TL;DR: The best Gaggia super-automatic espresso machine is the Gaggia Accademia and the best semi-automatic machine is the Gaggia Classic Pro.
This is my roundup of the best Gaggia espresso machines.
I have never owned any Gaggia espresso machine.
I have, however, spent a day and a half researching all of Gaggia’s espresso machines, and people’s experiences with them, online to put together this roundup.
Gaggia makes both semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso machines.
Since these types of machines are so different it makes little sense to compare them against each other so I will be treating these types of machines as discrete groups throughout this article.
Let’s get started.
Best Gaggia Super Automatic Espresso Machine: Gaggia Accademia
Best Gaggia Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine: Gaggia Classic Pro
Best for Beginners (semi-automatic): Gaggia Carezza Deluxe
Best if Money Were No Object: Gaggia Babila
Best Super Automatic: Gaggia Accademia
The Gaggia Accademia is Gaggia’s best super-automatic espresso machine as it offers the widest selection of drinks and is the easiest to use of all these machines.
Quality of Drinks
The Gaggia Accademia makes good, but not amazing, espresso by super-automatic machine standards.
Its pre-brewing functionality, which soaks your ground coffee in hot water for a few seconds before brewing, gives the coffee a little more time to extract.
This means that Accademia creates fuller-bodied espresso than most super-automatic espresso machines.
However, its espresso is still inferior to the best Jura machines which use their patented “Pulse Extraction Process” to achieve a better extraction than any other super-automatic machine.
One area in which the Gaggia Accademia exceeds all other Gaggia machines (other than the Babila) is its ability to make good filter coffee.
The Accademia allows you to control flow speed. If you turn this on highest then the machine will brew closer to a drip coffee machine than an espresso machine, resulting in a better-tasting filter coffee than other super-automatic machines.
The Accademia has both an automatic milk frother with an integrated carafe and a manual pannarello steam wand.
This allows you to make passable milk-based drinks quickly, and to make good quality milk-based drinks when time allows you to.
The Gaggia Accademia and Babila are the only two super-automatic espresso machines I know of that have this feature.
Quality of Drinks Rating: 8/10
The Accademia allows you to make three types of black coffee, and two types of milk-based coffee.
This relative lack of milk-based coffee drink options is made up for by the Accademia having a steam wand.
This allows you to create milk-based coffee drinks with whatever volume, temperature and (to some extent) texture of milk that you want.
The Academica also lets you customize your coffee’s strength, the volume of coffee and milk in your drink and the speed at which the coffee flows out of the brewing unit (this latter customization is particularly useful when making filter coffee).
Drink Options Rating: 8/10
The Accademia uses a button-controlled LCD screen to control the machine.
This control panel allows you to:
- Select which coffee you want from the machine’s menu
- Make customizations to the strength and size of your coffee
- Put the machine into descale mode
- See troubleshooting messages such as needing to empty the dregs tray or fill the water tank
The Accademia’s user interface is excellent, making the machine both easy to use and giving it a luxurious feel.
The only criticism I have of it is that you have to hard code your customizations into the machine before every coffee that you make, rather than on the fly while the coffee brews. This is a problem that affects all Gaggia machines, however.
User Interface Rating: 8/10
Value for Money
The Gaggia Accademia is one of Gaggia’s more expensive super automatic machines, but this cost is justified by it having both a steam wand and automatic milk frother.
These dual milk systems make it one of the best super automatic espresso machines and therefore well worth the money.
The use of both of these milk steaming systems really does ramp up what you can do with this machine, far more than simply adding more menu items can (this is how a lot of other Gaggia super automatics try to justify their price tags).
Value for Money Rating: 9/10
Best Semi Automatic: Gaggia Classic Pro
The Gaggia Classic Pro is a rare case of a semi-automatic machine that has a high-quality pin-holed steam wand. This makes it the best Gaggia semi-automatic machine and one of the best semi-automatic machines anywhere for milk-based espresso drinks.
Quality of Coffee
Firstly, let’s just make it clear that all Gaggia semi-automatic espresso machines make good espresso.
This is because all their machines use a high-quality, Italian-made 15 Bar espresso pump and have portafilters large enough to hold enough ground coffee for a true double espresso.
The Gaggia Classic Pro makes the best espresso of all Gaggia semi-automatics because it is one of the only machines to use a non-pressurized portafilter basket.
Non-pressurized portafilter baskets are necessary to make a great espresso, rather than merely a good espresso, however, they require you to use coffee grounds in a high-quality burr grinder.
Fortunately, the Gaggia Classic Pro also comes with pressurized portafilter baskets so you can still use it with pre-ground coffee, or coffee ground in a blade grinder.
Therefore the machine can make a decent espresso with pre-ground coffee but can go up a level if you choose to use freshly ground coffee.
Again the Classic Pro is one of the few Gaggia machines that can do this.
Quality of Coffee Rating: 9/10
Quality of Steam Wand
The Gaggia Classic Pro uses a pin-holed steam wand (Gaggia often refer to this as a “professional steam wand”) rather than the pannarello steam wand that is used on most of their machines.
Pin-holed steam wands have an advantage over pannarello steam wands in that they can make very fine micro-foamed milk – the type that you would expect in a latte at a high-quality cafe.
They are a bit more difficult to use than Panarello steam wands (where you place your wand in your milk while steaming is very important) but it does not take that much practice to make better-steamed milk than you can with a Panarello.
All in all, the Gaggia Classic Pro’s steam wand is one of the best features of the machine and one of the best steam wands you can get on a super-automatic machine
Quality of Steam Wand Rating: 10/10
Ease of Use and Cleaning
The Gaggia Classic Pro comes with a pressurized portafilter means that it can still be used by people who do not have a coffee grinder and therefore need to use pre-ground coffee.
I love the fact that it also comes with a non-pressurized portafilter basket so its quality ceiling can be raised for those who want to put in the extra work of mastering making espresso with a non-pressurized portafilter.
The only part of the machine that might be a bit tricky for beginners is its steam wand.
Pin-holed steam wands are harder to use than pannarellos, but after watching a couple of instructional videos and about ten or so goes trying it out you should be able to make better-steamed milk than you could with a pannarello.
The machine is about as easy to clean as a semi-automatic gets as it uses a three-way solenoid valve which ensures that your used coffee pucks come out firm and just fall out of the portafilter rather than being a sloppy mess.
Ease of Use and Cleaning: 7/10
Value For Money
The Gaggia Classic Pro is more expensive than most semi-automatic machines, but it has one of the best build quality of all these types of machines.
It is also one of the few machines with a pin-holed steam wand. These are the best type of steam wands you can get and, in combination with the machine’s excellent internal brewing mechanism, justifies their price.
Value For Money Rating: 9/10
Best For Beginners: Gaggia Carezza Deluxe
The Gaggia Carezza Deluxe’s use of a pressurized portafilter and pannarello steam wand makes it the easiest of all of Gaggia’s semi-automatic machines to use.
Quality of Coffee
The Carezza Deluxe, like all Gaggia machines, benefits from a high-quality Italian-made 15 Bar pump and large portafilter meaning that its brewing system is second to none.
The Carezza Deluxe only uses pressurized portafilters.
While this does sacrifice some espresso quality in order to allow you to use pre-ground coffee with this machine, Gaggia has patented a specific type of pressurized portafilter that minimises the reduction in espresso quality compared to other machines that also use pressurized portafilters.
This makes the Carezza Deluxe, not just the best Gaggia machine for beginners, but the best semi-automatic espresso machine for beginners.
No semi-automatic can make a better espresso with pre-ground coffee.
Quality of Coffee Rating: 8/10
Quality of Steam Wand
The Carezza Deluxe uses a pannarello steam wand.
While this cannot create silky micro-foamed milk, it can still create good foamed milk. The big advantage of using a pannarello is that it takes basically no practice to master.
All you have to do is put the wand in the centre of the milk and then heat the milk until you can barely touch the outside of the milk jug.
The pannarello wand regulates how much air goes into the milk so it comes out at a medium texture without any “working” of the milk.
Again, this will not produce cafe-quality steamed milk but considering how easy it is to use it still produces good results.
Quality of Steam Wand Rating: 6/10
Ease of Use and Cleaning
The Carezza Deluxe’s use of a pressurized portafilter along with its pannarello steam wand means you can make both espresso and more complex milk-based drinks as a novice.
The machine assists your brewing as far as any semi-automatic machine can but still gives you some room to fine-tune your coffee by tweaking your brew length and the amount of milk you use.
The machine’s use of a three-way solenoid valve makes it easier clean than most semi-automatic machines, however, you will still need to clean the portafilter, brew head and steam wand manually after every use.
Ease of Use Rating: 9/10
Value For Money
The Carezza Deluxe is only slightly cheaper than the Classic Pro and is a noticeably inferior machine. Therefore it is not the best value for money Gaggia machine available.
Still, it is reasonably priced considering what an excellent machine it is for beginners.
For more information on beginner friendly espresso machines, please see my roundup of the best espresso machines for beginners.
Value For Money Rating: 7/10
Best if Money Were No Object: Gaggia Babila
The Gaggia Babila is the best Gaggia machine money can buy. It has all the features that make the Accademia great but also has several extra menu options.
Quality of Drinks
The Gaggia Babila makes the best coffee of all Gaggia’s super-automatic espresso machines (just shading the Accademia).
The machine gives you the most control over coffee strength and preinfusion time – these are the two variables that most affect espresso flavor and body.
The machine makes good espresso by super-automatic machine standards (second only to high-end Jura machines) and the best filter coffee of all super-automatic machines due to it letting you control the flow rate.
The Babila has an automatic milk frother and a steam wand.
This means that you can make decent milk-based drinks very quickly and with no real effort if you are in a pinch, and higher quality milk-based drinks with a bit more effort if you have the time to treat yourself.
Quality of Drinks Rating: 9/10
The Babila has the second highest number of preset coffee recipes on its menu of all Gaggia machines (nine – three more than the Accademia).
In addition to this, it has a manual steam wand which enables you to make any milk-based coffee drink you desire.
It is therefore the Gaggia machine with the highest number of functionalities by a distance.
Drink Options Rating: 10/10
The Gaggia Babila uses a button-controlled LCD screen to control the machine.
All actions that you will need to perform with this machine can be done with this controlled panel including:
- Selecting your drink from the menu
- Activating the steam wand
- Customizing your coffee’s strength and size
- Cleaning and maintaining the machine (descaling etc)
The Babila’s user interface is excellent, the only slight fault I can find with it is that you cannot customize coffees as you are brewing.
Instead, you need to sort out all your customizations before you brew which does add a little bit of extra time to the coffee-making process.
User Interface Rating: 8/10
Value For Money
The Gaggia Babilia is Gaggia’s most expensive machine.
It is significantly more expensive than the Accademia and only has a few more features.
I don’t think these few features (an expanded menu and slightly more customization options) justify its additional cost.
Still, it is an excellent machine and a good choice if you want to treat yourself.
Value for Money Rating: 6/10
What Are the Commonalities and Differences Between Gaggia Espresso Machines?
I’d like to go through the features that all Gaggia machines have in common because manufacturers love presenting certain features that all machines have as a specific model’s unique selling point in order to market said machine.
Therefore, knowing the features that all Gaggia machines have can save you money because you aren’t going to purchase a machine based on a feature that a more affordable machine may also have.
Once we are aware of these commonalities, I’ll break down the differences between Gaggia espresso machines so you know what features to look out for when selecting a machine to buy.
I am going to separate this section into features that all super-automatic and semi-automatic machines have in common since it’s difficult to compare these two types of machines.
What Do All Gaggia Super Automatic Espresso Machines Have in Common?
By virtue of being a super-automatic espresso machine, all Gaggia super automatics have:
- An inbuilt grinder
- Preset coffee recipes that can be made at the touch of a button
- A self-cleaning system and dedicated descaling mode
All Gaggia super-automatic espresso machines also have the following features in common:
Similar Quality of Espresso
The grinder and internal brewing units of all Gaggia espresso machines are very similar, meaning that there is not much difference between the quality of their espresso and other black coffee drinks (ristretto, lungo).
All machines have the same brewing unit which uses a 15-bar pump and can hold a maximum of 0.40 oz (11.5 grams) of ground coffee.
They all use a flat ceramic burr grinder, which is one of the best types of coffee grinder that you can use for espresso.
Although machines vary in the number of grind settings they have, this is not actually that important for super-automatic espresso machines.
Since super automatics cannot tamp your coffee puck, they can only work with a small window of grind size (medium to medium-fine, basically).
Therefore having a grinder that can grind infinitesimally small is a bit pointless and gimmicky.
They All Have Removable Brewing Units
All super-automatic machines can be opened up at the side without needing any unscrewing and can have their brewing units removed.
This means that you can easily clean and lubricate the machine’s brewing unit manually. This gives you two advantages over machines that do not allow this:
- The machine’s coffee quality does not deteriorate over time due to stale grounds in the brewing unit.
- One of the most useful ways of troubleshooting technical issues with the machine is by lubricating the brewing unit. You cannot do this with machines whose units cannot be removed.
What Are the Key Differences Between Gaggia Super Automatic Espresso Machines?
Here are the ways that Gaggia super-automatic espresso machines differ. Look out for these features specifically when choosing which machine you want to buy:
Milk Frothing System
Gaggia super automatic machines can have one of four types of milk frothing systems.
Automatic Milk Frother With Integrated Milk Carafe
These are automatic milk frothers where the container of milk sits on the machine’s drip tray.
The milk container can be removed from the drip tray and stored in the fridge if needed.
The temperature and texture of your milk are determined by the type of drink that you select. You cannot customize the dispensed milk further than this.
The big advantages of this system are that milk is frothed at the touch of a button and that your machine is kept as compact as possible.
This type of milk frother produces the lowest quality steamed milk of all these four systems. The quality of steamed milk is still passable, however.
Automatic Milk Steamer With Separate Milk Container
This is very similar to the integrated milk carafe system except for the container of milk is attached to the side of the machine via a rubber tube.
Machines that use this system have a specific container to hold your milk in and this is sold with the machine.
The steamed milk you can create with this system is marginally better than that with an integrated milk container, however, machines with a separate milk container take up considerably more space. Since the difference between the quality of steamed milk produced by these two automatic systems is so marginal, in the majority of cases I would opt for a machine with an integrated milk carafe over one with a separate milk container.
Pannarello Steam Wand
Pannarello steam wands are steam wands with sleeves around their outside. These sleeves have a small hole that assists the steam wand to blow additional, larger bursts of air into the milk as you steam it.
Pannarello wands are designed to make steaming milk manually as easy as possible.
Rather than adjusting the position of the wand as you steam it, you just need to hold the wand in the milk until your ideal temperature is reached.
Your milk will always be textured to “medium” thickness when steamed in this way
Pannarello steam wands can make steamed milk of slightly better quality than automatic steaming systems. You still cannot achieve silky microfoam with it, however.
Pin Holed (“Professional”) Steam Wand
These are steam wands that do not have a sleeve around them. Steam just comes out of two holes at the nozzle of the steam wand.
These are the only type of milk frothers that can create fine microfoam.
They do have a bit of a learning curve to master however and make making a milk-based coffee with a semi-automatic only marginally less work than with a superautomatic
Below is a table of all of Gaggia’s super-automatic espresso machines and the type of milk frother that they have. Note that some machines have more than one milk-steaming system.
|Machine name||Type of milk steaming system|
|Besana||Pannarello steam wand|
|Naviglio||Pannarello steam wand|
|Naviglio Deluxe||Automatic milk frother with a separate container|
|Naviglio Milk||Automatic milk frother with a separate container|
|Anima||Pannarello steam wand|
|Anima Barista Plus||Pin holed steam wand|
|Anima Deluxe||Automatic milk frother with a separate container|
|Anima Class||Automatic milk frother with an integrated milk carafe|
|Brera||Pannarello steam wand|
|Velasca||Pannarello steam wand|
|Velasca Prestige||Automatic milk frother with an integrated milk carafe|
|Cadorna Style||Pannarello steam wand|
|Cadorna Plus||Pannarello steam wand|
|Cadorna Plus Barista||Pin holed steam wand|
|Cadorna Milk||Automatic milk frother with a separate container|
|Cadorna Prestige||Automatic milk frother with an integrated milk carafe|
|Magenta Plus||Pin holed steam wand|
|Magenta Milk||Automatic milk frother with a separate container|
|Magenta Prestige||Automatic milk frother with an integrated milk carafe|
|Accademia||Automatic milk frother with integrated milk carafe and Pannarello steam wand|
|Babila||Automatic milk frother with integrated milk carafe and Pannarello steam wand|
While all machines offer the basics like espresso, lungo and cappuccino, as a general rule machines have a larger number of preset coffee types the more expensive they become.
To save money you should think about which types of coffee I would actually drink when choosing a machine.
A large menu can really inflate a machine’s price, with some machines only upgrades to others just being an expanded menu.
|Machine name||Number of black coffee menu items||Number of milk-based menu items|
|Besana||2||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Naviglio||2||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Naviglio Milk||2||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Anima Barista Plus||2||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Brera||2||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Velasca||2||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Cadorna Style||5||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Cadorna Plus||5||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Cadorna Plus Barista||5||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Cadorna Milk||5||N/A (manual milk system)|
|Magenta Plus||4||N/A (manual milk system)|
Gaggia’s super-automatic espresso machines range in how hi-tech and easy their control panels are to use.
Their super automatic machines have one of three types of control panels.
These are operated with buttons and only have lights to indicate what settings and “modes” you are on when brewing.
They are quite basic and often can be tricky to navigate if you are not used to them.
You usually need to consult the instruction manual the first few times that you are using a machine with this type of user interface.
Button Controlled With Digital Display Screen
These are controlled by buttons but have a monochrome, text-only display screen to help guide you through using the machine.
Although they are much easier to use than machines that are controlled only by buttons (a newbie can usually use them without help from the instruction manual), the screen itself looks a little bit cheap.
Button Controlled With LCD Screen
The most expensive Gaggia machines are operated by button-controlled LCD screens that use both text and images to guide you through using them.
These are both easy to use (although not significantly easier than the digital display screens) and look great.
|Machine name||User interface|
|Naviglio Deluxe||Button only|
|Naviglio Milk||Button only|
|Anima||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Anima Barista Plus||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Anima Deluxe||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Anima Class||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Brera||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Velasca||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Velasca Prestige||Button controlled with digital display screen|
|Cadorna Style||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Cadorna Plus||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Cadorna Plus Barista||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Cadorna Milk||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Cadorna Prestige||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Magenta Plus||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Magenta Milk||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Magenta Prestige||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Accademia||Button controlled with LCD screen|
|Babila||Button controlled with LCD screen|
What Do All Gaggia Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines Have in Common?
All semi-automatic espresso machines (regardless of manufacturer) have manual water dose control meaning that they start brewing when you press their brew button and stop brewing when you press that button again.
You do not have preset serving sizes for a single and double espresso, as you do on automatic espresso machines.
Below are the features that Gaggia semi-automatic espresso machines specifically have in common.
No Built-in Grinder
No Gaggia semi-automatic espresso machines have a built-in coffee grinder.
This means you will either need to buy a grinder or use pre-ground coffee with this machine.
If you are either going to use pre-ground or get a blade grinder (rather than a more expensive burr grinder) I’d recommend buying a machine that has a pressurized portafilter.
I’ll talk about which machines have this later on, but the best Gaggia machine with a pressurized portafilter is the Gaggia Carezza Deluxe.
15 Bar Italian Made Pump
All Gaggia semi-automatic espresso machines have an Italian-made 15-bar pump.
This means that the machine can produce the perfect amount of pressure for your espresso and that it won’t lose pressure over time (this is a big problem with many inferior brands of espresso machines).
Three-Way Solenoid Valve
All Gaggia semi-automatic machines use a three-way solenoid valve.
This immediately stops the flow of water into the puck of coffee when the machine stops brewing.
Most inexpensive espresso machines for the at-home market do not use this and instead have water gradually stop entering the puck of coffee when they stop brewing.
The main advantage of having a three-way solenoid valve is that the used coffee pucks are more firm.
This makes cleaning out the portafilter much easier as you do not have a wet mess that has to be spooned out bit by bit.
Rather you have a firm puck that can fall straight out of the portafilter.
Cup Warmer On Top of the Machine
All Gaggia super automatics have a cup warmer on top of the machine.
Drinking espresso from a warm cup is far from a necessity but it is a nice luxurious touch and kind of makes you feel like you are in an old-school espresso parlour in Milan.
What are the Differences Between Gaggia Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines?
These are the key features to look out for when buying a Gaggia semi-automatic espresso machine:
All semi-automatics have a steam wand rather than an automatic milk frother.
Some machines have a pannarello steam wand whereas others have a pin-holed steam wand.
Pannarello steam wands are easier to use than pin-holed ones. You do not really need to manoeuvre a pannarello in the milk to get foam, just stick it in and let it do its thing.
Pin-holed steam wands need some practice to master but can make a wider variety of milk textures than a pannarello can.
The Gaggia New Classic and Gaggia Classic Pro are the only two Gaggia semi-automatics to use pin-holed steam wands. All others use a pannarello wand.
Pressurized vs Non-Pressurized Portafilter
Some Gaggia semi-automatics come with only pressurized portafilters, whereas others come with both pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters.
Pressurized portafilters are best for use with pre-ground coffee or coffee ground with a blade grinder. The portafilter assists with pressure control so you will not get channelling when you use these types of coffee.
It does put a lower ceiling on how good an espresso you can make compared to a non-pressurized portafilter.
Non-pressurized portafilter can make better espresso when using freshly ground coffee but does not really work with pre-ground coffee.
I should note that Gaggia’s pressurized portafilters make better espresso than most makes of pressurized portafilters. You can see a video of why this is below:
The table below shows which Gaggia semi-automatic machines come with which types of portafilter:
|Machine name||Type(s) of portafilter|
|New Classic||Pressurized & Non-Pressurized|
|Classic Pro||Pressurized & Non-Pressurized|
Aesthetics and Footprint
Gaggia semi-automatic espresso machines have quite an iconic “slim” look. However, not all newer machines have this look.
Machines also vary quite a lot in their size and available colors:
|Machine name||Dimensions (width x depth x height)||Available colors||Do they have the classic “slim” look?|
|Gran Gaggia||7.8” x 11.7” x 10.4”||Black, White||Yes|
|Viva Style||7.8” x 11.7” x 10.4”||Black||Yes|
|Viva Deluxe||7.8” x 11.7” x 10.4”||Black||Yes|
|Viva Chic||7.8” x 11.7” x 10.4”||Cappuccino, Industrial Gray, Midnight Blue (???)||Yes|
|Carezza Style||8.3” x 11.8” x 11.0||Black||No|
|Carezza Deluxe||8.3” x 11.8” x 11.0||Black with silver finish||No|
|New Classic||9.0” x 15.0” x 9.4”||Silver||No|
|Classic Pro||9.0” x 15.0” x 9.4”||Silver||No|
The best super automatic Gaggia espresso machine is the Gaggia Academica:
The best semi-automatic Gaggia espresso machine is the Gaggia Classic Pro: