A superb, well-rounded machine that has just about every feature you could ask for. It’s expensive, but worth every penny.
Recommended for: Power drinkers, large households, novices, and experienced coffee purists. Basically, anybody who can afford it.
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the Accademia Coffee Machine From Gaggia
- 2 Surprisingly Easy to Clean
- 3 Pros & Cons of Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine
- 4 Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine Reviews Final Thoughts
An Overview of the Accademia Coffee Machine From Gaggia
Are you a coffee aficionado? A power drinker who wants a top of the line, accept-no-substitutes, European-made coffee machine that can brew all your favorite specialty drinks just the way you want them?
You may have read other Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine reviews online, but we're sure you’re going to love ours.
The Accademia is one of the most impressive machines on the market, because of its curious mix of features. Some of them make the machine ideal for newcomers to the world of specialty coffee, while others would simply be un, or underappreciated by novices, but are perfect for coffee purists looking for a top end machine that allows you to retain precise brewing control.
At the end of the day then, what you get is a machine that’s perfect for just about everyone, but there’s a catch. You’ll pay a significant premium for it.
In the sections that follow, we’re going to take a deep dive and explore everything this wonderful machine can do, and outline its very few weaknesses so you’ve got all the information you need to decide if it’s the perfect fit for your home.
Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic
The first thing to say about the Gaggia Accademia Espresso machine is that it’s quite large (11”x16”x14.6”), and as such, won’t work for people who only have a limited counter space.
It sports a stainless steel faceplate and is built on a solid metal frame, which goes a long way toward explaining why it weighs in at a hefty 45 pounds. Put those two things together, and it’s going to take some creativity to find a good home for it.
While it’s certainly possible to move it around if you needed to, in an ideal world, you’ll want to find it a spot where you won’t ever need to.
The Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine has an impressively sized 57.5-ounce, top-loading reservoir. This is only marginally smaller than the tank featured in the company’s flagship model, the Anima Prestige.
As power coffee drinkers ourselves, we readily admit that we’re biased in favor of machines with big water reservoirs, so it probably comes as no surprise that this is one of the features we love about the Accademia.
It should be noted, however, that given the size of the machine, and the fact that it’s top-loading, people with limited counter top clearance will face some additional challenges when it comes to finding a good home for their unit.
The reservoir includes a water filter, which is common in many super-automatic machines, but it’s also a feature we’re on the fence about.
On the one hand, it’s undeniably helpful. The presence of the water filter means that you won’t have to descale the machine nearly as often. That’s all well and good, but there are other ways to get around having to descale as often. At the same time, it raises the initial cost of the machine and increases the total cost of ownership, since you’re stuck having to buy new filters at regular intervals.
In any case, most people appreciate having the filter, and we can’t very well fault the company for its inclusion, so we didn’t take any points off for its presence.
Many Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine reviews call particular attention to the fact that the model has a ceramic burr grinder, but few go into detail about why that matters.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that automatic grinders typically come in two flavors: Metal (usually stainless steel) and ceramic.
Metal vs Ceramic Burr Grinders
Metal grinders are considered to be inferior to ceramic ones, simply because as they grind coffee, the metal heats up, which can leave your grounds with a burnt taste that can completely ruin the flavor of your coffee.
Grinders with ceramic burrs don’t suffer from this issue, since ceramic is heat-resistant, leaving you with fresh tasting grounds that perfectly preserve the flavor of the beans.
A Much Better Grinder
Another interesting aspect about the Accademia’s grinder is that it’s better than the one in the Anima Prestige, which is the company’s flagship model.
Where the Anima Prestige has an underwhelming five grind settings, the Accademia offers ten. More grind settings equals a higher degree of control over the flavor of your coffee. While five settings are sufficient for casual drinkers, coffee purists will appreciate the extra settings offered by this model.
The reason this matters is more complex than you might think. A slight change in grind settings can result in a dramatic change in flavor. This is because coffee with a finer grind has a larger extraction surface area, while coarsely ground beans have less. The finer the grind, the bolder the flavor you get in your cup.
As such, this model is probably not a good fit for someone new to the world of specialty coffee drinks, because the fine-tuning allowed by the grinder will probably be lost on a newcomer to the world. Moreover, why pay extra for something you’re probably not going to get much use out of?
Earlier, we talked about the generously sized reservoir. That’s a big deal, but it’s only helpful if it’s paired with a bean hopper of a good, complementary size. One problem that some machines have is that they have a nice big water tank paired with a tiny bean hopper or – a huge bean hopper paired with a smallish reservoir.
That’s not just suboptimal, it’s downright annoying because it means that one or the other will run out on an almost constant basis, and it’s going to frustrate you.
The Accademia doesn’t suffer from this problem because its reservoir is paired with a bean hopper that holds more than 12 ounces (340g) of beans. The two complement each other almost perfectly, and you’ll be able to enjoy tons of great tasting coffee before needing to pause briefly to refill.
As with most other super-automatics, this one doesn’t do especially well with oily beans, so for best results, you’ll want to find a good Medium Roast that you enjoy and stick with it.
Note that the Accademia also features a handy bypass doser for those times when you’d rather use grounds than whole beans. While not everyone will avail themselves of this feature, it’s an excellent addition that adds polish to an already exceptional model.
The Gaggia Accademia coffee machine utilizes a double boiler system as virtually all top-end devices do. Both are aluminum and lined with stainless steel, and both utilize Thermoblock technology, which makes them fast-heating with minimal wait time.
Even better, you can use the LCD control panel to control the temperature via three settings. On the highest setting, the temperature of the output is comparable to what you’d get from a drip-brew, “by the pot” coffee maker.
This makes it ideal for those who are recent arrivals from the drip-brew world, which is another feature that makes it attractive to people who are new to the world of specialty coffees, which is another example of that interesting dynamic we talked about earlier.
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
A small point, because almost all super-automatics have this feature. The Accademia is noteworthy, though, because it once again beats Gaggia’s flagship model. Where the Anima Prestige will accommodate a cup up to 5.9” tall, the Accademia can accommodate a cup 6 1/2" tall, giving you more options.
The Brew Unit & Control System
The brew unit and the control panel are the heart and soul of any advanced coffee maker, and the Gaggia Accademia super automatic espresso machine is no exception.
As you’d expect from a top-end device, this one employs the latest technologies, including a full-color LCD screen, which gives you a whole host of control options that just aren’t available from a simple push button or LED readouts.
The Accademia Gaggia coffee machine’s control system is simple, intuitive, and well-designed, making navigating through all of its options a snap. One of the coolest features the Accademia offers is its ability to custom-program the coffee quantity, up to ten cups at a time!
In a sense, this makes the Accademia something of a crossover machine. Most super-automatics brew specialty drinks by the cup, to a maximum of two cups at a time. But given the ability to pre-program so many at once makes it almost like a drip-brew coffee maker.
If that’s the world you’re coming from, a power drinker, or have lots of coffee drinkers in your household, then you’ll surely love this feature.
Just about every digital kitchen appliance made today comes with things like programmable auto-start and auto-shutoff times, and these are considered standard features on just about every super-automatic sold today, but the Accademia goes far beyond just these.
The front face of the machine features a number of buttons, allowing for the one-touch creation of the following specialty drinks:
In addition to that, you can access one-touch hot water and all the extensive cleaning functions built into the device.
From the front panel, you can control every aspect of whatever drink you’re creating from the amount of water, to the size of the dose, to the amount of foam you want. In fact, the milk frothing system is unique on the Accademia.
To start with, it’s got a plastic dedicated milk carafe which attaches to the machine. Simply fill it to the fill line with milk, insert it into the slot, and you’re ready to go.
When you make a specialty drink that calls for milk, a plastic tube inside the carafe sucks the milk into the secondary boiler where it is heated, then foam and steamed milk pour from the milk spigot.
If you don’t use all the milk in the carafe, it’s fine. Just pop it back out and put it in the fridge for the next time you get a craving.
Coffee purists don’t usually like fully automated frothing systems because they lose control over that part of the process, and this is the unique part of the Accademia’s setup, because the hot water spout, located on the side opposite where the milk carafe goes, can also be used as a steaming wand, giving you fine-grained control over the part of the process too, if you want it.
Again then, this is the best of both worlds. A highly convenient, automated system for novices, while retaining control as an option for more experienced users.
Since espresso rests at the heart of a multitude of specialty coffee drinks, it’s important to understand the process of making a good one.
Where drip-brew coffee makers are concerned, the water is run through the coffee grounds, and drips into the waiting coffee pot via gravity. That’s not at all the way these types of machines work.
To make a good espresso, you need pressure, and pressure is measured in bars. 1 bar is equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level.
Gaggia Accademia Mechanism
The important numbers to remember are these: the Accademia’s pumping mechanism is rated at fifteen bars, and you need a minimum of 9 to make an excellent espresso, so you’re well covered in that department.
The other important factor is the rate at which water flows through the grounds, which controls the amount of flavor extraction from your grounds.
On the Accademia, this function is controlled via the large knob on the front center of the unit. Turn it to the left and you slow down the flow rate. Turn it to the right, and you speed it up.
With a bit of experimentation, you can use this to make yourself an excellent ristretto, beginning with the baseline settings for espresso and experimenting from there until it’s just how you want it.
Cup Warming Tray
The Accademia features a cup warming tray, although unlike a good many super-automatics, it doesn’t need it.
In many models, the output doesn’t get as hot as some people would like. This is in large part because specialty coffee drinks were meant to be enjoyed at a lower temperature than coffee brewed by the pot.
In these machines, the best way to increase the temperature of your drink is to pre-heat your cup before dispensing coffee into it. That way, you’re not losing heat as the coffee hits the cold cup.
When set to the maximum temperature, though, the Accademia produces coffee that approaches the same temperature as a pot of regular coffee. As such, the cup warmer isn’t an absolute necessity, but its inclusion makes for another bit of polish that makes the model shine all the more brightly.
Surprisingly Easy to Clean
In our view, other Gaggia Accademia reviews online don’t give the Accademia enough credit on this front, but the reality is that the cleaning system is simply amazing.
For one thing, you can initiate a full system cleaning from the control panel, with the touch of a single button. But more significantly, after each drink you make, the Accademia automatically runs a quick clean-up routine to keep your machine in a constant state of readiness.
Of course, there are still a few bits of maintenance you have to perform manually. There’s no getting around the need to periodically empty the drip tray or the dregs hopper (14 puck capacity), but that’s true of literally every coffee maker (super-automatic or not) on the market today.
In terms of ease of cleaning, this is one of the best models we’ve seen.
As you might expect in a machine that offers so many features, there is a learning curve associated with mastering this model.
Gaggia has taken pains, though, to make that learning curve as slight as possible, and their efforts paid off. The manual is exceptionally well-written, and the company made excellent use of the LCD screen, which clearly displays all your options and makes it easy to navigate the system.
It may take you an extra 60-90 seconds to make your very first drink, but after you’ve made two or three more, you’ll have essentially mastered the unit. That’s impressive, given everything the Accademia can do!
Pros & Cons of Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine
The Gaggia Accademia automatic espresso machine is, in a single word, superb.
We had to struggle to find potential areas of improvement, and although we did find a few, we readily admit that these are very minor quibbles. None of which are deal-breakers.
In our view, the following areas could be made better:
Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine Reviews Final Thoughts
If you’ve read multiple Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine reviews, then you already know it’s a great machine. We agree, and in fact, regard the Accademia as one of the very best on the market today.
It’s got just about every feature imaginable, so there’s enough control for even the most experienced coffee aficionados while maintaining relative ease of use, which makes it ideal for novices, too.
We recommend this model without hesitation – if you can afford it.
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