Learn how to set up the different parts of the Gaggia Cadorna Barista Plus, Cadorna Milk, and Cadorna Prestige, as well as how to activate the water filter, how to adjust the grinder, and how to prime the machine.
How To: Initial Setup & First Use of Gaggia Cadorna Espresso Machines
In this article, we will be taking a look at the initial setup for any of the machines from the Gaggia Cadorna series. Things covered include basic tips and tricks to help you get the machine optimized for brewing, an overview of the accessories that come with the machine and how to use them, as well as some other tips and tricks that will make the user experience on your new machine better.
First things first, make sure your machine is plugged in before getting started!
Remove the Sticker!
Each Gaggia Cadorna machine ships brand-new with a protective sticker on the screen. So, if you're seeing drinks displayed and your machine is not plugged in, all you need to do is pull the sticker right off.
The purpose of the sticker is to keep the screen safe during shipping. Once you’ve received your machine, the sticker is no longer needed so just remove it once you've placed it where you want!
In the Box Accessories
Once your machine is unboxed, you should take a look at the treasure trove of accessories that come with it!
First is a Mavea Intenza Water Filter. This is going to reduce the frequency that you need to descale your machine. It filters out particulate and other matter that could affect the taste of your coffee, so it’s really important. Use of a water filter is optional, but it’s something that we recommend using.
Next is the water hardness test strip. Instructions on how to use this can be found below in the “Water Hardness Test” section of this article. The water hardness test strip is a four phase test, meaning there are four squares that correspond with the results of your test, as well as how you program the hardness into your machine. By programming your water hardness into your machine, you are telling your machine “Hey, my water is this hard,” which in turn allows your machine to alert you when it’s time to descale.
Third is the brew group lubricant. This is a food-safe grease that you put on the brew group. It keeps the mechanisms inside the machine sliding properly. Re-applying lubricant is something that you’ll need to do on a 1 to 4 month basis, depending on how frequently you use the machine. You can also use the lubricant for a trick with the water reservoir to make it a little easier to insert and remove from the machine. This trick is described in the "Water Reservoir Preparation" section of this article below.
Last is the dual-purpose coffee scoop and grinder adjustment key. On one end of the coffee scoop you’ll see a hexagonal socket that's used to adjust the grind setting. On the other end is a measured scoop, which is used for brewing with pre-ground coffee. On the scoop end, there are also plus and minus icons which let you know if you’re making the grind finer or more coarse when turning the grinder adjustment key end.
Water Hardness Test
To properly conduct a water hardness test, it’s very important that the water that you test is from the same source that you’re going to regularly use to add water to your machine. For example, if you test water that has been pre-filtered in any way, make sure that you consistently add pre-filtered water to your machine.
To conduct a water hardness test, take the strip and dip it in the water you are testing. Leave the strip in the water for a few seconds, then remove it and shake off any excess water. Set the strip down and your test result should appear after about a minute.
Water Filter Preparation
To prepare your Mavea Intenza Water Filter, you’ll want to just take the filter and dunk it in a bowl of water that is big enough to allow the filter to be fully submerged. While fully submerged, squeeze the sides of the filter to get some of the air out of it. By doing this, you are helping get more water into the filter, which will also weigh it down. Let the filter sit in the water for a few minutes to activate the layers of filtration.
Once you’ve gotten enough water into the filter that it will stay fully submerged on it’s own, you can leave it in the water until you are ready to begin the water filter installation process. This process is described in detail below, starting with the “Water Filter Hardness Setting” section of this article.
Water Reservoir Preparation
Once you've conducted your “Water Hardness Test”, and while your water filter is being prepped (see “Water Filter Preparation” section above), you’ll want to get your water reservoir prepped for use. First, position the steam wand — or the cap and cup if you're using a Cadorna Plus or Cadorna Milk — out of the way. Then, remove the reservoir.
We’ve found that some customers feel like you have to pull a bit too hard to get the reservoir to come out and that they might damage their machine by doing so. While you are not in any danger of damaging your machine by removing the water reservoir, we've come up with a solution to make this process easier. All you have to do is simply take the included food-safe brew group lubricant and apply just a little bit to the inner diameter of your water inlet. Just a small amount will do the trick. Once the lubricant has been applied, you should be able to very easily slide the reservoir in and out of the machine.
The second part of preparing your water reservoir is rinsing it. You never want to brew using an unrinsed reservoir. To rinse, simply remove your reservoir from your machine, take it to the sink, add water, then pour the water out.
Priming the Machine
The process of priming your machine consists of running water through the different circuits to allow the pump to draw water in. Before beginning the priming process, make sure you have a decent sized container underneath both the steam wand and the brew spouts to catch the water that is going to be released.
Once you’ve properly placed the containers, simply press the lower-left button that corresponds with the check-mark icon, then the "START/STOP" button to begin! Once the priming process has been completed, you can also empty the container(s) under the steam wand and brew spouts.
Water Hardness Setting
After priming your machine, two additional menus will display that will ask you if you want to finish setup. To manually get to these menus, press the "clean/setting" button, then press the top-right button for “SETTINGS”. Please note that if you completing your initial setup, this prompt should automatically appear.
While in the "SETTINGS" menu, you should first press the top-left button for "LANGUAGE". Again, if you are setting your machine up for the very first time, this menu should automatically appear. Once you’ve selected the language you want the machine to display, press the lower-left button that corresponds with the check-mark icon.
The second prompt that should automatically appear is to program your water hardness. To manually find this menu, press the "clean/setting" button, then press the top-right button for “SETTINGS”. While in the "SETTINGS" menu, press the middle-left button to switch to the second screen of settings options, then press the top-left button for "WATER HARDNESS".
By now, your water hardness test strip should be ready. You should read the results from left to right. The example in the video shown at the beginning of this article shows the left-most two squares turned orange, while the two on the right are green. That result corresponds with a water hardness of two. With these results, you can now program your water hardness into your machine. Match the water hardness number for your machine to the result on the test strip, then press the lower-left button that corresponds with the check-mark icon to save.
Please note that you can always change/update your water hardness by revisiting the "WATER HARDNESS" menu if you ever need to (ex. New home, change of water filter, new water source, etc.).
Water Filter Activation
It’s important to note that your machine will not automatically prompt you to install your water filter. This means you are going to have to manually begin the process of activating your filter for your machine. To begin the process, press “clean/settings”, press the top-right button for “SETTINGS”, then press the top-right button for “WATER FILTER”. From there, you can either "ACTIVATE" or "DISABLE" water filter functionality. By selecting disable, you're telling the machine “Hey, I'm going to stop using water filters.” If this ever becomes the case for you, it’s important that you change your setting to “DISABLE” because that will affect how frequently your machine will prompt you to to descale. Descaling is vitally important because scale buildup is the number one issue in super automatic espresso machines like the Cadorna.
For the sake of activating your water filter, select the “ACTIVATE” option to begin. Your machine will prompt you to begin a 2-minute process. Before pressing "START/STOP" to begin, continue reading below for instructions on how to set your “Water Filter Hardness Setting” and “Water Filter Install & Activation”. Once these two steps are completed, you may begin the filter activation process!
Water Filter Hardness Setting
Before installing the water filter into your machine, you will need to set the water hardness on the filter itself. On the bottom ridge of the filter, there are three settings: “A”, “B” and “C” (Each Mavea Intenza Water Filter defaults to “B”).
These three options correspond with the results of the “Water Hardness Test” you should have already conducted. The water filter options and water hardness test strip results match as such:
- A = 1-2 Orange squares, 3-2 Green squares
- B = 3 Orange squares, 1 Green square
- C = 4 Orange squares, 0 Green squares
The example in the video shown at the beginning of this article shows the left-most two squares turned orange, while the two on the right are green. That result corresponds with a water hardness of two, and the letter “A” on the water filter. To change the letter on the filter, grasp the grips on the side of the bottom ridge and twist so that the arrow lines up with the letter you require.
Once the letter on the filter matches the results of the water hardness test, you should make sure the water hardness result also matches on your machine. This is part of the final step mentioned in the “Water Filter Activation” section of the article above. You can now pressing "START/STOP" to begin the 2-minute water filter activation process, and continue the process by completing the “Water Filter Install & Activation” steps below.
Water Filter Install & Activation
If you haven’t already, the first thing you want to do before installing your water filter into your machine is follow the steps in the “Water Filter Preparation” section of this article above.
Gaggia assumes that your reservoir is going to be empty when you install the filter, but we recommend filling it ahead of time so you don't have to empty it and then fill it back up again. Once your reservoir is roughly 75 percent filled, simply line up the bottom ridge of your filter with the water inlet socket at the bottom of the reservoir and push down. Don’t worry about getting your fingers in the water.
With the filter installed, add the reservoir back into the machine and press the lower-left button that corresponds with the check-mark icon. You will be prompted to fill your reservoir, then to insert the water filter, but since you already did that, you can again press the lower-left button that corresponds with the check-mark icon to move on to the next step!
You will next be prompted to place a container under the steam tube. Once the filter has been installed and the reservoir has been properly reinserted in the machine, place a fairly large container (ex. 2-3 cup measuring cup, large bowl) under the steam tube. Once the container is in place, press the lower-left button that corresponds with the check-mark icon. What will happen is your machine will draw water in with the filter installed to make sure that the machine can successfully prime and draw water in with the filter in place. This part of the process takes about 1 minute or so. If, for whatever reason, you don't happen to have enough water in the reservoir, you can simply remove it and add a little bit more. You'll be able to resume the process without having to start over again.
Menu Settings & Options
Now that your water filter is activated, the next thing you should do is take a look at the other options in your machine’s menus. After pressing "clean/setting", you will see options for “CLEAN” and “SETTINGS”.
"CLEAN" allows you to access a number of functions, such as "DESCALING", which is a 25-minute process you can begin at any time. This process makes use of Gaggia Decalcifier Liquid Descaler to break down any scale buildup on the inside of the machine.
From the "CLEAN" menu you can also conduct a "BREW GROUP CLEAN". This 5-minute process utilizes Gaggia Coffee Clean Tablets to break down coffee oils that build up on the brew groups in your spouts.
From the “SETTINGS” menu you can access nearly two full screens worth of options. We've already covered “LANGUAGE” and “WATER FILTER” in the “Water Hardness Setting” and “Water Filter Activation” sections of this article, above, so let's take a look at "STAND-BY TIME".
"STAND-BY TIME" is how long the machine will actually stay on before it powers down. Options range from 15 minutes to 180 minutes. By selecting a greater amount of time, you will reduce the amount of times the machine rinses. This is because when the timer expires, the machine will power off, which will, of course, require another power on, which requires the machine to rinse itself again. A tip we like to share is to keep a cup under the brew spouts when not brewing, which will keep the drip tray from filling up and prevent it from needing to be emptied as often.
"UNITS" is another option on the settings menu. If you're in America, you will probably want to set it to "oz" (imperial system). If you’re in Canada, you can set the default units of measure to "ml" (metric system).
Back on the settings menu, if you press the middle right button to switch to the second page of options, you’ll see "WATER HARDNESS", which we’ve already gone over in the “Water Hardness Setting” section of the article, above.
"COUNTER" is an option on the settings menu that is more for maintenance, or for bragging rights. From the counter menu, you can view the total number of each drink you've prepared with your machine.
"FACTORY SETTINGS" is a settings menu option that will reset your machine back to its factory default settings.
Coffee Grinder Adjustment
The final step for setting up your new machine is to get the grinder calibrated before adding any coffee. Please note that it’s important to get your grind set before adding beans. This is for a couple of reasons. First, it's much easier to access the grind adjustment post in the bean hopper. Second, if you wind up adding beans and making a few shots before making an adjustment, you can only make a single adjustment at a time before having to grind a new shot and then adjust again. If the hopper is empty, you can make adjustments freely without running the risk of damaging your machine.
To begin the adjustment process, remove the bean hopper lid. Next, take the adjustment post and line it up with the grinder adjustment key (as previously mentioned in the “In the Box Accessories” section of this article, above). There is a little arrow that points to what setting the machine is currently set at, with 10 being the most coarse. To adjust, proceed in a similar motion to that of taking the cap off of a medicine bottle. If you press down and twist you can adjust the grind setting; if you simply try to twist it won’t do anything.
For the richest, most full-bodied shots, we recommend setting your grind as fine as it can go. If you make an adjustment and think “Hey, is that adjustment going to be too fine”, Gaggia has implemented the Gaggia Adapting System that automatically adjusts based on your grind setting and your bean selection. This means your doses will be accurate, while also allowing your machine to provide much more rich and full-bodied extractions. It’s also worth noting again that you can always come back to the grinder afterwards and make additional adjustments as you see fit.
Once you've got your grind set to where you want it to be, add your beans and start brewing!