How to Choose the Right Espresso Machine or the Coffee Maker? Expert's Blog.

Saeco/Gaggia vs. Delonghi. Quick guide to super-automatic espresso machines on North American Market + Comparison

My independent advices are based on 6 years of experience in coffee machines sales. 20 comments

In this article, I will give general information (similarities, differences, pros, cons) about Saeco and De’Longhi machines and a brief model-to-model comparison. For more detailed information please read my reviews.

Please note that this review covers only super-automatic espresso machines with a built-in grinder, which can make you an espresso in one touch. For manual espresso machines comparison click here.

Saeco vs Gaggia – there are no differences between the two brands

Gaggia and Saeco are subsidiaries of Philips. That’s why all three brands use the same parts and technologies in their home espresso machines. The only exception is Saeco Granbaristo which has a slightly different brewing unit with enlarged capacity – up to 16 grams/0.56oz of coffee beans per serving compared to 11 grams/0.38oz in any other Saeco or Gaggia model. De’Longhi, by the way, can use up to 14 grams/0.5oz of beans for one espresso.

Moreover, there are identical machines sold under both brands. The price tag and warranty conditions being the only difference. Here is a great example – Saeco Intelia HD8771/93  and Gaggia Velasca RI8263/47:

Cheap vs Expensive Models – the same espresso on default settings

The ‘chassis’ – main parts and general construction scheme – is the same in any model within brand range. That’s why the cheapest Saeco’s X-Small espresso machine will make you the same espresso on default settings as top-notch Saeco PicoBaristo HD8927 (Granbaristo is an exception again).

The differences will be in automatization, manual or automated milk frothing, materials used, programmable settings and other extra functions.

Saeco's and Gaggia's ceramic burr and brewing unit (group)It is the situation when the manufacturer limits the functionality of cheap models for marketing reasons. For example, any Saeco/Gaggia automatic espresso machine has:

  • The same grinder with flat ceramic burrs, however, cheaper models have intentionally limited settings of:
    • grind levels (for example, 5 in Saeco Incanto/Gaggia Anima vs 10 in Saeco PicoBarista);
    • coffee strength adjustments, it’s the amount of coffee beans used per one cup, which I mentioned above. Cheaper models can have no or only two settings, while more expensive ones have up to 5 from very mild to very strong.
  • Identical removable brew unit, however, some model doesn’t have temperature settings, while others – do. Some models do have a bypass for ground coffee, some don’t  – you can use only beans (actually, both have that bypass, but on cheaper models, it’s sealed and there is no program to activate it).
  • The same heating element (Saeco/Gaggia uses boiler system).

The same applies to De’Longhi machines. Any Delonghi machine has the same conical metal burr set in the grinder (the grinder itself could be different), the same brew unit and thermoblock as a heating element within ESAM, ECAM or ETAM series range. However, they don’t differ much:

  • ESAM is the “old” system. Last models available on the American market are ESAM 04.110.S and ESAM 3300/3500. Any ESAM machine will be bigger and a bit louder than Delonghi machines of other series. It usually makes a bit colder coffee than ETAM and ECAM series.
  • ECAM is a new generation of ESAM with some bigs fixed – mainly, the temperature settings were improved due to different thermoblock used. Thus, Delonghi now can make hotter coffee on maximum settings if compared to Saeco. The “new” ECAM platform also allowed to make more user-friendly machines – water tank is easier to access, for example.
  • ETAM machines are similar to ECAM series but compact. They are not sold in the US so I will not mention them anymore in this review.

⚖️ Key differences between Saeco/Gaggia and De’Longhi

Choosing between any De’Longhi model and any Saeco (or Gaggia) model you can rely on the following facts:

  • Delonghi's burr set

    Delonghi’s burr set

    The Saeco (Gaggia, Philips) will have flat ceramic burr set in the grinder, while De’Longhi uses metal conical ones. This doesn’t really matter. Yes, I know that it’s considered that metal grinder can ‘burn’ coffee beans, which can result in a bitter taste. And that’s ceramic burrs, on the other hand, can easily crash if there would be a small stone in the beans. However, for home users it really doesn’t matter, believe me. You are not making 10 espressos in a row to heat the beans up and there is almost no chance to find a solid piece of stone or something like that in the beans from the supermarket. The only practical difference is that De’Longhi can grind a bit faster due to conical burr set.

  • De’Longhi can make hotter coffee. My own experiment shows that on factory settings and using the same coffee beans De’Longhi’s espresso can have a temperature of 74°C/166°F, while Saeco makes 71°C/160°F at maximum.

Saeco vs Delonghi Temperature Test

I would also appreciate your starred review at the end of the article

  • Bitter vs Sour Taste. De’Longhi will deliver a bit bitter espresso than Saeco, which usually makes it a bit sourer. That’s if all other things being equal (grind settings, coffee beans itself etc). Even on Saeco, you can make bitter Italian-style espresso if you will use dark roast beans with some robusta.
  • Cappuccino-related differences:
    • Fully-automated machines (with automated milk frothers) by De’Longhi have a “less foam/more foam” selector. While Saeco always froths the milk with the same efficiency and you can only regulate the amount of milk used. This feature by De’Longhi can be useful when you are making a latte (cafe au lait, coffee with milk). There is no difference for a classic cappuccino.
    • Delonghi always uses a built-in milk carafe as a frother, Saeco in most models do the same. However, some models (examples: Saeco PicoBarista HD8924 and Gaggia Anima Deluxe) have a milk frother with a tube that sucks the milk directly from the bottle (or any other container). They call it cappuccinatore.
    • The “tube system” requires easier cleanings if compared to carafes and it is, overall, more comfortable to use if you make cappuccinos rarely. However, a machine with tube system usually can’t make cappuccino in one touch: you need to make an espresso, move the cup under the milk dispenser and manually start milk foam program.

Saeco Picobaristo: tube vs carafe

  • Special programs for lovers of classic American coffee (not tiny and strong espresso). This fact is usually underestimated, however, I think it’s very important. Some De’Longhi models (Magnifica S ECAM 23.260.SB, Eletta ECAM 23.260.SB, Eletta ECAM 45.760.B) have a special LONG (aka BREW) program for imitating the filter brewing using a lower pressure. Saeco does have similar technologies called Coffee Switch, however, for some reason they sell espresso machines with this function only in Europe, but don’ sell them in the US, where more people prefer classic coffee.

Delonghi's BREW functionThis is important if some of your family members get used to classic coffee in mugs (cafe americano). Both Saeco and De’Longhi are engineered in Italy, where people prefer 2oz shots of strong espresso. Trying to make an extra large lungo (letting too much water through one coffee puck) will lead to over-extraction and the taste will be spoiled. That’s why this special mode for American coffee merits attention.

💰 Model-to-model comparison: budget home espresso machines

The cheapest automatic espresso machines by both brands have many cons in common:

  • They require more counter space in the kitchen in terms of width and depth, the height usually is not a problem
  • You can’t use tall glasses for latte macchiato – maximum cup height is limited
  • They have not so fancy design and produce more noise while brewing (especially during grinding cycle)
  • Nor DeLonghi, neither Saeco doesn’t make cheap models with automated milk carafes. This means that espresso is made automatically, but for a cappuccino you will need to use a panarello wand (steam wand) to froth the milk

However, they both have a great a strong point:

  • They are cheap and you just need to push one button to brew espresso of the same quality as more expensive models.

Saeco is represented in this class by XSmall HD8645 and De’Longhi’s cheapest model is ESAM3300. I have more detailed reviews of both machines here and here. So I will briefly compare them below:

Link to detailed review My Saeco X-Small Vapore Review My Delonghi ESAM3300 Review
Width x Depth 11.5 x 16.5 inches 11 x 15.75 inches
Machine Height 12.8 inches 14.2 inches
Max Cup Height 3.7 inches 4.1 inches
Temp settings no 4 levels
Strength settings no yes, stepless
Burr sett flat ceramic conical metal
Grind levels 5 13
Uses ground coffee no yes
Taste profile more sour taste more bitter taste

Being very similar in general, they have one difference, which really matters. It’s temperature and strength settings, which Saeco’s model doesn’t have at all, while DeLonghi offers stepless strength adjustment (approx. from 0.2 to 0.5 oz of coffee beans for one drink) and 4 temperature settings. Moreover, XSmall has only 5 grind levels, while on the ESAM3300 you can choose among 13.

Although people rarely use all these settings, I believe that Saeco’s marketing division had limited too many functions in order to create marketing distinctions between XSmall and more expensive models. As I already mentioned above, it’s fully artificial limitation. That’s why in budget class I would prefer to buy the Delonghi ESAM 3300, not the Saeco.


💰💰 Model-to-model comparison: middle class with manual frother

For $150-$200 more both brands offer espresso machines, which are characterized by:

  • Fancier controls: LCD display with push buttons (Saeco/Gaggia) or buttons&icons (Delonghi) instead of simple buttons and lights, that we saw on budget machines.
  • Both still have a manual steam wand for milk frothing (cappuccino recipe is not fully automated)
  • More narrow body in terms of width, which is the most critical factor in any kitchen
  • Nevertheless, more expensive models become a bit taller and deeper. This makes them more comfortable to use:
    • Slightly larger reservoirs for water, beans, and waste (spent coffee pucks)
    • Higher maximum cup height, which allows you to use tall glasses for latte macchiato, for example

Saeco and its sister-brand Gaggia are represented by Incanto HD8911 and Anima machines, respectively. And this is one more example of identical models sold by different brands for different prices:

All the main parts are the same as in any cheaper Saeco model. However, Incanto and Anima gives much more controls and adjustments, which were strictly limited in budget class.

Delonghi, on the other hand, already had wide adjustments in its cheaper models, so there is less functional difference between Delonghi ECAM22110 and cheap ESAM3300 (see above). However, different thermoblock that is used in ECAM machines allows them to brew hotter coffee on maximum settings.

Delonghi is represented in this class by ECAM22110 Magnifica XS and various very similar models. I described all of them in this review. The most interesting model among them is ECAM23120SB (check it on Amazon), because it has the special function for classic drip style coffee brewing. However, since it’s a rare model, I choose the ECAM23210B as the most popular one to be compared with Gaggia Anima (however, keep in mind that it’s the replica of Saeco Incanto HD8911):

Link to detailed review I don’t have on yet My Delonghi ECAM Series Review
Width x Depth 8.7 x 17 inches 9.5 x 17 inches
Machine Height 13.4 inches 13.5 inches
Max Cup Height 5.9 inches 5.75 inches
Temp settings 3 levels

with less hot coffee on maximum

4 levels

with more hot coffee on maximum

Strength settings 5 levels 5 levels
Burr sett flat ceramic conical metal
Grind levels 5 13
Uses ground coffee yes yes
Taste profile more sour taste more bitter taste
Classic coffee recipe no no (but similar ECAM23120 model has it)
Display&controls LCD display and push buttons Icons and push buttons

I think that Saeco/Gaggia offer better value for money in the middle class. However, pay attention to the special long mode in some Delonghi models and to the fact, that it brews hotter coffee.

In other words, if you are looking for the machine to drink classic espresso and cappuccino, then it’s better to choose among Saeco’s models. If you prefer really hot coffee and/or drink mainly big cups of coffee, then it’s reasonable to choose among Delonghi’s models.

💰💰💰 Model-to-model comparison: middle class with a carafe

Both models described in the previous paragraph have modifications with automated milk jar (carafe).

Integrated milk frother allows you to make cappuccino in one touch. And this is what you overpay for. There is no need to practice barista skills to make milk foam with a steam wand. 100% no mess around – just place a cup, press the button and the machine will do everything. However, you will need to run a cleaning cycle. But it is also automated.

Delonghi's more or less foam regulator, which Saeco/Gaggia doesn't have

Delonghi’s more or less foam regulator, which Saeco/Gaggia doesn’t have

Everything else is the same as in earlier models: dimensions, taste and temperature profiles, all black coffee adjustments including exclusive Delonghi’s LONG/BREW mode for drip style coffee. The distinction between Delonghi ECAM23120 and Delonghi ECAM23260, Anima and Anima Prestige, Incanto HD8911 and Incanto HD8917,  is only the integrated milk frother (and slightly different design of control panel).

Nevertheless, milk carafes are different. Delonghi’s one is called LatteCrema and it allows you to adjust the foam height. Saeco’s milk carafe doesn’t have such adjustment.

This adjustment works only for making less foam. It means that Delonghi on the maximum settings makes approximately the same amount of foam as Saeco does. However, on Delonghi, you can minimize frothing and get the hot milk or flat foam.

This also means that the difference between latte macchiato and cappuccino in terms of Saeco is only the amount of milk and coffee. While on Delonghi you can regulate both the amount and the height of the milk foam. Thus Delonghi ‘knows’ more recipes (don’t forget the special recipe for classic coffee).

I still prefer the taste of espresso made on Saeco (a bit less bitter and a bit less hot), however, in the class of fully automated machines with milk carafes Delonghi is definetely offers more value for money.

💰💰💰 Premium models: Eletta vs PicoBaristo

 … to be continued …

💰💰💰💰 Flagship models: PrimaDonna vs GranBarista

 … to be continued …

Outaged series (old premium): ESAM3500 vs Saeco Inetlia Deluxe

 … to be continued …

I NEED you opinion. Please rate my review:

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Author: Dmitriy


Ask me!


  1. Great article. Looking between Saeco Incanto and Delonghi Magnifica XS. Read and seen on YouTube that the beans get stuck in the grinder a lot on Delonghi models. Aiming more towards the Saeco Incanto.


    17 Feb 19 at 3:34 am


    • Thank you, Sam. Yes, I can admit that there are some reviews from customers (usually from the US) about the “beans get stuck” problem. However, when I tested it – even with oily dark roasted beans (people usually refer to that kind of coffee) – I did not face that problem or something similar. So, may be there is some popular espresso blend in the US, which is “not compatible” with Delonghi’s machines? Don’t know, but I’m sure that if you use regular beans (Lavazza, Illy etc) it would be ok.

      Yes, Incanto is a good choice. I personally prefer taste profile of Saeco/Philips/Gaggia, by the way 🙂 If you are from Noth America then check Gaggia’s ‘clones’: Incanto HD8911 = Anima, Incanto HD8917 = Anima Prestige. If you are from Europe then check Philips 5000 Series – it’s the same machine with two new functions: 1) additional milk recipe, where coffee goes first, then milk is added; and 2) new Americano recipe.


      17 Feb 19 at 7:27 pm


  2. Hi Sam,

    Thank you for this very informative review and explanation. We have had our Saeco Viennaplus for 8 years and it seems to be ready to retire. I like the idea of having a bypass for decaf beans at night. I’m not sure which machine to get and prefer to keep it cheaper and simpler. I am looking at the following three models:

    Which do you think is the best of these three? I’m learning toward the Magnifica based on price. However, with the sale, we can get a refurbished Gaggia Prestige for $700 and a new one for $750.

    I welcome your advice if you have the time to share it!

    Thank you,



    1 May 19 at 3:01 pm


  3. great site, thanks for putting this together, i certainly appreciate your insight. I have a 11 yr old Jura Impressa F7 that I’ve babied since purchasing. It’s been a great machine but it’s time for a replacement. I don’t find that I drink many lattes or cappuccinos in general, I mainly use the Jura to make an American sized coffee. I add some creme and sugar, and off I go.

    At the moment, I’m trying to decide between the ECAM23460S and the ECAM22110B. Not looking at the price difference, and as you make mention, The ‘chassis’ – main parts and general construction scheme – is the same in any model within brand range. Is there any other benefit to purchasing the ECAM23460S over the ECAM22110B outside of the fancier controls and the integrated milk frother?


    17 May 19 at 8:40 pm


    • No, there no other benefits except cup lights and statistics (to see how many cups of coffee are made on the machine).


      18 May 19 at 9:40 am


  4. What is your opinion of the Gaggia Brera?


    18 May 19 at 1:44 pm


  5. Thank you for all your hard work and reviews! Came across your website when researching automatic options. Been debating and cannot decide – one factor is something you mentioned with the comparison of all the De’longhis – the ability to make a more “american” style long coffee. I generally am not utilizing the automatic milk options and generally prefer to manually steam (we are mainly Espresso, Lungo and Americano/Long Coffee drinkers, not Caps/Lattes). I cannot find the ECAM 23.210.B in the states (only UK). Does Gaggia or any other makers offer products with that option? I love the Gaggia Anima but no long coffee. I’ve looked at some of the Jura’s (A1, D6, E6 and old C65) and cannot seem to figure out if they do the “long” coffee either. I used to have the Krups EA8250 (wedding gift) which wasn’t amazing from a quality perspective but did make both espresso, lungo and long coffee (8 oz). Just hoping for your thoughts! Really appreciate all your hard work and website.

    Michael J. Siegel

    22 May 19 at 3:04 pm


  6. Hi! I found your comparison to be one of the most helpful I’ve read comparing De’Longhi to Gaggia – thank you! If given the choice, would you go for the ECAM23260 or the Gaggia Anima Prestige (also considering the Accademia)? Sounds like you might prefer the Gaggia…


    2 Jun 19 at 8:41 am


  7. HI
    what do you know about
    Gaggia 90500 Titanium Super Automatic Espresso

    what other machine would this compare to?



    2 Jun 19 at 7:08 pm


  8. This information is very helpful. Thank you for the thorough overview. I am looking for a one touch machine to make a flat white as well as a simple cup of coffee. Would you recommend the Delonghi Magnifica or is there another machine that could do both at a lower price point? Also, I am concerned with the amount of maintence and clean up that is needed after each cup. Is there one machine over another that you would recommend for us lazy caffeine imbibers?


    23 Jun 19 at 7:38 pm


    • Thank you, TJ, and sorry for my late reply.

      Yes, if you are OK with a manual frother, then simple Delonghi’s could do both. Hoewever, if you mean old Magnifica (ESAM series) then pay attention to a slighly inconveniently located steam wand.


      18 Jul 19 at 2:52 pm


  9. Thank you for going into such great detail about the different machines. It’s extremely helpful and your expertise is very much appreciated. I’m on a very limited budget so most of the machines are not affordable for me, but I love espresso and cappuccino coffees when well done. Currently have a low-end Capresso semi-automatic and a good bean grinder so am not suffering, and I mostly drink pour-over coffees anyway. But someday (!) I’d love to have the convenience and consistency of the Saeco Xsmall Vapore. Appreciate your reviews!


    17 Jul 19 at 10:30 pm


  10. Thanks for your comparisons. I now have a Saeco Moltio with milk caraffe, mine was still made in Italy. It’s working but starting to make sort of crackling noises, I think from the brewing unit, and I am considering to upgrade. From your comparisons it’s very likely that the newer Philips 5000 machines are technically the same? As far as I can see the new Philips/Saeco machines don’t have front accessable water compartments? A dealbreaker for me, because where it must stand there’s not a lot of space above it. You mention the delonghi machines brew a hotter cup, is it not possible to adjust that? On my Moltio I can adjust temperature in the menue, I have it on the hottest setting though.
    I am interested in the Delonghi Dinamica Ecam 350.75, do you have any knowledge on this machine? Sorry this became quite a long post…


    Dennis Lichtenveldt

    23 Jul 19 at 11:59 am


    • Hi, Dennis.

      1) Yes, the brewing units are the same, just connecting soccets could be different.

      2) Yes and not. You Minuto was indeed the last (or one of the last) model before Philips/Saeco switched to the water tanks with access from top. However, new EP1200, EP2200 and EP3200 series that is already on market in Europe, have the front access again.

      3) Sure you can regulate the temperature. The Delonghi is hotter in terms of maximum settings.

      The Delonghi ECAM 350.75 is a good machine, some cons to pay attention to:
      a) 350.75 costs more than 350.55 but the difference is only 2 extra recipes (just a memory cell in fact, because you can reprogram any recipe) and 2 more buttons (two more recipes you can start in one touch without navigating the menu). For me personally the price difference is not fair and the 350.55 is better in terms of price/functions (depends on the price in your countru of course)
      b) the delonghi machines of ecam 350.xx series have one well know problem – sometimes the milk frother brokes after the decalc cycle (produce no steam => no milk foam). It can be fixed by your self in 9 out of 10 cases (just make 2-3 more decalc cycles again with pure water withoud decalc liquid), but still a fact…

      Overall. If you are from Europe and the new EP3200 is already available in your country, I would probably reccommend to stick to Saeco 🙂

      P. s. Yes, cracking noises is a brewing unit. Have you lubricated it and/or changed gaskets? They have a repair kit on amazon for example


      28 Jul 19 at 1:58 pm


  11. Gaggia RI8263/47 Velasca Prestige
    vs. Delonghi ECAM23260SB Magnifica.

    They both seem very similar in price & also features, but unsure which one i should buy? this would be my first time buying an espresso machine.


    5 Aug 19 at 2:18 am


    • Hi, Isabel. ECAM23260 has a bit wider functionality: mainly, it is a special “long” recipe for Amercicano (on lower pressure) and two recipes for milk&coffee drinks (called ‘cappuccino’ and ‘latte machhiato’ by default, but you can reprogram it). So I would recommend Delonghi if you/your family drinks americanos, cappuccinos, not only espresso.

      However, if you mainly drinks espresso, and makes cappuccino only occasionally, then I would go with the Velasca Prestige, because I like taste of espresso more on Saecos/Gaggias.


      5 Aug 19 at 8:17 am


  12. Hi ,

    we are debating between the delonghi magnifica XS or the Jura D6.
    We equally like to make coffee and espresso and a very hot cup of coffee is important to us . We also want a good brother.



    Lisa Robinson

    9 Aug 19 at 12:52 am


    • Hi, Lisa. That’s quite an unusual pair to compare. No only because the price for Jura D6 is almost twice as big as for named Delonghi, but also because the machines are very different: D6 goes with an automated frother, Delonghi comes with panarello.

      I believe, you should first decide what kind of frother do you need (manual or automatic) and what is a price limit. Because for the price of D6 you can afford much more functional machine, just an example – Kurps Evidence EA89 , which has both automatic milk frother and special recipe for American coffee.

      Anyhow, Delonghi can brew hotter espresso shot, but there is no temperature difference for coffee. Both machines can’t make right Americano in one touch, by the way. You will need to do it manually in two steps: espresso + hot water. Jura makes stronger and tastier espresso, but it comes with unexctractable brewing unit which makes it pricier in maintaince. I may say that Delonghi Magnifica XS is better in terms of price/functionality ratio, while Jura D6 is better overall.


      9 Aug 19 at 9:27 am


  13. great article, kudos!
    any thoughts on a DeLonghi La Specialista, or similar?
    Thanks for your advise

    andreas meinhold

    13 Sep 19 at 2:46 pm


  14. Have some doubts which model to choose? Ask me!