“There isn’t a better fully automated coffee machine than this one,” says Expert Reviews. It earns its “smart” suffix with an app that lets you control and customise the entire bean-to-cup process, providing a user-friendly interface that delivers an excellent cup of coffee, including steamed and frothed milk. It’s also very easy to maintain, with built-in automatic cleaning and descaling programmes. If you’re willing to spend in this price bracket, go for this one.
At less that half the price of the TS Smart, here’s a bean-to-cup machine for bean-counters. It has fewer options for customisation and the steam wand is manual, but that makes it “delightfully simple” and “wonderfully convenient”, says Trusted Reviews. And the espresso shot it produces is on a par with those from machines that cost hundreds of pounds more
The Brera, another machine from Gaggia, is a dual-boiler machine, unlike its single-boiler sister above. The advantage is that the two boilers can be heated to different temperatures, so the machine is always ready to steam milk (with a manual wand) and brew coffee simultaneously, speeding up the production process. Other than that, the spec and results are similar to that of the Naviglio. It’s “nice-looking, simple to use, fast and convenient”, says Coffee Blog.
The third Gaggia on the list is the highest in the range, and the ideal model for an espresso aficionado. The shot it produces is “dark and rich, with the full flavour preserved”, says Trusted Reviews. Milk has to be whipped up using the manual wand, but you can set the brew volume to anything from a 10ml ristretto to a 230ml long black. For some coffee fans, it’s all about control.
The German-made Varianza first retailed at £750. Now £100 cheaper, it’s something of a bargain. Less comprehensively specced than the TS Smart, it nevertheless provides the full barista service, including high-quality coffee and automatic steamed milk. It’s also compact and easy to maintain. “At this price, there isn’t a bean-to-cup coffee machine that can touch the Varianza,” says Expert Reviews.