The Gaggia Anima Series: A Comparison
In the world of modern pump-driven espresso, the Gaggia Anima lies at the foundation of it all.
Since creating the first pump-driven espresso machine in 1938, Gaggia has been producing the highest quality home use espresso machines time and time again.
Although their models have changed over the years, with added technology and added complexity, the meat and bones of the Gaggia quality craftsmanship have remained the same. Gaggia is the reason we are all able to enjoy rich, delicious crema-topped espresso we do today.
Of the many machines available in Gaggia’s home espresso line, the Anima series stands firmly in the middle of the super-automatic espresso machine pack as a real party pleaser. This machine is a superb choice for those looking to drink espresso at home on a regular basis, and for those who make espresso a regular part of the home-entertaining routine.
Which To Choose?
The Anima comes in three models: The Anima, The Anima Deluxe, and The Anima Prestige. So when shopping for your Anima, which model should you choose? Well, it all depends on how much you want to spend, and how involved in the espresso drink making process you want to become.
Here, we will review and compare the Anima, Anima Deluxe, and Anima Prestige to give you a better idea of how they stack up against each other, and which model is the perfect one for you. Follow us as we discuss their features, design, capacity, capability, and cost. And read our opinion on how each one pans out against the other.
Our Review & Breakdown: Tell Me The Basics
Each model of the Anima series of espresso machines is composed of the same infrastructure. All have most of the same standard specifications except for a few variations here and there. The primary difference is in the milk steaming component of the machine.
Features – Gaggia Anima Line (Super Automatic Espresso Machine)
From left to right, Gaggia Anima, Deluxe and Prestige
|Model||Anima||Anima Deluxe||Anima Prestige|
|Pressure||15 bar vibration pump||15 bar vibration pump||15 bar vibration pump|
|Height||17” tall w/open lids||17” tall w/open lids||17” tall w/open lids|
|Encasement||Black Plastic||Black Plastic/Stainless Steel||Black Plastic/Stainless Steel|
|Dosing Range||6.5 to 11.5 grams||6.5 to 11.5 grams||6.5 to 11.5 grams|
|Water Reservoir||60 oz top load||60 oz top load||60 oz top load|
|Bean Grinder||8.8 oz flat ceramic adjustable w/bypass for pre-ground||8.8 oz flat ceramic adjustable w/bypass for pre-ground||8.8 oz flat ceramic adjustable w/bypass for pre-ground|
|Boiler||1300 single w/rapid heat||1300 single w/rapid heat||1300 single w/rapid heat|
|Steaming Mechanism||Pannarello Steam Wand – Manual||Cappuccinatore Steamer – Manual||Fully Automatic/Programmable Steaming Mechanism|
|Water Filter||Will take Mavea Intenza Filter||Will take Mavea Intenza Filter||Will take Mavea Intenza Filter|
At just 8.5” wide, The Anima is built to fit discreetly on your kitchen counter. With both the top mount water reservoir and top-mount bean hopper doors open, at 17” tall, the Anima will still fit under 18” standard height kitchen cabinets.
The front of the machine is sleek, angular, and highly polished; reflecting the quality build on the inside through its aesthetics on the outside. The body is wrapped in black plastic with stainless steel accents. The edges of the waste tray are beveled, adding to the sleekness of the machine, but also serving a more functional purpose of keeping waste water from spilling.
Built with all the same components and dimensions as the Anima, the Deluxe features the same sleek look and compact size for home use. The Deluxe is encased in a combination of stainless steel and plastic, however. The front panel is composed of stainless steel. The side paneling is in the same black plastic as the Anima.
The Anima Prestige has the same build as the Anima and the Anima Deluxe. But, like the Deluxe, it is wrapped in a combination of stainless steel and black plastic with the stainless steel in the front.
How Do They Match Up?
Any plastic encasing on an espresso machine is unfortunate since it doesn’t have the durability metal has. However, the stainless steel front on the Deluxe and Prestige is a nice compromise as most of the external wear and tear will occur at the front of the machine.
The Anima is a capable pick for a super-automatic machine user with frequent use in mind. It’s expended puck holder, or “dreg” bin will hold 15 pucks. And the 60 oz top load water reservoir will provide water many for drinks before a refill is needed.
The Anima is a one boiler system which typically means a longer wait time for hot water recovery. But Gaggia compensated for this deficit by providing a rapid heat system with the single boiler. So you’ll never have to wait that long, especially when pulling multiple shots in a row.
The Anima Deluxe offers the same capacity as the Anima. Both the water reservoir and dreg bin are the same size as the Anima, and it too has one boiler with rapid heat technology.
The Anima Prestige does not offer any upgrades in capacity from the two other models in the Anima line – a slight disappointment, but necessary to stay within the limits of the current body size.
How Do They Match Up?
Since all three models have the same build, it’s not surprising there is no change in capacity. What’s nice is that the Anima series, in general, has a functional size capacity for entertaining or frequent espresso use, especially for its mid position in the range of super-automatic espresso machines.
The espresso pulling process is fully automatic in the Gaggia Anima. The top load flat ceramic grinder adequately grinds espresso with up to five different options for grind fineness. (The grind is easily adjustable with a dial located at the top portion of the bean hopper.)
With the programmable LED screen, the strength of the shot can be customized in two ways. First, the amount of grounds loaded into the brewing mechanism can be adjusted from 6.5 to 11.5 grams. This range in dosing option allows you to control the strength of your coffee.
Second, using the programmable screen, you can dictate the length of the espresso pull, stopping the flow when you think there is enough espresso in the cup, not the machine. You can also adjust the temperature of your coffee… a plus for those of us who love our coffee hot.
This machine features a pretty standard 15 bar vibration pump with pre-infusion technology for espresso producing power. Although a higher pressure pump would be good for this price, the Anima produces a fine quality espresso shot.
The Anima Deluxe in the same in every way as the Anima when it comes to espresso production, which is a bit disappointing. It offers versatility in its five grind settings, dosing size options, coffee temperature adjustment, and length of pull.
Seeing that it’s supposed to be one step up from the Anima, a good thing to expect would be more variation in grind setting on the Anima Deluxe.
Even more disappointing is the lack of change from the Anima up to the Anima Prestige regarding espresso production. Like the other two models, the Prestige offers 5 grind settings, dosing options from 6.5 to 11.5 grams, coffee temperature adjustment, and programmable espresso brew length.
How Do They Match Up?
Yes, the customization in these machines is appropriate for a midline super automatic espresso machine. But some variation in the essential aspect of the unit… the actual making of the espresso would have been great to see between models – especially given the jump in price between each machine.
Here’s where a considerable difference between machines is most noticeable. The Anima comes with a Pannarello steam wand for its milk steaming. It is the most involved way to steam milk of the three processes we’ll discuss.
The Pannarello is a good option for those who enjoy steaming milk themselves, and who like to dictate precisely how warm they want their milk. Judging milk temperature can be accomplished by feeling the warmth of the pitcher change in your hands as you steam. (Or a thermometer can be used to take a reading while steaming.)
The Anima Deluxe comes with a funny little contraption called a cappuccinatore steamer. The cappuccinatore is comprised of a tube at one end that is inserted into a pitcher of milk, and a spout at the other end attached to the steaming mechanism of the Anima Deluxe.
When the steam button is pressed, the milk from the pitcher is drawn up, mixed with air to make foam, and released into the cup underneath the spout.
This option still involves some work on the user end, particularly in the post milk clean up. But it’s a worry-free way of producing adequately foamy milk for your drinks.
So this is literally where the money is at with the Anima Prestige. Milk steaming is fully automatic in this machine. All you need to do is attach the refrigerator storable milk carafe to the unit and push a button. It will do the rest.
You can choose from a few different drink options using the programmable LED screen. Clean up is hassle-free. Just detach the carafe and push a button. It’s that easy.
How Do They Match Up?
How involved you wish to get in the milk making process dictates your choice between these three models. Since there is almost just as much user involvement in the cappuccinatore as the steam wand, and a big jump in price; we recommend looking closely at either purchasing the Anima or Anima Prestige… if milk is the deciding factor.
At the lower price range for a super automatic espresso machine, the Anima is a great deal, given its compact size, adequate power, and relatively large capacity. The price is a reflection of a trade-off in parts, such as plastic paneling instead of stainless steel, and its manual steam wand (a turn off for some, but a fun aspect for others).
The Anima Deluxe doesn’t offer much more than a change in milk steaming methods compared to its jump up in price from the Anima. Its cost seems to push it toward earning a label of “not quite worth it” in our book. But, if you’re in love with the cappuccinatore, then this machine may be well worth the price for you.
Naturally, you’ll find a significant jump in price with this model, about a 400 dollar difference from the Anima to the Anima Prestige. But the trade-off… hassle free, hands off milk steaming, makes this machine the only genuinely super-automatic of the three in the Anima line.
The Final Verdict
The three models of the Anima series are identical to each other except for the milk steaming mechanisms and a few other small changes. When making your decision, compare your preferences on milk production (i.e., how complicated or involved you want milk steaming to be) against the difference in price between the three machines.
The Anima series offers ease of use through its fully automatic and programmable espresso making. All in all, this machine is a good value for a mid-grade, fully automatic espresso making capability – one that, if properly maintained, will serve you well for many years to come.
No matter which model you pick, you’ll be purchasing a quality machine made with the Gaggia name and reputation. Its large capacity relative to its sleek, slim, compact design makes it an excellent choice for the frequent coffee drinker or anyone who uses their espresso machine often while entertaining.
If we had to pick one, our eyes are on the Anima. At its current price point, you’ll get the most for your money in the Anima. Yes, the milk must be steamed manually.
But, with manual steaming comes full control over the thickness of the foam and the milk temperature. The price increase for the other models just for a little less milk mess is not justifiable in our opinion.