We’ve been testing out and comparing two of the best-selling machines in the Gaggia range: the Gaggia Cadorna Prestige vs Babila. As they fall at two very different price points, it’s often hard to see exactly what you’re getting if you spend the extra. And if you’re looking at buying a new espresso maker, knowing if it’s worth springing for a more expensive model is crucial.
Which one is best all comes down to what you really want or need (politicians answer, I know…) In terms of pure value for money, the cheaper Cadorna Prestige is better. But if you want to really dial in your espresso with the extra settings and foam your own milk, then you’ll want the Gaggia Babila.
Everyone’s coffee needs are different – years of testing espresso machines have taught us that. So allow us to talk you through everything you need to know. Let’s see how they stack up:
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Design and Build Quality: 4/5
Ease of Use: 4/5
Coffee Quality: 5/5
Ease of Cleaning: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Or read our full review
Gaggia Cadorna Prestige
Design and Build Quality: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Coffee Quality: 4/5
Ease of Cleaning: 4/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Or read our full review
Both the Babila and Cadorna Prestige offer 5 “aroma” settings which are doses between 6.5-11.5g. A lot of the time the brew units remain the same when super automatic espresso machines are updated. Its unclear if its exactly the same unit in both. But the dosage settings are the same.
Temperature and Volume Settings
You get 3 temperature settings and sliding scales for milk and coffee volume on both machines. The sliding scales on the Cadorna Prestige have been made a little easier to use by the addition of units, 0.34oz (10ml) per step. But this is the same as the Babila.
Ceramic Flat Burr Grinder
While the Babila offers more grind settings than the Cadorna Prestige, both machines have a ceramic, flat burr grinder. These are high quality grinders that stay sharp longer than stainless steel ones and are more accurate than conical burr grinders.
The ceramic grinders also heat up more slowly than those made from stainless steel. This is important in protecting the volatile oils in your coffee beans that contain so many amazing aromatics and delicious flavors. They’re also more brittle and can chip if something other than a coffee bean gets in there, so be careful.
Clip-on Milk Carafe
The clip-on milk carafe that lives in your fridge when not in use is all the rage across super automatic coffee machines and this is true of Gaggia as much as anyone else. Both the Babila and the newer Cadorna prestige have a nice milk carafe that easily clips onto the front of the machine when you need it.
They also both “self clean” the dispensing mechanism after use so you can just put it back in the fridge afterwards.
Sadly the rest of the milk carafe isn’t “self cleaning” so you’ll still need to do that at least once. a week to ensure it doesnt get all nasty in there.
While the basics of coffee dose and liquid volume are the same, several other important factors in brewing your espresso are different. The Babila allows you to customize pre-infusion and has the “flow control” dial.
Customizing pre-infusion is a nice feature that not many super automatic machines have. The Babila allows you to choose no pre-infusion, 2 seconds, or 4 seconds of pre-infusion. The Cadorna Prestige is fixed at 2 seconds pre-infusion.
No pre-infusion isn’t a setting we would suggest using for good espresso so you’re only gaining one extra setting, but its nice to have.
The espresso “flow control” dial is much more useful. This controls the speed at which water flows through the coffee puck and is very useful when switching between espresso and lungo coffee. We slow the flow right down for espresso for rich, full bodied shots. Then we speed it back up for lungo so that we don’t get bitter and over extracted coffee.
So you can customize your coffees a little more with the Babila, but there’s no way of saving more than 1 version of each coffee. If you’re in a house with multiple cappuccino drinkers who all have different preferences, this is annoying.
The Cadorna Prestige offers 4 user profiles so you can save 4 versions of each drink. Very useful feature for any house with multiple coffee drinkers so there is no confusion, or fighting, over settings.
Manual Milk Wand
The Gaggia Babila offers the extra option to steam your own milk with an excellent manual steam wand. This means basically every espresso based drink is open to you if you’re happy to learn to foam the milk correctly for it. Steam wands are annoying to clean but learning to steam amazing latte art or perfect cortado milk isn’t very hard and is quite rewarding so this is a nice feature.
Mostly due to having a manual steam wand, the Babila also has dual boilers whereas the Cadorna Prestige only has one.
This means that there is no waiting for the boiler to heat up or cool down between coffee brewing and milk foaming. There is also no risk of having the boiler too hot for coffee or too cold for steam and producing poor quality results.
The Cadorna Prestige works perfectly well with one boiler, which is why it only has one. But having a dedicated boiler for coffee and for milk steaming is a really nice feature.
The one thing that makes the Babila feel very dated compared to the Cadorna Prestige is the old fashined LCD display compared to the excellent color screen.
It also makes it a little more difficult to use, but maybe we’re being a bit harsh with that since both use buttons to cycle through the options on the screen.
The Cadorna Prestige only offers a couple more coffee options than the Babila, if you remove the XL versions of the cappuccino and latte macchiato then its only 1 more option. It’s much more about which coffees you actually drink rather than sheer number of choices.
The Babila also has the manual milk wand so you can make everything on the Babila that the Cadorna Prestige offers. But you have to do some work yourself.
|Cafe au lait
|Latte macchiato XL
If you’re battling it out between the Gaggia Cadorna Prestige vs Babila, then the price difference has to come into play (the Cadorna Prestige is usually around $900 cheaper than the Babila). For us, that makes the Cadorna Prestige the better machine and certainly gives you the most bang for your buck.
However, the Babila is the right choice if you want the Flow Control to nail your espresso and the manual steam wand for making your perfect milk.
For everyone else, save some money and get the Cadorna Prestige with its better looks, better interface, and user profiles.
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