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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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The Brera is Gaggia's entry level bean to cup machine. Despite fewer selection controls than the Gaggia Platinum, it has the same brewing unit and frothing design, and produces superb coffee and excellent frothed milk. The system has gone through many refinements since the original Gaggia Titanium bean-to-cup, making this an excellent choice for coffee lovers.

This is our third Gaggia. We still have our non-automatic Gaggia espresso in the loft, and this one replaces our Gaggia Titanium which, after six years good service, would have cost almost have the price of this machine to repair. Over the same period, we have seen friends buy and replace two or even three espresso machines from other manufacturers.

Coffee
There are three settings for coffee strength and two for size of coffee. You can set your own length for each of these, though you can't change the strength settings. 'One bean' strength is a good, decent strength for people who like coffee. 'Two beans' is strongish coffee, and we usually use this as the basis for cappuccino, or for a good espresso. 'Three beans' is very strong coffee, as strong as you would ever get double-espresso in a restaurant. There's also a setting to allow you to put ground coffee in, and the strength will be determined by how much you put in. By comparison, we generally found it hard to get strong enough coffee from the Titanium, which led us to roasting coffee longer which gives a slightly bitter taste. We now roast coffee milder.

The crema is always excellent, whether into an espresso cup or a lungo cup. We used to think the crema on the Titanium was good, but this one is so rich and creamy that you can't tell whether you've put milk in or not until after you've started drinking.

By default the espresso length gives you a single shot of espresso, though if you use 'two bean' it will be as strong as a double shot in Starbucks when used as the basis for cappuccino. The longer length is about a small mug's worth.

The taste is very good -- very good indeed if you fit the Gaggia Brita Intenza Water Filter, which, annoyingly, we had to order separately. We tend to roast about 12 different types of origin coffee, and even the coffees that did not stand up so well with the Titanium now come out as full bodied with their own very distinctive taste.

Because everything but the 'one bean' strength is so strong, it's easy to overdose on coffee with this machine. We now drink fewer cups, which have more effect.

Frothing and hot water
Gaggia has refined the design of the frothing arm since the Titanium, which was itself a significant advance on the Gaggia Baby. As long as you keep it clean, and, crucially, don't allow the tiny hole at the top to become blocked, it quickly froths milk every time with no difficulties. Spooling through some more steam after finishing the milk is enough to clean it on a daily basis, though a weekly wash will be essential because deposits of milk otherwise build up.

Turning the knob the other way produces hot water for Americano. The water doesn't appear to be especially hot (or maybe I don't wait long enough), and this, to me, is the least successful part of the machine. As a rule we prefer to make long coffees rather than using the hot water.

Bean Grinding
There's a limited amount of control on the coarseness of the grind, but the regular setting should generally be fine. The hopper looks quite small, but actually holds 250g of coffee beans.

Cleaning and maintenance
You need to clean the brew unit every week, and grease it with the supplied grease very occasionally. The brew unit is identical to the one in the Titanium, and we can vouch for the importance of cleaning and also of putting it back correctly -- it's quite a complicated mechanism, a bit like the inside of a photocopier, and you must make sure that it is in the correct position before refitting. All in all a weekly clean is a lot easier than the per-coffee cleaning you have to do with a regular espresso machine or even with a filter machine.

The console lights up when you have to replace the water, which is a relatively small reservoir and our only real niggle. Likewise, another button lights up when you need to throw away the residues. Both of these tasks are ridiculously easy, though.

The water dregs holder has a little orange button which floats up as it fills up. If you don't empty the bottom, then it will flood your work surface. Since it holds quite a lot of water, this is the one part of using the machine that can get messy if you leave it to the last moment.

If you use the Intenza filter, this has to be changed every month, irrespective of the amount of coffee you drink. It's a 60 second job, though.

You need to descale every month. You can carry on using the machine once the descale light has come on, but failure to descale will shorten the life of the machine and harm the taste of the coffee, even if you use the Intenza filter which tries to get rid of all of the hardness of the water.

The frothing unit unmounts easily and keeping it clean is quite simple. This is a huge advantage over the fixed arms on budget machines.

Controls
The main difference between this and the Platinum is the controls. You can make one or two cups of three strengths of coffee in two lengths, you can froth, you can do hot water, and you can descale. That's it. With the more advanced machines you have three options of length and other refinements. We do miss the three lengths from the Titanium, but decided that, for its main purpose, this one had all the refinements we needed and we could live without the extra option.

Look and feel
At about 2/3 the size of the Titanium, this is a welcome fit in a crowded kitchen, though much bigger than a pod machine or regular espresso. The front is metal, the sides are plastic. We think it looks fine, though it isn't a work of art like the original pump-action Gaggia espressos were.

Overall
We are intensely pleased with this machine, though it's easy to overdo the coffee intake. Gaggia has refined the experience considerably, requiring less cleaning and maintenance, easier access to the water and dregs compartments, a better frothed, a much purer and stronger coffee taste, and a significantly better self-cleaning routine which means that warm-up time is less. It takes less than 3 minutes to get a barista-quality cup of double-shot cappuccino, and virtually none of the frustrating practising that used to be needed. We've only had this machine for a few months, but our experience of the Titanium which used the same brew unit is that there should be at least 5 years life in this machine before you need the first service or repair. That in itself can be pricey -- £200 is typical -- so assiduously descaling when required is an absolute must.

If you're only an occasional coffee drinker, a pod machine might work out cheaper. However, if you drink a reasonable amount of coffee (2-4 cups per day for all users of the machine combined), then this will work out cheaper after a couple of years.

We like it, and are very happy with it.
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on 30 July 2011
I was torn between this and a slightly cheaper Siemens machine. After using my sister's Gaggia Brera I was swayed by this machine's ease of use. It makes almost perfect coffee - but has some drawbacks which prevents me from giving it 5 stars:

- It turns to standby and rinses after about an hour of non-use. When you turn it back on to make coffee it rinses again. Which means during the day it uses a lot of (hot) water just to rinse itself. This depletes the machine's very limited water reservoir. (It does mean, however, that the machine is kept, internally, fairly clean automatically.)

- The water reservoir is very small. This means that it needs two or three (or more) refills a day which is quite fiddly. You also have to be careful that you don't spill too much water whilst refilling it. However it is a domestic appliance so needs to be relatively small and the compromise that makes this possible, I assume, is the small tank.

- The metal drip tray cover is very easily scratched. Because of the numerous rinsing cycles (see above) the fairly large drip tray would fill up quickly if you don't put something under the water nozzle. Initially I had a small metal jug to catch the rinse water (to save emptying the drip tray too often) but this has scratched the tray cover spoiling the look of the machine slightly - at this price you want it to look good! A small ceramic cup is better.

I have found, however, that the weekly cleaning of the machine's internal mechanism is much easier than other reviewers have suggested, as long as you follow the instructions. (I haven't descaled yet - and am not looking forward to this bearing in mind other reviews!)

I think that the problems with the machine are minor and are due largely to its small, domestic, size.

Using it is sometimes a bit fiddly - but on the whole the results are brilliant! And it really is quite amazing how quickly and with minimal effort you can get a 5 star cup of coffee.

NB: Have now descaled. Fiddly. Time consuming (one hour+). But not particularly difficult. Again follow the instructions!
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on 19 July 2012
Bought to replace our long-running De Longhi ESAM4200 (De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM4200 15-Bar Bean to Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Silver). Compared to that it:
1) Is more compact.
2) Makes a better espresso. It works well with the same Percol beans I used with the De Longhi, but my favourite beans are now some Fairtrade Dark Roast ones from Starbucks.
3) Is simpler to configure and operate (via its push buttons).
4) Requires more frequent emptying of the grounds tray and drip tray.
5) Requires more frequent filling of the water jug because it uses more water during its rinsing cycle.
6) Will probably last longer because it is possible to grease the moving parts of the Brew Group.
7) Has a labour-intensive and complex descaling programme (a real pain for us because we live in an area with hard water). 22-steps, not including repeated ones!
8) Switches itself after only one hour of not being used (a tad too soon in my opinion.....3 or 4 hours would be better).
9) Is easier to clean, which is just as well because it requires a fair bit of cleaning, especially underneath the Brew Group: a lot of grinds accumulate there (especially if the brewing cycle is stopped half-way through, e.g. when it runs out of beans during a grinding), which can cause a build of sludge. It can get so bad that it becomes very difficult to remove the Brew Group. To minimise this, the user must never allow the hopper to become empty of beans.
10) Has a very small opening for adding ground coffee. We don't use it often, but it is annoying and messy when we do. Gaggia should have done much much better here.

So I am pleased with the machine and would recommend it, but it does need a lot of looking after. The end product it makes is very enjoyable, just to re-iterate. Only serious baristas will be disappointed.
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on 21 November 2011
I thought I would wait for six months to see how my Gaggia Brera performed in the longer term before writing a review, well it's eight months now and it's still going strong.
I had a Gaggia Clasic before which gave me stirling service for 5 years, and there's still nothing wrong with it, so I was quite relaxed about buying another Gaggia.
How do they compare?
The Classic made great coffee, it was just a bit of a performance. The Brera is so easy if you are using beans, just press a button and there it is. Is it noisey? Yes, but no worse than the Clssic. Is the taste as good? Possibly a tad less flavour, but that is splitting hairs. Is it easy to clean, yes.
The only down side to me is using pre-ground coffee (we like a de-caffe in the evenings), this is messey and the machine can spit out the coffee if you put in too much.
Comments about it being plasticy are I think unfair, the face plate is in stainless steel, and that's the bit you see. The drip tray does scratch though.
So, was it a good buy? Yes, it's not perfect, but neither am I!
I would buy another
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 December 2010
As bean-to-cup coffee machines go, this one is quite a gem. At £600 (Or thereabouts) it's certainly not cheap, but if you LOVE your coffee then for a device that will take your favourite beans and turn them into a fantastically fresh cup of coffee in under 2 minutes at the push of a single button - it could well be worth it. At this stage, I will confess that I didn't pay full price for mine - I bought it with a huge stack of Nectar points, plus £150 cash to make up the shortfall, but I'm more than happy with it.

Some of the key plus-points are:

- It's small. I have a tiny kitchen and this fits neatly in a corner. You've got to leave the right hand-side of the machine accessible for cleaning, but it really is much smaller than I'd been fearing when I ordered it.
- The coffee brewing is highly configurable, from the grind of the beans to the strength of the brew, it can be customised to your taste (although it can be a bit fiddly)
- It takes beans and ready-ground coffee, which means you can have decaf & regular without too much hassle.
- It's got two boilers so you can steam milk while your shot of espresso is still warm.
- Everything is really easy to access for refilling, cleaning etc.
- It uses 1W of power in standby (which it switches to after 60 minutes of not being used)

All of that is very good, but what's the coffee like?

In a word - fantastic!

The coffee from this machine really is best enjoyed in a glass as it allows you to watch the crema settl on the top and appreciate the full richness of the colour (Bodum do some really nice (if fragile) double-walled coffee glasses). The crema is one of the best I've seen from a home machine, thick, rich in colour and with a really smooth feel.

Changing the coarseness of the grind is the easiest way to fine-tune the flavour of your coffee and there are other options for the truly adventurous but I've found that the finest grind setting and regular programme are perfect to my taste.

In use it's simplicity itself. There are three strength settings which are factory set but can be changed (if you can be bothered to read the instructions) and an option for ready-ground coffee. Select the strength, and then choose whether you want a shot of espresso (2oz) or a longer coffee (8oz) and push the button. Off it goes, grinding enough beans for the job, compressing them into a tablet, forcing hot water through it at 15bar of pressure and out into your cup/glass, disposing of the used tablet in the interal waste compartment ready for disposal later.

If you want two cups at the same time just press the button twice. It will grind one set of beans, filling two cups, one from each of the two spouts and then grinding another set of beans until it's given both cups a full measure.

The steam wand is a treat to use. The double-boiler system means that it's ready to steam within 5 - 10 seconds of switching it to steam mode and it does an amazing job of frothing milk. Be warned - after learning to froth your own milk you're unlikely to be satisfied by the poor attempts in most cafes ever again.

It all comes apart easily for cleaning and everything is well put together. The software in the machine is apparently set to tell you when it needs descaling, based on a medium water hardness, The manual recommends that you increase the frequency to before the warning light comes on if you live in a hard water area - the warning light first came on for me after about 2 months of use... the descaling process is a royal pain and the descaling solution is not cheap either, you have been warned.

It's not without gripes but these are minor in the scheme of things.

- The water tank is hidden from view which means the only way to tell how much water is in the machine is to remove the tank and replace it. Sure, there's an "out of water warning light" but this only comes on when there's not enough water to do anything - so if there's only enough water to make half a coffee, you'll only find out half-way through making a cup...

- The side panel that opens for cleaning of the brew-set is only held closed by a magnet and frequently pops open when brewing, sometimes tripping a safety shutdown of the brewing process which can be annoying.

- If you over-fill the pre-ground coffee compartment, it throws the whole lot away - and while the instructions say that a level scoop is enough, I've found that just under a level scoop is safer (and much less wasteful) as often a full level scoop will be discarded.

- The water tank is quite small - at about 1.5l it runs out surprisingly quickly.

Despite being advertised as coming with a water-filter, mine didn't ship with one - at least not one that's visible. Brita Intenza cartridges are available (for about £12 each) and can be fitted in the water tank although I'm not sure how much this will reduce the capacity of an already small water tank. I've just ordered one in the hope that it reduces the amount of descaling required - let alone further improving the taste of the coffee.

All things considered, it's a fantastic device and I've no hesitation in recommending it.
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on 7 July 2011
Replacing our previous Delonghi ESAM4200.8 1 bean-to-cup machine, I was unsure of what to expect from this Gaggia.
The reviews are generally good, but for the money I was unsure if it would be cheap and plastic looking.
On the upside machine is petit, the coffee is very good and the steamer can be used almost instantly after or before the coffee dispenser. Previously I had to wait an age. The look of the machine is good and I have no qualms about it looking cheap. It looks dinky and a bit sexy. The dials are as easy to understand as your first ABC and offer a great deal of flexibility. The machine is considerably quieter than my previous model - which of course could simply mean my previous model was loud! However I have been impressed by how quiet it is.
Downsides? Well two and a half mugs of coffee and you have to fill up the small water tank. We use the filer so there's even less space than normal. The coffee grinds section and water overflow need changing regularly; to the extent I now fill up/empty after each use. Is this a pain? Yes, but not so bad once you get into a pattern.
The milk frother is quick and powerful but for some reason I can't get a flat white style consistency easily. The wand is nicely placed and easy to use but the tip-top perfect milk drink is hard to attain. I have done it and it can be done, but it requires patience. I can't just prop my milk jug onto the top of a mug and wander off as I used to do. This baby demands your attention for such intricate operations.
Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes I would. The coffee is better than the previous model (albeit this one is pricer), it looks good, is very quiet and so far (four months) given me no reason to complain.
I am impressed.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you love espresso coffee and the freshly ground coffee from the numerous coffee houses and wanted to create the same taste at home, and money was no object, then this is the machine for you.

Firstly, the price is high and that is what you look at straight away. This machine is targeted at the public who want a professional tasting coffee and are prepared to pay top price for a machine that is stylish, compact and does everything for you with the minimum of fuss.

The top of the machine has a large hopper for coffee beans. The grinder has several settings so you can adjust for a coarse ground coffee right up to a fine ground coffee. There is also an opening for the pre-ground coffee and a scoop is provided so that you get the right dose for each cup.

The water tank is located at the front left and holds enough for about 3 large cups. The front right is where the spent coffee grounds are disposed of. The tray is a good sized drip tray for catching spills and water and the coffee spout in the middle has two nozzles and can be adjusted to any size cup and mug by moving it up and down. The nozzle on the side is for dispensing hot water or steam (for frothing milk for the cappuccino and latte).

Operating is straight forward. Put the beans in the hopper (or powder in the hole), ensure water is in the tank, cup/mug under the dispensing nozzle and select the aroma required (beans only from 1-3) or powder setting and press the button for espresso/short coffee or long coffee. After a few seconds, the machine will have heated up the water and started the process and hot coffee starts to be dispensed. Once complete add milk and sugar if required. The coffee beans/powder is then disposed of in the container, all automatic.

For just hot water, put a cup under the nozzle and turn the central control to the right, and hot water is dispensed. For steam, turn the knob left and the machine gets primed and a bit of water comes out the spout. Then the display flashes the nozzle symbol. Turn the know to the upright position, put some milk in a cup and insert the nozzle, turn the knob left again and steam comes out the nozzle. Move the cup up and down and you get frothy hot milk. Cleaning is simple and detailed in the multi lingual instruction book.

If the machine is not used for an hour, it goes into standby, or you can just press the power button. A little water is expelled from the nozzles as it cleans itself then goes to sleep. The power consumption in this mode is amazing, hardly registering.

My friends love this machine and the coffee it produces, me, I look at how many jars of Nescafe I can get with the price for this machine. Obviously I am not the intended consumer, but my friends are but they will not pay the price for this model.

Again, if you want the best where money is not a concern, this machine is the dogs gonads.
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on 3 March 2017
Although i have this machine for approx. 7 years, it still makes a fantastic coffee. we didn't have any problem with it apart of one case when the machine's stopped working for a while which my husband managed to fix by cleaning it thoroughly. Overall, we are very happy with our purchase. there is loads of more modern-looking and fully-automated coffee machines on a market but we are still perfectly satisfied with this one. the only con is a complicated descaling process which I still has't worked out...
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on 17 February 2011
I've had this machine now for several weeks. Whilst the coffee has been excellent, I concur with previous reviewers regarding the plasticky nature of the product (although fortunately you mostly look at the stainless steel front).

It is worth noting that you will have to empty the drip tray quite frequently. When the machine does its self cleaning programme, it also does an internal clean with water ending up under the machine in the extended drip tray. So even if spillage is kept to a minimum, you'll probably still have to empty it every other day. Speaking of the drip tray, the polished stainless steel tray is particularly prone to scratching - which is a pity.

The 'pannarello' steam wand is also placed quite low on the machine, so it is perhaps more difficult to get larger jugs under. The foam quality coming from the wand is also far removed from the elusive 'micro foam', so you can forget about doing latte art although some fixes have been suggested on the internet.

On the plus-side, I have no issues with the temperature of the coffee, which is hot.

Many Gaggia bean to cup machines have been notoriously poor quality (check out some of the Gaggia Titanium reviews available online), so we'll have to see if anyone is willing to update their review in a year's time or so. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

The price for this machine (Amazon won't let me add the amount to this review) seems on the steep side (despite its excellent coffee), particularly when you see that this machine sells for about a third less on the continent - which I think is a better reflection of the value of the product.

Edit 2014:
I've had this machine now for 3.5 years and it is still working like a dream. Two minor issues though: the plastic rim around the top of the steel drip tray has snapped (although it is still fully functional), while one of the plastic pins holding the water level indicator in the drip tray has also broken off. Again, this does not impact on the functionality of the coffee machine and if I wanted too I could purchase spare parts.
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on 22 April 2013
I have had this machine for 4 months now so I can review this based on sufficient use. I have used several other coffee machines inc. a traditional Gaggia Espresso, and this beats them all by far. This is a great little coffee machine, makes consistently great coffee, easy to use, not too noisy or too big, and looks good on a worktop. Also produces good frothy milk for cappuccinos, as it has a separate steamer. I would thoroughly recommend this machine to anyone wanting great fresh coffee. You just have to try out a few different beans to get to your favourite. Being a bit picky on the downsides, being smaller than other machines it has a smaller water and waste container so needs filling and emptying more often. The machine does not come with the Brita water filter so you have to buy that as an extra, the only real complaint I have is that it has a default setting that requires it to be descaled every couple of months regardless of water harness, so if you choose to do it you have to factor in the cost of the descaler or run the descaled program without the fluid. Build quality is OK , but it mostly plastic, fortunately the front is stainless steel.
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