If you’re in the market for the best super-automatic espresso machine for your lifestyle, you should probably be considering a Gaggia. They have an impressive line of super-autos that brew delicious milk and espresso drinks at the touch of a button.
Because there are so many options, however, we get a lot of questions about what differentiates the various machines.
If you’re unsure of which Gaggia coffee machine is right for you, you’re in luck: this blog breaks down the distinctions between some of the most popular options in Gaggia’s line.
What All Gaggia Super-Autos Have in Common
Before we get into the differences between these machines, let’s talk about some commonalities that make them all great.
Removable Brew Group
Keeping your machine clean is extremely important if you want it to brew delicious espresso beverages long-term. Any super-auto is going to collect coffee grounds and oils in areas that the standard cleaning cycle just won’t reach. Gaggia has solved this program by making the brew group in every single one of its super-autos accessible and removable, so you can take it out, rinse it off, and clean the interior of the machine of any coffee residue.
Easy-foam Integrated Milk Carafe
Every super-auto we’ll discuss below comes with an auto-foaming carafe that makes preparing lattes and cappuccinos as easy as pressing a button. You add any kind of milk you like to the carafe, plug it into the machine, and voila! It brews the beverage.
When finished, the carafe will automatically clean itself and you can remove it and store it in the fridge for next time.
Flat Ceramic Burrs
Every Gaggia superautomatic machine features flat ceramic burrs for more precise grinding and better heat resistance (so you don’t further roast your beans while grinding).
What’s more, Gaggia grinders have an adapting system that automatically adjusts the amount of ground coffee it doses based on the strength of coffee you’ve selected, so you know you get the proper grind every time.
Plus vs. Prestige
All of the machines we’ll discuss in this blog come in two options: Plus and Prestige. The Plus version is going to be a couple hundred dollars less expensive and trade the integrated milk carafe for a steam wand like you’d see on a manual espresso machine. They’re phenomenal value-choices for anyone who loves espresso (as opposed to milk drinks), or wants to have the option to practice their milk foaming skills.
The Gaggia Velasca Prestige & The Gaggia Anima Prestige
Both the Velasca and the Anima have a distinctly retro aesthetic—this is because they are, relatively, retro machines. In fact, the Anima was actually designed to approximate the appearance of the original Accademia, and is the only machine we’ll be discussing today with metal housing.
When it comes to actually brewing espresso and milk beverages, these are simple machines. Each has four dedicated buttons to produce an espresso, espresso lungo, cappuccino, and a latte macchiato (on the Anima) or foam milk (on the Velasca). Both machines also have a “specialty drink” menu which allows you to dispense hot water, foam milk (on the Anima), and make a “baby cappuccino” (on the Velasca).
Despite their inherent simplicity, these machines do allow you to customize your beverages in a variety of ways. You can adjust drink temperatures, the strength of the coffee, and (on the Velasca) set pre-infusion to regular or high (or off).
All of these options are set across all beverages, however, so if you have multiple people using the machine who have different preferences, you’ll need to make sure to reset them each time you brew.
You can, however, adjust the volume of milk and coffee on a per-drink basis by holding down the drink button before you brew. When you do this, the machine will foam milk and brew coffee until you hit the “Aroma Strength” button. It will then remember these settings for each individual beverage.
Of the two machines, the Velasca is the more sophisticated. It has the option to pre-infuse your coffee which allows for richer extractions and gives you the option of the “baby cappuccino,” if you prefer a bit less milk in your drink. It also has ten different grinder settings, compared to the Anima’s five, which allows you to more precisely dial in your grind for better brewing results.
The Gaggia Cadorna Prestige & the Gaggia Magenta Prestige
The most noticeable difference between the Cadorna and Magenta and their predecessors is how the menus function. The newer machines both have full-color menus with a higher resolution display that makes navigation much more intuitive.
Within that menu, the new machines both allow you more customization settings, adding the option to adjust milk volume on a per-ounce basis (rather than using the Memo method discussed above). What’s more, on both the Cadorna and Magenta, you can adjust the settings of each individual beverage, rather than making these changes across the board. You can also save those settings to one of four user profiles, which means you could feasibly program the machine to make four different variations of each drink, plus the default version.
The beverage menus on these machines are also much more extensive than those on the earlier models: the Cadorna makes 14 distinct beverages and the Magenta makes 12.
Another noteworthy distinction between generations is that maintenance instructions are much easier to follow on the new machines than the old ones. Part of this is a result of the color displays making instructions much more clear than the black and white displays on the Velasca and Anima. Ease of care goes beyond the displays, however: the instructions themselves are easier to follow on the Cadorna and Magenta.
In addition to the displays being updated, the actual interface you use to operate the machine has changed as well. The Cadorna has what just might be the best buttons we’ve ever encountered on a super-automatic espresso machine. They’re made of durable rubber and have an incredibly satisfying tactile click when pressed. The Magenta, on the other hand, went a different route entirely and opted for touchscreen buttons.
Just like the Velasca is a more sophisticated machine than the Anima, the Cadorna has more versatility than the Magenta. In addition to the two extra beverages it can make, the Cadorna also has an automatic pre-infusion, which the Magenta does not have. The Cadorna also has ten different grind settings to the Magenta’s five.
The Gaggia Accademia
If you’re looking for an espresso machine even more sophisticated than the
Cadorna, you should absolutely consider the Accademia. This is the epitome of at-home espresso luxury, with an expansive menu of 19 distinct beverages and more customization options than you’d think possible. (It’s also a couple thousand dollars cheaper than machines from other brands with similar functionality.) There’s so much more to learn about the Accademia’s features, so check out our full review on YouTube.
Discover the Gaggia that’s Right for You
If you still have questions about which Gaggia super-auto is right for you (or you want to see that Accademia in action), we’ve got your back! Schedule a Coffee Cast for a one-on-one product demonstration of any machine we sell. Our coffee experts can help recommend the best product for your lifestyle and your budget. The best part? It’s 100% free!
Is Gaggia a good brand?
Gaggia espresso machines are known for their quality and durability, as well as their simplicity and ease of use. Given the appropriate care, they can last for years and brew some of the best espresso of any super-automatics we’ve tried.
Are all Gaggias made in Italy?
100% of Gaggia’s espresso machines that we carry are manufactured at their plant in Milan.
How long do Gaggia espresso machines last?
Here at Whole Latte Love, we’re a fan of the phrase “impeccable espresso requires care.” What does that mean? A Gaggia espresso machine will last a very long time if it’s properly cared for. Luckily, Gaggia machines are incredibly easy to maintain thanks to the auto-cleaning cycles and the removable brew group.