Gaggia Anima Prestige Review
So you’re looking for a super-automatic espresso machine? A good first step is to consider a trusted Italian brand like Gaggia. They know espresso inside and out.
Their mid-level model, the Gaggia Anima Prestige, offers many functions in a small package, from fully customizable espresso drinks to an automatic milk frother. And have I mentioned that it’s one of the most affordable ways to get a cappuccino at the touch of a button?
If that sounds like what you’re looking for, keep reading this Gaggia Anima Prestige review. We’ve turned our expert eyes to the details, and we can help you decide if it’s a suitable model for you.
Summary: The Gaggia Anima Prestige
- Bean-to-cup espresso machine with four one-touch drink options
- Removable milk carafe with automatic milk frothing for easy cappuccinos and latte macchiatos
- Automated alerts and cleaning cycles make maintenance a breeze
Gorgeous looking in the corner of my kitchen, very easy to operate and clean. Lots of customization features, which are very nice.– Franco V., Customer
The Full Gaggia Anima Prestige Review
In North America, Gaggia might be best known for everyone’s favorite entry-level prosumer semi-automatic, the Gaggia Classic Pro. But in fact, the majority of their line-up is made up of super-automatic espresso machines like this one, the Gaggia Anima Prestige.
This is excellent news for consumers because it takes a brand with specialty expertise to make super-automatic espresso machines. It’s not as simple as understanding espresso and milk-based drinks; you also need to add a quality grinder and the technology to connect it. Gaggia has this figured out (1).
The Anima line includes three machines, with the milk frothing system being the only difference between them. The base model Anima uses an automatic frothing wand; the mid-level Deluxe model uses a cappuccinatore system; and the top-of-the-line Prestige, which we’ll be featuring in this Gaggia Anima Prestige review, has a detachable milk carafe.
Design – 4/5
The most noticeable feature of the design of the Gaggia Anima Prestige is its size – or rather, its lack of size. This is a very compact espresso machine, particularly in width. The Anima takes up little counter space, measuring just 8.8 inches wide by 16.9 inches deep. And with a height of 13.4”, it easily slides under upper cupboards. Anyone with a small kitchen or office will undoubtedly appreciate these dimensions.
It is rare to find an espresso machine this small and even rarer still to find a bean-to-cup option with a built-in grinder.
Despite its compact frame, the Gaggia Anima Prestige automatic coffee machine has a significantly larger capacity than the entry-level Gaggia Brera. The water reservoir holds 60 ounces of water, the bean hopper holds a half-pound of coffee beans, and the milk carafe measures 17 ounces. The drip tray is equally substantial, holding up to 24 ounces of liquid.
The Gaggia Anima Prestige stands out from the crowd thanks to its substantial gap between the coffee spouts and the drip tray. With a larger-than-average 6 inches of clearance, it can easily fit tall travel mugs or even a small thermos if you like your espresso drinks on the go. This is especially impressive given that the machine itself is under 14 inches tall.
Aesthetically, the Gaggia Anima Prestige is made to resemble the brand’s top-end model, the Gaggia Accademia. It features a stainless steel front panel and chrome accents with a classy appeal. It looks more expensive than it is, which is always better than the alternative! It would be nice to see the entire case made from stainless steel, as with the Brera. This would inevitably increase upfront costs versus the current plastic back and sides, but it would also add to the longevity of the espresso maker.
The soft rectangular buttons are pleasingly tactile, a nice change from the ubiquitous touchscreen. As much as touch screens provide a clean and modern look, sometimes it is nice to push a button that feels like a button. An attractive blue LED screen displays programming options and cleaning alerts.
Brewing System – 4/5
The Gaggia Anima Prestige is a bean-to-cup automatic coffee machine, which means that it includes a built-in coffee grinder and a system to brew espresso. As the name implies, all you need to do is add coffee beans to the bean hopper, and the Anima will do the rest of the work to turn those beans into a delicious cup of coffee.
The airtight seal on the bean hopper lid is a nice feature increasingly seen on well-made super-automatic espresso machines. It seals in the flavors and aromas of the beans, so you can add 8 ounces of whole beans at once without worrying about them going stale – at least not within a reasonable timeframe.
The Gaggia Anima Prestige has a ceramic burr grinder with conical burrs and five grind settings (2). The settings are well chosen to be in the correct range for a classic espresso, but honestly, it would be nice to see a few more grind size adjustments here for when you want to dial in more unusual coffee beans. For example, the always-popular Breville Barista Touch has 30 settings.
If you prefer to use a different grinder or you want to use pre-ground coffee beans on occasion – for an occasional decaf or flavored brew, perhaps – the Anima Prestige is equipped with a pre-ground coffee bypass doser. This skips the coffee grinding step and goes straight to brewing.
Let’s talk about the brewing process
The first step inside the coffee machine is something very similar to the pre-infusion found in more traditional espresso machines. The coffee grinds are showered with water, and then there is a slight pause before pressurized extraction begins. This settles the coffee into a more uniform puck to guarantee an even extraction and delicious brew (3).
The Gaggia Anima uses the patented Optiaroma brewing system found on many Gaggia espresso machines when it comes to brewing. This gives you a lot of control over the strength of your espresso. You can choose between five settings, which adjust the single-shot dose between 6.5 and 11 grams. Once you’ve been espresso brewing for a while, the unique Gaggia Adapting System learns your preferences and automatically adjusts the grind cycle to ensure you always get a perfect dose.
The Gaggia Anima Prestige comes pre-programmed with six espresso drinks, four of which are available at a button: Espresso, Lungo, Cappuccino, and Latte Macchiato. The other two (Frothed Milk and Hot Water) require an extra step via the drinks menu.
The milk frothing system distinguishes the Prestige from the rest of the Anima line. It uses a removable milk carafe equipped with an automatic milk frother, making this the most convenient of the three models for lovers of milk-based drinks. With the Base model, you need to froth the milk manually using the Pannarello wand, and the Deluxe model uses a cappuccinatore system. As a result, neither can deliver milky drinks at the touch of a button. The removable carafe of the Prestige not only does all the work for you, but you can store it in the fridge when not in use, ensuring your milk is always fresh and never wasted.
Keep in mind that the carafe system will be less convenient if you live in a household where everyone likes different types of milk in their coffee. If you love 2% and your spouse prefers oat milk, it might make more sense to opt for the Deluxe or Base model (4).
Another possible inconvenience is that the hot water tap for the Gaggia Anima Prestige can only be added when the milk carafe is not in place. They occupy the same plumbing. This is not a big deal if no one using the espresso maker wants an Americano, or if everyone does, but it can be a hassle if you’re regularly swapping back and forth.
Coffee Quality & Versatility – 4/5
The Gaggia Anima Prestige fully automatic espresso machine makes four programmed specialty beverages. But that is far from the limit of its versatility because you can completely customize each one. Using the buttons coupled with the LED display, you can adjust the coffee strength (between 5 levels), the coffee volume, the brew temperature settings (from 160 – 185 °F), and the milk texture and volume. If you want to brew a double shot, you need only hit the button twice in a row, and it will automatically prepare back-to-back drinks.
It’s this ability to program a drink and trust that it will be made the same way every time making super-automatic coffee machines so appealing, according to Aurimas Vainauskas, founder and CEO of Coffee Friend (5).
The automatic systems in these coffee machines often make it easy to clean while delivering consistency and reliability, no matter which beverage you choose to prepare.
So we’ve established that this is a versatile brewer, but what about the espresso quality?
Super-automatic espresso machines are known for their convenience, not their coffee quality, and I won’t claim that the Gaggia Anima Prestige is any different. The espresso quality is excellent, but it’s not on par with what a skilled barista could make using a semi-automatic coffee machine at the same price.
That’s because you’re paying to avoid needing to become a skilled barista. Brewing espresso with a semi-automatic coffee machine takes practice, sometimes a lot of practice. You need to dial in the grind, learn how to distribute appropriately, tamp the puck, and master dosing and shot timing. And if you want a milky drink, you also need to learn how to steam milk, which is different for a latte versus a cappuccino. In short, it leaves a lot of room for human error.
The Gaggia Anima Prestige can’t make the greatest espresso you’ve ever tasted, but it will never disappoint you as long as you can push a button.
Rather than considering semi-automatic machines, a closer comparison to the Gaggia Anima Prestige is something like a Nespresso coffee machine, which offers a similar one-touch convenience. In this comparison, the Anima is a clear winner in terms of coffee quality – and versatility, for that matter. Freshly ground beans will always taste better than encapsulated pre-ground coffee, and you’ll have a much larger selection of coffees when buying whole bean coffee instead of capsules. Not to mention the environmental downsides of pod coffee (6).
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4.5/5
Ease of cleaning has always been a big selling point of a super-automatic espresso machine. Users of these machines put a premium on convenience, and manufacturers have been wise enough to note that that applies to cleaning and maintenance as much as grinding, brewing, and frothing.
The LED screen of the Gaggia Anima Prestige automatic coffee machine alerts you when any cleaning or upkeep is required.
That includes when you need to refill the water reservoir or top up the bean hopper, when you need to clean the milk carafe or empty the coffee grinds dregs drawer, and on rare occasions when the machine needs descaling. The drip tray has a more analog alert system, using a small float to let you know when it is complete.
Thanks to this model’s large capacity, none of these needs to be done too often. The 60-ounce water reservoir, 15-puck dregs drawer, and 24-ounce drip tray are all good for several days at a time for average users.
The ease of cleaning doesn’t just refer to alerts; the cleaning cycles themselves are also automated. At just the press of a button, you can completely sterilize the milk system with a jet of hot steam after each use, and the integrated milk carafe itself is dishwasher safe. The coffee system is even easier as it runs an automatic cleaning cycle every time the machine is turned on and off, a design feature that isn’t just sanitary but ensures a fresh-tasting brew each time.
The brew group is easily removable, and it’s recommended you take it off and give it a quick rinse with water weekly. Many brands, such as Jura, used a fixed brew group. Instead, you can’t clean these by hand, and they require you to run a cleaning cycle, often using expensive cleaning solutions. The removable brew group is a great feature for saving time and money.
Descaling isn’t fully automated, but it’s needed only rarely, especially if you’re using filtered water (which we recommend). The Anima will alert you when it’s time to descale, and prompts on the screen will walk you through each step. So while not automatic, it’s pretty dang easy.
Value for money – 3.5/5
Buying a bean-to-cup machine necessarily means a relatively large outflow of cash. But remember that you’re paying for a quality espresso machine AND a grinder.
There is no denying that the Gaggia Anima Prestige automatic coffee machine is an excellent value because it is a one-touch machine. Few others on the market at this price range offer the same capacity, degree of programmability, and ease of use. If you want to set your mug down, press a button, and have a cappuccino ready and waiting, it is one of the most affordable ways. And because Gaggia is such a well-respected and longstanding Italian brand, you can trust that its affordability has nothing to do with low quality.
Most of what you’re paying for is the detachable milk carafe and automatic milk froth.
If you’re willing to operate a steam wand or cappuccinatore – or if you rarely make milky drinks – then the Base and Deluxe model Anima’s far better values. The Base model, for example, is about 60% of the cost of the Prestige, and it still offers the same grinder, customizable drink options, build quality, and delicious espresso. The only difference is that you’ll have to steam milk and mix it with the espresso all by yourself.
Don’t Buy the Gaggia Anima Prestige Automatic Coffee Machine If…
- You don’t want a super-automatic: If you already have a grinder to grind beans or don’t like the idea of a super-automatic espresso machine, there are plenty of good espresso machines you can opt for instead.
Sticking with the Gaggia brand, check out our Gaggia Classic Pro review for a longtime favorite entry-level prosumer semi-automatic that will save you some cash and deliver reliably good espresso. Or consider the Rancilio Silvia, which is closer in price to the Anima and is known for its excellent build quality and powerful steam wand.
- You don’t need a one-touch machine: If you don’t mind doing leg work between pulling a shot and frothing milk, you’ll be interested in our Gaggia Brera review. This much less expensive model is a bit lower capacity than the Anima and offers fewer options for customization, but its all-stainless-steel build is a big selling point.
- You want something more premium: If money is no object, Jura is the brand to turn to for super-automatic espresso machines. These sleek-looking Swiss-made models don’t come cheap, but they are a cut above quality and technology. For a compact model similar in size to the Anima, read our Jura ENA 8 espresso machine review. You can also read our review of the Jura S8 or the Jura E6 if you want a higher-end super-automatic.
If you’re in the market for a one-touch cappuccino machine with an affordable price tag, you’ll have a hard time beating the Gaggia Anima Prestige. Its compact footprint and reasonable cost make this one of the most accessible super-automatic espresso machines. And because Gaggia makes it, you can trust that they haven’t skimped on the build or the espresso quality.
- Stamp, J. (2012, June 19). The Long History of the Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/
- Guerrero, X. (2021, January 21). Flat Burrs vs Conical Burrs. That is the question. Retrieved from https://baratza.com/flat-burrs-vs-conical-burrs/
- Joseph, H. (2019, December 10). Longtime Espresso Pro Michael Teahan on Pre-Infusion, the Problem with SO, and Much More. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/12/10/longtime-espresso-pro-michael-teahan-on-pre-infusion-the-problem-with-so-and-much-more/
- Grant, T. (2020, August 14). A Guide to Working With Plant Milks. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/08/a-guide-to-working-with-plant-milks/
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- Gunther, M. (2015, May 27). The good, the bad and the ugly: sustainability at Nespresso. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/27/nespresso-sustainability-transparency-recycling-coffee-pods-values-aluminum