Learn how to setup the different parts and navigate the menus of the Gaggia Accademia, as well as how to install and activate the water filter, how to adjust the grinder, and how to prime the machine.
How To: Initial Setup & First Use of the Gaggia Accademia Espresso Machine
This article covers the initial setup you will need to perform to get your Gaggia Accademia espresso machine ready to brew.
Topics also covered include some of the programmability options that will allow you to tailor your machine to your needs, as well as how to install and activate a Mavea Intenza Water Filter.
In the Box/Accessories
This section covers the accessories that come with the Gaggia Accademia.
The Mavea Intenza Water Filter helps protect the flavor of your espresso by removing contaminants like chlorine from your water. It also helps prevent lime scale from building up on the inside of your machine.
Gaggia Decalcifier Liquid Descaler is used to break down minerals inside the machine. An added feature of the Accademia is that your machine will automatically prompt you when it's time to begin this process.
Gaggia Coffee Clean Tablets break down oils that have built up on the inside of your brew group and brew spouts. This helps make sure that what you brew tastes fresh.
The water hardness test strip is used in conjunction with the water filter and liquid descaler to diagnose the hardness of your water, program the results into your machine, and help maintain scale buildup.
The tube of food-safe brew group lubricant is a grease you can apply to the brew group to allow your machine's internal mechanisms to slide without friction. Diligent use of this will also help prolong the life of the brew group.
The small brush can be used to clean areas like the bypass chute or the inside of the brew group, while the measured scoop can be used to add pre-ground coffee to your machine via the bypass doser. Please note that one level scoop is equal to the maximum dose for the Accademia's brew unit.
Plug In & Switch On
Once your Accademia has been unboxed and you have everything where you want it to be, the next thing you need to do is secure the plug into the socket in the back of the machine.
Please note that the Accademia has a two-position power switch in the back of the machine, so you'll also need to flip that to the "On" position before the power button will work on the front.
By plugging in your machine and flipping the switch on the back, you can then officially power on your Accademia using the front power button, located on top of the machine directly above the main display screen.
Power On & Rinse Reservoir
Once you have done turned on your machine, it will automatically prompt you to "REFILL WATER TANK." If you are unboxing your machine for the very first time, you will want to open up the door on the left side of the top of the machine, as that's how to access the water reservoir. With the door open and the reservoir exposed, take the lid off, grab the handle, and remove the reservoir from the machine.
Please be aware that if this is in fact the very first time you are using your machine, you should thoroughly rinse the reservoir before adding any water to it for brewing.
Priming the Machine
When returning the reservoir to the machine, please be aware that there is an area in the back that has more depth than the front. This is indicated by a yellow tab that comes out when the reservoir is removed. With the reservoir properly oriented, reinsert it into your machine and reapply the reservoir lid.
Once the reservoir has been properly reinserted, your machine will then alert you "WATER CIRCUIT PRIMING." Priming is when the machine draws water in through the pump in order to start pumping water. If you have a brand new machine, there will be nothing but air in the pump, so your machine will need to prime before it can do anything else.
Machine Menu Settings
Once the water reservoir has been filled and reinserted, and your machine has finished priming, it's also important to acquaint yourself with the menus and settings available on the Accademia. These menus will determine basic operations on your machine. Any settings you adjust can be revisited and changed again as many times as you see fit, so feel free to tinker and test out each option!
If you ever want to access your machine's menu settings the two small circular buttons directly beneath the main display screen on the center-left and center-right will give you access to "MACHINE SETTINGS" and "BEVERAGE MENU."
For now, select "MACHINE SETTINGS" by pressing the center-left button that shows two gear icons. Once there, you will see that the suite of four buttons has changed to an escape button, an OK button, an up arrow, and a down arrow. These buttons will allow you to navigate your machine's menus.
First, select "DISPLAY SETTINGS", then "LANGUAGE." Your machine will default to English, but you can also select different languages simply by scrolling through the options offered.
Also in display settings is the option to change the "BRIGHTNESS" of your machine's main screen. Feel free to adjust this to whatever is the most comfortable to look at.
Next, let's look at "CALENDAR SETTINGS." These settings allow you to enter the "TIME" and "DATE" into your machine's internal clock (options for an AM/PM or 24-hour clock are available), as well as the option to access stand-by settings, and the power-on timer.
"STAND-BY SETTINGS" allow you to set your machine to power off after a period of inactivity, with options for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 3 hours. This will help conserve energy and lower your total energy consumption.
The "POWER-ON TIMER" is something that needs to be used in conjunction with the time and date you program into your machine. This setting will let you set up to three timers for the machine. The setting is so precise that you can set each timer to down to the minute, as well as set the day or days of the week you want each time to be active.
Now, let's look at "WATER SETTINGS." This is where you'll be able to program your "WATER HARDNESS" into the machine using the included test strip, as well as where you can enable and activate your water filter via the "ENABLE FILTER" and "ACTIVATE FILTER" options.
If you did not see a setting covered in this section that you would like more information on, please refer to the "Additional Menu Settings" section of this article, below.
Water Hardness Test & Water Filter Preparation
Activating the included Mavea Intenza Water Filter with your machine straightforward process that will actually accomplish two steps of the initial setup process at one time.
The water hardness test strip that comes with the Accademia has four green squares on it. Based on how many of those squares change color after being exposed to your water from the source you plan on regularly using, you'll be able to program the water hardness into your machine, as well as set the water hardness setting on your water filter.
To begin this process, the first thing you want to do is remove the strip from its packaging. Next, dunk the strip into the water so that all four squares are able to get soaked. Keep the strip submerged for 1-2 seconds, then pull it out, give it shake, then set it aside for the moment.
While the strip is determining your water hardness, let's prepare the water filter. If you give the filter a shake, you can hear the layers of filtration — consisting of dry sediments like carbon, etc. — inside of it. Fill a container with water that's large enough for the filter to be completely submerged, and process to submerge the filter.
With the filter submerged, give it a few couple of squeezes so that you see air bubbles come out. When you squeeze the filter, what you're doing is drawing water into the filter cartridge. Drawing water through an activated and hydrated filter — one that has been previously submerged and squeezed — will help immensely when your insert the filter into your machine and the required process of drawing water begins.
After doing this, enough time should have passed that you can set leave the filter submerged for now and return to the water hardness test strip. You should read the results from left to right. For example, if the left-most two squares turned orange, and the two on the right are green, that result corresponds with a water hardness of two.
You can then take these results and set your water filter to match. To do this, pull the filter out of the water and locate the the three settings on the bottom ridge of the filter: “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
Using the example provided above, with the left-most two squares on the water hardness test strip being orange, and the two on the right being green for water hardness of two, you would select 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.
With your water hardness determined and your water filter set to match it, the next step is getting your water hardness programmed into your machine. After that, you'll be set to remove the reservoir, install the water filter, then activate it in your machine.
Setting Water Hardness & Water Filter Activation
With the water filter ready to be installed, return to the "MACHINE SETTINGS" menu and navigate to "WATER SETTINGS." Once at the water settings menu, go to "WATER HARDNESS" and set your water hardness to match the results of your water hardness test.
If using the examples given in the "Water Hardness Test & Water Filter Preparation" section of this article, which was the left-most two squares being orange and the two on the right being green, you would switch the water hardness in your machine to 2 and press OK. Doing this tells your machine how hard your water is, while also allowing your machine to know how frequently to alert you to descale.
Next, scroll down to "ENABLE FILTER," then select "ON". After that, the last step is to activate the filter. To do that, go to the "ACTIVATE FILTER" option and press OK. Your machine will provide a prompt asking you if you want to activate the filter, to which you should once again press OK.
After that, your machine should conduct a quick water circuit priming. After that, you will then be prompted to "INSERT WATER FILTER AND FILL THE WATER TANK." To begin this part of the process, remove the water reservoir and fill it about one-third to one-half full.
Once you have enough water in the reservoir, you can properly install your water filter. To do this, place the water reservoir it so you can see the filter inlet clearly. Luckily the reservoir is made with clear plastic, so this it should be easy to spot. Next, grasp the top of the water filter (NOT the end with the hardness letters A,B,C) and line it up with the intake. With both parts lined up, insert the filter into the intake by pressing it down into it until you cannot make it go down any more. With the filter now installed, go ahead and add more water to fill the reservoir the rest of the way, then reinsert it back into your machine.
Once the reservoir has been properly reinserted, make sure you place a pitcher or adequately sized container under the hot water arm before proceeding. This is because a lot of water is going to be drawn and dispensed during the next step of the process, so you want to make sure you have something to catch the water. With a container in place to catch the dispensed water, press OK to proceed through the next few prompts until your machine begins the priming process. Once this process has completed, you have successfully activated your water filter!
Keep in mind that based on your water hardness, your machine will let you know when it's time to replace the filter, as well as adjust the frequency at which the descaling alert is displayed. So, if you want to descale less and ensure that your water tastes even better, it's strongly recommended that you install a Mavea Intenza Water Filter, especially when you're dealing with a brand new machine.
Additional Menu Settings
With the water filter activated and installed, you should review your machine's remaining menu settings options. If you do see a setting covered in this section that you would like more information on, please refer to the "Machine Menu Settings" section of this article, above.
Return to "MACHINE SETTINGS," the select "GENERAL SETTINGS." The first option in the general settings menu, "CUP WARMER," allows you to power ON or OFF the cup warmer on the top of the machine. How this feature works is when you select ON, your machine turns its heating element on. The cup warmer is also large enough to fit a handful of espresso or cappuccino cups, which can really come in handy when you're expecting company.
"ECOMODE FUNCTION" allows you to set your machine to settings that will save you a little bit of power, while the "ACOUSTIC TONE" allows you to turn ON or OFF the sound effect made when you press the buttons on your machine.
Next, let's take a look at "MAINTENANCE SETTINGS."
"PRODUCT COUNTERS" is a setting mostly for bragging rights, as this setting allows you to go through and take a look at how many of each drink you have made.
"DESCALING CYCLE" tells you how close to a recommended descale your machine is, as well as the option to start one. This also lets you know that you have a filter activated.
"BREW GROUP CLEANING CYCLE" is where you'll go to start the process of cleaning your machine's brew group.
Select "CARAFE WASH CYCLE" for the option to begin a clean of the milk carafe. "CARAFE AUTO CLEAN" is also an option you can enable to allow your machine's process of auto-cleaning the milk carafe to begin after you're done making a drink with it. It's recommended that you have this setting ON.
The final "MACHINE SETTINGS" option, "FACTORY SETTINGS," offers you the option to restore your machine to its factory default settings.
Once you've gone through your machine's settings and tailored them to your liking, all that's left to do is adjust the grinder before officially beginning to brew!
Adjusting the Coffee Grinder
For the final step of the Accademia's initial setup process, you'll want to first take a look at the bean hopper, which is located on the right side of the top of the machine and covered by a door. After opening the door to reveal the hopper, you should also see a lid with an aroma seal gasket. This lid has markings that warn you not to put water or ground coffee into it. More importantly, it has markings for grind setting.
When you first get your machine out of the box, you'll want to make sure that your grind setting is set fairly fine. The Accademia has eight grind settings settings, and you should aim for setting one or two, which equates to the smallest, or second-smallest sized dot. This is recommended because for your first couple of shots you'll essentially be testing out whether you like the intensity of the espresso or not.
Please note that it’s important to get your grind set before adding beans. This is because 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 make an adjustment, 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.
With your grind setting adjusted, the next thing to keep in mind is the beans you choose to use. Aim for a medium roast that's free of extensive surface oils, and avoid extra dark roasts like French roasts. Coffee with lots of oil on it can make it hard for beans to feed down into the grinder. Look for a roast that's labeled an espresso roast or espresso blend, and be sure to inspect the beans to make sure they don't have a shiny surface gloss.
With your grinder adjusted and the right beans added, put the lid back on and you're ready to brew!