I know that using “entry level” and “super automatic” in the same sentence might make you suspicious, but I'm confident the Gaggia Brera will allay your fears.
I know that using “entry level” and “super automatic” in the same sentence might make you suspicious, but I’m confident the Gaggia Brera will allay your fears.
In fact, my Gaggia Brera review might even give me the chance to throw in “budget friendly” too.
Either way, this cool little machine has a lot to offer, so let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
- Features Compact DesignUser InterfaceGrinderGround Coffee BypassMilk FoamSpecialty DrinksMemo FunctionAroma IntensityPre InfusionBrew GroupBoilerWater Reservoir
- How to Use
- Brera vs Others Brera vs Magenta PrestigeBrera vs DeLonghi DinamicaBrera vs Philips 3200 LatteGo
- Comparison Chart
Gaggia Brera Overview
Going into this Gaggia Brera review, I’ll admit that I had some pretty high expectations. From my experience reviewing other Gaggia machines, I know the Italian manufacturer often hits a home run.
With a price tag of $491.52, the Brera isn’t just budget friendly by Gaggia’s standards. In fact, its price tag is adventurously low for any super automatic. Call me crazy, but doesn’t espresso taste a little bit sweeter when it doesn’t put you in debt?
Now, let’s get to the important stuff – looks. I know we like to pretend that appearances don’t matter. Still, nobody wants an eyesore sitting on their counter. While I don’t think the Brera is as sleek as some of its competitors, it’s not an ugly duckling either.
The ultra compact Brera trades angled sides for rounded corners, which gives this machine a softer aesthetic.
The entire front is all stainless steel panels and brushed metal. The manufacturer also plastered its name on the front panel of the machine. It’s almost as if the stainless steel build isn’t enough to signal this is a Gaggia creation.
You’ll still have plastic side panels. However, if you get the machine in silver, you might even be able to fool guests into thinking it’s all stainless steel!
Granted, this isn’t the most durable machine I’ve seen from Gaggia. Beneath that stainless steel, you’ve still got plenty of plastic to contend with. If you’re looking for an espresso machine to outlast you, it’s not going to be this one.
Of course, I’d be lying if I said a compact, classic look was all the Brera had to offer. It’s still got a well-rounded list of features that’s impressive enough for me to name it the best entry level machine in my super automatic espresso machine guide 2022. Of course, if you want to know why it’s earned that label, you’ll need to keep reading my Gaggia Brera review!
Gaggia Brera Features
At this price point, I’d expect to just get the basic framework or barebones of a super automatic. However, Gaggia has a decent array of features packed into the ultra compact Brera. So, without further ado, let’s get into them.
I’ve reviewed plenty of compact automatics lately, but I think the Gaggia Brera might just take home the trophy here. At just over 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length and weighing less than 20 pounds (8 kilograms), you’d be hard-pressed to find a smaller competitor. Granted, you do have options like the SMEG BCC02. However, that runner-up doesn’t have milk frothing capabilities.
We all know size isn’t everything. But having an espresso machine that can fit snugly in a dorm room or studio apartment is always a plus.
Gaggia hasn’t made the leap to smartphone compatibility or apps yet, and the user interface completes the retro vibe this machine is striving for. It’s not as high tech as some of the display interfaces I’ve seen on other Gaggia machines. However, it’s also not hard to operate either. For one of the best entry level super automatics, I really can’t ask for more.
There might be a bit of a learning curve as you translate what one or three coffee bean symbols actually means, but that’s it.
As far as personalization goes, the Gaggia Brera hits a happy middle ground. While you won’t be able to dial in every aspect of your espresso, I think there are enough customization options to satisfy even experienced home baristas.
Between two programmable cup sizes for espresso and lungo shots, three brew strengths and five grind sizes, there’s plenty of room to tinker with preferences. Once you’ve targeted your favorite espresso combination, the machine will remember it for next time. I think the Gaggia Brera might have a better memory than I do – I can’t always remember my espresso preferences in the morning!
Considering Gaggia’s fondness for ceramic burr grinders, I’m not surprised to see one here. It’s not an unwelcome discovery by any means. Ceramic grinders have a reputation for being durable as well as reducing heat transfer during the grinding process.
I don’t want to bore you to sleep with the scientific jargon. So I’ll just say less heat buildup preserves the quality of your beans while they’re being ground. As a result, you’re getting more consistent, flavorful espresso.
You’ve also got up to 8 ounces (226 grams) of space to store your whole coffee beans. For a super automatic this compact, I expected the bean hopper’s capacity to be half that.
However, if there’s one thing I’d ding Gaggia for, it’s the lack of grind settings you can play with. Five grind settings are better than nothing, but if you’re someone just getting into the super automatic game, you might feel limited.
Ground Coffee Bypass
Part of the magic that comes with owning a super automatic like this one is the ability to quickly and easily turn coffee beans into delicious liquid. That said, even truly dedicated home baristas might want a decaf coffee from time to time. As someone who will root for freshly ground coffee all night long, even I can appreciate keeping pre ground decaf around for emergencies.
While some super automatics won’t even let you think about using the pre ground stuff, the Brera isn’t against it. This coffee maker includes a ground coffee bypass chute, so you can sneak in some decaf after a long day drinking the real thing.
If you were waiting on bells and whistles from the steam wand, I hate to break it to you – you’re working with a standard paranello steam wand. I know that’s not as exciting as an automatic milk carafe, but you can’t mess up the classics.
If you’ve got any experience with manual steam wands, you should have no problems tuning this one to create velvety milk foam. The system heats up in less than 10 seconds, so it’s not adding any real time to your morning routine.
With that said, Gaggia has been a bit sneaky with its design of the steam wand. At first glance, the wand looks like it’s decked out in stainless steel to match the front panel. While Gaggia has added brushed metal to the steam wand, it’s mostly black plastic underneath.
Functionally, this won’t make a difference, but it does mean the steam wand isn’t as durable as it looks.
Of course, if you want to use that steam wand to make milk based espresso drinks, you’ll need to pair it with a stainless steel milk pitcher. Gaggia seems to have forgotten about milk pitchers, but I haven’t!
While we’re on the subject of milk foam, let’s talk about specialty drinks. After all, what’s the point of a super automatic if it can’t recreate most of your favorite coffee shop menu? I can’t argue against how versatile the Gaggia Brera is for specialty drinks. However, creating most of them does require a little legwork.
With some super automatics, brewing up a latte macchiato, flat white or anything else your heart desires is as simple as pressing a button. Machines like the Gaggia Magenta Prestige have built-in espresso drink menus, which make the entire process seamless.
That’s not really the case here. With a steam wand and hot water spout, the Brera has all the capabilities to recreate your cafe favorites. The kicker is that most of them aren’t pre-programmed.
In fact, the only programmed espresso drinks you’ll get here are a regular ole shot of espresso and a lungo shot.
I’m probably in the minority, but a machine that forces me to put in the elbow grease can be charming. Of course, if you want a machine that pulls out all the stops for specialty drinks, you’ll probably need to adjust your budget.
Do I wish the Gaggia Brera had multiple user profiles to make organizing coffee preferences easier? Of course! That’s just one less thing to worry about when you’ve got a house full of coffee drinkers with specific tastes.
However, the Brera does include the next best thing: a memo function. Once you’re done honing your latest espresso settings, you’ll have the option to save them for next time. This mostly correlates to aroma intensity or the volume of espresso you’re brewing.
As I said, there’s no way to organize these settings via user profiles, but it’s still a handy feature. Just try to avoid any family squabbling when you erase someone else’s settings to program yours in!
Speaking of aroma intensity, let’s talk about one of the few customizations you get with the Gaggia Brera. Aroma intensity, or Optiaroma as Gaggia calls it, allows you to adjust your brew strength.
There are three different settings to pick from – light, medium and strong. You won’t actually see these words flash across that LED screen. Still, picking between one, two or three coffee beans is essentially the same thing. I’m not a linguist, but even I can work out that translation.
While I would’ve loved to see more brew strength options, I’ll never complain about features that allow for more customization. Coupled with the grind setting adjustments, Optiaroma still gives you decent control over your extraction.
If there’s one thing that most espresso drinkers can agree on, it’s that pre infusion is an essential part of the extraction process. By dampening the coffee grounds before you brew, you’re releasing carbon dioxide from the beans (and ensuring better extraction). As long as you want consistent, better-tasting espresso, pre infusion is crucial.
Some manufacturers treat pre infusion like an add-on or an optional feature, but I’d say it’s a vital first step.
Anyway, I’m glad to see the folks at Gaggia share my opinion. Rather than sideline pre infusion to a programmable feature, they’ve made it a default setting on the Brera.
I’m used to dealing with removable brew groups on super automatics, so it was no surprise to see one in my Gaggia Brera review. You can pop it out of the side door when it’s time for regular rinsing and maintenance. Think of the brewing group like a car engine – you won’t be getting anywhere without it, and it’ll need regular maintenance to keep functioning.
I’ve got more to say about caring for the brew group, but that’s for later on in my Gaggia Brera review.
Gaggia might not have any qualms about using black plastic in their design, but at least they keep it away from the boiler. This baby is all stainless steel, and you won’t find me complaining about that. Stainless steel boilers retain heat well and heat up quickly, so you have this component to thank for the Brera’s rapid prep time.
Accessible from the front of the machine, you should have no problems removing the Brera’s 40 ounce (1.2 liter) water reservoir. The nifty water tank panel reminds me of a trap door, but I doubt you’ll be finding any booby traps inside.
While I’m here, I’ll also remind you that there’s no water filter included with the Brera. That’s a little surprising, but given the machine’s price I can’t complain. The machine is still compatible with the Intenza water filter, but you’ll need to buy it separately.
How to Use the Gaggia Brera
It’s time to talk mechanics in my Gaggia Brera review. Once you’ve run through the basics of setting up the machine – like plugging it in, turning it on, filling up your bean hopper and reservoir – it’s time to brew some espresso.
The user manual includes directions for priming the machine,. However, like any coffee maker, there will be extra steps during your first use. That means adjusting the grinder to the medium setting and letting hot water run through the spout. Gaggia recommends leaving the grinder on the medium setting for the first few coffees you make. After that, you can make any adjustments you want.
After priming the machine, feel free to customize your espresso settings. The indicator light will flash red once it’s done preheating, and if you want to make changes to aroma intensity, now’s the time. You can use the coffee bean button to cycle through three brew strengths, and the machine will automatically store that preference for next time.
Quick note – if you’re using pre ground coffee, you’ll need to press the bean button until you see the scoop symbol pop on the screen. That signals you’re using the bypass doser and there’s no need for the grinder.
The final step toward operating this machine is selecting between an espresso shot or lungo coffee. Fresh espresso should begin pouring into your cup, and when you’ve got the desired amount, just press the coffee button again.
Gaggia Brera Cleaning
Here’s one thing you don’t want to skimp on – cleaning and descaling your Gaggia Brera. While I’m confident in the durability of Gaggia machines, nothing wears your espresso machine down like neglect.
Fortunately, most Gaggia Brera machines – at least those manufactured after 2013 – include an automatic descaling cycle. The machine will signal to you when it’s time to descale, and you’ve just got to follow the directions included in your user manual. Of course, the manufacturer insists you use Gaggia Decalcifier during the cycle. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not to use a different product.
The more regular maintenance is all manual stuff. This includes pulling out the drip tray, rinsing out the water tank and wiping down the bean hopper. When cleaning these components, I’d recommend using a damp cloth and a mild cleaner. Nothing hardcore, and make sure you steer clear of the dishwasher.
Now, about that brew group I mentioned earlier in my Gaggia Brera review. Since it’s removable, that means you will need to clean it. You won’t be able to rely on a cleaning program to take care of it like you would with a fixed brew group. It might seem like Gaggia is adding more to your chore list here, but if anything, a brew group that you can manually clean is going to have a longer lifespan.
You can check your user manual for more detailed instructions, but after you remove the brew group from the side door, it only needs a damp cloth and a little rinsing. Once again, you want to keep the brew group out of the mechanical grasp of your dishwasher. I’m sure it’s somewhere in the fine print, but none of these components are dishwasher safe.
Gaggia Brera Specifications
|Housing material||Stainless steel / plastic|
|Colors/designs available||Black, silver|
|Removable brew group||Yes|
|Milk foam system||Panarello steam wand|
|User interface||Buttons, lights, dial|
|Water tank capacity||40.0 oz / 1.2 l|
|Number of boilers||1|
|Maximum spout height||4.5 in / 11.4 cm|
|Minimum spout height||3.1 in / 7.9 cm|
|Grinder||Ceramic flat burr grinder|
|Number of grind adjustment settings||5|
|Number of bean containers||1|
|Bean container capacity||8.8 oz / 249.5 g|
|Ground coffee bypass||Yes|
|Adjustable coffee strength||Yes|
|Adjustable coffee temperature||No|
|Adjustable milk foam temperature||N/A|
|Hot water function||Yes|
|Hot milk function||N/A|
|Water filter cartridge||Yes|
|Weight||18.0 lb / 8.2 kg|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||12.4 x 10.0 x 17.5 in x / 31.5 x 25.4 x 44.5 cm|
|Extras/miscellaneous||Instruction manual, brew group lubricant, coffee scoop|
|Current price on Amazon||$491.52|
Gaggia Brera vs Others
It’s hard to argue that the Gaggia Brera is one of the best entry level super automatics on the market, but how does it measure up to the competition? Let’s continue this Gaggia Brera review by taking a look.
Gaggia Brera vs Magenta Prestige
It’s probably a little mean to do a side by side comparison of the Gaggia Brera and the Gaggia Magenta Prestige. After all, the Magenta’s a little out of the Brera’s price range at $807.98.
Both machines are super automatics, but the Magenta has the Brera beat when it comes to specialty drinks. Besides a sleek user interface, that’s probably the biggest difference between these two. The Magenta Prestige offers one touch operation for all kinds of espresso drinks as well as four kinds of steamed milk. It’s hard to argue with a fully customized drink menu, but if you’re not into specialty drinks, you may want to stick to the Brera.
As far as specs go, the grinder on the Magenta isn’t going to offer you any more versatility. The biggest upgrade here is that user interface and the seamless process for specialty drinks. If you want to hear all my thoughts on the Magenta Prestige, I’ve linked my review below.
See Also: Gaggia Magenta Prestige Review
Gaggia Brera vs DeLonghi Dinamica
I’ve sung my fair share of praise for both DeLonghi and Gaggia, but the DeLonghi Dinamica really takes things up a notch. Considering its $1,399.95 price tag, I’d be a little disappointed if the Dinamica wasn’t an upgrade.
Both machines use a little too much plastic for my taste, but the higher price point makes the Dinamica a little more unforgivable. Still, the Dinamica has 13 grind adjustments. That really blows the Brera’s five grind settings out of the water. For those of us that want full control over the little details, the Dinamica comes out on top.
See Also: DeLonghi Dinamica Hands On Review
Gaggia Brera vs Philips 3200 LatteGo
If you appreciate the minimalist design of the Brera, the bulky frame and array of menu options on the Philips 3200 LatteGo might make you cringe. Design is far from the only way these two differ, by the way.
Besides its $799.00 price tag, the LatteGo packs 12 grinding adjustments under its lid. While I think the Brera has the LatteGo beat when it comes to overall value, the LatteGo is much more intuitive. There’s no guesswork with the user interface, and the display doesn’t talk in coffee beans.
See Also: Philips 3200 LatteGo Hands On Review
Gaggia Brera vs Others Comparison Chart
|Gaggia Brera||Gaggia Magenta Prestige||DeLonghi Dinamica||Philips 3200 LatteGo|
|Name||Brera||Magenta Prestige||ECAM35075 Dinamica||3200 Series LatteGo|
|Housing material||Stainless steel / plastic||Plastic / stainless steel||Plastic||Plastic / stainless steel|
|Colors/designs available||Black, silver||Black||Silver||Black|
|Removable brew group||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Milk foam system||Pannarello steam wand||Automatic integrated carafe||Automatic LatteCrema system||Automatic LatteGo system|
|User interface||Buttons, lights, dial||Color TFT display, capacitive buttons||Buttons, dial, LCD text display||Buttons, lights|
|Water tank capacity||40.0 oz / 1.2 l||60.0 oz / 1.8 l||60.0 oz / 1.8 l||61.0 oz / 1.8 l|
|Number of boilers||1||1||2||1|
|Maximum spout height||4.5 in / 11.4 cm||5.9 in / 15.0 cm||5.3 in / 13.5 cm||5.7 in / 14.5 cm|
|Minimum spout height||3.1 in / 7.9 cm||2.8 in / 7.0 cm||3.5 in / 9.0 cm||3.3 in / 8.5 cm|
|Grinder||Ceramic flat burr grinder||Ceramic flat burr grinder||Stainless steel conical burr grinder||Ceramic flat burr grinder|
|Number of grind adjustment settings||5||5||13||12|
|Number of bean containers||1||1||1||1|
|Bean container capacity||8.8 oz / 249.5 g||8.8 oz / 249.5 g||10.5 oz / 300.0 g||8.8 oz / 249.5 g|
|Ground coffee bypass||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Adjustable coffee strength||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Adjustable coffee temperature||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Adjustable milk foam temperature||N/A||No||Yes||No|
|Hot water function||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hot milk function||N/A||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Water filter cartridge||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Weight||18.0 lb / 8.2 kg||17.0 lb / 7.7 kg||23.0 lb / 10.4 kg||17.6 lb / 8.0 kg|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||12.4 x 10.0 x 17.5 in x / 31.5 x 25.4 x 44.5 cm||14.1 x 8.8 x 17.1 in / 35.7 x 22.4 x 43.5 cm||13.7 x 9.3 x 16.9 in x / 34.8 x 23.6 x 43.0 cm||14.6 x 9.7 x 17.0 in / 37.1 x 24.6 x 43.3 cm|
|Extras/miscellaneous||Instruction manual, brew group lubricant, coffee scoop||Instruction manual, brew group lubricant, coffee scoop||Instruction manual, descaling solution, cleaning brush, measuring spoon, water filter||Instruction manual, measuring scoop, water hardness test strip, AquaClean filter, LatteGo storage lid, grease tube|
|Current price on Amazon||$483.67||$807.98||$1,399.95||$799.00|
Verdict: Gaggia Brera Review
While the Gaggia Brera might fall a little flat when it comes to customization or versatility, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a super automatic machine that performs as well at this price. It’s not often that I can tag a machine as one of the best budget friendly super automatics and a great entry level super automatic. Yet, as my Gaggia Brera review proves, here we are!
With that said, the Gaggia Brera probably won’t impress when it comes to customization or intuitive user interfaces. If those features are your top priorities, a coffee machine like the Magenta Prestige may be a closer match.
I’ve really enjoyed this Gaggia Brera review. Now it’s over to you. Do you think the Gaggia Brera’s great value makes it worth buying? I look forward to your comments!
Gaggia Brera Review FAQ
To set up the Gaggia Brera, you’ll need to plug it in, flip on the switch at the back of the machine and then press the power button on the front.
You can clean the outside of the Gaggia Brera with a damp cloth or a little bit of soapy water. Do not completely submerge the Brera in water or put it in the dishwasher.
The Gaggia Brera includes an indicator light to let you know when it’s time to descale.
The Gaggia Brera uses one stainless steel boiler.
To make a latte on the Gaggia Brera, first brew a shot of espresso. Then, you can use your steam wand to steam and froth your milk. The final step is adding the steamed milk to your espresso.