I have been using the the classico for a few months now and here is my take on it and Tecnora.
Tecnora is special. It is not the usual Indian company with non existent customer care. They are happy to talk to you and clarify anything that you can think of. To me this is extremely important. I can guarantee that they are not the type that want to sell the product and forget about you.
I was apprehensive about getting a lesser known brand but on researching online I found a few things I liked and a few things I didn’t – so I called them. I told them what I was looking for – specifically a non pressurized portafilter. They worked with me and actually sent me a modified portafilter that was non pressurized. Additionally they were honest about not over engineering things in an espresso machine and they are right. The classico is not a Gaggia but will get the job done.
Design: The steam wand has a black plastic cover – I dont use the plastic cover on it. I get better microfoam with just the open steel tip. I feel the gap between the filter head and the base drip tray is too short. So if trying to dose using a small scale you will feel cramped. The steam wand feels too short as well. The portaholder and filter sit well and don’t feel too tight which I like. The machine is easy to clean and looks good on the table.
Operation: You wont be able to steam milk and pull shots at the same time on this machine because it is not designed as a commercial workhorse. If you steam your milk first and then decide to pull a shot you will note that the coffee puck gets disrupted and channels a lot – this is because the steam somehow finds its way into the portafilter and it shouldn’t. So my advice would be to pull the shot first, switch to steam mode and steam milk second. This may be less than ideal for purists but it is the best way to use the machine. If making for multiple people make the espressos first and then steam milk for all. If you switch between the two the temp for espresso after the steaming becomes too high and steam itself burns and disrupts the extraction. The filter basket is 49-50mm and takes about 14 grams for a double shot. Not the larger 18 grams. If you try to pack 18 grams you will likely mess up the group head.
Now re the pressure. yes, they and all companies say 15 bar. however, you only need 9 bar. That is what comes at the group head anyway. sometimes it is not even 9 bar. so dont get hung up on that number. Instead let me assure you that with the right grind this machine can pull a good shot easily. Excellent creama and visual characteristics and good taste. I don’t use the pressurized portafilter anyway but the non pressurized one that I had specially modified from them. But beware, if going that route you will need to know how to grind and tamp properly. don’t blame the coffee machine for incorrect grind and tamp related issues. Bottom-line: make the coffee generate the back pressure to extract properly.
Coffee: It is not all about the machine. You have to have a good burr grinder, fresh beans and technique. My shots now from the Classico are consistent, look good and have great taste.
Minor wishes: They already provide a frothing jar. I just wish they would throw away the plastic tamp – it is useless. Instead a standard 49 mm tamper should be included to show that Tecnora is serious about good coffee ! I know they are ?