espresso

Gaggia Accademia Espresso Maker Review

One-touch espresso and milk foaming, but at a price.

December 09, 2011
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Performance Overview

Produced consistently good espresso with decent crema. Also did a good job of quickly heating and frothing milk.

Espresso Speed

The Accademia is a pretty quick espresso maker most of the time: when the device is up and running, we found that it could make a single shot in 38 seconds (from pushing the button to the final drop hitting the cup) and a double in 78 seconds. It is a slower device if it has gone into standby mode, though: in this case, we found that it took an additional 1 minute and 25 seconds on top of the times above, as the system has to heat up and rinse out the brewing system before it can start. You can configure how long the system waits before it goes into standby mode, though, and you can even set it to wake up and get ready at a certain time, so it will be ready to dispense a shot quickly during working hours when needed. More on how we test the brewing process.

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Espresso Quality

The Accademia produced high-quality espresso in our tests, with excellent color and a decent amount of crema (the foam on the top of the shot that provides part of the flavor). We would have preferred a little more crema, though: some other espresso makers produce a richer, thicker layer of crema that makes for a tastier shot. We did find that it was consistent, though producing a good shot time after time.

One aspect of espresso quality is the percentage of total dissolved solids (TDS) of the espresso that the machine produces. This can tell us a lot of things, including how developed the brew is and how bitter it will taste. The higher this percentage, the stronger the espresso is. We found that the Accademia could produce a good range of strengths of espresso, from 2.2% with the length set to maximum and the opti-dose setting dialed down to minimum, to 6.9% for the shortest espresso shot with the opti-dose set for maximum strength. That is a very wide range, so it is safe to say that most espresso fans should be able to find the right strength for their taste. The length of an espresso is the amount of water used: the longer the length, the more water. More on how we test the brewing process.

Espresso Shot Photo
An espresso shot freshly brewed by the Gaggia Accademia
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Espresso Quantity

The Accademia only offers one option for the quantity of espresso: a single shot. The size of this can be tweaked with the length control, which allows for a range of If you want more, you press the button twice and the machine produces two shots in a row. However, there are additional options for different types of drink, with the caffe luongo (long coffee) button producing a larger 4.5 fl. oz. drink. More on how we test the brewing process.

Milk & Foam

The Accademia is unusual in offering two ways to heat and foam milk: a steam wand and an automated system that uses a milk reservoir that clips onto the front of the device. With the automatic system, the milk is sucked into the system from a reservoir, heated and foamed, them squirted out into the cup from the dispensing arm on the top of the reservoir. This is a more complicated approach than the standard steam wand, but it does make it easier to use: the system measures out the quantity of milk, the temperature and the foaming. All you have to do is push the button.

We found that this system produced good quality foam, with small bubbles and a good texture. It is also consistent, producing the same quality of foam time after time. The amount of foam and milk used can be configured through the in-screen menu, but we found that the default options would suit most users.

We only had two minor issues with this automated milk system. One was the lack of refrigeration: it is very easy to forget that you put the reservoir on the front of the machine and leave it there, which could result in the milk going off. The other was the lack of a way for the system to detect an empty reservoir, as the system will keep dispensing if it runs out of milk, which results in a lot of foam and hot steam splashing around.

A steam wand and hot water dispenser is also available, which is located on the left side of the device. This provides and option for the more traditional way to foam milk, but it is a little inflexible, as the wand does not pivot forwards, so it is rather awkward to get a jug in place. It does produce plenty of steam, but there is no way to control the amount of steam, so you can't tweak the steam level for optimal frothing the way your local barista would.

Foam Photo
A Macchiato brewed by the Gaggia Accademia

Other Drinks

The Accademia also offers the option to produce other drinks, with buttons for caffee (a larger shot), caffee luongo, cappuchino, macchiato and latte drinks. This makes it more flexible, and it can also produce hot water for tea drinkers.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Page
  2. Design
  3. Performance
  4. Usability
  5. Rancilio Silvia Comparison
  6. Gaggia Platinum Vision Comparison
  7. illy Francis Francis Y1 Comparison
  8. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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