Learn what to do when the portafilter handle is too tight, and/or won't turn far enough on your Gaggia Classic.
Why is my portafilter tight?
The Gaggia Classic's portafilter is designed to fit into the group head at a certain angle. If you look at how it goes into the group head, you'll notice that the two metal tabs will only fit into two slots in the group head, at a certain angle. The channels that those tabs ride in, as you turn the handle to the right, are rifled upwards. Because of this design, as you rotate the portafilter handle to the right, the portafilter is drawn up, and seals against the group gasket. This provides a seal that prevents coffee from spraying out around the edges of the portafilter.
Now, when you brew, does coffee spray out around the upper edge of the portafilter? Or, does the portafilter blow off of the machine?
If there is coffee leaking around the edge of the portafilter, or if the portafilter is forcibly blasting off the machine when you brew, then there is most likely a problem. Otherwise, what you're experiencing is most likely a new gasket that hasn't been broken in yet!
What if my portafilter handle turns too far to the right?
If neither occurs, then the gasket — which provides the seal — and the portafilter are doing their job. As the gasket wears down, the handle will turn further to the right, eventually getting to be perpendicular from the front of the machine. As the gasket continues to wear down, the handle will turn past perpendicular, and keep turning to the right. Eventually, the gasket will wear out, and the handle will be way off to the right. At this point, you'll see coffee leaking from the edges of the portafilter, and you'll know it's time to change the gasket.
If you need to replace the group gasket, this article will assist: Replace group Gasket