Gaggia Brera Review
The mid-range market for super automatic Espresso machines is brimming with choices due to the overwhelming demand for bean-to-cup machines that provide a good espresso and latte, without getting your hands dirty.
Gaggia is one of the most popular names in this segment and it has an impressive lineup of machines that manages to ruffle a few feathers among connoisseurs of manual machines, with its impeccable espressos. One of their flagship offerings is the Gaggia Brera, a pocket-sized super automatic that surprises you with its espresso quality and the healthy mix of features that make life easier while brewing your cup of Joe.
Unboxing the Gaggia Brera
The Gaggia Brera is available in two different finishes, black and silver. It stands 12 inches tall which is way smaller than most other super automatics. The result, is that it will not eat away valuable counter space and will fit right in between the cabinets and the counter.
The control panel, with all the buttons, is located on the front of the machine and is housed in stainless steel panels. There is the power button to switch the machine on and off, two brew buttons for espresso and Americano-style long coffee and a button to control the strength of the coffee.
There are three different strengths to choose from, which are indicated in the form of coffee beans on the LED screen on the front panel. One coffee bean means mild, two means standard and three stands for strong. This changes the amount of coffee ground that will be used in each shot and you can choose from 7 – 10.5 gms per shot.
The same button is also used to activate the bypass doser, if you wish to use your own pre-ground coffee rather than using the built-in grinder.
The 41 ounce water reservoir with a Mavea Water Filter, is accessible from the front of the machine on the left side. And on the right side is the dreg drawer where the dry puck collects, which again, is easily accessible from the front.
The steam froth wand is covered by a layer of plastic that is coated with a metallic color, which is a bit flimsy as compared to all-metal ‘froth and steam’ wands that one is typically used to. The dispenser nozzle has about 5 inches of clearance height, which is more than sufficient for most cups and mugs.
On top, we have a rubber cover for the bean hopper which significantly reduces the noise that is generated during the grinding process. Once you take the cover off, you have a small knob that lets you adjust the ground size and you can choose from five different settings. You can even change the setting while the machine is switched on.
Brewing an espresso with the Gaggia Brera
One of the best features of the Gaggia Brera is the pre-brew infusion system which tamps and soaks the ground beans for a few seconds, before the actual brewing process begins. This results in extracting aromatic and flavorful espresso shots consistently.
While it cannot be compared to the oily richness of some of the higher priced or manual ‘pull-the-shot’ machines, it certainly comes close and even scores better than some of the high priced semiautomatics.
To customize your Java, you can tinker with the few available settings. For example, using the highest strength with three coffee beans on the display and selecting an espresso will give you a nice strong espresso shot.
The froth wand with rapid steam technology, produces a pleasant and rich foam giving your lattes and cappuccinos the creaminess they deserve.
One of the features that a lot of customers have found to be mildly annoying though is that every time the Gaggia Brera is switched on, it automatically flushes the system. So, you need to have a mug under the spout to collect the waste water. This does help in getting rid of any residue from the last brew though.
What could be better
Despite being an extremely popular super automatic with a compact and stylish design, the Brera does lack the perfection that one usually expects from these machines.
The tradeoff for the compact size is in the form of a smaller capacity water reservoir and plastic components in many places, which makes it look cheap.
One of the most common complaints is that the silver plating on the frothing handle peels off after a while and while this does nothing to affect the functionality of the machine, it does spoil the flawless aesthetics.
The company will send out a replacement for free while the product is under warranty. But you will have to cough up the shipping cost.
The Best Features
Despite the flimsy components and a minor problem or two, the Brera has a competitive pricing advantage and enough features to impress the casual coffee lover.
- Super compact form factor
- Easy to access control panels
- One-button access to commonly prepared drinks
- Steam/froth wand with rapid steam technology
- Pre-infusion to get the most aromatic brew every time
- Alerts you when you are out of water or coffee
- Bypass doser if you wish to have some flavored pre-ground coffee
- Good quality Espressos
Should I buy this one for my home ?
The Gaggia Brera can very well be the perfect home espresso maker for you. It is pocket-friendly, compact, stylish and can brew a very decent quality espresso shot. But, you should be equally aware of what it’s not. I hope our Gaggia Brera review helps you make an informed choice.