Learn how to make coffee drinks on the Gaggia Accademia, as well as how to use the bypass doser for preground coffee, and how to use the flow control knob.
How to Use Menus, Customize, and Brew Drinks on the Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine
This article covers the brewing features for the Gaggia Accademia. This includes the actual drinks you can make, in addition to how the Accademia lets you customize each beverage.
Other topics covered include variable pre-infusion, the ability to actuate a flow control knob, and how to brew using pre-ground coffee.
Coffee Drink Parameters
First, let's take a look now at some of the drinks you can make using the Accademia.
Along the left side of the front of the machine, there are dedicated buttons for "ESPRESSO," "CAFFÉ" (coffee), and "CAFFE LUNGO" (long coffee). All three options are coffee drinks that are brewed bean to cup, which means each and every cup is brewed with freshly ground beans.
The final button on the left side row of buttons allows you to choose between dispensing hot water or dispensing steam. The Accademia has a manual steam wand, in addition to a carafe, which is one of most unique features.
If you press the center-right button on the row of four small buttons directly underneath your machine's main display — the button that corresponds with the cup icon above it on screen — the "BEVERAGE MENU" will display. This is where you can program the settings for each drink option.
Once at the "BEVERAGE MENU" the first option is "ESPRESSO." If you select this option, the drink parameters for that specific beverage will appear on screen.
Please note that the "BEVERAGE MENU" options of "COFFEE" and "LONG COFFEE" are the same as the "CAFFÉ," and "CAFFE LUNGO" buttons, respectively, on the front of your machine. This means that customizing the settings for the beverage menu "COFFEE," for example, will also customize the settings for the "CAFFÉ" button, and visa versa.
When it comes to the "ESPRESSO" option, The first customizable parameter to take note of is "COFFEE AMOUNT." Coffee amount refers specifically to the amount of ground coffee that will be used in a given shot. The amount you select will also determine how long the grinder will run, as well as how much ground coffee will go into the puck. Options include "MILD", "MEDIUM," or STRONG." If you want to use your machine's bypass doser, which allows you to use pre-ground coffee, select the "GROUND COFFEE" option portrayed by the little scoop icon.
You also have the option for pre-infusion by way of the "PREBREWING" setting. If this setting is "OFF," your machine will grind, then start brewing. If set to "NORMAL," your machine will briefly soak the coffee before going into a full extraction. If set to "EXTRA," the same process will occur but the coffee will soak much longer before extracting. This is a great feature to make use of if you have a fresh and juicy coffee that you want to rich and intense flavor from. It's recommended that you at least give this function a try.
For temperature, there are three options to choose from: "LOW," "NORMAL," and "HIGH" You should also make sure that you're using either your machine's cup warmer to preheat your cups and mugs, or that you use hot water from the wand to pre-heat larger travel mugs. This will help ensure that your coffee stays hotter for longer.
"COFFEE LENGTH" is another parameter you can set that allows you to program how long it takes to brew your beverage.
The final parameter you can set is "RESTORE DEFAULT VALUES," which lets you undo any custom settings and reset your drink settings to their machine default.
Please note that while you can program drink strength in each drink's beverage menu, there is also an aroma strength selector button on the front of your machine, located below the display screen and row of four small buttons. If you push this button you will see bean icons appear on the main display screen to the left of the "Accademia GAGGIA" logo. The more beans that appear on screen, the more intense and full bodied your shot will be. If you continue to press the button, the bean images on screen will be replaced with a scoop icon. This is the option you want on screen if you plan on using pre-ground coffee. If there is neither bean icons or a scoop icon on screen, your machine will brew at the preset strength you have programmed for that specific beverage.
First Shots on a New Machine
Before getting into the specifics of brewing coffee with your Accademia, its worth noting that when it comes to super automatic machines, your very first shot may not look very appealing.
This is because the brew unit inside the machine will not be properly filled with coffee the first time around. Gaggia uses something called the Gaggia Adaptive System that learns to adjust itself based on the brew strength you select, as well as the type of coffee you use.
All that's required from you is to get your grind set, add your desired beans, select your brew strength, and brew! Do that a few times and your machine will produce progressively better shots.
With an initial shot or two under your belt, lets next take a look at making a crema-topped shot of espresso.
By using the "BEVERAGE MENU" (described in the "Coffee Drink Parameters" section of this article, above) you can get most of the steps completed when it comes to getting your beverages tailored exactly the way you want them.
That being said, sometimes you just want to actually see the desired volume in your cup.
For any of your machine's coffee beverage option buttons ("ESPRESSO," "CAFFÉ," and "CAFFE LUNGO") — excluding steam and hot water — you can actually press and hold a given beverage button for roughly 2-3 seconds to go into that specific beverage's memory mode. This will allow you to more specifically program the volume of your drink. You will know you have accessed the memory mode when an icon appears in the top-left corner of the main display screen.
Using the espresso beverage option as an example, if you press and hold the button "ESPRESSO" on the front of your machine for 2-3 seconds, you will see the memory mode icon appear on the main display screen. This will prompt your machine to begin brewing a shot. Once your machine begins brewing a shot, you'll then see the word "STOP" appear in the bottom-left of the main display screen. Once you have your beverage it at a desired volume, push the far-left button on the row of small buttons directly below the main display screen to stop the flow of the beverage being dispensed.
Lungo/Flow Control Knob
The Accademia also features a flow knob, located on the front of the machine, below the aroma strength selector button. This knob lets you adjust the back flow of water and tailor the time water makes contact with your shot. The result is either a lighter or more full-bodied extraction.
Please be aware that the knob has dots on its rounded edge; with the largest dot representing the most restriction and a much faster stream, and the smallest dot representing the least restriction and a slower stream. You can see this process in action while brewing, as the stream will change during extraction in accordance with the knob turning.
Its important to note that if you programming the volume of a drink, you should not adjust the knob because its can be tricky to try and remember where you had it positioned while programming.
Another great thing about the flow knob, besides using it to tailor specific drinks to your liking, is that is it a great way to make adjustments to your extraction without necessarily having to adjust your grind. The Accademia was one of the first machines to feature this as a brewing option and it has not really been repeated that often since. So its recommended that you give it a try because it can make a big difference!
Another great feature the Accademia offers is the ability to double up on a coffee drink selection.
For "ESPRESSO," "CAFFÉ," and "CAFFE LUNGO," you can press the desired drink's corresponding button on the front of the machine twice to have your machine grind and brew that beverage twice. You will know if you have done this correctly if the single cup icon shown on the main display screen is replaced with two cup icons, and the text on the top of the main display screen says "DOUBLE," then the name of the drink you are brewing.
The process of grinding and brewing twice is something that's unique among Gaggia machines, because many super automatics will simply double the volume of liquid in your cup and not the actual amount of ground coffee.
If you have any customer drink parameters for the drink you want to brew a double of, your machine will automatically use those settings for two consecutive brew cycles. This is terrific if you have a guest who wants the same drink as you, or if you want a drink that is the same amount of liquid, but twice as strong.
Using Pre-Ground Coffee (Bypass Doser)
The final section of the article covers the use of pre-ground coffee via the Accademia's bypass doser.
Your machine has a dedicated hatch on top of the machine behind the front power button that you can press down on to open the doser. With the hatch open, you now have a large chute to dump your coffee down.
If you plan on using the bypass doser, keep in mind that the scoop that came with your machine is calibrated to one maximum dose for the brew unit. So, when loading coffee into the bypass doser, you want to make sure that your coffee amount doesn't overflow the scoop; aim for one level scoop. The other thing to be cognizant of is to make sure you don't compact coffee into the scoop, as that can max out the pressure and cause your machine to dump your shot and force you to brew all over again.
You also want to make sure that the coffee you choose to use has been pre-ground for espresso. If you're not sure, you can take a look at the canister or bag containing the coffee and see which brew methods the roaster recommends.
If the right coffee on-hand, go ahead and get your scoop. Scoop out a heaping amount, then make sure to give the scoop a nice shake to fill in any crevices. Next, run a finger or the flat edge of a knife to across the top of the scoop to knock off any excessive coffee and create a nice, level scoop. With a full, level scoop ready to go, you can go ahead and dump it into the bypass chute, then press the hatch down to close it.
Next, you want to program your machine to brew using the bypass doser. To do this, press the aroma strength selector button on the front of your machine (located below the display screen and row of four small buttons), until the scoop icon appears on the left side of main display screen, then select your desired beverage option by pressing it's corresponding drink button on the front of the machine.
You machine will then prompt you to add your pre-ground coffee, which you should now do if you haven't already, then press OK. After that, your machine will do the rest and you'll have a freshly brewed, crema rich shot of espresso in no time!
A few additional things to keep in mind is that while preground coffee can produce a really nice looking shot of espresso, it does lose it's freshness at a faster rate than whole bean coffee. What this means is if you plan to use the bypass doser sparingly, make sure the ground coffee you use is fresh. You certainly don't want to serve your guests coffee from a tin that's been gathering dust on the counter next to the cat food for months.
You should also keep in mind that the bypass doser is a great option if you've got a decaffeinated coffee drinker in the family or a late-night guest who can't handle any more caffeine. If you use preground decaf coffee in the bypass doser, you can give everyone what they want without having to change the beans in your hopper!