Easy to use? Yes.
Compact design? Yes.
Properly extracted shot? You bet.
The Gaggia Anima is the base model of Gaggia's 3-model Anima Series:
As a base model, it's a great option for anyone looking to get their feet wet on an introductory super-automatic espresso machine without breaking the bank on one of Gaggia's more premium models.
What's the benefit of a super-automatic espresso machine? It does absolutely everything. You push a button, and the machine does the rest:
You don't need another grinder. You don't need a tamper. You don't even need to do much cleaning (aside from regular maintenance).
And for specialty beverages, the Gaggia Anima's Panarello steam wand offers one-touch frothing for easy cappuccino and latte foam.
Overall, the Gaggia Anima is easy to use and has some handy features (such as Temperature and Strength Control), and pulls a quality shot, especially compared to similarly-priced machines.
The downside of a super-automatic espresso machine is what you may expect: Complete lack of manual customization, since everything is hands-off.
Depending on what you're looking for in an espresso machine, that may not be a downside to you.
With the Anima, Gaggia has packed every feature required on a super-automatic espresso machine into the least expensive package possible.
This has its pros and cons:
With the integrated frother, integrated grinder, adjustable grind size, 3 temperature settings, 5 dose size settings and easily programmable brew sizes, you can pull almost any kind of shot you want and make any kind of specialty beverage you desire.
I have to give the Anima good marks for design — it really is simple to use and has a lot of features — but it loses some points for lack of control over your final shot. Ultimately, you're buying this machine for its convenience and high floor, not for its customizability and high ceiling.
If you’re strictly a cappuccino or latte drinker, the Gaggia Anima will do just fine. Max out the dose size and water temp and go fine with your grind, and you’ll get something that’s properly extracted. It may be a touch bitter, but you’re going to be mixing it with milk, which will mask any imperfections.
But for pure espresso drinkers? No matter how much I messed with the settings, I always got something that was just shy of amazing.
The Gaggia Anima looks great, though the machine is entirely cased in plastic. The black plastic front even has a chrome-like look to it. As always, appearance points are subjective.
Generally, I give the Anima very good marks, but I have to deduct a few points because, in my opinion, plastic just never looks as good as stainless steel or chrome.
With proper cleaning and maintenance, the Gaggia Anima will hold up for at least a few years. In this price range that’s pretty standard. Should anything happen Gaggia backs it up with a 2-year warranty.
Gaggia makes cleaning the Anima very easy, but there’s a good deal of cleaning to be done.
All of the typical stuff applies with this machine:
You also have to open the right-side service door weekly to clean out the brew group. This isn’t a huge deal. The brew group slides out effortlessly and just needs to be rinsed with lukewarm water and wiped down with a cloth, but you’ll also want to make sure the inside of the machine is properly wiped down and any ground coffee deposits are wiped away.
I can’t stress the importance of doing this as frequently as suggested. More often than not when someone complains that the machine isn’t working anymore, it’s because they weren’t up to snuff with their regular maintenance.
I don’t like being confined to the default shot sizes by hard-to-reprogram espresso systems. That’s why I love the Anima’s custom size selector.
Simply press and hold the shot type you want to set, wait until the machine dispenses the desired amount of espresso, then press again to stop. The Anima will remember that size until you change it.
The Anima doesn’t have any standout features that aren’t seen on other espresso machines. That’s not what Gaggia is going for with this model.
Instead, Gaggia’s goal is to take everything you expect to see on a super-automatic espresso machine and make it extremely user-friendly and intuitive.
The digital display and buttons are easy to navigate, and you’re never more than a couple clicks from easily adjusting a setting. You’ll figure out how to master the machine in just a couple uses.
A lot of machines have a fixed height between the exit valves and the cup or mug tray below. Those that don’t typically use some sort of adjustable drip try on which the cup or mug sits.
The Anima goes about this a different way.
It has a telescoping exit valve, which can be adjusted up or down around 2″ to accommodate cups or mugs up to 6″ tall with minimal splashing.
Freshly ground coffee beans are crucial for great espresso. With the built-in grinder and custom dose size selector you get the fresh grind, but the lack of an airtight hopper means the beans are a little more exposed to the elements than I’d prefer.
You’re going to have to empty the drip tray frequently. I’d suggest doing it every couple days so it doesn’t fill up to the brim. At that point it’s difficult taking out the huge 24 oz capacity tray without spilling.