Gaggia Brera Review 2021: Best Mid Tier Super Automatic Machine For Milky Espresso?
Have you recently realized that you enjoy tasting espresso, but not exactly making it yourself?
You’re not alone. You need what’s called a bean to cup coffee maker, aka a helping hand. From grinding beans to pulling your shot and even frothing milk, the Gaggia Brera is an espresso machine that can do it all for you. In the comforts of your own home.
Let’s go through this Gaggia Brera review so you can discover this super automatic espresso machine. And how it can cater to your personal coffee brewing needs.
The Bean To Cup Gaggia Brera Review
Good automatic espresso machine options should automate the steps that can only be done right by experienced baristas. The best? They create the basics for you with no problem, but they also allow you enough room to experiment and design your own drinks.
- Rapid milk frother
- Programmable drinks
- In built pre-infusion functionality
- Value for money
- Needs descaling monthly
- Ceramic burrs not as sharp as steel
- Single boiler
The Gaggia Brera is an example of one such machine. It’s one of the rare bean to cup espresso machines that can make espresso shots consistently, exactly how you want them.
In this review, let’s take a look at how this machine could be a fit for you and your coffee habit.
The Brera is perfect for home espresso drinkers who like drinking coffee more than making it. As an automatic brewer, it’s more consistent than your usual home brewer. This comes in handy for those who like taking their coffee as part of a routine.
You might think that because it’s automatic, you already know what to expect.
As mentioned earlier, the best super automatic espresso machines provide customizable options for how you brew. Entry level machines usually aren’t capable of this.
With 5 grind settings, 3 brew strength settings, and programmable steaming and recipes, this brewer lets you make coffee as you like it.
The built-in ceramic burr grinder helps with reducing the heat generated while grinding. With a lower heat transfer, you preserve aromatics for when your water comes into contact with coffee grounds.
The consequence is a more flavorful cup. Multiple settings allow you to adjust according to roast profiles and origins.
After grinding, the Brera also lets you choose brew strength. You can choose from 3 strength preferences that make micro-adjustments to your dose. Dosing is how much coffee grounds you put in your brew basket relative to the water you brew with it. It affects the body and flavor of your espresso.
Most automatic machines play with water. Ristretto, espresso, and lungo options use the same dose, with different water ratios.
The Brera uses barista definitions for these 3 types of espresso. Aside from this, if you choose a double shot option, it will brew twice. This means that there won’t be any tradeoffs in cup quality with this machine.
After the brewing side, you need to work on the fine points of making espresso.
You can easily clean your espresso machine with a detachable brew group for clean and clear cup flavors—no residual grounds from old pulls.
The stainless steel Gaggia Brera is that simple to maintain. Just make a checklist that includes the bean hopper, the water tank, the dregs drawer, and the brewing group. Most of these are accessible from the front and side of the espresso machine. This also sets it apart from other options.
At first glance, being easy to clean doesn’t seem like it will have a considerable effect on brew quality, but in the wonderful world of coffee, everything makes a difference. The Brera reflects these principles, and they all add up to help automate good espresso at home.
You can even install a water filter in your machine to optimize your brewing water. Just place your water filter into your water reservoir as an upgrade, and you’re on your way to better brewing!
One other quality about the Brera that I like is how it’s designed and made in Italy. The espresso capital of the world, they know espresso brewing like the back of their hand.
Consequently, you know the Gaggia will deliver consistent espresso drinks, fast. Their cafe culture is more prominent, and service is often faster than most countries, and so their machines cater to that type of coffee drinker.
The stainless steel exterior is the first indicator of simplicity and functionality. It’s easier to maintain than other external finishes, and it’s one of the more sturdy materials you’d want to cover your espresso machine with.
When you open the group head of the Gaggia Brera up for cleaning, you also see the internals’ build quality. It’s made of premium plastic, coils, and wires that work together to bring you a consistent espresso, and fast.
For a long time so much of an espresso machine’s value is in how long it will last. The Brera will not disappoint in this aspect and you can expect longevity.
The ceramic burrs, stainless steel front, and well-built internal mechanics all make good value for money. You’ll get these features from this superautomatic espresso machine.
As a show of Italian form-with-function, the Gaggia Brera water tank is accessible through the machine’s front. This makes it easier to pour water into it.
Part of the front panel is an easy to understand interface, a drip tray, the steam panarello wand, and the dregs drawer.
It’s one of my favorite machines overall in terms of layout and ease of use. Oh, and it’s a compact machine too!
I’ve mentioned the built in burr grinder a few times to emphasize the brew quality and durability of this super automatic machine.
Now let’s get into specifics on why these flat ceramics contribute immensely to espresso quality.
A flat burr grinder is made up of 2 rings of burrs that are horizontal to the ground. One faces up, and the other down. The coffee beans are dropped in between these 2 burrs during grinding. On average, coffee beans make 2 or 3 passes around these burrs before ending up in a filter basket or portafilter, ready for brewing.
Burrs are usually made of stainless steel or ceramic. The former is initially sharper but degrades over time, whereas ceramic burrs don’t conduct heat and maintain sharpness. Overall, stainless steel is often found in more expensive brewers.
With the reduced heat generated via grinding, you preserve the extraction of flavors when your coffee grounds come into contact with hot water. This means tastier espresso and more complex flavors in your cup of coffee.
If you pair this 5 setting precision and consistency with the light medium and strong cup profiles you can choose from, you’ll have enough to explore different types of espresso roasts.
This is the Optiaroma function that lets you select brew strength by adjusting the dose. Remember that this super auto espresso machine also has solid definitions of espresso servings (a double is literally two shots), so you won’t ever compromise with flavor.
If you enjoy plain espresso from time to time, this super automatic machine performs here too. Aside from espresso, you can make americanos, cappuccinos, and lattes with the push of a button. You can also dispense heated water from the machine and use it for tea.
These are the basic espresso drinks, but they’re all highly programmable according to your personal preferences. It is, after all, your espresso machine.
Milk Frother Works Wonders
The Pannarello steam wand is an industry gem in the milk frother category. It allows users to make cappuccinos effortlessly.
By installing an exit hole for air once the steaming tool is submerged, you arrive at a texture for your milk that requires less skill. This is perfect for a compact machine that’s super automatic like the Gaggia Brera.
All you have to do is submerge the Pannarello frothing wand into your milk jug, flip a switch, and wait. There is a bit of a learning curve with milk frothing, but that’s to be expected for any machine.
Rapid Steam Technology is used in the Brera, so expect your milky coffee drinks to be steamed in less than 10 seconds on average.
Interestingly, the Panarello steamer on the Gaggia Brera doubles as a hot water dispenser. So if you’re not making milk beverages, you can brew tea with your machine too.
The ability to dispense heated water is often a standard feature for coffee machines at this price point, but rapid steam technology is not. The consequence is felt best during your daily routines. Especially versus entry level automatic espresso machines that take way longer to brew with on average.
The Gaggia Brera produces great-tasting espresso shots with the touch of a button. From the bean hopper, the water reservoir, the steam wand, all the way to the drip tray, it’s durable and easy to clean while being simple to use.
It has a front-load water tank and a front-access dregs drawer as well. Because of these features, your machine is easy to place on any stable flat surface. And it can stay stationary in corners.
Some additional feature that adds value is the bypass doser.
The bypass doser comes in handy when you want to brew pre-ground coffee beans. It’s in the same location as the burrs, but you just fill the compartment with a scooper that comes with your unit.
Be sure to fill the scooper for the correct dosage, but don’t pack it too tightly, as this will make it hard for the machine to brew. It’s also good for when a fellow coffee enthusiast (aka a great friend) brings pre ground coffee that they want to try with your machine.
Lastly, the Pannarello wand also makes steaming milk easier. You can just leave a milk jug when you turn it on for as long as you’re familiar with the milk consistency that you like.
As with any piece of coffee equipment, the more regularly you clean it, the longer it will last. The sooner you clean it after each brewing cycle, the easier it is to clean overall.
The main mechanics you want to clean regularly is the steam wand, group head, dregs drawer, drip tray, and water reservoir.
These are the essential internals you want to maintain on any machine to ensure you brew quality coffee. Especially in a super auto machine, there’s less dependence on barista familiarity, so maintenance is more critical.
After a set number of cups are made by your Gaggia Brera machine, make sure to descale. This will also depend on water quality in your area, so be observant about changes in brew times.
Any hint of blockage might require descaling (there’s an automated cycle – check out the video above) to preserve other parts of your espresso machine. The longer it lasts, the more value for money you get out of your investment.
Other Notable Gaggia Features
What are the other features worth mentioning in this machine review?
Let’s take a look at a few more so that you can be more specific as you learn more about the Gaggia Brera.
An 8oz bean hopper capacity is big enough for multiple servings with the push of a button.
The Gaggia Pre Infusion
Pre-infusion adds consistency and efficiency when extracting flavor from ground coffee. Manual machines need technique and timing for this specific detail of brewing well.
With the Gaggia Brera, this is a built-in feature to assure users that they’re getting a decent extraction each time they pull a shot of espresso.
It also maximizes the flavor you get from your beans. Being able to use ground beans gives your ceramic burr grinder a rest, and lets you experience beans brought by friends. Not all bean to cup machines have this feature.
Enough Capacity and Easy Access
Outside of brewing, your daily use is made easy with a 1.2L water tank capacity. A detachable dregs drawer makes it easy to discard coffee pucks.
Even the brew group can be detached and cleaned from the side. All these parts can be maintained and accessed from the front of the machine.
When it’s time to deep-clean, a descaling alert icon on the LED display will light up. The display has a complete set of icons to communicate with users. Study the manual, and familiarize yourself with each symbol.
Gaggia did a great job in designing this machine for people with all levels of brewing experience.
Try to see if the above features fit in with your personal preferences. You ideally don’t want to overwork your equipment when it comes to brewing, mainly because it shortens the machine lifespan significantly.
You also don’t want to get something that overshoots your requirements because then you’d be overpaying for features that you won’t be able to appreciate fully.
When it comes to brewing, it’s all about knowing what you want, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
I suggest going as far as looking at the dimensions and understanding the brew settings, grinding settings, all the way to calculating if the water reservoir capacity can fulfill your brewing requirements in one go. For example, does the built-in coffee grinder perform better than your current grinder, that’s if you have one at all?
Are Espresso Machines Like Gaggia Worth the Money?
The Brera has a premium stainless steel build. It has internals that are easy to maintain and built to last.
It’s designed to make espresso within parameters that baristas ideally should be following. You can set recipes to your liking. You can brew all types of roasted beans (ideally those that aren’t too oily, and free from flavored syrups).
This fully auto machine from Gaggia is definitely worth the value for money when it comes to how I rate and classify espresso machines.
In terms of quality, durability, consistency, and price, it’s a thumbs up for me for the Brera. The combination of parts and tech will result in a good espresso drink every time.
It automates most of your coffee routine, but it also leaves enough variables to allow variety and exploration. These 2 things, I believe, can satisfy a wide range of coffee lovers.
The Gaggia Brera Isn’t For You If…
If you’re still wondering if the Gaggia Brera espresso machine is for you or not, here’s a brief description of which types of coffee drinkers this isn’t the best choice:
You want to be in full control of the result of your espresso extractions. Instead, you’ll likely prefer a semi automatic brewer, which offers higher control to dial in your shots. The difference between the two is that a semi automatic coffee maker places the tamping and shot pulling control in your hands.
Espresso brewing means black coffees to you and you’re not a fan of milky coffee. Instead, check out the Rancilio Silvia, which is around the same price point but offers betters quality espresso.
If you’re after something super budget friendly. Instead, check out our favorite entry level espresso makers for something more wallet-friendly.
You enjoy manually making coffee. This brewer requires very little work, and it’s the advantage is that it doesn’t need you to make a brew. If that turns you off, this isn’t for you!
An auto machine isn’t for everyone. It’s more for those who take brews as a routine. Or who enjoy drinking the finished product more than understanding what goes on while brewing.
It also isn’t for you if you don’t enjoy milky drinks that much. Being able to create flat whites and lattes, and cappuccinos is one of the best features of the steam wand, and to completely ignore this capability means that there is a better fitting machine out there for you and your coffee needs.
The Final Verdict
All in all, the Brera super automatic espresso machine is one of the better brewers I can recommend from Gaggia. If you’re looking for a brewer for milky coffee effortlessly and at a mid tier price point, this is the machine to get.
In terms of cup quality, machine durability, and ease of use, you’d be hard-pressed to find an option with the same well-rounded value for money.
Quality never comes cheap, and if this coffee machine fits your brewing preferences, it might be a good idea to look into it further.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Founded Gaggia?
Achille Gaggia is the founder of Gaggia, which launched in Italy in 1947. Achille Gaggia is known in espresso brewing for developing and patenting the first seamless espresso maker.
Barista and coffee writer
Miguel Papa is a coffee fanatic with a passion for brewing. During the weekdays, you can find him experimenting with different drinks while he works as a barista. Otherwise, he’s likely writing here for Sip Coffee or enjoying the outdoors.