, Canada to run this combo through our stringent test lab. As usual, our benchmarking gear is a Rancilio Silvia machine and a Rancilio Rocky grinder.

The Topazio and MM Grinder are well packaged for coast to coast travel; double boxed and styro-padded to death! Usually my biggest hassle when testing gear is getting the stuff out of the box. Gaggia is no exception. It is wrapped to survive the most abusive courier, good thing I guess.
The Topazio comes with instructions, warranty card and all the bits, pieces and accessories to get started right away. Sorry, you have to provide the coffee and water!

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Gaggia's Topazio is borne of a long line of budget-oriented espresso makers, like the Gran Gaggia. The 'toppy', as I have now nicknamed it, has some instant advantages: The toppy has a smaller boiler and a correspondingly economic heating plant. Power consumption, at 680 Watts (the boiler heater), is perfect for the  cabin-cottage-RV crowd as well as students and those on the go. A smaller boiler means that it is quick to heat up. With the larger Rancilio Silvia, on the kitchen counter, it usually takes about 20 minutes before the beast is ready to start extracting rich shots of espresso. The Topazio is ready to roll in 10 minutes.
The Topazio had no trouble generating intense and hot double shots of espresso for cappuccino's, lattes and good old plain Americanos. Even with a 680 Watt boiler, the Toppy has no trouble generating a sustained blast of steam for frothing enough milk for a couple of cappuccinos. The creature features of the Topazio are slightly light duty; aluminum coffee filter portafilter and thermoplastic shell around the Topazio. But, hey, this is a sub-300 dollar unit.

Okay, the grinder: The Gaggia MM grinder is more than capable of grinding up espresso coffee. My one beef is the slightly light duty construction and the sheer volume of the MM when in operation. Okay, that is two beefs. The MM sounds like a brace of feral cats battling it out with David Lee Roth in some back alley. Loud! We are talking tear inducing loud. The MM sounds like it is running at over 1000 r.p.m. and although I have probably mentioned it somewhere, grinding coffee like this is NOT good for the coffee. It generates heat. For this reason, I am not a big fan of the MM. Do yourself a favor, get the Gaggia MDF. If loud noises do not bother you, save your money and get the adequate MM grinder.

Overall, it is a good package at a good price. Small annoyances notwithstanding, the Topazio and MM combo make for a solid introduction into the world of home espresso-cappuccino.

Now for some specs:

    * Safety/Thermostats: Coffee temperature thermostat, steam temperature thermostat and overheat protection with thermal fuse
    * Brass Components: Steam valve & steaming wand
    * Pump: 16 Bar self-priming pump with drip-proof modular,replaceable stainless steel coffee valve assembly
    * Drip Tray: Removable with grill plate
      Body: High impact, heat resistant polycabonate
    * Reservoir Capacity: 1.25 Liters, easily removable (about 25 espressos)
    * Control Panel: Three push button switches - Power on w/ ready light, Steam on w/light, Pump on w/light and Steam control knob
    * Dimensions: 311.1mm H x 266.7mm W x 304.8mm D (12.25" H x 10.5" W x 12" D)
    * Weight: 4.2 Kg. (9.26 Lbs.)
    * Power: 680 Watts - 110/120 Volts
    * Warranty: 1 Year
    * Included Accessories: single and double stainless steel filter baskets, portafilter and coffee measure, Perfect Crema disk tamper
    * Made in Milan, Italy

Many thanks to Reg James of EspressoTec - Vancouver, Canada for the samle Topazio as well as all the tech-support a coffee person could hope for..

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