Review of Gaggia Velasca & Velasca Prestige Super Automatic Espresso Machines

May 26, 2017

Today a look at two new bean to cup coffee machines that hit the sweet spot in price, capabilities performance and size. Today we have the new Velasca and Velasca Prestige bean-to-cup coffee machines from Gaggia. Now most everybody is familiar with capsule cup machines. And if you’re like many you may be frustrated with the cost of the capsules, the plastic waste they produce and honestly what they make from pre-ground coffee leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality and the ability to adjust things like strength and temperature.

Bean to cup coffee machines save you money with a much lower per cup cost. They retain all the ease of use but coffee and espresso made from fresh ground beans, yeah, it’s a heck of a lot better. And, with these machines you can fine tune flavor by controlling grind size, the amount of coffee ground for each cup, change the temperature, and you can make one or two cups at a time.

Features

Do you like lattes and cappuccinos? These machines make them. The major difference between the two is how they work with milk. The Velasca uses an auto-frothing steam wand while the Velasca Prestige uses an attachable milk carafe. Pull the carafe from the fridge, attach it, press a single button and it makes milk based drinks like a cappuccino without user intervention and to your specifications.

More on the milk functions in a minute but first the basics. Both machines use a built in burr grinder to grind whole beans fresh for every cup. Once ground, coffee is delivered to a brew unit where the coffee is compressed and brewed into your cup. After brewing the used grounds are delivered to a bin accessible from the front of the machine. No plastic cups to throw away or try to recycle and that bin only needs emptying after about 10 cups.

Grind Size Adjustments

You can adjust the size of the grinds in ten steps to fine tune flavor to your preference. in general, use a coarser setting for longer coffees and a finer setting when making espresso. Beyond grind, you can adjust coffee strength in 5 steps. That controls how much coffee is ground for each cup. Both machines have a bypass doser for using pre-ground coffee. A handy feature for an occasional decaf made from pre-ground. Both Velasca models use pre-infusion. This wets the coffee prior to brewing for a fuller extraction. It’s automatic on the Velasca and adjustable between on, off and extra on the Velasca Prestige.

Water Reservoir

Water for brewing is supplied by a 54 ounce reservoir. Like the grounds bin it slides out the front for easy access. The machines come with a water filter which removes chlorine and softens tap water for better flavor and reduced scale build up. A large drip tray catches any spill. It has a pop up indicator and slides out for easy emptying.

Display

The Velasca’s displays alert you when the machine needs attention. It indicates when to add water, when the grinds bin needs emptying, when you’re out of beans and when it’s time for descaling maintenance. For descaling, both machines come with a bottle of descaling solution.

Using the Velasca’s menu button you can set coffee temperature in 3 levels, a standby timer which shuts the machine off in times ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours, water hardness, display contrast and whether you are using a water filter or not. Based on your water hardness and filter use the machine will alert you when it’s time to descale - and you start the descaling cycle from within the menu. The only difference on the Prestige is that ability to control the pre-infusion between on, off and extra.

Frothing

So back to the milk systems. The Velasca Prestige uses an attachable carafe for one touch cappuccinos and more. Just place your cup and press the cappuccino button and that’s it. The carafe makes a finely textured froth first and then espresso is brewed over the top. The froth is a little hotter than comparable machines. In my tests, milk froth ranged from 150-155 degrees. Final temperature of a standard cappuccino made into a room temperature six ounce cup was about 150 degrees. That’s a hair hotter than similar machines but in our preferred range of 140 to 155 degrees. Drink volumes come preprogrammed or you can reprogram by pressing and holding a button until memo appears in the display. with milk drinks on the Prestige press the checkmark after you have the amount of milk wanted. Coffee is then delivered and you press the check again to stop and save that amount. It works the same for espresso and coffee volume programming on both machines.

Prestige Model

Using the Special Drinks button on the Prestige model you can get hot water for making an Americano and a pre-programmed baby cappuccino which is a 50/50 mix of espresso and finely frothed milk. One thing I love on the Prestige is a dedicated button for carafe quick cleaning. Push that button anytime and the milk circuit gets a hot water rinse so you can put the carafe back in the fridge ready to go for next time.

Regular Model

On the standard Velasca milk is frothed in a pitcher using an auto frothing steam wand. That wand means you don’t need barista skills to create a froth. It does the work for you. And if you happen to like your milk really hot - not something we suggest as milk quickly loses apparent sweetness beyond 155 degrees, a more manual steaming with a wand is the only way to get there. After steaming, brew espresso over your milk for drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and more.

Specs

Both Velascas are compact and identical in size at thirteen and a half inches tall by ten and a quarter inches wide and 17 inches deep. The Velasca has a plastic exterior with the exception of the metal drip tray while the Velasca Prestige adds a brushed metal finish on the face of the machine and metal on the passively heated cup warming surface. Clearance under the spouts is adjustable from two and three-quarters to four and a half inches on both machines.

The Gaggia Velascas are capable and compact with an attractive price point compared to competing machines. In fact, the Prestige model is one of the lowest priced machines that makes milk-based drinks at the touch of a button without moving your cup.

Now, if you have any questions on these machines or anything coffee, use those comments and I’ll get you answers. Both Velascas are available now from whole latte love. Thanks for reading and be sure to come back soon for more of the good stuff on everything coffee.