Gaggia 1003380 Accademia Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Review

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gaggia-accademia-espresso-machine

Introduction

While money can’t buy everything, it does buy exceptional quality and superb convenience when it comes to Gaggia Accademia Super-Automatic Espresso Machine.

It dares to rival the leading brands in producing seven coffee drinks with speed, ease, customization and durability. It shines where competitors dim in some of the design features and performance:

 Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Features & Benefits
3. Brewing
4. Steaming
5. Display & Control
6. Additional Features
7. How to Clean
8. Accessories
9. Power & Cord
10. Dimensions & Weight
11. Warranty
12. Pros & Cons
13. Consumer Reviews
14. Price
15. Summary

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Features & Benefits

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  • Double Boilers: The Accademia is equipped with two separate boilers made of stainless steel for brewing and steaming without any downtime. No waiting is required in our very impatient culture.
  • Built-in Ceramic Burr Grinder: Made of ceramic, the grinder is able to produce 8 coffee grounds from coarse to fine for different brewing methods beyond just espresso. The ceramic is the best material in a coffee grinder as it’s very durable and doesn’t compromise on the aroma and quality of the grind. The hopper size is 12.3 ounces with a seal to keep the coffee fresher longer. The added-bonus is the by-pass doser in case you’d like to try some pre-ground coffee or decaf.
  • 54 Oz Water Tank and Hot Water Dispensing: It’s not super-large in size but big enough to brew a few cups of espresso without the need for refill. You may use a water filter to reduce the need of descaling as well as improving the taste of your brew without chlorine in tap water. The hot water dispensing outlet is handy to make hot tea or hot cocoa.
  • Exceptional Customization: It allows personalization of the quantity of coffee, strength, preinfusion time, volume, temperature and milk frothing. The factory default setting is on “Medium” for everything but you can adjust some or all from minimum to maximum with the touch of a few buttons.
  • Adjustable Brew Spout: One of the biggest complaints in many espresso machines on the market is the limited clearance between the brew spout and the cup. The Gaggia 1003380 solved the problem by an adjustable height from 3 to 6.5 inches. This accommodates most of the cups.
  • Separate Milk Frothing Wand: Most of the super-automatic machines available lack this feature. Having the external steaming wand sets it apart from many competing models. The milk carafe is very easy to hook into the unit and removable for storing in the fridge until the next use. The carafe also has minimum and maximum lines for filling with cold milk.
  • Two Drip Trays: There are internal and external drip trays to catch water from auto-rinse and accidental spill.
  • Removable Brew Group: This is a rare feature that presents several benefits such as easy cleaning and maintenance. It also saves you money in shipping in the event that it has to be shipped to the factor repair shop for service since you don’t have to ship the entire unit.
  • Used Coffee Bin: It allows up to 15 pucks before emptying it.
  • Standby and Energy Saving Mode: A standby mode will kick in after 60 minutes of inactivity. At such, either boiler is not heated and all the devices are turned off. The 60-minute can be reprogrammed for longer (up to 180 minutes) or shorter (15 minutes) according to your needs.

Brewing

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To brew a cup of espresso or another type of drink, all you need to do is to place a cup or two under the brew spout. Select the appropriate button such as Espresso once for one cup or twice for two cups. The unit will start grinding the programmed amount of coffee from 7 to 10.5 grams or 0.25 to 0.37 ounces followed by brewing. There are 8 settings for the grinder. Adjust it according to your brew. Espresso grounds should be finer but not the finest for best extraction. Play with the setting for a few brews until you find the perfect dial number. It will shut off automatically once the brewing is completed or you may press the Stop button anytime.

Remember I mentioned the by-pass doser? That’s for using preground coffee of sort. Be careful not to overdose as it will be ejected to the used coffee bin. Test to dose just shy of the measuring scoop. This feature is extremely useful if there are two people in your household who use this espresso maker. The by-pass dosing would be perfect for the second person if he or she happens to like a different type of roast or defaf.

Just about everything is adjustable to suit your needs. Coffee strength, brew volume and brew temperature. A few customers reported that the brew temperature wasn’t scolding hot for them. That’s because the factory settings are on Medium for everything. If I were you, I’d dial up everything to Maximum first and then adjust down if needed.

I should point out the dispensing spouts are aligned towards the inner body of the unit. So the brew flows by the inner edge of the cup more so than in the center. Make sure you place the cup/cups under the spouts. The height of the dispensing spouts are from 3 to 6.5 inches adjustable up or down to suit the height of the cup.

Steaming

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Frothing is done via one of two methods. The first one is the pre-programmed frothing and let the machine do its trick. If you’d like to control the steaming process, there is an external frothing wand. This is one of the best differentiating features in this Accademia as most of the super-automatic units are not designed with such. This will definitely help solve the problem of milk not being hot enough for Lattes or Macchiatos by frothing the milk longer until it reaches to the desired temperature. You may adjust the milk amount by pressing the “+” button.

By the way, the frothing wand is of commercial quality and grade with 5 inches clearance between the tip of the wand and the counter.

Display & Control

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This machine is equipped with push-button display organized as such: from top and left to bottom and right:

  • Calendar/Timer shown as Minute/Month/Year and timer
  • Four buttons as Exit, Scrolling/Selection for Machine Menu, Scrolling/Selection for Beverage Menu and Selection/Confirmation button.
  • Beverage Menu: Espresso, Coffee, Long Coffee, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Hot Milk and Hot Water

The Machine Menu allows you to select features such as Cup Warmer On/Off, EComode On/or Off, Display Language, Calendar, Water Settings (hardness and filter) and Machine Maintenance.

For each beverage type, you have the ability to reprogram the menu such as the coffee amount, pre-brewing or pre-infusion time, coffee temperature, coffee length or water volume, milk length and milk foam. There is a factory default setting to restore to the programmed setting in case you mess up.

The User Manual walks you through each setting on how to reprogram to satisfy your preference.

Additional Features

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The Cup Warmer is on the top-left of the unit for prewarming cups before brewing. This is an active warmer which means it’s designed to heat up the cups instead of just using the exhaustive heat from the machine.

Another unique feature is that the machine has a product counter that keeps track of the number of beverages that have been brewed.

How to Clean

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The cleaning cycles are designed into the unit for brew group, descaling, carafe rinsing and once again factory setting if you don’t care for the trouble of reprogramming. Refer to the instructions in the User Manual to program and perform each maintenance task.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

The Gaggia Accademia comes with a multi-lingual User Manual in English, Italian, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese. It also includes cleaning tablets, a coffee scoop, cleaning brush, milk carafe, one-time use water filter and water testing kit.

Optional Accessories

If you live in an area where water hardness is an issue, you may have to buy more water filters for this model. Another consideration is that if you’d rather steam the milk using the wand, a milk pitcher would be handy to have. Remember to get a size that’s at least twice of the volume of the milk to leave room for expansion and foaming.

Of course, having the right type of coffee roast would be an essential in producing a perfect cup of espresso or milk-based drink. One well-rated espresso roast is by the brand of Lavazza available on Amazon.

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1500
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 120/60

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 11 x 16.8 x 15.2
  • Weight (lbs): 37.5

Warranty

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 2-year limited warranty on parts and labor

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Well-designed, constructed and made in Milan, Italy with quality parts and materials
  • The front panel made of stainless steel is fingerprint proof for easy cleaning.
  • Double boilers allow alternating from brewing and steaming without any downtime at the optimal temperature.
  • Built-in ceramic burr coffee grinder with 8 different settings and a double lid aroma saver to prolong the freshness of coffee
  • Separate steaming wand enables you to froth milk to the right temperature and froth.
  • Brew exceptional coffee drinks that rival any.
  • Versatile adjustments can be made in every brew setting to your liking.
  • Removable brew group easy for cleaning. The machine is serviceable at home without the hassle and cost of shipping to a manufacturer designated repair location.
  • Extremely thoughtful and well-packaged for shipment
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Very pricey
  • Small water tank of 54 oz. means frequent refills if you are a heavy coffee drinker. The same inconvenience results from small drip trays.
  • Milk drinks are not as hot as many would like from the automatic frothing feature. A couple of things can be done such as warming the cup before brewing or use the external steam wand to froth.
  • You might get erroneous message telling you to empty the used coffee bin although you just did it 5 seconds ago. One customer shared the insight from the manufacturer to wait for 15 seconds for the unit to reset.
  • It’s not very forgiving to oily beans.

Consumer Reviews

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4.0 out of 5.0

73% of the Amazon reviewers were very happy with the purchase citing the Gaggia Accademia outperformed many competing products in the category. The few outstanding features are the double-boilers, the external steaming wand, the ability to customize the drinks and ease of use and to service the machine at home. The biggest complaint was the less than scolding hot temperature and the low tolerance for oily coffee beans.

Price

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It’s priced just under $2000 at the review. It’s quite an investment by all means. At this price, many could buy a used car. But there are people who bought multiple units at the same time. It’s a matter of what’s important to you and your budget allowance.

Summary

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Gaggia represents a big name in the espresso machine marketplace. This Accademia takes the hassle and wait time out for the pure enjoyment of an espresso or a latte throughout the day. In the super-automatic category, it stands out with a few design characteristics that are absent in the competing brands or models. The biggest complaint by consumers in a super-automatic espresso maker is the lack of an external steam wand. This unit addressed it head on so you are in control of the frothing amount and more importantly, the temperature.

The nice design touches and thoughtfulness are reflected in so many aspects from menu options, build materials, usability to the quality of drinks. If you can afford a machine like this, definitely add it to your short list. Who can really measure the joy of sipping an Italian quality of coffee drinks in the comfort of your own home? Besides, you will recoup your investment in about a year if you get one drink everyday throughout the year from Starbucks for $5.

 

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