Superbrands case studies: Gaggia

Originally published in 'Consumer Superbrands Volume VI', July 2004. The book reviews the UK's strongest consumer brands as judged by an independent judging panel.

Case study provided by Superbrands


Gaggia brought the first espresso machine to the UK in the 1950s. Since then, more people than ever have been enjoying the real taste of coffee -- a taste previously only associated with coffee served in European cities. The subsequent rise of the 'café culture' in the UK -- a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years -- has also led to a shift in domestic coffee making, as discerning coffee lovers now seek to recreate the authentic coffee experience for themselves at home. As a result, the market for coffee machines for the home use has been one of the fastest growing domestic appliance sectors. Gaggia, a name synonymous with the best espresso and cappuccino, design and style, is recognised as the market leader in the field of coffee technology and equipment for both domestic and commercial sectors. Since 1993, Gaggia has experienced phenomenal sales growth and believes this is only the tip of the iceberg.

In the commercial market people still ask for a coffee machine by the name -- Gaggia. Since its inception in the 1940s, Gaggia has been a leader in the field of espresso machine technology, selling well over two million machines worldwide in the last ten years with twice as many still in use throughout bars, restaurants and homes. Gaggia is renowned for its build quality, design and technological innovation.


Achille Gaggia, born in 1895 in Milan, set up a coffee bar and was a dedicated barman. He was not satisfied with the flavour of coffee from his existing machine, which scalded the coffee and made it bitter. Achille thought that perhaps the coffee tasted over roasted and burnt as a result of the poor extraction. This drove him to spend his spare time inventing a new system to improve the flavour of the coffee and was successful in developing the first piston system and filed a patent no. 365726 from which the first modern steamless coffee machine was born on September 5th 1938. By cleverly incorporating a spring into a lever-operated piston the Gaggia system meant that both the pressure and temperature of the water applied to the coffee were independent to that of the boiler. Achille's ingenious idea produced the 'crema' that has made espresso coffee world famous and has defined the art of making the perfect espresso.

After the war, Achille Gaggia set up the company Gaggia in 1947, to produce his piston lever machines commercially. This innovative device became an immediate success and contributed to the influx of machines for bars and restaurants. The ingeniousness of this invention has been proven by the numerous applications by other companies, the significant increase of sales and, above all, by the subsequent improvement of coffee preparation.

In 1977, Gaggia launched its first domestic machine, the Baby Gaggia and established Gaggia at the forefront of the domestic machine market. To this day, Baby Gaggia is considered by many to be 'the ideal' family coffee maker.

Designs and technological advances have changed the way Gaggia machines look and work but the objective for quality, reliability and passion for the right espresso every time has remained throughout Gaggia's history. This is what makes Gaggia legendary.


Gaggia is a brand that is universally regarded as effortlessly stylish and always contemporary. Gaggia makes all of its machines at its factory in Robecco near Milan, producing a range of professional and domestic machines that have evolved from the traditional lever controlling a pressure-generating piston, to fully automated machines, that, with a flick of a button, grind, measure and deliver high quality espresso coffee.

Gaggia's professional machines are used by many of the well known and discerning restaurants, hotels and coffee shops all over the world. In tandem with this, Gaggia's domestic range remains the most extensive on the market. All entry level machines are made with the same attention to detail as the higher end models and even the latest model filter holder fits all commercial machines including the early models from the 1940s. Unlike most home espresso machines, the filter holders on Gaggia domestic machines are made with heavyweight chrome plated brass.

The design of machines has kept pace with modern styles but still maintains its original traditions. The motto of the brand aptly describes it -- 'continuously evolving tradition'

Recent Developments

Gaggia has introduced state of the art automatic machines into the domestic market giving home users the means to produce real espresso at the touch of a button.

As the market progresses in the UK and Ireland towards the European coffee drinking habits, Gaggia has done more to drive the market in the direction of affordable systems both in manual and automatic coffee machines than any other manufacturer. The latest model to come onto the market, The Titanium, is considered by Gaggia to be the ultimate in style, design and sleek features.

The machine has a sturdy metal body and features a digital programming display, a 24 hour clock which automatically switches the system on and off, an active cup warmer, adjustable portion controls, a de-scaling system, a cup counter, an auto (carton to cup) frother as well as a traditional frother, as standard.


Gaggia's success has largely been built on word of mouth reputation by existing users of its products throughout the UK. Gaggia also prides itself on delivering a first-rate customer service with direct contact with customers -- from face-to-face activity and ensuring a presence at key trade shows, to eye-catching point of sale activity.

Gaggia introduces new models onto the market on a regular basis and the Trade Communications Programme has been essential in enabling the company to communicate this message along with media relations and web based information acting as the centre of communications.

Gaggia believes that strong photography and a responsive press office have been key in driving brand awareness by ensuring that the product is included in 'tried and tested' and coffee/lifestyle features in the national press while underpinning the on-going proactive media relations campaign. This tactic has been hugely successful and gained Gaggia numerous accolades. Press coverage is constantly monitored, with over 200 features in the consumer and trade print, broadcast and online media in the past year.

Gaggia strongly supports barista training and has continued to invest in the demonstration and education of coffee and coffee equipment. Through Gaggia's ongoing association with master baristi, it is able to offer a wide range of courses based on improving barista skills, presentation and understanding the art of making the ultimate espresso. Most recently, Gaggia has launched The Gaggia Caffe Academie at its House of Fraser Oxford Street concession -- a 700ft2 space that showcases the complete range of machines from the classics to the state-of-the-art and represents the cornerstone of an exceptional continued education and training programme for aspiring baristas. It also offers support to the restaurant and coffee bar industry as well as an authentic coffee experience for coffee aficionados.

For over 50 years Gaggia has been filling coffee bars, restaurants and homes throughout the world with the unmistakable aroma of espresso coffee made with any of the Gaggia coffee machines. It combines the sound tradition associated with one of the best-known brands in the Italian business sector with innovation and technological evolution. It is in this perspective that Gaggia places itself in the ever more dynamic markets of the new millennium.

The brand aims to meet even more completely its customer needs with its roots in the past as regards quality and care for details, yet it is projected towards the future in a dedicated search for ever more efficient and increasingly innovative performance and design.

Things you didn't know

  • The piston for the first lever machine came from a World War II American Jeep.

  • Even today the filter holders on the domestic machines are made with heavyweight chrome plated brass and fit all commercial machines.

  • The 'Classic' Gaggia model uses carbon steel, black chromium plating and 24 carat gold plating as well as brass components which can maintain liquid at a constant temperature.

    © 2004 Superbrands Ltd

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