Drinky Coffee Logo

Gaggia Brera Review

See how we review products

Last updated: December 28, 2023

Quick Answer: I do not recommend the Gaggia Brera because it doesn’t brew good espresso. If you want a super automatic machine at around $500 then I’d instead recommend the Delonghi Magnifica XS.

The Gaggia Brera is Gaggia’s most affordable super-automatic espresso machine. It’s one of the few super automatics that can be found for around $500.

In this Gaggia Brera review, I’ll explain why I don’t recommend the machine. 

I’ll also make my case for the Delonghi ECAM Magnifica XS which I think is a better super-automatic espresso machine that you can often find cheaper than the Gaggia Brera.

Let’s get started.

Should I Buy the Gaggia Brera?

I do not recommend the Gaggia Brera because the machine makes weak, watery espresso.

Its weak espresso is because the Brera uses a low-quality brewing basket with too large holes in it for proper extraction to occur when brewing.

Not Recommended
Gaggia Brera
$449.00
The Gaggia Brera makes watery espresso because its brewing basket has holes in it that are too large to offer proper resistance when brewing. This means that proper espresso extraction does not occur.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 04:02 pm GMT
Espresso Quality
4/10
Milk Steaming Performance
8/10
Functionalities
7/10
User Friendliness
6/10
Design and Durability
4/10
Value for Money
6/10

Gaggia Brera Pros

It makes true double shots where it brews with two doses of ground coffee rather than just brewing with additional water.

It’s one of only a handful of super automatic machines that costs around $500.

Gaggia Brera Cons

It brews weak, watery espresso.

There are lots of reports of its grinder breaking down.

Gaggia have tried to make it look like it’s made out of metal but its exterior is made entirely out of plastic.

It has a shorter warranty than other similarly priced espresso machines.

You can find super-automatic espresso machines that make much better-tasting espresso than the Gaggia Brera for around $500. 

Your best option in this price range is the Delonghi Magnifica XS.

Delonghi super-automatics uses a higher quality brewing basket, and so makes better tasting espresso, than Gaggia ones. This applies to models (regardless of price), so the cheapest Delonghi super automatic will make better-tasting espresso than the most expensive Gaggia model. 

Better than the Gaggia Brera
Delonghi Magnifica XS
$824.99

The Delonghi Magnifica XS makes better-tasting espresso and is often found for cheaper than the Gaggia Brera.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 02:46 pm GMT

Gaggia Brera Features

Here are the Gaggia Brera’s key features along with my thoughts on them.

User Interface and Workflow: Its Control Panel Relies Too Heavily on Vague Icons

The Gaggia Brera’s control panel relies on lit-up icons to tell you information about the machine. It’s not always clear what these icons mean which can make troubleshooting the machine difficult.

The Gaggia Brera’s control panel is made up of a screen with illuminated icons, four buttons, and a dial.

While the Brera’s control panel makes its day-to-day use easy enough. Its reliance on lit-up icons to tell you things can be frustrating if the machine needs troubleshooting.

Often the machine will “tell” you it has a certain problem by having an icon (or set of icons) flash or light up. 

It’s not always intuitive what icon corresponds to what problem, especially when several icons light up together at the same time.

The machine’s frustration potential is epitomized in this YouTube short of someone trying to figure out what it means when all the Brera’s warning lights are flashing simultaneously.

A TFT screen that told you in plain English exactly what was wrong with the machine would not go amiss here.

I appreciate that this would push the machine’s price tag up, so just be aware that part of the reason why the Gaggia Brera is so cheap is because corners have been cut with its control panel compared to more expensive models (the Gaggia Magenta for example).

Menu: Espresso, Lungo Steamed Milk and Hot Water

The Gaggia Brera can make an espresso that has a default size of just under two ounces and a longer coffee (lungo) that has a default size of just under four ounces.

The machine grinds the same amount of coffee beans for its espresso and lungo.

In addition to this, the Gaggia Brera can steam milk with its steam wand, dispense hot water for Americano, and make double portions of each of its two coffees.

I love how the Gaggia Brera uses two doses of ground coffee for its double shots. 

This is a big advantage that it has over the Delonghi Magnifica XS which uses the same amount of ground coffee for singles and doubles.

Drink Customizations: You Can Customize Your Coffee’s Length and Strength

The Gaggia Brera lets you customize your coffee’s strength and length. It does not give you any control over your brewing temperature, however.

You have a dedicated strength button to change the amount of ground coffee the Brera brews with. 

Adjusting your coffee’s length is a bit more complicated. You have to:

  • Hold the button of the drink you want to customize down until its corresponding icon flashes on your display screen.
  • Press the drink button down to start brewing
  • Press the drink button down again to stop brewing.

The amount of liquid espresso that the Brera dispenses at this time will be its default drink size going forward.

You can also brew double espressos and double lungos by pressing the relevant button twice quickly (“double press”). A two-cup icon will illuminate on the right of the machine’s display screen to tell you that it has registered this.

The Gaggia Brera does not let you adjust its brewing temperature. This is something that most other super automatics let you do. 

Being able to adjust your machine’s brewing temperature is particularly important if you want to brew with medium to lighter roast beans as these need a higher temperature to extract. 

So I’d especially recommend avoiding the Gaggia Brera if you want to brew with medium and light roast coffee beans.

Steam Wand: Panarello Steam Wand

The Gaggia Brera steams milk nicely, although if you want to make latte art you might want to look at the Gaggia Magenta Plus instead of the Brera.

The Gaggia Brera steams milk using a panarello steam wand. This means that its steam wand is surrounded by a sleeve with a hole in it. This hole pulls extra air into the milk which produces a thick bubbly milk foam.

They are a throwback to the days when stiff, bubbly milk foam that sits atop your coffee was what people wanted. Now people want more silky microfoam – in no small part because it’s much easier to make Instagrammable latte art with thinner milk foam.

While the Gaggia Brera’s steam wand produces a milk foam that you’ll struggle to make latte art with, its texture is still more uniform and closer to cafe quality than what you’d get from any super automatic with an automatic milk frother (regardless of how expensive the machine with an automatic milk frother is).

So if you’re solely going to make milk drinks, and you want a super-automatic espresso machine under $500, then the Gaggia Brera isn’t a bad shout. Its lackluster espresso is less of a problem if you’ll only drink milk drinks.

However, if you want to make latte art then get the Gaggia Magenta Plus which uses a professional-grade steam wand rather than a panarello.

Espresso Brewing System: A Low-Quality Brew Basket Means it Makes Watery Espresso

The Gaggia Brera brews your espresso using an internal brew group that doses and tamps your ground coffee for you.

Hot water runs through the ground coffee in your brew group and out your machine’s spouts.

The machine’s brew group can be removed for cleaning and lubrication

The Gaggia Brera’s brew group uses a low-quality plastic brewing basket that has relatively large holes in it.

Since this brewing basket is what’s supposed to provide resistance to your water during brewing, having too large holes means that water runs too quickly through your ground coffee for proper extraction to occur.

This means that the Gaggia Brera creates thin, watery espresso compared to super automatics made by other manufacturers.

You can see this low-quality brew basket by comparing Gaggia’s brew basket to one found in Delonghi Super Automatics:

All Gaggia super automatics use the same brew group and baskets, meaning that they all produce substandard espresso. 

The fact that their high-end machines still produce substandard espresso is an embarrassment.

This is why I’d always recommend a Delonghi super-automatic espresso machine over a Gaggia/Philips one (Gaggia and Philips use the same brew group and baskets, in no small part due to both companies being owned by Saeco).

Rinsing and Cleanings: Standard Super Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning and Maintenance Requirements

The Gaggia Brera will automatically rinse out its coffee spout immediately after you turn the machine on and as the machine turns off.

This is standard for super-automatic espresso machines. The machine would end up producing rancid-tasting espresso if it did not do this.

Bear in mind that the machine will automatically turn off an hour after it is turned on and it will run a rinse cycle when it does this. I’d make it a habit to always leave a cup under my spout to avoid any risk of flooding my drip tray with an unexpected rinse cycle when the machine auto-offs.

The Gaggia Brera also requires the following regular cleanings:

  • Purging the steam wand: You need to shoot some steam out of the machine’s steam wand to get rid of any milk that may have gotten sucked back up through the steam wand during steaming.
  • Emptying its used coffee grounds container: The machine will prompt you when its used coffee grounds container needs emptying. I’d make sure this is done at least once a week because mold grows on hot wet coffee grounds very quickly.
  • Cleaning the brew group: You’ll want to remove the machine’s brew group and run it under water once a week. Do not use detergent to clean the brew group and make sure it is completely dry before you put it back in the machine.
  • Lubricating the brew group: You need to apply grease to the brew group’s hinges every two months. The machine will not prompt you to do this.

Descaling the machine: The Brera will tell you when it needs to be descaled. The video below shows you how to descale the machine. The Gaggia Brera does not come with any descaling solution.

These cleaning requirements are pretty much universal to every espresso machine (with the exception of Jura espresso machines, the cheapest one of which is around 4x as much as the Gaggia Brera).

Grinder: Lots of Reports of the Grinder Malfunctioning

The Gaggia Brera uses a flat ceramic burr grinder with five grind size settings and a bypass doser.

While five grind size settings are fewer than most super-automatic espresso machines, I wouldn’t worry about this. Since super-automatic espresso machines cannot tamp your coffee puck properly, grind size is nowhere near as important as it is with a traditional, portafilter-driven espresso machine.

Five grind settings should give you more than enough control over your extraction. In fact, I’m willing to bet that in a blind tasting, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the machine’s highest and lowest grind settings.

What’s more concerning about the Gaggia Brera’s grinder is the number of reports online of the grinder breaking down. 

I could find five Amazon reviews that specifically mentioned the Brera’s grinder breaking down. This is enough to make me think that its grinder might have durability issues. 

I think that part of the reason for this is that the machine’s grinder is made from ceramic rather than steel. This is an attempt to save costs, but it leads to a big step down in grinder durability so is a bit of a false economy.

Water Reservoir: I Like That it Pulls From the Front

The Gaggia Brera has a 41 oz water reservoir that pulls out from the front.

I like how its water tank is tall and narrow, which makes it easy to carry when full without sloshing water everywhere.

This shape and the fact that the water tank pulls out from the front rather than the top make the water reservoir’s design really ergonomic.

I prefer it to the water reservoirs that lift out from the top that you find on the Gaggia Magenta and Cadorna machines.

Drip Tray and Used Coffee Grounds Container: Drip Tray is Too Shallow

The Gaggia Brera’s drip tray is very shallow making it easy to spill when you’re carrying it to your sink. 

It has an indicator float, but by the time the float is protruding the drip tray is at the point where it’s hard to carry without spilling.

The machine only gives you 4.5 inches of clearance between the bottom of its spouts and the top of its drip tray. You’ll never get a travel mug in here, and you’ll struggle to get taller cups in here as well.

A tall cup is 4 inches so it will barely squeeze under the Gaggia Brera’s spouts

I do like how the machine’s used coffee grounds container can go in the dishwasher.

Accessories: I’d Have Liked a Filter and Some Cleaning Solution

The Gaggia Brera comes with the following accessories:

  • A tube of lubricant for your brew group
  • A plastic scoop for pre-ground coffee
  • A water hardness test strip

I think that this is a bit of a stingy offering. 

It would be nice to have a water filter and some descaling solution come with the machine as Gaggia says you need both of these things to operate the machine properly.

The table below shows the Gaggia Brera’s key specifications:

Specification Gaggia Brera
Description
Super-automatic espresso machine with panarello steam wand
Milk system
Panarello steam wand
User interface
Buttons and digital screen with lit up icons
Number of black drinks on menu
2
Number of milk drinks on menu
None – you have to steam milk manually
Strength settings
3
Size settings
To the nearest setting dispensing time
Double shot feature
Yes
Number of user profiles
None
Grinder type
Flat ceramic burr grinder
Number of grind size settings
5
Maximum cup clearance
4.5″
Dimensions (width x depth x height)
10″ W x 15.5″ D x 11.5″ H

Now that I’ve gone through the Gaggia Brera’s features I’m going to assess the espresso machine across the following criteria:

  • Espresso quality
  • Milk steaming performance
  • Functionalities
  • User-friendliness
  • Design and durability
  • Value for money

Espresso Quality

The Gaggia Brera makes a watery espresso, lacking in flavor and body.

This is down to it brewing with a basket that has too large holes in it.

Too large holes in a brew basket mean that water passes through your ground coffee too quickly for proper extraction to occur.

This results in weak, watery espresso.

Despite this, I like that the Gaggia Brera uses two doses of ground coffee for its double espresso. 

Similarly priced Delonghi espresso machines do not do this, which means that the Gaggia Brera’s double espresso is nicer than one made with a Delonghi machine.

Espresso Quality Rating: 4/10

Milk Steaming Performance

The Gaggia Brera steams milk to a decent quality, however, if you want to make latte art then you’re going to want a machine with a professional-grade steam wand.

The Gaggia Brera’s panarello steam wand produces more consistent milk foam than what you’d get with an espresso machine with an automatic milk frother (such as the Philips LatteGo, Gaggia Prestige, or Jura machine).

Still, if you want to make latte art consistently then you ideally want a machine with a professional-grade steam wand rather than a panarello.

Gaggia is the only coffee machine manufacturer that makes super-automatic espresso machines with a professional steam wand, with the most affordable of these being the Gaggia Magenta Plus.

Milk Steaming Performance Rating: 8/10

Functionalities

The Gaggia Brera’s ability to make “true” double shots means that it offers a greater range of drinks than similarly priced super automatics with a steam wand.

These “true” doubles mean that the Brera offers a wider range of drinks than the Delonghi Magnifica XS, for example. While the Magnifica XS has four menu items, these all actually use the same quantity of ground coffee and instead just differ in the volume of water it brews with.

You’d want to avoid the Magnifica XS’s doubles altogether (or reprogram them to use less water).

When you select a double shot on the Gaggia Brera, you actually get two individually brewed shots of espresso. 

So the Brera’s double espresso is actually better than the Magnifica’s double espresso despite the Brera having an inferior brewing mechanism.

Functionalities Rating: 7/10

User Friendliness

Although the Gaggia Brera’s day-to-day operation is easy enough, its stripped-back user interface can give you too little information when the machine requires troubleshooting.

The machine relies on lit-up and flashing icons to tell you things. This can become confusing and frustrating, particularly when the machine needs troubleshooting.

A TFT screen that tells you in plain English what the machine’s specific problem is would make troubleshooting the Brera a whole lot easier.

I appreciate that this would push the machine’s price up. So I guess if you buy the Gaggia Brera you just have to accept that you are sacrificing some user-friendliness to save some money.

User Friendliness Rating: 5/10

Design and Durability

The Gaggia Brera does not seem to be the most durable espresso machine.

The Brera has a relatively high number of complaints of the machine malfunctioning.

In particular, its grinder seems to often break down within a year of use (I could find five separate reports of this happening).

I also find it annoying how the Gaggia Brera is clearly painted to make it look like its exterior is made out of metal. The second you get your hands on it you can feel that the machine’s entirely made out of plastic.

Don’t be fooled by this.

I know that some people may claim that this “metallic finish” makes the machine look elegant, but I think that this is just plain deceptive on Gaggia’s part.

Design and Durability Rating: 4/10

Value for Money

The Gaggia Brera offers decent, but not amazing, value for money.

I think that you get better value with the Delonghi Magnifica XS than the Gaggia Brera.

The two machines cost around the same, but the Delonghi’s superior brewing basket means that it makes better-tasting espresso than the Brera.

So if you’re looking for an espresso machine for around $500 I think that the Delonghi Magnifica XS offers better value for money than the Gaggia Brera.

Value for Money Rating: 6/10

Product Alternatives

The two espresso machines that people most often compare to the Gaggia Brera are the Delonghi Magnifica XS and the Gaggia Magenta Plus. I’ll now give my thoughts on how these machines compare to the Brera.

Gaggia Brera vs Delonghi Magnifica XS

I recommend the Delonghi Magnifica XS as it makes better-tasting espresso than the Gaggia Brera.

Both machines have panarello steam wands and can steam milk to the same quality.

The big downside of the Delonghi Magnifica XS is that it does not grind two doses of ground coffee for its double shots. To pull a double with the Magnifica XS you need to brew two single shots.

While this is annoying, I’d still take the Delonghi Magnifica XS’s superior brewing over the Brera’s ability to make true double shots.

Better than the Gaggia Brera
Delonghi Magnifica XS
$824.99

The Delonghi Magnifica XS makes better-tasting espresso and is often found for cheaper than the Gaggia Brera.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 02:46 pm GMT

Gaggia Brera vs Gaggia Magenta Plus

I’d recommend the Gaggia Magenta Plus over the Gaggia Brera if you want to make latte art.

The Gaggia Magenta Plus is one of few super-automatic espresso machines that use a professional-grade steam wand.

This means that you can steam milk to a much silkier texture with the Gaggia Magenta Plus than the Gaggia Brera.

Professional-grade steam wands are better for making latte art with than panarello steam wands, so I’d recommend the Gaggia Magenta Plus over the Gaggia Brera if you want to make latte art at home.

Better for Latte Art Than the Gaggia Brera
Gaggia Magenta Plus
$608.34
The Gaggia Magenta Plus’s professional-grade steam wand means that it’s much better for latte art than the Gaggia Brera.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 09:44 pm GMT

Gaggia Brera Review: Final Verdict

I do not recommend the Gaggia Brera because it makes weak, watery espresso.

If you’re looking for a super-automatic espresso machine around the $500 mark then I’d instead recommend the Delonghi Magnifica XS. This makes a better-tasting espresso than the Gaggia Brera.

Better than the Gaggia Brera
Delonghi Magnifica XS
$824.99

The Delonghi Magnifica XS makes better-tasting espresso and is often found for cheaper than the Gaggia Brera.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/03/2024 02:46 pm GMT

Gaggia Brera Review: FAQs

Is the Gaggia Brera Worth it?

The Gaggia Brera is not worth the money because it brews weak, watery espresso. If you want a super-automatic espresso machine for around $500 then you’re better off with the Delonghi Magnifica XS.

Is Gaggia a Good Brand?

Gaggia makes high-quality semi-automatic espresso machines, however, they do not make very good super-automatic espresso machines. If you want a super-automatic espresso machine then you are far better off with a Delonghi than a Gaggia machine.

What Are the Different Versions of Gaggia Brera?

There are two versions of the Gaggia Brera: a silver model and a black model. These two models are identical other than their color.

Related Articles