Gaggia Accademia Espresso Maker Review
One-touch espresso and milk foaming, but at a price.
A little complicated to set up, but the brewing process is straightforward. You don’t get much control over the brewing process, though.
To make an espresso shot with the Accademia, you put your cup under the outlet, adjust the height of the dispenser and hit the button. That's it: there is no tamping, loading or other preparation required as long as the device is loaded with beans and water. The process is easy, but has a few quirks: some drinks include both espresso and milk (such as the cappuchino and macchiato), while for the latte option you have to add your own shot of espresso first.
We also found the placement of the controls a little awkward. One of the buttons below the screen stops the brewing process if required, but to reach the button you have to reach over the brewing area. This is difficult to do when there are clouds of steam billowing out of the cup, such as when you try and make a latte, but don't realize that there isn't enough milk in the reservoir.
Put your cup under the outlet and push the appropriate button.
The machine grinds the beans, heats the water and brews the drink. It is then automatically dispensed.
If you want to make a latte or other milk drink, you need to make sure the milk dispenser is filled and fitted. When you press the button, the machine heats the milk, froths it and dispenses it. Again, the process is simple and straightforward, but you do need to make sure that the milk dispenser is properly installed, and it is a little awkward to insert and remove.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Although the Accademica is simple to use, it does require some maintenance. Specifically, you have to occasionally remove and clean the grinds drawer that holds the discarded coffee grinds and the drip tray that holds the water overflow. There are actually two drip trays (an internal one and an external one) Both of these require emptying quite frequently, as the system rinses the pipes clean with a small amount of water whenever it starts up or shuts down, but only the internal one notifies you on screen when it is full. The external one uses a floating red marker, so you need to pay attention to this as well as the screen. With frequent use, we found that we had to empty these trays at least once a day.
The Accademia offers a good level of customization, allowing you to control pretty much every feature of the brewing process, including the grind (through a dial on the bean hopper), the length and the amount of coffee used. Each of the different types of drink also has options, such as the amount of milk used for the latte and other milk drinks, and the amount of foaming.
Ground beans bypass - if you want to use a flavored or pre-ground coffee, you can bypass the grinder by putting the ground coffee directly into the grinder bypass, located on the top of the machine body.
The Accademia provides dedicated buttons for a number of other drinks, such as:
Caffe & Caffe Luongo - The Accademica can also make a more standard coffee brew by using more water with the caffe button. A weaker coffee brew can also be produced by pressing the caffe luongo (long coffee) button.
Cappuchino, Latte Macchiato, Latte - A cappuccino (espresso with slightly steamed and lightly frothed milk), a latte macchiato (steamed milk with a shot of espresso added on top) can also be produced by pressing the appropriate button on the right side. The Latte setting produces only steamed milk: you have to get your own Espresso before the milk to produce a normal latte.
Hot Water - Hot water or steam can also be dispensed from the steam wand on the left side of the device.
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