Have you ever wondered what the barista behind the bar is actually doing? Sure, you hear that sweet sound of steaming milk and smell the pull of espresso into the cup. But do you know? If you buy the Gaggia Carezza (Check Price on Amazon.com), you will.
It takes you back to basics… no bells or whistles in this semi-automatic machine, just quality drink. Most of the process of making coffee is taken out of the device and put into the user’s hands. Steaming the milk is the only slightly automatic part of this product, and even that can go manual.
Is it Worth Your Money?
Yes, If you’re willing to get your countertop a little messy, and have fun doing it, it is set at an excellent price.
A small note here… Because the Carezza is a semi-automatic machine, it will take some getting used to. Unlike other models, it’s different timing cycles may feel unnatural at first, which may leave you with the impression it is not working correctly. Give it time and patience when you’re using it, and it will perform excellently.
Review & Breakdown
The Carezza sits firmly in the semi-automatic espresso machine category. A single, dual-use boiler heats the water for both espresso and steamed milk. A 15 bar pump provides more than enough pressure needed to pull a quality shot.
Shots are pulled by hand with a portafilter that you fill with coffee grounds yourself. The milk is steamed with the Pannarello wand. Or, if you really want to get into it, you can remove the Pannarello, and steam with the standard wand… especially if latte art is your goal.
It is meant to be a machine for anyone willing to use it, whether just stepping into the market, enamored by the fundamentals of espresso making, or seasoned with its making experience.
- 11” W x 12.75” H x 12.5” D
- 1300 Watts
- Stainless steel housing
- Push button controls
- Single boiler/dual use
- 6 x 6” passive cup warmer
- 47 oz front access water reservoir
- 15 bar vibration pump
- Commercial size 18 gram portafilter basket
- Pre-infusion function
- Takes a Mavea Intenza water filter
- 1 year limited warranty
Really, How Hard Can It Be?
Like all Gaggia models, its user interface is very intuitive. A few buttons are all you need to produce a coffee house quality drink at home. The only learning curve you may encounter depending on your experience is finessing the grind and amount to extract the shot correctly.
However, there are some parts of the interface that don’t seem to be needed. The temperature gauge is great for styling, but since you can’t control the heat, it tells you nothing. There’s not much range in the steam knob either, so a button to activate the steam may have been just as useful.
The only component that could be considered partly automated is the Pannarello wand. This wand takes the guesswork out of milk steaming, creating thick foamy milk for you. But, if you’re ready to remove the Pannarello wand for full coffeehouse mode, then you’ll have some fun learning to correctly foam coffee for latte art.
The Carezza is priced right there with the Gaggia Classic, sub $500 range. Given that it is a barebone semi-automatic machine with the brand’s reputation, the price is right on the spot.
Just remember, what you’re saving in money by going with a semi-automatic machine, you are spending in user input. Coffee lovers who like to get in the mix should be the primary buyers of this model. Everyone else who just loves coffee without getting too involved should look at starter units in the super-automatic category.
Even though this unit’s styling would like to give you the impression the Carezza is something more blingy, don’t be fooled. This Gaggia model has all the right components to make it an excellent, dependable, standard semi-automatic machine.
If you’re used to the seamlessness of more automatic models, it will leave you with a different impression due to the stop and start feeling of the entire process. That said, if you want a quality drink, this unit is all you need.
With this unit, you must be willing to get a bit messy. That doesn’t mean you’ll have grounds all over the floor and milk on the walls. But, you will be the one putting the granules in your portafilter and connecting it to the group head. And, you will be the one cleaning the portafilter and milk pitcher when you’ve finished producing the drink. If you’re not up for that, then it is not for you, despite its attractive price.
Other Options Worth Looking At
If you want less hassle, but your budget is narrow, take a look at the Gaggia Brera. It’s a high-quality entry level super-automatic machine focused on taking most of the fuss out of espresso making. You’ll still be steaming the milk yourself, but the Pannarello steam wand makes that easy for you too.
The Retro styling of the Carezza may be a bit showy for your taste. If that’s the case, go for the Gaggia Classic. At 20lbs in weight and a complete stainless steel encasement, it is all muscle with minimal styling. And it costs around the same as the Carezza.