In 2023, Italian espresso machine giant Gaggia released an updated version of the Accademia. It’s a sensational glow-up in the looks department… and in price tag. So how does this new-look Accademia stack up to the previous top-end Gaggia machine, the Babila? That’s what we’re here to answer in our Gaggia Accademia vs Babila comparison.
We believe the Accademia is absolutely worth the extra money over the (still excellent) Babila. You get more drink choices, more customization, and it’s better looking. Plus everyone can save their own drinks with user profiles.
It’s only when we get right into the specific features of these two espresso makers that things start to get really interesting. Having put them both to the test, we’re going to look at what drinks they offer, the customization settings, and the hardware differences of these espresso machines.
Let’s see how they stack up:
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Design and Build Quality: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Coffee Quality: 5/5
Ease of Cleaning: 4/5
Or read our full review
Design and Build Quality: 4/5
Ease of Use: 4/5
Coffee Quality: 5/5
Ease of Cleaning: 4/5
Or read our full review
Both the Babila and the Accademia have dual boilers. One for the coffee and one for the milk.
This is generally considered superior to single boiler machines as it means more consistent temperature, faster brewing time, and less chance of burnt milk. Being able to brew coffee and foam milk at the correct temperature is critical for quality.
It also means you can brew coffee and steam milk at the same time. This is especially good if you’re making a few milky coffees in a row like cappuccinos or flat whites. You can brew your espressos and manually steam the milk for them at the same time, speeding up your coffee making.
Manual Milk Frothing
Both machines give you the option to use a manual milk wand if you prefer it over the automatic wand. This isn’t that common on super-automatic machines at any price. Although that’s probably for a reason:
If you want your coffee to be as easy as possible then learning to foam milk isn’t going to be something you want to do.
So this is only a great feature if you already know how to steam milk. Or if you fancy developing mad latte art skills. If that’s you, this could be exactly what you need from your espresso machine. Just push a button for espresso then focus on getting the perfect silky milk texture and nailing your tulip or swan.
Espresso Plus System
One of the best features on both the Babila and Accademia is the Espresso Plus System.
This allows you to control the speed with which the water passes through the coffee puck or the “flow rate.” This can make a huge difference to your shot’s quality and help get that perfectly balanced flavor from longer coffees.
It takes some fiddling with to get right. But it’s fantastic for those who enjoy playing with settings (oh hey, it’s me). Plus, it’s another relatively rare feature on super-automatic machines that can be a real game changer.
The Gaggia Babila is a more compact machine than the Accademia.
Being 1.4 inches narrower and 1 inch shorter may seem inconsequential. But when counter space is at a premium and there are overhead cabinets to think about, these seemingly small differences can be extremely important.
Being able to fit everything into a smaller casing is a big plus for the space-conscious. So measure up before you buy:
One of the biggest differences between Gaggia’s Babila and Accademia is how they look.
The newest model of the Accademia has had a serious glow-up and would look great in any kitchen. It’s sleek black with red accents, and the screen is bright and modern-looking.
Whereas, the Babila looks a lot more dated. Not bad per se, just old. This really shows in the screen which looks like a clunky 90s computer.
Both machines have an excellent ceramic grinder though they’re not the same.
Ceramic grinders excel as they don’t heat up as quickly as stainless steel ones. This helps to preserve the volatile oils in the coffee beans that hold so much flavor. They also stay sharper for longer, but they are more brittle so be careful nothing other than coffee beans gets into your grinder.
Whilst, the Babila and Accedmia have excellent grinders, the number of settings is vastly different.
The Babila has 15 settings compared to just 8 on the Accademia.
It’s not uncommon with built-in grinders for there to be a lot of settings that are pretty useless for making quality espresso. When we tested the machine, we found only 8 of the Babila’s settings to be usable. But the Accademia only had 3, maybe 4 at a push, usable settings.
So you’re getting around double the number of worthwhile grinder settings from the Gaggia Babila.
Psst… Want to see how to the Babila stacks up against some other giants of the espresso making world? Check out these guides:
Time for the big one: Does either machine make your favorite coffee?
The new Accademia has 19 different coffee recipes. This covers the classics and some niche Italian specialties like macchiatone and melange. That said, because you can brew espresso, ristretto, lungo, coffee, or americano at a push plus and there’s the manual steaming wand, you can basically make every coffee known to man if you want.
The Babila is far more limited in its options. You have ristretto, espresso, lungo, and coffee. Then espresso macchiato, latte macchiato, cappuccino, and flat white as milk coffee options. You can use the manual steam wand to make whatever milk you like so making a cortado, for example, is still very doable. But not automatically by the machine like on the Accademia.
In addition to the pre-programmed drinks, both can dispense frothed milk, steam, and hot water too.
Use this table as a quick reference guide to make sure your favorite espresso drink is available at a touch:
|Cafe au Lait
Don’t see your favorite drink here? With a bunch of different pre-programmed drinks on offer, maybe the Jura E8 will have it instead. Compare it to the Accademia here:
Milk Foam Customization
Both machines will allow you to customize the volume of milk but only the Accademia lets you customize how foamy your milk actually is.
On the Accademia, you can choose between 4 levels of foam. And the difference from lowest to highest is enormous. So if you feel your cappuccino is a little too liquid, turn the foam setting up to the max. Maybe you think the cortado has too much foam, then turn it down to the lowest.
Having the ability to customize the milk foam like this makes it much more likely you’ll get coffee exactly how you like it. Plus, the Accademia will save your preferences so you don’t need to adjust it every time.
While the Babila offers drinks with different foam levels (like cappuccino and flat white), it doesn’t allow you to adjust the foaminess of these drinks. So, if you don’t like the milk as served, you’ll have to do it manually.
Coffee Strength Settings
Both machines offer 5 different “Aroma” (strength) settings which adjust the dose between 6 and 12.5g of coffee.
However, the Accademia also has a “Coffee Boost” button. This adds an extra ristretto shot to any coffee drink over 50ml.
For people like me who enjoy their coffee strong, this is a great addition. It means almost every drink can be made with an extra shot without clogging up the menu by having them as options.
One of the big things you need if you live in a house with a few coffee drinkers is a way for everyone to save their favorite drinks. And this is where the new Accademia excels over the Babila.
It comes with 4 user profiles designated by colored hearts. This means each person (well, up to 4 people) can have their own perfect version of each drink saved and ready to go.
But the Babila doesn’t have any user profiles. So the coffee settings will be set the same as whoever used the espresso machine last.
If everyone in your house drinks completely different coffees or you all like them the same way, then this won’t matter to you. But if there are two cappuccino drinkers and you both like different strengths or milkiness, then this will become very annoying very fast.
OK, maybe it’s not a fair fight between the Gaggia Accademia vs Babila now the latest model has been released. But the Accademia is the clear winner here.
It’s such a big upgrade in basically every way from the Babila. It’s better looking, has more drinks, more customization, and is easier to use.
And it’s not hugely more expensive than the Babila either. So for us, this is a very simple choice: get the Accademia.
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