69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2013
Color Name: Silver
Update Dec 2014. Fixed spelling errors (thank you) added a few comments here.
Had this machine a while now. Initially was concerned of flimsy plastic parts. Happy to report the Brera is holding up well with daily use with no operational issues. A few new observations:
a) The metal part of the steam wand under the rubber will become coated (plated) with baked-on milk. Nothing seems to prevent this, just a bit of a tedious cleaning required periodically.
b) The "descaling cycle" is nothing more than running descaler through the machine, waiting and flushing.
c) I have the settings dialed in to our liking, with the finest grind possible. The biggest variable is the coffee beans. Experiment and find something fresh and not too oily.
d) Water container is indeed small. You'll fill it every day. Minor inconvenience, and is a tradeoff of small counter space.
I'd buy this again and recommend to friends looking for inexpensive way to get an automatic espresso machine.
Bought the Brera as an upgrade from a Saeco Vienna which I have used daily for about 5 years.
Although, the Vienna is a "low end" super-auto-espresso machine with minimal extra features, it is a durable simple design and makes quite adequate espresso. I've made literally thousands of espresso's with the Vienna; it just works. I've worn out the grinder teeth again (easily repairable), but decided to try a different machine. The family_jewel of all these Saeco machines (Saeco makes Gaggia too), is the brew group mechanism. There are minor variations, but the brew group is the core of the design, and it's pretty obvious the Vienna brew group and the Gaggia Brera brew group are functionally identical.
So, why pay_up for anything other than a Vienna? Simply, convenience features, styling. Examples of what the Brera does that the Vienna doesn't:
1. In the Brera, the current bean grind is the one you're brewing. The Vienna "stores" one or 2 grinds internally, so the current brew is 2-3 grinds old. Not a big deal if you're making lots of Espresso, but if you're a one latte in the morning person, you get yesterdays ground beans in the Vienna. Plus-1 for the Brera, and my biggest complaint about the Vienna. Still, you can work around this.
2. Bypass doser. Allows one time insertion of another grind instead of using beans in the hopper. Vienna just cant do this, and it's only been an issue at parties when someone wanted decaf. Semi-important to me. Brera has this, so another plus there
3. Steam/brew switchover. Vienna has one boiler, so there's a "procedure" to switch over from steaming mode to brew mode. Takes some time, but doesn't affect the final outcome. Brera has two boilers allowing switching from steam to brew quickly. Another Brera plus, but it's purely convenience.
4. Self rinsing. Brera trickles a bit of clean hot water through the brew system at startup and shutdown to flush out remains of your last brew. This is nice. Vienna doesn't do this, but I always rinse all pieces after every use anyhow. Minor plus for Brera for me. Can give consistent better taste if you don't clean often.
5. Better software. Huh? For example, the grind dosage on the Vienna is either preset, or you tune it carefully (manually) to match your beans. Lots of trial and error, but you can definitely "dial it in" if you're careful. The Brera attempts to set the grind dosage automatically by monitoring the grinder motor and other parameters in real time. This appears to work and is another Brera convenience.
6. Brera is pretty. Vienna is ugly.
What's the bottom line?
Brera makes good espresso with little user knowledge required, set the grind to fine and just push the brew button. Vienna can make good espresso if you take some time to learn espresso science a bit.
Both can make equally good espresso, it's just much easier to get consistent good results with the Brera.
Some downsides of the Brera:
Cup height. I can't brew directly into my latte mugs on the Brera as the dispenser is lower. No big deal, but an inconvenience for me.
Water tank. Yes, it's too small. I find myself checking/adding water often. Not a deal breaker, just another thing to do.
Materials and build quality. This is my biggest issue with the Brera. Yes, it works. But the construction materials are flimsy. The brew group door doesn't fit well. The drip tray is flimsy (I know I'm going to break it). I'm quite skeptical this thing will hold up for 5 years of everyday use without something peeling/breaking. I hope to be proven wrong.
If you're looking for the absolute least expensive way to make good espresso with a super automatic machine (grinder+steam+brew), get the Vienna and do a bit of research about how to set it up. It's built like a military tank. It's bullet proof. Kind of ugly, but it works, even with it's quirks. If you don't want to be bothered fine tuning the espresso process, then skip this. The Brera is among the next least expensive Saeco products and you don't have to think much to get good espresso.
If $ isn't your driving issue, the Brera is nice, but I'd spend-up and hunt for a machine with better build quality. For me, spending $1000+ is too much (philosophically) to allocate for a "coffee machine", but that's what you may have to do. Be aware this a luxury category product, and you have to pay-up to get the good stuff. I gave the Brera 4 stars because of ease of use features and it's price point. Even though this isn't an inexpensive device, it's priced near the low end in this category.
If you are willing to learn about the science of the espresso process, and you demand the best espresso possible on earth, you may want to skip over all of the super automatic machines. Espresso aficionados will tell you to buy a stand alone grinder, stand alone frother, and a manual brewing machine. More effort, and not for everyone. Just be aware there's another reality of espresso excellence.
Just my opinions,
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2012
Color Name: Silver
I bought the silver version about a year ago to replace an aging Capresso C1000. Unlike the burnt taste and warm espresso with the c1000, this unit produces excellent espresso in both taste and temperature. For your reference, I mostly use Giggia Intenso whole beans.
However, there are some minor problems not related to the espresso produced.
1. After about 4 months of use (latte in the morning), the top silver plating of the frothing handle started to peel off. It turns out that this peeling piece is made of plastic that covers the internal metal frothing tube. However, the paint peels off this plastic since it can't withstand the heat of the steaming hot metal. The part was replaced under warranty, but they charged me $6.95 for shipping. While this piece doesn't affect the functionality of the unit, it sure cheapens the look of the unit.. all for a lousy piece of plastic.
2. The water container is too small. Water has to be refilled after few shots of espresso. Not a problem for personal daily use, but annoying if you are entertaining more than a few guests.
I wish I could give this 4.5 stars, but that is not an option. Therefore, I'll give 4 stars since they made me pay shipping for a cheaply made plastic part that was still under warranty.
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2012
Color Name: Silver
Since Whole Latte Love won't print my review (please note others have assigned the machine 1 to 2 stars, yet only glowing reviews are published) I will back up the problems others have reported here. I always research big dollar purchases on Amazon and trust the reviewing community, and others should be forewarned about the Gaggia Brera. I bought it to replace my workhorse Saeco Superautomatica that trucked along for 8 years with typical repairs and part replacements. I make only one 2-shot latte a few times a week out of this machine, so I'm not asking a lot. I appreciated the quieter grind and operation of the Brera, the espresso was good, and the steamer worked great (although the wand is peeling and unattractive). My first complaint was that the ground beans overshot the press and filled the side of the machine. I also bought this for its bypass feature which made sense to brew the occasional decaf or flavored coffee. I contacted WLL, and they told me to use a brush and clean the shoot. Huh?? So I got used to wasting a lot of coffee and cleaning out the machine weekly. Should have returned it then. Now it's demanding to be primed and stuck cycling through the signals. This indicates the flow meter or self-priming valve is broken...and many have reported this problem. So...$140 to ship off for repair on top of the $650 purchase price after less than a year. Stay away from the Gaggia unless you want a pretty looking paper weight.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2011
Color Name: BlackVerified Purchase
This was my first foray into semi-automatic espresso machines, so even though I don't have a lot of experience, I was extremely careful in the treatment of the Brera. I cleaned it weekly, and descaled it on a regular basis. Unfortunately two things happened. About a month ago, every third or fourth espresso started coming out extremely watery. It seems that the beans were not being properly syphoned into the grinder properly. It appears that the machine makes the espresso regardless of whether there are enough beans in the hopper. When they did go in, it would make great crema. Last week, however, it developed an electrical issue. The machine would not prime and after playing with it for a few days, it refused to turn on all together. Ugh. I will attempt to get it repaired, but I am not hopeful. So for 900 dollars I got about 4 months of great espresso and a nice countertop decoration.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2013
Color Name: Silver
We have had this machine for nearly 2 years. When it works it makes great coffee, but it is so "fussy" about the sort of coffee it will grind and deliver. Its driving me nuts. Its like playing a slot machine with a 30-60% payout! I have tried the drier Italian roast, which admittedly have a higher success rate, but any hint of oil of the beans and we are down below 30% success. The wand is OK, not great. I like every thing else about the machine. Easy to use, clean, compact, etc. I am really curious to know how other people get this to work with oily beans- I've tried cleaning it, not cleaning, reducing the dose, setting and resetting the grind, descaling etc. By now I feel I have spent as much on 'rejected" coffee beans as I spent on the machine and I am looking to replace it with one that works with a range of coffee beans.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2012
Color Name: Silver
After reading reviews on any website I could find, I decided to buy the machine because of the name behind it. I am extremely impressed with this machine. It makes fantastic espresso's. Even my father In-law(who is from Italy BTW), is impressed and said it rivals coffee shops from Italy and Brooklyn. I have to concur as I have sampled from both places. The machine is made mostly of plastic, but in my opinion that is a nice thing. My prior machine was a Kitchenaid KPES100NP, which weighed a ton, also made by Gaggia, started to get surface rust after 5 years and needed to be replaced. Plastic wont rust and can easily be repainted if need be. My wife who is a clean freak likes that fact that it is lite because its easy to move and clean around. I would definatly recommend this machine to anyone looking for an automatic machine for under $1000.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2012
Color Name: Silver
I've had this machine for over 2 years and love the way it makes shot. I think the best feature is that it grinds the beans right into the brew group. I bought this to replace my gaggia titanium, which I bought to replace my C1000. Very easy to use and maintain' looks good and is pretty quiet compared to the others I've owned.
Issue 1 - the silver metal around the steam wand is a metallic film and is crinkling off the wand itself. Both a big deal.
Issue 2 - after about a year and a half, on start up the water doesn't flow through the spout and the machine throws and error. I now watch it and when I see it isn't flowing I open the steam valve for a second of two. Whether it gets the water past the 'block' or relieves the pressure I can't say but it solves the problem.
Issue 3 - seems to have a lot of pressure left after the espresso is pulled and I end up with lots of water in the tray by the end of the week. That wasn't the case with the titanium or c1000.
Overall I think this is a great machine but like the last few I have owned isn't without issues. The titanium twice blew the water line from the boiler, leaked all over my counter and cost $125 plus shipping plus Starbucks for 6 weeks. In the end the Brera makes great tasting espresso without having 1-2 doses of old ground espresso in a chute. Its lasted pretty long with minor issues. I would definitely consider it again if I wee looking for a sub $700-$800 machine.
PS - I would never deal with Whole Latte Love again.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Color Name: Silver
Being passionate about espresso, I was thrilled when offered a chance to review the Gaggia Brera. When the Brera arrived on my doorstep I scared the UPS man by jumping up and down with excitement and practically grabbing the box from his hands.
Unpacking the Brera I noticed two things immediately, that it was smaller than many of the superautomatic machines I had looked at previously, and the rather large, initially intimidating manual. Had I finally met my espresso machine match, would this be to much machine?
The two manuals are actually in several languages, so it wasn't as big as I first thought. Jim and I set the Gaggia Brera up fairly easily. Priming was fast, and then we began experimenting. The manual is laid out well and there are many videos of the Brera showing feature by feature. Do a web search and prepare to be wowed!
Different people like different espressos the same way they like varying strength coffees or tea or about any brewed or steeped drink. I like mine strong and black. Jim likes his with some sugar and frothed milk. Which brings me to the first really great feature of the Brera, it's easily adjustable. In the front panel there are little beans, three, to be exact. Each bean represents a brew strength, the first bean is a lighter brew, the medium bean is a medium brew, and three beans is my brew, strong and dark. Each time someone makes espresso they can choose the strength. So maybe someone who likes to straight drink a one bean, might choose a three bean brew to make a frozen drink out of. Several people in the same household can make brew after brew of espresso just how they like it.
The bean buttons adjust the amount of grounds per shot from 7 grams to 10.5 grams.
You can personalize the Brera even further with it's adjustable grind knob. The grind of your espresso determines how fast the water runs through the coffee grounds. A coarser grind allows the water to run through faster, a finer grind slower. Coffee experts have decided that a 20 second extraction makes the perfect espresso, but maybe, just maybe, you're a rebel, and you think espresso tastes perfect at 15 seconds, or 25 seconds. You can adjust the grinds to adjust the speed of extraction, making your perfect cup just for you.
But wait, you can even personalize the Brera further! The Brera can be programmed for the size of shot, it remembers your preferred shot size. Maybe someone likes a taller cup with more water, something along the lines of an Americano (fancy word for espresso with extra water), or someone likes it short and super strong. The Brera can be programmed to remember. There are two buttons that you can program so you can alternate between espressos and Americanos easily.
The Brera is a superautomatic, what does that mean exactly? It means the machine grinds your beans and tamps them for you, then brews the espresso. The advantage is not having to worry about tamp strength, and the delightful taste of freshly ground beans. There are a lot of good pre gound espressos on the market, Illy, Lavazza are the two that come to my mind. But it is really hard to beat the taste of a bean just ground and brewed. The lid over the hopper keeps the beans fresh between filling.
However, maybe for some reason you don't want to get whole beans, there is a compartment to put preground espresso in and bypass the entire grinding cycle.
This is especially handy to make decaf at night, or if you're having a gathering and some want full caf and some want decaf. You can also mix beans and have the half caf that is popular right now.
As the Brera starts you will hear a start, stop, start, this is good. The Brera is pre-infusing the coffee, getting the grounds wet, to further enhance the flavor.
Tamping takes the guess work out. The perfect tamp is supposed to be 50 lbs of pressure according to Alton Brown, but I don't particular want to get on my scale and tamp. Is it too hard, too soft? The Brera takes out the worry as it tamps for me. And then, it dumps the perfect little tamped puck into the waste grounds collector and I can compost it. The water tank and waste tank are both in front, easily accessible and easy to fill or empty. A note on water, distilled is not the same as bottled. Bottled water still has minerals and will still leave deposits. While one should still scale consistently, distilled water is the better option. the Brera also has a water tank that filters so it further removes the stuff that can gunk your machine. The control panel will also tell you if your Brera needs scaled.
In fact, the front panel is very interactive. The Brera also goes in stand by mode after an hour, so if you forget to turn it off it won't just sit there eating electricity and staying on.
The spout on the front is adjustable, It has a dispenser you can move up or down for larger mugs or shorter espresso cups and accommodates various sizes of cups.
The milk frother has a small hole in the front. If the hole is not under milk, the milk with froth, If you immerse the hole the milk will continue to heat but not longer froth, so you can have your milk at the perfect temperature. The frother works well and is easy to clean.
In the center there is a silver knob, if you turn it to the left it dispenses steam, but if you turn it to the right you can get hot water, so you also use the Brera as a hot water dispenser.
So, what does all this mean? It means you can have the perfect cup of delicious espresso exactly how you like it.
If I have any issues or further experiences, good or bad, I will update my review, the same way I updated my review of the Delonghi and the Mr. Coffee barrista. But at this point all I can say is this a great machine at a great price, compared to other superautomatics. The footprint isn't huge, it fits easily on my counter and under my cabinets. It also looks really nice- while that doesn't make the coffee taste better, it does make it a nice feature sitting out on the counter.
How much do I love this machine? For my birthday I asked my family to buy me coffee beans like S Filicori ZecchiniFilicori Zecchini Whole Bean Coffee - Gran Crema Delicato - 2.2lbs (1000g) as my gift, so I can try all sorts of beans in our Gaggia Brera!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2014
Color Name: Black
Ours also broke after exactly 2 years. I am taking it in to a repair place to see if it is fixable, which will be at minimum $50 and a few weeks. The machine seems fine but does not suck up the water - nothing comes out. The Brera had it's good and bad days, never predictable. We bought only the best coffee but learned that certain beans were still too oily and the product tasted burnt, almost undrinkable. Then other beans were okay, and sometimes the coffee was great. Even with the same dry bean it would get cranky. The fruit flies loved the pileup of grounds spills inside the machine, and there usually was a puddle underneath. Still, it worked for us, overall, off and on. Then recently we purchased ( for travelling) a nespresso pixie - they are even on super-sale these days. I dont like the idea of it, so much waste, but the espresso is perfect each time! It is very expensive per cup - 0.70 per capsule - so we don;t drink as much as we would like but we know that every cup we make is going to come out right. And that is a big relief!
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
Color Name: SilverVerified Purchase
I relied heavily on the brand name and reviews when I purchased this product, but was extremely disappointed upon its arrival. For $897 I would have expected a much more robust structure, but it is almost entirely plastic and, frankly, very chintzy in feel and appearance. I followed the setup instructions precisely but after only 3 cups of espresso, the service door which encloses the brew group warped to the point where the door opens during brewing and shuts the machine off. The coffees it made were not bad, but I literally had to hold the service door shut to keep the brewing cycle on. Gaggia needs to throw some of the $897 at some higher quality materials and rethink the service door design. Another disappointment was the absence of the special water filter. They refer to an "Intenza" filter in the instructions and the product description at both Gaggia.com and Amazon.com say this filter is included, but not so. Only a small molded plastic filter. BUST from beginning to end!!!!