I’m sure any coffee fanatic would agree that there’s an art to making your perfect cup of coffee. But to do this every morning, you need the luxury of time.
What is there to do if you have a super busy morning, but don’t want to compromise on the quality of your morning coffee? Is there any coffee maker out there that can help?!
Well, I may just have found a machine that takes a little bit of weight off your shoulders, and still makes delicious coffee.
This Gaggia Accademia review will show you how hands off you can be each morning, but still drink coffee that fits your standards.
- What Is A Super-Automatic Coffee Maker?
- How The Gaggia Accademia Works
- The Key Features
- What We Like About It
- Some Things We Don’t Like
- Who Is The Gaggia Accademia NOT For?
- How To Get The Most From Your Gaggia Accademia
- The Summary
What Is A Super-Automatic Coffee Maker?
A super-automatic coffee maker creates your favourite coffee, without you having to do a thing. Your machine will take the reins from bean to cup, all you have to do is push a button.
Designed with convenience and efficiency in mind, coffee beans are ground fresh with an in-built grinder, tamped, brewed, and enjoyed, all before you’ve made your cereal.
Drinking freshly ground coffee isn’t the only thing these machines can do either. They often come with a range of features that make using the coffee maker even more enjoyable. For example, a programmable timer feature, milk frother, adjustable coffee strength etc.
Why You Wouldn’t Get One
It’s true, you really do only have to lift one finger to make a coffee these days.
But if you’re wanting to get a little bit more involved in the home-brewing process, there are many other ways to brew a coffee.
Manual methods, like a Moka pot, pour-over coffee, or French press, get you up close and personal with your coffee beans, grinding them up yourself, and extracting all those flavours with your own blood, sweat, and tears.
Well, it’s not that manual. But for the coffee lovers who want to get more involved with their coffee making, a super-automatic coffee maker might not be the best for you.
These machines are more for the folks that have a busy morning routine as it is. You can see these automatic machines as a little helping hand. Taking a bit of weight off your shoulders on a morning.
If this sounds like something you’d like, then let’s take a quick look at how the Gaggia Accademia actually works.
How The Gaggia Accademia Works
Firstly, you receive a couple of things worth mentioning in the box it comes in. You get some cleaning tablets, a coffee scoop, a water hardness test strip, cleaning brush, decalcifier, water filter and drip tray.
Once set up, referring to the instruction manual, it’s easy to get you brewing. You’ll have to fill up the water reservoir, and insert coffee beans into the hopper.
There are seven buttons with pre-set drinks, but you can customise these to fit what your drinking preferences are.
Press and hold one of the buttons to get the machine to start working. Initially, you’ll hear the coffee beans being ground up. Then the milk will start being frothed and dispensed.
With the milk, you actually have two options, which I believe is unique to the Accademia. You can choose to use the steam wand, or use the milk carafe which froths milk automatically. Once the milk has finished, it’ll extract the espresso.
After the machine has finished, give it a quick wipe down and you’re good to go for the next coffee.
The whole front of the machine swings open for when you need to clean it out. You’ll find in there the used coffee ground pucks, and a water spill container. The brewing mechanism also removes from here, for when you need to rinse it out.
Overall, an easy machine to set up and brew a coffee, with little maintenance and a user friendly interface.
The Key Features
We’ll take you through the stand out features of the Gaggia Accademia.
Hopper And Bypass Doser
There is absolutely no doubt that grinding your own beans creates the freshest brew possible. Which is why the Accademia has a built-in grinder.
But, for the times you have a friend or family member over that doesn’t like caffeine, there’s a bypass doser.
You can insert pre-ground decaf coffee straight into the machine, instead of emptying out the coffee beans already in the hopper, meaning the machine will bypass the coffee beans and use the pre-ground coffee instead.
The hopper has a 12oz capacity which isn’t the largest I’ve seen, but definitely large enough for the average at-home barista. I doubt you’ll be grinding and brewing 12oz of coffee beans a day!
Auto-Frothing Milk Carafe and Steam Wand
This is a little bit of genius.
Sometimes, these espresso machines come with a steam wand that froths milk, but doesn’t let us play around with our milk-frothing skills. But getting the right milk texture with a commercial steam wand can be tricky, especially if you’ve never used one.
Then the Accademia comes along which has an auto-frothing milk carafe, where you fill milk up to the line, and insert it into the machine. Then you press a button, and the machine will steam your milk for you.
If you want to get a little more manual, to practice those latte art skills, then you can switch over to the commercial style steam wand. It’s not like the panarello steam wand where it does everything for you.
So you have two options. An automatic milk frother, or a manual steam wand. Spoilt for choice.
Removable Brew Group
The one thing that sometimes gets overlooked is the cleaning and maintenance process. If this is difficult to do, then it may not get done as often as it should.
It’s not a problem with the Accademia though, as once the front has been opened, the entire brewing mechanism comes out.
This makes taking it over to the sink for a rinse super easy and convenient. The spent coffee ground tray, and water spill tray are also removable.
Large Water Reservoir
Because this machine is rather on the large side, with it comes a very large water reservoir with a 60oz capacity. This is enough to satisfy even the most ferocious coffee drinker.
Not only is it huge, it also has the Mavea four-step water filter system, which does a good job at preventing the buildup of scale.
Adjustable Height Of Coffee Dispenser
With most coffee makers, you can’t fit a whole assortment of cup sizes under the dispenser. It’s normally no higher than a 3 inch tall cup.
With the Accademia however, you actually get over a 6 inch clearance, meaning you can brew into almost all mugs, including travel mugs.
It feels like Gaggia has really thought of everything when it comes to this coffee maker.
To make it really easy to adjust the brew strength of your coffee, you can turn a dial, which switches between a strong espresso, and a light espresso.
When preparing to make your coffee, this little feature is handy to have in front of you, making it a quick and easy job to change the brew strength.
Maybe the most important feature, especially for us coffee lovers that have a busy morning routine, or can’t get going before a coffee.
You can program the Accademia to start brewing a coffee when you wake up, so by the time you’re in your kitchen, there’s a latte or espresso already waiting for you.
This also works great for when you’re getting in from a night shift, as you can program the machine to make you a coffee for when you’re expecting to get home.
There’s nothing quite like getting out of bed, and having a machine make your coffee for you. It’s a pretty nice feeling, and certainly gets me out of bed in a better mood than an alarm clock does.
The Quality Of The Coffee?
As far as at-home specialty coffee drinks go, I’m not convinced there are many machines that would beat the Accademia.
It definitely does produce excellent coffee, creating a really flavourful, textured, and fresh cup. Half the battle is using freshly ground beans, so the built-in coffee grinder does a really good job at ensuring the freshest brew.
The fact all you have to do is pour in coffee beans, give it a clean once a week, and press a button to brew a super fresh and flavourful coffee, means the Accademia isn’t messing around when setting home brewer standards.
Quality coffee. There are no two ways about it.
What We Like About It
With the main features out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what we think works really well on the Gaggia Accademia.
It’s Strong, Durable, And Well Built
You only have to spend a minute or so before you work out how well built this super-automatic espresso machine is. Everything feels well put together, and it hasn’t got that cheap plastic-y feel.
When opening the front of the machine, you’ll notice the hinges on the right hand side, which are strong and made from stainless steel. Infact, the main build material is stainless steel, and ABS plastic has been used when steel hasn’t.
Even when you’re looking inside the machine, it’s neat and tidy, with everything fitting well together. You can tell there’s been some love and thought put into the internal design and build of the Accademia.
The High Quality Ceramic Burr Grinder
Every good barista needs a good coffee bean grinder, preferably a burr grinder, which the Accademia delivers on.
These strong burrs will grind your coffee down into an even and consistent grind size, in seconds.
There are 8 grind size settings to choose from, allowing you to go as fine or as coarse as you need.
The fact the grinder doesn’t get too hot, and creates a uniform grind, is one of the reasons the coffee tastes so good. You could try a pre-ground coffee, using the bypass hopper, to see for yourself the difference in quality freshly ground coffee makes.
The dual boiler is there for convenience too. Most espresso machines let you froth milk, or extract an espresso, but never both at the same time.
This is because most espresso machines have a single boiler. The Accademia however, has a dual boiler system, meaning you can extract an espresso shot, and steam your milk simultaneously.
Produces Quality Coffee
Coming with a price tag that’s at the high end of coffee makers, we expect to get a lot for our money.
I honestly don’t think you can complain. The coffee is pretty much commercial level, especially when you know how to steam your milk well.
Plenty Of Customisation
Don’t worry if you like to customise your brew, as there are 7 pre-set buttons that you can personalise.
Plus you have the options to manually steam your milk too, allowing for cappuccino, latte, or flat white milk. Whatever you’re in the mood for.
Some Things We Don’t Like
Although the Accademia is a top of the range super-automatic espresso machine, there are some things you ought to consider.
There’s no escaping from the fact you’re going to need quite a bit of countertop space in order to fit this espresso machine somewhere comfortable.
The dimensions of the product are 15.2 x 11 x 16.8 inches (H x W x D), which is a pretty large footprint.
You also need to consider the amount of room you have above the machine, as you need some space to access the hopper.
Once you have a suitable place, there’re no problems, but just double check before ordering that you do have the space for it. At 45lbs, you don’t want to be moving it in and out of a cupboard every time you want a brew.
The Price Tag
It’s expensive. The Accademia is certainly one of the more expensive at-home espresso machines. I guess the only question that needs asking is, is it worth the money?
Yes, I believe it to be.
The machine often lasts for a long time. The warranty is one year, but people have had no problems for years with the Accademia, even when using heavily each day.
Let’s say the machine will last 3 years, at least. Then that means you would need to be spending $10 a week on coffee from a cafe, to see the financial benefit.
That’s 3 coffees a week. So yeah, I don’t think it’ll take you too long before you save the amount of money you spend up front on the Accademia.
Size Of Drip Tray And Spent Grounds Container
This is only a little, niggly problem, as I’m struggling to come up with cons.
It just seemed to me that with the size of the Accademia, there might be a little bit more room in the drip tray and spent ground container.
The only problem is that you might have to empty them more often than you’d think.
Who Is The Gaggia Accademia NOT For?
If you find yourself relating to the next couple of paragraphs, then maybe the Accademia isn’t the best fit for you.
You Want To Get Hands On
When I brew a coffee, I like to get involved with the brewing process. Maybe that’s because I have the luxury of time to do this. I understand brewing a coffee is a hindrance to some people.
If you too find yourself wanting to grind your beans and begin the extraction process yourself, then maybe more manual brewing methods would be better.
You can check out some of these brewing methods here.
You’re On A Budget
The Gaggia Accademia has a hefty price tag, and unless you’re willing to spend a small fortune on a coffee maker, then you might find there are some slightly cheaper espresso machines.
In fact, Gaggia offers a wide range of at-home espresso machines, the Accademia being one of the most expensive. Here’s a list of the best Gaggia espresso machines.
How To Get The Most From Your Gaggia Accademia
There are a couple of tricks and tips you could pick up to make sure you’re getting the best quality coffee possible.
Don’t Use Oily Beans
Normally, oily beans are a good thing, and if it was any other instance, I’d tell you oily beans indicate freshness.
If you open your bag of dark roast coffee and find an oily shine coating your beans, don’t fret. This means your beans have been freshly roasted.
The reason why you should avoid them with the Accademia is because the manufacturer recommends it. Even though you can remove the burrs and give the whole grinder a good old clean, Gaggia still recommends you use non-oily beans.
Therefore, light roast or medium roast beans will be your safest bet, as they’re less likely to be oily.
Cleaning Is Your Friend
Yes, it’s true, although it may not seem like it.
Keeping on top of the cleanliness of your coffee maker really does keep all the flavours in your coffee.
If you keep old, used coffee ground in the lines, then that’s not going to do a lot for the taste. The once over after every brew, and a more thorough, but still quick clean once a week, will keep your coffee fresh.
Learn To Steam Your Milk
There’s a lot that goes into making your coffee, which means there’s a lot that can affect the taste and texture. One of these things is your milk.
In a latte, cappuccino, or flat white, the milk creates the drink. Learning how to texture your milk differently for different drinks, will heighten the experience of creating your own coffee and also drinking it.
There’ll be a lot of milk wasted in practice, but the payoff is worth the effort.
A super-automatic espresso machine is meant to create beautiful espresso based drinks, with minimal effort on your behalf.
It takes no leap of the imagination then, to wonder why the Gaggia Accademia has become such a popular choice with at-home baristas.
With very high quality espresso based drinks, quick and easy maintenance, and a strong, durable build quality, there’s not a lot of machines that compete.
Overall, I think the Accademia is a superb super-automatic espresso machine, capable of delivering whatever your coffee needs desire.
If you still haven’t found your ideal coffee maker, then check out some more of our coffee maker reviews to help you choose.