Odds are that if you’re looking for an espresso machine you take your coffee pretty seriously.
If you’re going to spend money on an espresso machine, you want something that is not only easy to use and clean but most importantly makes a perfect cup of joe. So if you’re looking at a Gaggia espresso machine it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
All of their products are seriously good, so I put together a list of the best Gaggia Espresso makers around.
Gaggia has a range of both fully automatic machines (from bean to cup) and manual machines. Check out our top picks below.
The Best Gaggia Espresso Machines
1. Gaggia Classic Pro
The Classic Pro espresso maker is probably Gaggia’s best-known machine. It’s been in production in one form or another since the 70s so it’s clearly stood the test of time.
This machine is excellent for anyone who takes their coffee seriously. There’s a bit more work involved in the brewing process, but if you’re like me that’s all part of the fun. It also has that classic espresso machine look.
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The Gaggia Classic is a manual coffee machine which means you would need to use ground coffee or buy a coffee bean grinder to use it.
The Gaggia Classic uses a 58mm portafilter which is the same type used in commercial espresso makers. It has an improved steam wand with two air holes. This will give you silky and stiff milk foam, perfect for the aspiring latte artist.
The Classic Pro has a very clever 3-way solenoid valve system. Once the espresso pour is finished, excess water is flushed back through the solenoid valve and out the blowout tubes. This gives a nice dry puck of coffee which comes out easily.
The Classic Pro has a 15 bar pump. This is calibrated to get the best “crema naturale” on your espresso. It adds a much deeper flavor and strong aroma to your brew.
Why We Like It: A relatively simple machine that works for both experienced coffee makers and the budding barista.
2. Gaggia Cadorna Prestige
This is first on the list of Gaggia’s fully automatic espresso makers. The Cadorna Prestige works for any family that takes their coffee seriously, and the price tag reflects that.
The machine allows up to four different user profiles. Each user can choose their drink preferences, from the amount of water, strength, temperature, and pretty much any other setting you could think of. So if you enjoy your cappuccino with a bit more of a coffee kick than everyone else in your house, this is a safe bet.
The machine also has options for fourteen different beverages. Americano, espresso, cappuccino, café lungo, and pretty much everything else under the sun.
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As useful as this feature sounds on the face of it, it tends to go kind of ignored once everyone has found the one or two types of coffee that they like to drink.
The Cadorna’s brew unit is completely detachable. This makes it easy to just slot out, rinse off and keep on brewing. Cleaning this machine is a breeze.
Like many modern espresso makers, the Cadorna has a built-in milk carafe. So if you just can’t get the knack of foaming milk with a steam wand, then this machine can do it for you.
Why We Like It: Convenience is king with this machine. Being able to simply press one or two buttons and get your perfect desired cappuccino is a fantastic feature.
3. Gaggia Anima
The Gaggia Anima is an entry-level automatic espresso machine. It is much smaller than machines like the Cadorna or Accademia. But when it comes to coffee, size isn’t everything.
Unlike the pricier machines, the Anima doesn’t have a built-in carafe for foaming milk. Instead, it has barista-style stainless steel, Panarello. The Panarello is functionally the same as any steam wand found in other machines but sits in a fixed position in the machine.
The Anima is easy to use and maintain. It automatically rinses the brew unit on startup and shutdown. It also has an easy-to-follow guided descaling process. You can also easily slot the brew unit in and out to rinse it off.
Other than that the only part that needs to be regularly cleaned yourself is the Panarello.
It doesn’t have the various user profiles that the more high-end machines use. But you can still adjust the length of the pour by simply holding down the selected button for a few seconds so there is still a sense of customization.
I will say that although the Anima is perfectly capable of pouring a great cup of coffee, it took quite a bit of fiddling to get the pour just right. The first few cups of coffee can come out either a bit weak and watery or over-extracted and burnt.
Because there is less to customize this machine works great for single people or couples. It’s smaller than other bulkier machines and comes in quite a bit cheaper so it makes for a good starter machine.
Why We Like It: It’s hard to ignore the price tag on this one. You can get a great espresso at a reasonable price.
4. Gaggia Accademia
Next up on the list is the Gaggia Accademia. This machine is probably the most troubled of the lot. But all is not lost, and it certainly still has its place depending on what you’re looking for.
It sits neatly between the leviathan Cadrona and the simple Anima. The Accademia has seven different preset beverage settings which are great for variety without becoming overwhelming.
One of my favorite features is the Espresso Plus system, which adjusts the brew strength of your drink by simply turning a dial. So if you’re looking for something strong enough to wake you up on a Monday just crank that dial to the right and you’re good to go.
The milk foaming options are where the Accademia really comes into its own. Like the Cadronna it has a built-in carafe that foams milk for you. It also has the option to adjust the kind of foam you want.
Choose between having velvety smooth foam or piping hot milk for tea if you feel like it. On top of that, the carafe has a self-clean function so you don’t even have to bother with clean up afterward.
The temperature of the machine has been known to be a problem. Often the drinks will come out lukewarm rather than piping hot. This may not be a problem for everyone, but those who like a steaming hot cup of coffee in the morning will find this a sticking point.
Why We Like It: If you drink cappuccinos this machine is a dream. Getting consistent velvety milky foam is too convenient to pass up.
5. Gaggia Viva Chic
It’s back to the manual espresso maker with the Viva Chic. A relatively new product from Gaggia but equally well received.
To start with, this is probably my favorite manual machine in terms of looks. It comes in three different colors and looks both retro and futuristic. If you have an appreciation for design, I can’t imagine getting tired of looking at this thing.
It also can pour from ESE (espresso pods) which adds another layer of convenience if, like me, you have a stockpile of pods gathering and nothing to use them in.
Like the Carezza Style, it uses a “crema perfetta” filter. This keeps the pressure constant while the coffee is being extracted and results in a deep, flavourful drink.
One of the downsides is the fixed Panarello steamer as opposed to a moveable wand. The fixed position makes it difficult to fold your milk easily and often I would end up with a layer of foam sitting on top of it, rather than a blended foam.
I suspect it’s a result of the compact size but some coffee did taste a little acidic. This is usually a result of the brew getting too hot and over extracting the grounds.
Another nit-pick is that sometimes it felt a little flimsy. When removing the group head the whole machine has a nasty habit of lurching forward, which can be a bit unnerving.
Why We Like It: The look of it. I know I keep bringing this up but, man, it’s just good to look at.
6. Gaggia Babila
Back to Gaggia’s automatic range of espresso makers, the Babila is one of the smallest automatic machines they offer. It measures at 24,5 X 36 X 42cm. This makes it relatively compact and is ideal if you’ve got a smaller kitchen and need to be able to tuck it away easily.
It’s also on the heavier side of machines at over 13kg. Although this might be prohibitively heavy for some, I found that the weight made it feel sturdy and robust when I used it. The workmanship on this device is fantastic.
It also manages to fit a double boiler system into the compact body. Two separate heaters for the espresso pourer and milk foamer means there is less of a wait between pouring your drink and getting the automatically foamed milk.
It also has a fair range of customization options. Depending on which one of the eleven preset drinks you choose, there are options to customize brew strength, temperature, and the amounts of coffee and milk.
It’s technically possible to customize your beverage preferences, but it can be a bit of a chore. The menus are fiddly and not great in terms of layout. In terms of how easy it is to use the options and settings, the Cadronna blows the Babila out of the water.
The Babila also comes with the adjustable Espresso Plus dial that I mentioned before which is a huge bonus.
Why We Like It: Because it’s so neat and compact you don’t have to figure out just where in your kitchen to fit it. Great for smaller spaces.
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7. Gaggia Naviglio Milk
The final machine for us to look at is the Naviglio Milk. This is another one of Gaggia’s range of more affordable espresso maker along with the Anima.
Like the Anima, it is missing some of the customization features and preset drinks that the more expensive options have. But that shouldn’t -and doesn’t – exclude it from the list of machines that can make a seriously good cup of coffee.
Also unlike most of the fully automatic espresso makers, the Gaggia Naviglio does not have a built-in carafe for milk. The only real downside of this is that the cleaning of your jugs is going to be your responsibility.
The main attraction of this machine is the “Capp in Cup” feature. Simply drop the milk tube into any milk carafe and the machine will pull the milk into a specialized Panarello where it is foamed and then automatically poured into your drink.
The specialized Panarello is quite fun to watch in action. It also manages to pour the foam at just the right angle to incorporate it perfectly. The result is a good cappuccino with a creamy center and a layer of stiff foam on top.
Why We Like It: The Capp in Cup. Not only does it make probably the best cappuccino of any of the automatic machines, but it’s also really fun to watch.
So, who comes out on top: Gaggia or Breville espresso machines? There’s no denying these two are both frontrunners in the espresso industry, but deciding which one to pick can be tricky.Learn More
Gaggia Espresso Machine Buyer’s Guide
So now that we know which product does what, we need to choose a machine. You’re not likely to go wrong with Gaggia no matter what kind of machine you buy, but you still need to make sure you choose one that fits you just right.
Check out this nifty buyer’s guide if you’re still not 100% sure about which machine to go for.
Automatic Vs. Manual Espresso Makers
Gaggia makes both kinds of espresso makers. So what’s the difference? Well, it’s all in the beans.
Manual espresso makers are closest to the kinds of machines you see in cafes and restaurants. The grounds and tamped into the group head which is slotted into the machine where the coffee is brewed.
This is ideal for anyone who buys ground coffee. Alternatively, if you already have and use a coffee grinder, then getting a manual espresso machine will save you a bit of the cost.
Automatic machines will take whole coffee beans and grind them up as needed. The tamping of the coffee and discarding of the puck is all done inside the machine.
Lots of people, myself included, enjoy the ritual of grinding and tamping involved with manual machines. But if that’s not quite your thing, or if you’re in more of a rush, the automatic machines are the way to go.
Heat is one of the most important aspects of brewing coffee. It’s more important than just whether you like your coffee piping hot or only lukewarm.
In fact, heat plays a vital role in the brewing and extraction of coffee grounds. It’s important that your machine can get up to temperature quickly and that it can maintain that temperature throughout the brew. Fluctuations in temperature will result in either burnt or under-extracted drinks.
All machines require maintenance, and descaling your machine is probably the most important aspect of that.
As you use your machine, chemical impurities from the water will begin to build up inside the pumps and valves of the machine. Depending on the hardness of your water this may happen within a matter of weeks or even days.
If you’re not so good about remembering to do routine maintenance, getting a machine with automatic descaling detection is a good idea.
You don’t need to try and remember whether or not you’ve descaled your machine recently. Simply wait for the machine to tell you it’s time and follow the instructions.
If you’re better about remembering these things, simply descale your machine every second week or so to keep it in tip-top shape.
If you’ve ever tried to use an espresso machine untrained you’ll know it can be quite a daunting task. There are lots of confusing levers and buttons and sometimes you don’t know which way is up.
You don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a machine you won’t know how to choose, so how do you know which one to choose?
If you’re looking for something simple then a fully automatic machine such as the Babila or Cadronna Prestige is the one for you. All you really need to do is push a button and you’ve got your drink.
If you want to feel a bit more involved but still aren’t quite ready for the whole shebang then maybe go for an automatic machine with a steam wand so you can play around with latte art.
And for the budding baristas, the manual machines are the way to go. It also allows for the most personalized cup, since you can change your grind, extraction time, etc.
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And as needs must, eventually we must choose a winner. Who is the king among all these fancy machines?
For my money, it’s the Classic Pro. If you enjoy the ritual of grinding and tamping your coffee yourself nothing much can really replace it. And of all the manual machines it makes by far the best cup of coffee.
If you’re looking for something a bit less involved the Babila is a great option for its compact size and robust build. You also can’t go wrong with the Anima, which offers the most valuable features of the more expensive automatic machines at half the cost.