Gaggia Platinum Vision Espresso Maker Review
The Gaggia Platinum Vision produces quality espresso quickly and easily.
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The Gaggia Platinum Vision is a fully automatic espresso maker that takes in water and espresso beans and produces a final shot at the end. We found that it did a great job of producing quality espresso, but it is not without its quirks.
Built mainly of plastic, the Gaggia Platinum Vision feels less robust than more expensive machines. But it does have a large water reservoir and an easy to use touch screen.
The bean hopper holds about 8lbs of beans, or about two thirds of a typical pack of beans.
Excellent performance overall, but the espresso shots the machine produces are a little on the weak side.
The is a little slower than some other espresso makers: it took 42 seconds to pull a single shot and 1 minute 25 seconds for a double. To make a double shot, you press the espresso icon twice, and the system automatically brews a second shot after the first one is done. More on how we test the brewing process.
We were favorably impressed with the quality of the espresso that the produced: it had good color and plenty of rich, dark crema on the top of the shot. The crema was also a lot thicker than on some other fully automatic espresso makers, and that can add a lot to the taste of the shot. We also found that it was consistent, producing the same high quality for shot after shot.
One thing it was not capable of doing was producing a huge range of strength. We test this by measuring the percentage of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) in the shots made at different settings, and the higher this percentage, the stronger the taste. Although the was capable of producing a decent range of strengths it could not produce the very strong, dark shots that manual machines are capable of. We found that the weakest brew (with the shot length at maximum and the e-Plus stength control dial set to weak) had a TDS of 1.88, and the strongest (with the shortest length and the e-Plus control set to strong) had 5.18% TDS. That is significantly lower than many other espresso makers, so this might not be a good pick if you need a strong brew to get you going in the morning. More on how we test the brewing process.
The gives you a good level of control over the size of the shot that it produces: we were able to produce shots ranging from just under 1 fl. oz up to 3.5 fl.oz by changing the length setting in the on-screen menu. That's a wide range of sizes that should suit pretty much every user. If you want more, the long coffee option can produce up to tk fl. oz. of coffee.
One thing to note here: if you set the espresso length setting to the smallest setting on the scale, the machine actually keeps pumping water through until you tell it to stop, irrespective of how big your cup is. So, don't set it to this unless you plan to keep a close eye on it, unless you want espresso all over the floor. Take our word for it. More on how we test the brewing process.
Milk & Foam
The does not have an automatic milk foamer: you have to time the foaming of the milk yourself. Fortunately, the process is straightforward, with the steam wand being well designed and easy to use, and it doesn't take long. We found that it took just 34 seconds to froth up the milk in our tests, which is pretty fast.
We also found that it did an extremely good job of heating and foaming the milk, producing very stable foam with small bubbles that makes a great latte or cappuccino. Our only issue was that the plastic handle that you use to lift the foam wand out of the way after use is rather small, which means it is too easy to accidentally touch the hot steam pipe and burn your finger. There is also no way to control the level of steam: it is either on full or off. Fortunately, the default level seems to be about right.
As well as espresso, the can produce coffee and a long coffee, which is basically a very large, dilute espresso shot. The milk foamer also allows you to make lattes and other milk drinks.
The brewing process is controlled mainly through the touch screen LCD interface, although there are a handful of other controls, such as the e-Plus espresso strength dial on the front and the steam/hot water and power switches on the sides. We found that the brewing process was simple and straightforward.
To start the brewing, you press the appropriate icon on the touch screen interface.
The machine then brews and dispenses the selected drink.
If you want to steam some milk, you place the container under the wand, then select steam from the touch screen and turn the steam/hot water dial to start the flow of steam.
Cleaning & Maintenance
The has a water tank on the left side and a container for the grounds and drop water on the right. We found that these needed emptying fairly often, with the small drip tray in particular getting full rather quickly. But that is a relatively minor issue: you would typically only need to empty this every couple of days with heavy use.
A good amount of customization is available from the on-screen menus, with options for controlling the length, temperature and aroma of the shot. A small dial in the bean hopper also allows you to customize the grind used for the beans. Overall, you should have no problem tweaking this machine to your taste with some experimentation
Hot Water - The can also dispense hot water by selecting steam from the touch-screen menu, and turning the steam/hot water dial to hot water.
What's the difference between these two fully automatic espresso makers? About $1000... and a few features. The more expensive Accdemia adds a number of features over the Platinum Vision, including an automatic milk frother and dispenser, a wider range of drink options and a larger capacity water reservoir. This would make the Accademia a better pick for an office where people drink more than straight espresso as it takes the hassle out of foaming milk.
This is an interesting comparison between the automatic (the Gaggia Platinum Vision) and the manual (the Rancillio Silivia). Both approaches have their pros: the automatic Gaggia is much easier to use and would be great for casual drinkers, while the Ranciilio Silvia produces a better shot and milk overall. But they both have their downsides too: the Gaggia is double the price of the Rancillio, and the Rancillio takes a lot longer to clean up before and after use. Really, the decision comes down to which approach is more suited to the user.
The illy X7.1 is much cheaper than the Platinum Vision, but that is because it does less. Instead of grinding and tamping the beans, it uses pre-made espresso pods. Both are easy to use, though, and swapping out the pods on the X7.1 is no great hassle to do. Where the X7.1 fails, though is on milk; we found that the Gaggia Platinum Vision did a better job of foaming milk and producing better quality lattes and cappuccinos.
We were impressed with the ; it produced a good quality shot of espresso, and is flexible enough to allow all but the most dedicated espresso junkie to tweak their brew to their specific tastes. The touch-screen control system is pretty easy to use, and provides an easy way to control the brewing process. The only downside was the slightly weak brew that it produced, and the occasional quirk in the on-screen interface. The espresso brewing process is a one-touch process, but the process of steaming and frothing milk is a little more hands-on, which some users might be uncomfortable with. These people should look at spending more to get a system with an automated milk frother (such as the Gaggia Accademia), but those are significantly more expensive. So, if simple espresso is the goal, the is a good solution.