The new Gaggia Brera is a very impressive super automatic espresso machine that has a small form factor, making it perfect for use on small kitchen countertops. Not only that, but it seems that the company has focused, among other things, to ensure that the Brera fully maximizes user convenience. For instance, the water tank, drop tray and the dregs drawer are all within reach and can be easily accessed from the machine for simple, swift maintenance and regular cleaning. With this model, beverage selection and machine programming has been greatly simplified, allowing users to easily navigate through the options which are certainly more than you’d expect from such a small machine.
The ESAM3500.N features programmable menu settings, meaning that you can easily adjust the coffee temperature, water hardness, the 1h to 3h automatic shutoff, start time and clock. Regardless of how picky you may be when it comes to coffee, you’ll definitely get to prepare a delicious cup of your favorite blended thanks to the 5 settings for coffee strength, including extra strong, strong, regular, mild and extra mild. On top of that, there are 3 buttons which make it easy to choosing the cup size (large, espresso and ristretto).
I received my machine on Jan 20th. I have to say it was a huge let down. Niether the coffee or milk were hot enough. I would think spending this amount of money on a coffee machine you should at least get hot coffee and milk without having to use cupwarmer or running hot water through it. I will say that amazon was a pure joy to work with on the return. They made everything simple and easy with no fuss. Thank you amazon for that.
As a home barista, you need to master all the above techniques to get the right espresso. If you make a little mistake you compromise your shot. As a result, you’ll get an average shot. Even if you know what it takes to get your shot right, there is very little room for error. Failed shots are pretty common with beginner baristas. You probably noticed in coffee shops that the shot differs from barista to barista.
Edit - 01/15/2015: Eight and a half years later, this gem is still cranking out great coffee. I had it serviced by the wonderful folks at CoffeeBoss in Cornelius, NC last year, and it's still going strong with a cup count of 9,922. The brew group is not user serviceable, so occasional maintenance should be expected. I use distilled water (at the cost of flavor, I know) now that I'm back in the city on municipal water, so I don't need or use the Clearyl filter (I recommend it for tap/well water, though), and I do use a cleaning tablet within 5-10 cups of when it starts asking for it on the LED display.
3) This machine is crazy smart. It knows exactly when to clean itself, or tells you when to start the cleaning cycle. To clean it, all you do is insert a tablet in the coffee powder drawer and it does its thing. It knows when it needs water, when the filter needs to be changed, etc. In fact, since we have a water filter built into our refrigerator, we just use that filtered water in the coffee machine and therefore we don't need to use the expensive water filters. Bottom line, if you just pay attention and clean the machine on a regular basis when it tells you to, this is a no-brainer machine.
First of all, the TFT display will notify you when you are running low on anything (which the F8 lacks), and it will tell you when it needs cleaning. Having this kind of automatic reminders ensures that you can extend the lifespan of your machine. The other thing that we like about the E6 better than the F8 is the grinder. The G3 grinder system is a significant improvement.
There's one other area needing fixing, not only in these machines but in all super automatics I've ever tried - tiny puck sizes (diameter) = bad extraction. That's not me saying it. That's Dr. Illy and a wide range of scientific tests that the Illy labs have done finding the optimal puck size for superior extraction. At 46mm, these pucks are too tiny.
You also get programmable push-button controls for milk, hot water and espresso outputs and given the fact that the 1003380 Accademia dispenses great beverages on demand, it’s great for those who don’t like to wait for long before their drink is ready. In total, there are 7 buttons that you can use in order to prepare one of the following drinks hot water, latte macchiato, latte, cappuccino, cafe lungo, cafe and of course, espresso.