Gaggia has come a long way since its humble beginnings with Giovanni Achille Gaggia in Milan, Italy. In fact, since the 1800s, Gaggia has been at the forefront of espresso machine engineering and technology.
But what makes Gaggia so special? Well, that’s what we’re here for: we’re here to dig through the crates of all things Gaggia to determine which espresso machine is the best and why Gaggia might be right for you.
The Cadorna Prestige is the forerunner as our best overall pick. Will it hold up under pressure? Let’s find out.
At A Glance
Our Favorite Gaggia Machines
Summary: The be-all-and-end-all of Gaggia espresso machines, with a highly customizable, intuitive brew process that makes delicious espresso easy and efficient.
The Cadorna Prestige is the most prestigious espresso machine among a long list of Gaggia makers. This highly customizable, intuitive machine takes the cake and is our best overall.
The Cadorna features 14 pre-programmed drink selections, from espresso to americano, cafe au lait to macchiato. And with four distinct user profiles, you can pre-program and save everyone’s drink preferences for easy access; you have free reign to brew what you want, how you want it.
For brewing, you can access your drink selections or brew an entirely new cup on the fly by using the TFT full-color interface with button selections.
The high-quality burr grinder sports 10 different grind settings. You’ll be able to match coarseness efficiently and automatically to your desired drink of choice.
The milk carafe with automatic milk frothing gives you that sought-after microfoam texture with the perfect temperature for all your milk-based coffee needs.
Plus, it runs through an automatic rinse cycle that rids the nozzle and carafe of any residual milk. Add in the removable brew group, and you get a machine that practically does the dirty work for you, making clean-up a breeze.
The downsides here are that many online reviewers complain of clogging when it comes to bypassing the grind doser. Another concern comes down to adjusting your grinder settings, as it can be a little tricky for new brewers who haven’t had a lot of experience with grind adjustments.
- Integrated milk carafe with automatic milk cycle
- 14 pre-programmed drink selections with 4 user profiles
- TFT color display with button interface
- Long-lasting ceramic burr grinder with 10 settings
- Removable brew-group
- Doser bypass can clog
- A little tricky to adjust the grinder settings
Summary: A highly programmable, entry-level espresso machine that brews full-bodied and decadent.
For espresso lovers that stick to the classic body and rich, knock-your-socks-off taste of espresso, the Velasca machine is the way to go.
With programmable espresso brewing, you’re in control of your brew temperature, shot volume, aroma, and strength, with three temperature settings, espresso or Lungo brewing, aroma settings, and five levels of coffee strength. Talk about options!
The simple LED screen with dedicated selection buttons makes programming and setting up your preferences easy. The Velsaca has a slew of customizable options but doesn’t make programming them confusing or intimidating.
And with the Gaggia adaptive technology, your brewer learns your preferences as you go, adjusting the grinder to the preferred coarseness.
If you want to spice up your shot of espresso, the Pannarello manual steam wand has an intake hole that directly siphons air into your milk, creating rich foam-topped specialty drinks. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to steam and brew simultaneously due to the single boiler system.
This is also a brewer that takes the elbow grease out of maintenance, with automatic rinsing and descaling done directly in the housing unit. The front-loaded design also makes removing the brew group and water reservoir painless and without the cumbersome fiddling around.
As such a dedicated espresso machine, the drip tray only accommodates mugs up to 4.5″ in size; this is not a machine for XL coffee mugs.
- Programmable espresso brewing: temp, volume, aroma, and strength
- Gaggia adaptive technology
- Pannarello manual steam wand
- Simple LED screen with dedicated buttons
- Front-loaded design with automatic cleaning
- Can’t brew and steam simultaneously
- Will only accommodate 4.5″ cups
Summary: Enticing microfoam from an automatic milk carafe makes for easy and exceptional milk-based drinks.
For the Gaggia contemporary of Nespresso’s Cappuccinatore version, look no further than the Gaggia Anima Prestige for exceptional milk drinks.
With programmable brewing options for milk drinks, you’re in the driver’s seat for making savory milk-based coffee just the way you like. You can control your preferred temperature level with 3 settings going from 177.5 °F (80.8 °C) up to a maximum of 184.5 °F (84.7 °C).
With Anima’s lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos, you’re able to brew easily with touch-button coffee selections. With a simple LCD interface with six buttons, you can brew a list of drinks or start from scratch and get creative with custom options.
The removable milk carafe pours the frothed milk directly into your cup, creating the perfect consistency and the true-to-form taste of microform. This automatic milk frother is designed to take the effort out of your cup of cappuccino.
The Anima has a low-energy standby mode where this super-automatic espresso machine powers down after 1 hour of being idle. For energy-conscious or forgetful coffee enthusiasts, this is an added bonus.
This is an all-in-one machine that has a nice blend of performance versatility, convenience, and value. On the other hand, the Anima does require an, at times, complicated and lengthy process to manually clean the milk frothing system. Setting up this coffee machine initially may also require some patience.
- Programmable brewing options for milk-based drinks
- Automatic frothing with microfoam
- Removable milk carafe
- 3 different temperature control settings
- Low-energy standby mode
- Complicated to clean the milk frothing system
- Longer set-up time
Summary: The best-of-the-best premium pick from Gaggia, a commercial machine without the complexity of one.
If you have the cap space, we cannot emphasize the Gaggia Babila enough as our premium, prosumer choice.
With deep programmability, you can enjoy any type of coffee tailored to your specific preferences. The Babila features 5 different brew settings, where you can preset drinks to distinct user profiles, with up to 8 different varieties.
Plus, the flow knob allows you to adjust your extraction levels in real-time, meaning you’ll never have to have an uneven, imbalanced cup of coffee again.
The tall, double-shot coffee spouts are adjustable in height to allow for travel mugs, while the design of the Babila features a stainless steel body blended with high-quality plastics. This brewer just screams class and functionality.
For the frothing system, you’re able to choose between the automatic frother or the manual milk frother for more control over your steamed hot milk. You’re also able to brew and steam simultaneously thanks to the double boiler system that tracks your boiler temperature through the interface.
While the price may be a bit steep, the Babila provides a ton of value through its included accessories.
The amount of included accessories is going to add more practical benefits to your coffee routine as you won’t be sourcing and buying these tools separately. That said, the interface does look a tad dated for the price you’re paying, while new brewers will find adjusting their drink options difficult.
- Flow knob for adjusted extraction levels
- Brewing and steaming simultaneously
- Tons of included accessories
- Tall spouts with stainless steel accents
- Choose automatic or manual milk frothing
- Dated user interface for the price you’re paying
- Can be difficult for beginners to adjust their drink options
Summary: A machine with a small footprint that still delivers uncompromising Gaggia performance, rivaling machines found in coffee shops.
While the Magenta isn’t the smallest machine on our list, it still tops our picks as the best compact brewer because of its uncompromising performance and user-friendly handling.
The crisp color interface with icon navigation makes brewing espresso fun and effortless, especially for beginners. You’re able to choose from 12 cafe-quality espresso drinks in the pre-saved menu, while the brewing system allows for on-the-fly adjustments that you can save for later use.
Plus, the upgraded cup riser allows for short or tall cups of espresso, while the drip tray is designed to prevent splashing and excess coffee spillage.
The compact size doesn’t negate the Magenta’s performance, as this machine has a range of brewing options and the power that doesn’t make it feel like a compact machine.
The drawbacks for the Magenta start at the double shot capability, where the split between the dual pouring system is inconsistent and uneven.
Another factor to consider is that the hot water option steamed through the Magenta is at times, scorching. Hot water that’s above 200 °F (93 °C) can draw out the bitter compounds of your coffee bean, which can lead to coffee that’s too strong or ashy in texture.
- Crisp color interface with icon navigation
- On-the-fly adjustments with saved preferences
- Small footprint; compact size
- 12 pre-saved drink menu options
- Upgraded drip tray and cup riser
- Uneven split for dual espresso shot pours
- Water is steamed extremely hot
Summary: An easy-to-use, entry-level Gaggia machine with commercial components and a delicious, uncomplicated coffee.
The Gaggia Classic Pro is just as it sounds, a coffee machine that upholds a professional standard that brings you an uncomplicated, classic coffee taste.
The 3-way solenoid valve, often found in commercial machines, relieves pressure off of the extraction process to make for a painless clean-up: just grab the dry coffee puck and discard.
Meanwhile, the 1450 W heating element brews coffee at that sweet, piping-hot temperature. For brewing, the 3-button rocker switch display makes for straightforward coffee. These three buttons control power, steaming, and brewing, while they also include indicator lights to prompt you when your machine is ready.
The Classic Pro has improved pump mounts built into its design, which quiet sound while brewing, ensuring that you don’t start your morning with a headache. And speaking of design, the brushed stainless steel and analog engineering give this brewer a rugged, vintage charm.
As with many beginner or entry-level machines, the Gaggia Pro cuts corners with the accessories, and though they offer everything you need to brew, the tools are entirely made of plastic. This will certainly turn up the nose of most coffee snobs.
The biggest concern for the Classic Pro is that there are no advanced brew settings and no built-in grinder. For the brewer just starting out, however, this is of little consequence, as you’re opting for a machine that can grow with you and will require separate purchases.
- 3-way solenoid valve
- Powerful, 1450 W heating element
- 3-button control panel
- Improved pump mounts
- Rugged, brushed stainless steel with vintage charm
- No brew settings or in-unit grinder
- Plastic accessories
Summary: A great introductory machine at an affordable price while not settling for less with Gaggia’s trademark espresso machine design.
The Brera is a great starting point for brewers who want to try dabbling in the world of Gaggia products, as this machine, among the semi-automatics line, is the most budget-friendly brewer.
The built-in conical grinder is designed with adaptive technology, where the grinder automatically adjusts over time to your preferred coffee settings. This intuitive grinder makes all the guessing and trial-and-error into a science.
The stainless steel Pannarello steam wand employs rapid steam engineering; you’ll have rich microfoam in under 10 seconds.
With the removable brew group and front-loaded design, the removable water tank and dregs drawer are positioned at the front of the machine. This adds ease of convenience to the necessary TLC your brewer needs.
That said, unlike other semi-automatic espresso machines on our list, this type of espresso machine requires manual cleaning exclusively. Another drawback, when compared to other semi-automatic machines, is that there is no indication or alert system for when the hopper is running low.
- Gaggia adaptive grinder
- Front loaded for easily accessible water reservoir and dregs drawer
- Rapid steam technology
- Removable brew group
- Stainless steel Pannarello wand
- Manual cleaning only
- Small water reservoir
For beginners, consider a machine with 10 or fewer grinder adjustment settings like the Cadorna, the Magenta, or the Anima. This will give you enough room to experiment without feeling lost, while a machine like the Babila, with 15 settings, may leave you scratching your head while you sip bad coffee (that is until you figure it out).
Also, most espresso machines with built-in grinders will allow you to bypass the bean hopper and insert your own pre-ground coffee directly into the portafilter.
Machines like the Cadorna or the Velasca, for instance, allow you to use the bypass doser to open up more room to experiment with different coffee varieties from around the world, whether whole bean or pre-ground coffee beans.
Types of Coffee Grinders
Ceramic Burr Key Features
Ceramic flat burr grinders are the preferred tool for many coffee lovers to sharpen their barista skills. You’re getting a brewer that grinds quietly and won’t burn your coffee grounds, while ceramic burr grinders are also favored for pronouncing the deep flavor profiles of espresso.
Ceramic grinders don’t conduct heat the way stainless steel burrs do, meaning your coffee will have a more traditional, true-to-bean taste, as the oils are unaffected. They also feature especially strong blades that start off as less sharp than stainless steel but ensure their original sharpness will be unaffected over time.
Stainless Steel Key Features
Stainless steel contains chromium, which is corrosion-resistant and will be unaffected by rust when maintenance and cleaning are required. However, steel does conduct heat at a greater rate than ceramic, which means these grinders will be more affected by repeated hot brew cycles and environments.
Stainless steel loses its sharpness faster than ceramic burr blades, but with stainless steel, you start out with a considerably sharper blade that allows for more precision grinding from the jump.
To avoid mediocre milk frothing, let’s think about what you’re looking for in a milk frother: customization options and/or automation level.
Programmability — Semi-automatic machines like the Brera, Babila, and/or Velasca are great because they allow you to harness your experience with the milk circuit.
A brewer like the Velasca allows you to customize the temperature of your milk foam while programming the texture to steamed, micro, or macrofoam. As always, if you have a manual milk frothing wand, you’ll have more control over your frothing process.
Automation — Super-automatic espresso machines like Magenta, Cadorna, and Anima allow you to froth with ease and consistency. This is great for home brewers with no experience in commercial espresso machines or in milk frothing. You’ll have less control over your milk frothing cycle but a uniform froth every time.
Size — Do you need a portable machine? How much kitchen space do you have? How compact is compact for your countertops? These are all important questions to ask yourself when it comes to finding a Gaggia machine that won’t clutter up your space or inconvenience you.
Capacity — A larger bean hopper size, water tank, and/or double grind/double shot capability will be the biggest green flags for coffee drinkers looking to satisfy multiple coffee drinkers under the same roof. The Anima’s 60 oz. water tank or the Cadorna’s 10.58 oz. hopper size will brew more shots of espresso with less time spent refilling.
If you have an eclectic palette and love to spice up your coffee routine, look no further than the Cadorna with a pre-saved drink selections menu of 14 ranging from ristretto espresso to lattes.
All of the options among our top picks provide tons of your favorite drink options with frothing capabilities; keep in mind that automatic milk frothing and versatile brewing with many kinds of coffee will affect the price range of your machine.
What is The Best Gaggia Espresso Machine?
Choosing the best Gaggia espresso machine ultimately comes down to your needs and preferences. For us, the Gaggia Cadorna Prestige is the best. This is a machine with a highly customizable, intuitive brew process that makes delicious espresso efficiently and with ease.
How Does Gaggia Compare To Other Brands?
Gaggia is the only espresso machine brand that makes bean-to-cup an automated science while allowing for more customizable options and versatile brewing than contemporaries like Nespresso or Delonghi. Gaggia patented the steamless espresso machine back in 1938, creating the first dependable brewer with a homogenous espresso taste. They were also the first to produce “crema naturale”, beginning the crema craze that Gaggia still prides itself into this day.
Are Gaggia Machines Worth The Money?
Gaggia machines are worth the money as they provide the old-school, beloved taste of espresso with new, intuitive technology to tailor the experience to you. These machines feature programmable drink options, hardy boiler systems, 3-way solenoid valves, and professional-grade steam wands that just can’t be beat.
We set out to discover which is the best Gaggia Espresso Machine: For us, the Gaggia Cadorna makes the top of the list.
The Cadorna offers a highly customizable, intuitive brew process that makes delicious espresso easy; the solid ceramic blade burrs, TFT color display with button interface, and integrated milk carafe with automatic milk cycles make the Cadorna efficient.
This is an impressive, state-of-the-art espresso machine for brewers who want to ask more of their coffee routine.