Gaggia Brera Review
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|Pros||Convenient, good taste||Great espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact design||Easy to use, quick and convenient, decent frothed milk||Good espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensive||Inexpensive, good milk-heating element, easy to operate|
|Cons||Laborious descaling process||No built-in grinder||Uses expensive capsules, limited flavors available||Doesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinder||Poor microfoam, slow to heat up, limited to 14 grams dose|
|Bottom Line||A great choice for those looking for a good long term value||One of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality results||This easy-to-use espresso machine and milk frother package is a great choice if you don't mind paying a little extra in the long run for convenience and so-so espresso||Offers good taste and overall quality at a far below average price||This basic machine may be appealing due to its low cost, but there are better options for producing good espresso if you're looking to save money|
|Rating Categories||Gaggia Brera||Breville Bambino||Nespresso Evoluo||Gevi||De'Longhi Stilosa|
|Espresso Quality (40%)|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Ease of Cleaning (15%)|
|Milk Quality (15%)|
|Specs||Gaggia Brera||Breville Bambino||Nespresso Evoluo||Gevi||De'Longhi Stilosa|
|Dimensions||10" x 15.5" x 11.5"||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||9" x 12.2" x 12.3"||13" x 10" x 16"||8.1" x 13.5" x 11.2"|
|Milk Frother||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Electric Stand Alone||Steam Wand||Steam Wand|
|Measured Water Tank Capacity||40 oz||47 oz||54 oz||42 oz||34 oz|
|Cost per Shot||$0.38||$0.45||$0.85||$0.45||$0.37|
|Lifetime Cost per Shot||$0.60||$0.58||$0.93||$0.50||$0.42|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price||202||118||93||51||46|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price||122||70||52||30||28|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're not super fussy about the taste of your espresso the level of quality the Gaggia Brera provides will be more than satisfying. It will give the warm sips of caffeine you need to kickstart your morning and hold the cold at bay on a chilly commute.
In our taste testing, the Brera earned an above-average score. It consistently produced espresso with a nice taste but it was just a bit more watery and less full bodied than what we would call a perfect shot. Our testers were impressed but not surprised that the espresso came from a home machine. The included steam wand also let us make a nice dry cappuccino, but couldn't get the microfoam to make a perfect latte.
In our experience, the taste quality from the Brera is the best you're going to get from a machine that does all the hard work for you. If you really want a cafe-quality drink at home you're going to have to graduate to a semi-automatic machine and learn to grind, tamp, and steam yourself.
Ease of Use
The Brera fared reasonably well in this metric and landed with an above-average score here too. Out-of-the-box setup was quite easy as the included instructions are clear and have the right balance of graphics and text to make everything feel intuitive. With the help of the clear quick start guide, it only took us only 15 pain-free minutes to get the machine up and running.
In terms of making a shot of espresso, it could hardly be easier. Just make sure there are coffee beans in the hopper, push a couple of buttons, and within a few minutes, you have some nice espresso. Frothing milk with the steam wand, it took us just over 4 minutes to make a cappuccino.
However, the Brera lost some points because all of its buttons are labeled with small pictures instead of text, so it takes a minute to learn what each one actually does. That said, once you're used to the machine this isn't an issue at all.
Ease of Cleaning
Daily cleaning of the Brera is a breeze. The spent coffee pucks tend to be quite dry and solidified, so you can just dump them in the trash and generally don't even have to wipe off the bin they are deposited in. The steam wand needs a simple wipe with a rag after each use. The only slightly laborious task is a more thorough cleaning of the steam wand, which you'll probably want to do once or twice a week if you're using it every day. The wand dismantles into a few pieces so you can clean out every bit, but this must be done by hand, as none of the pieces are dishwasher safe.
The descaling process is what really kept the Brera from earning a top score in this metric. First off, descaling requires a solution that does not come included with the machine. Secondly, it is a fairly hands-on process that requires complete attention for a full 40 minutes. Sure, you'll only have to do this every few months, but it's a chore you'll probably dread.
The steam wand on the Brera can't quite get the creamy texture we like to see in steamed milk, but the resulting lattes are still fairly good. The foam produced is a bit airy for our liking, but we still wouldn't refuse the resulting cappuccino. Respectable but not overly impressive.
The Brera is significantly more expensive upfront than some of the cheaper capsule machines, however, it's far less expensive over the long run. This, combined with a solid performance in our taste and ease of use testing, make it a good value.
The Gaggia Brera is a quality, super-automatic machine that provides a decent lifetime value and good-tasting espresso. If you want something convenient with a built-in grinder, this is a great choice.
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