Gaggia, the Italian company best known for its founder’s early role in the development of the modern espresso machine, is a classic and timeless brand in the espresso world. So when a company with that kind of reputation produces a super automatic espresso machine and coffee maker, it’s worth taking a second glance.
Enter the Gaggia Brera Super-Automatic with its shiny facade and capacity for impressive quality of espresso. This super-automatic espresso machine is also capable of brewing coffee directly into your mug of choice and has a number of fun programmable features and options.
The Brera provides ultra-convenience: you don’t need to be a skilled barista to get amazing espresso every morning. Here is what we think of this reasonably priced luxury item.
classic design & history never goes out of style
the price fairly matches its reputation in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
Like most super-automatic machines, the features on the Brera are all about making the brewing process easy and customizable. This isn’t the most advanced super-automatic machine out there, but it has solid capabilities when it comes to heating and pressure power. It will not only give you a customized shot of espresso but a quality one at that.
Here is what you can expect to find on the Gaggia Brera:
What Do We Think?
Our overall opinion of the Brera is that it is a solid, mid-priced option for a super-automatic machine. It is capable of producing great espresso and has a reasonable range of options to customize your espresso shot or cup of coffee. However, the two drawbacks are that the programming options are more limited than many other automatics and the upkeep for cleaning and maintenance is slightly more time-consuming.
This is a great machine if you are looking for a mid-range espresso maker that you won’t have to learn a new skill to master and will offer you a little extra control over your coffee.
Performance and Quality
As far as performance goes, the Brera is capable of producing an outstanding shot of espresso or cup of coffee. The included features like the ceramic burr grinder, which grinds beans to your desired fineness just before brewing, the pre-infusion, and the powerful boiler and pump all add up to a wonderful cup of coffee.
Many more experienced baristas dislike the Pannarello steaming wand for its lack of finesse. While it is a bit bulky and won’t give you control over the steaming process the way that a traditional steaming wand would, the Pannarello is quite easy to use. If you really dislike the wand, it is always replaceable. However, we’re thinking that if you are in the market for an automatic machine, then the ease of the Pannarello wand might actually be appealing to you.
Ease of Use
The Brera is designed to be easy to operate so the learning curve should be minimal. The lights and symbols on the front interface are not quite as intuitive as we might have hoped. For example, there is a red dot on the left that lights up when the water reservoir is empty and a similar one on the right that signifies an empty bean hopper. The exclamation point means it’s time to prime the machine.
Similarly, there are some neat, user-friendly features such as the cup warmer and the ability to program your desired coffee cup amount. However, figuring out how to set that amount using the buttons on the front of the machine is a little tricky. There isn’t just one button for everything: instead, most buttons have dual functions and pressing the button once or twice switches between these functions. It might take a little trial and error at first—or a thorough reading of the user manual if you are that kind of person—but there is a wide range of programmability available.
One major complaint from most users is that the water reservoir and puck drawer are both small and will need to be emptied often. This might not be a major concern for you, but keep in mind that if you want to use this machine to make a number of espresso drinks back to back you’ll likely have to empty both the reservoir and grounds tray more than once.
The Brera’s finicky upkeep might be tedious, but it will ideally help the machine last for a long time. The internal mechanisms are made from quality materials and should hold up even after daily use. Most of the exterior is made from stainless steel, which houses most of the machine and gives it the nice aesthetic sitting on your kitchen counter. However, to keep the overall cost of the machine down, some of the dials, trays, and buttons on the machine are made from lower-grade plastic. That’s especially worrisome for items like drip trays that you will likely be moving and messing with on a regular basis.
Hopefully, some of that lack of material quality will be made up for in the extra care Gaggia takes to ensure that the Brera stays functioning well. The Brera automatically rinses the machine’s mechanisms before and after brewing, which helps increase the longevity by keeping things extra clean. The brew group is removable and can, therefore, be manually cleaned and greased regularly to ensure that it stays in good shape. Of course, all of these extra rinsing and cleanings mean a little extra work for you, but it will ideally add up to a longer living machine. Also beware: the Brera automatically begins the pre-rinsing process as soon as you turn the machine on so make sure you have a mug under there to catch the water.
How Does It Compare?
Two machines available on the market for a similar price point and range of capabilities to the Brera are the DeLonghi ESAM 4000 B Magnifica Schwarz Kaffeevollautomat and the Saeco Incanto HD8911/47. Both of these machines are frequently compared to the Brera: all are mid-range super-automatic machines.
The Saeco and the Brera have a lot of similarities: both are good-looking machines with features like a built-in ceramic burr grinder, bypass chamber for ground coffee, ability to program your shot, and added features to make cleaning easier. Like the Brera, the Saeco also has a removable brew group and automatic rinsing cycles. Most of the differences are small additions here and there. The Saeco uses a milk frothing wand similar to the Pannarello on the Brera but includes another attachment specifically used for making cappuccinos. Instead of adjusting the grinder settings manually like on the Brera, the Saeco has five pre-programmed settings to adjust for fineness. The Brera has a front-loading water reservoir, whereas the Saeco must be refilled from the top of the machine.
The biggest differences come down to the boiler capacity and the price. The Saeco may have a slight edge over the Brera in terms of ease of use, but the boiler is made from stainless steel-line aluminum rather than just stainless steel like the Brera. Both are 1400w boilers but the Brera has the edge when it comes to quality of espresso. That doesn’t mean the Saeco is poor quality: it has a reputation for producing a consistently solid shot, regardless of its internal specifications. That may be why the Saeco Incanto is also slightly more expensive than the Brera.
The Delonghi Magnifica is another popular super automatic with features that are extremely similar to the Brera’s. These machines also have a slightly closer price point, which puts them on a more even playing field for customers deciding between the two. Like the Brera, the Delonghi has the built-in ceramic burr grinder, bypass chamber for ground coffee, removable brew group, frothing wand, and ability to program your cup with an easy-to-use interface. In addition, the Delonghi also keeps up with the Brera in terms of quality by also having a stainless steel boiler and 15 bar pump.
The biggest complaint that most people have with the Delonghi is how loud the grinder is when it’s operating. That can be a minor annoyance or a major one if you will be frequently making espresso in the morning when other members of your household are asleep. The Delonghi has an edge over the Brera in terms of usability: the interface is much more intuitive and simple to understand. However, both produce quality espresso, have few differences, and are available for a similar price. Our advice is to choose based on your personal preference as both are worth the purchase.