The Gaggia Anima Prestige earned a score of 7 out of 10 in our taste testing. This put it well above the top score of 3, just in front of the 6's earned by the Nespresso pod machines, and decently below the top score of 9. Espresso from this machine was quite similar to the other super-automatic machines we tested that use fresh coffee beans. The espresso tasted fairly bold, but it tended to drip some water into the shot towards the end of the pour. This could be mostly fixed by setting it to pour a shorter shot, but out of the box it was a noticeable issue. Overall the espresso tasted noticable stronger than what was produced by the Nespresso pod machines, but couldn't match the richness of the top scoring Breville Barista Express. Combining the espresso with milk from the automatic milk frother produced good cappuccinos and macchiatos with a nice ratio of milk to espresso. Considering how easy it is to make all of these drinks we found this level of tastiness to be great. If you really want cafe quality taste at home you'll have to sacrifice the convenience of superautomatic machines like the Prestige and get the Breville.
Ease of Use
The Gaggia Anima Prestige shined in our ease of use testing, earning the top score of 9 out of 10, putting it well ahead of the bottom score of 4.
Slightly Annoying Setup
Initial setup is really the only place the Prestige lost points in our ease of use testing. While the setup isn't too complex and the instructions are very detailed, there isn't a simple quick start guide. This left us jumping all around the manual to get things up and running. This process ended up being a full 30 minutes of tinkering and head scratching.
A big part of the convenience of the Prestige is its clean, intuitive interface. All of the buttons are clearly labeled and the small LCD screen clearly displays what settings are currently dialed in. This was by far our favorite interface and one of the few that houseguests would be able to use without a tutorial.
With clear labels and a nice display even novice can make what they'd like on the first go around.
Quick, Effortless Cappuccino
The Prestige was one of the fastest machines in our timed cappuccino test, serving up the drink in just under three minutes. Not only does it make drinks fast, but it's a totally hands-off process, so you can butter your toast whilst your cappuccino is being made. This is in stark contrast to a machine like the Breville Barista Express that requires nearly six minutes of undivided attention to make a milk and espresso drink. On top of all this the Prestige has a large capacity 60oz water tank that is easy to refill but negates the need to refill too often.
The Prestige's automatic milk frother makes cappuccino prep a breeze.
Ease of Cleaning
The Prestige earned a 7 out of 10 in our ease of cleaning testing.This put it towards the upper end in a metric where scores fell between 5 and 8.
Short Term Cleaning
The Prestige has a fairly relaxed short term cleaning schedule. The milk tank holds enough milk for about 5 drinks and can easily be removed and stored in the fridge to avoid the need for daily cleaning. You'll probably want to clean it at least once a week. All of the parts of the frothing unit are dishwasher safe but the tank itself must be cleaned by hand. The drip tray is a bit smaller than those on other models and thus will most likely need to be emptied about once a week. This doesn't feel like a hassle as the drip tray is easy to remove and empty. Spent coffee grounds are deposited as consolidated pucks into a small bin that can easily be emptied. You may need to periodically rinse this bin out, but generally the spent grounds are so tightly packed that they don't leave much of a mess in the bin.
The Prestige spits out clean, dry coffee pucks like this, which are easy to dispose of.
We wouldn't call descaling the Prestige easy, but it wasn't the worst experience we had either. The machine does not include descaling solution, so it must be purchased separately. The actual descaling process took us 30 minutes, but it wasn't quite as involved as some of the other machines.
The Prestige earned a respectable 7 out of 10 in our milk steaming and frothing tests. Of the models that had milk prepping capabilities most scored 6 or 7 with one outlier earning a 9. The Prestige's automatic milk frother made nice foam for cappuccinos, though it was far from the rich microfoam we were hoping for. Like all but one of the models we tested, it couldn't make the creamy steam milk with a small layer of foam required for a top notch latte. If you want that you'll have to get the Breville Barista Express and learn the fine art of using a steam wand.
The Prestige makes both nice steam milk and fluffy foam, though both are a notch below what you'd get at a coffee shop.
With a list price of $1100, the Gaggia Anima Prestige is the most expensive model we tested. However, because it uses coffee beans rather than pods, it actually ends up being less expensive than some of the Nespresso machines in the long run. If you value the Prestige's unparalleled convenience then this is a good value, but if you don't mind steaming milk yourself, or just drink espresso straight, you'll find a better value in the Gaggia Brera or the De'Longhi Magnifica.
The Gaggia Brera Prestige is an incredibly convenient, easy to use machine that can add a cappuccino to your morning routine without slowing you down. If you can get past the high list price it actually provides a fairly good value in the long run.
- Cost: $3000 (but often available for much less)
- Adds a second boiler for faster milk drinks