Gaggia Achille manual espresso machine is an easy-to-use, lever operated espresso coffee maker that preserves the aesthetic appeal of manual machines. It employs the modern brewing technologies to enjoy freshly brewed espresso coffee whenever you want. With a size of 16 x 12 x 18 inches, the Achille machine is bigger compared to most lever-operated home espresso makers. The machine, weighing about 20 pounds, sits firm on the countertop without sliding because of the sticky rubber feet attached to the black plastic base.
The body of the machine is made of clear coated, brushed stainless steel, while the base is chrome plated. The black lever and the pearl-handled portafilter enhance the look of the machine. A great feature of Achille is that it enables you to release the brew pressure after an extraction without the need to detach the portafilter. This eliminates portafilter sneeze. Another important feature is that the boiler is not exposed. This means that the Achille does not become hot like other lever-operated espresso machines.
The uniqueness of this espresso machine is the use of the heat exchanger technology. It allows the machine to be operated for many hours, making back to back cups of espresso shots, without getting overheated. All you need to do is a cooling flush before each extraction. Though the cooling flushes reduce the amount of water in the reservoir when making five back to back cups of coffee, the detachable heat exchanger can be refilled quickly. As the outlet valve of the heat exchanger closes automatically when it is detached from the machine, you can refill even if there is some water in it.
The operation procedure is very simple. Turn on the main switch to start the boiler after filling it with water. The machine needs to be warmed for 20 minutes before it can be used to brew coffee and ensure that the boiler is maintaining steady temperature and pressure. Raising the lever on the front of the espresso maker moves a piston inside and releases water under pressure into the filter. Press the lever down to force water through the filter into your cup. Further, the Turbo frothing wand enables you create a creamy froth. The Gaggia Achille coffeemaker comes with single and double shot filter baskets that can be easily interchanged. The single shot filter holds 8 grams of coffee, while in the double shot filter you can load 17 – 18 grams. You can use ground coffee or ESE certified espresso pods in the portafilter.
Operating guidelines are provided and the filter quantity varies according to the boiler pressure setting and the speed with which the portafilter is locked in for extraction. Of course, it is possible to adjust the brew temperature by changing the boiler pressure setting or by increasing or decreasing the rebound time: the time between the end of flush and start of pull. The Achille is provided with a powerful heating element to ensure fast recovery.
As the Achille has a one-piece base, you donít have to worry about spillage. Though the drip tray is small compared to that used in most pump machines, it is bigger compared to many lever operated machines. However, to save on cleaning time it is a good idea to use container to collect the water when flushing.
Other major features of Gaggia Achille manual espresso machine are:
- A thermal fuse is provided to shut off the boiler to prevent overheating. However, it can be easily reset.
- To prevent build up of pressure inside the boiler, a safety valve is incorporated.
- As it is of stainless steel construction, including the drip grate, it is easy to maintain it by just wiping the exterior with a soft damp cloth. The boiler has to be decalcified at least three times a year.
- A sight glass on the left side of the machine allows you to monitor the boiler water level.
All said and done, there are a couple of not-so-serious drawbacks that should be understood before you make up your mind to buy this machine. The base flexes a little when you pull on the lever with force. However, this problem can be easily overcome by holding the portafilter handle firmly with the other hand. Also, several owners complain about the machine leaking and suggest it is an engineering fault. The leaking has affected several customers so if you are going to purchase this model it is worthwhile purchasing from Amazon since they have such a customer-friendly return policy.
Overall, Gaggia Achille manual espresso machine has all the sought-after features for a lever-operated home coffeemaker that enables you to enjoy espressos with thick and rich crema.