The Linea Mini from La Marzocco, Italy
WRITTEN BY Benn Crawford
03 May 2016

In coffee meccas from Melbourne to San Francisco, London to Wellington, La Marzocco has been the global standard for commercial espresso machines for more than 85 years.

In 1927, Brothers Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi opened the first La Marzocco factory in Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

Since its founding, the Bambi brother’s company has been an espresso technology manufacturer that stands apart on build quality, innovation, and enduring design. The rule of thumb is that if a La Marzocco is on the bench at a given café, you have good reason to feel confident that people behind it know something about making good coffee. They’re the Audi of the coffee world if you will.

In 1939, the Bambi brothers introduced the first espresso machine designed with horizontal boilers and group heads. Before this, espresso machines had a vertical design that considerably limited their performance. La Marzocco’s core design has since become the default concept incorporated into all modern espresso machines gracing café bench tops everywhere.

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Since 1990, the backbone of La Marzocco’s range has been their Linea espresso machine series – understated workhorses, as dependable as they are precise. The Linea has become that quality mark for those that know their espresso inside out.

For most of its life, the La Marzocco brand has targeted their coffee-know-how almost exclusively to the needs of the coffee industry. But that is changing, thanks to the introduction of the Linea Mini, a slimmed-down version of the classic Linea. While the Linea Mini isn’t La Marzocco’s first foray into the home barista market (their first was the GS/3, a high-spec, highly technical machine targeted at coffee professionals and serious enthusiasts), it’s the first expressly designed with a non-professional user in mind. Where the GS/3 sports digital interfaces and technical whiz-bang, the Linea Mini offers a more analogue and tactile experience for its operator.

The first upshot of the Linea Mini is that the machine doesn’t need to be pumped into a water supply or waste to operate. The machine’s compact design also means only a modest amount of precious kitchen bench space is required.

More good news is that the diminutive size is achieved while still incorporating all the components we’d expect to see in a premium espresso machine. Dual boilers, internal rotary pump, PID temperature control, 3-litre water reservoir, and hot water spout set a high benchmark for other premium home espresso machines to follow. In fact, the La Marzocco GS/3 is perhaps the only other machine to out do the Linea Mini.

La Marzocco has also paid attention to how the Linea Mini maintains thermal control. Notably, temperature stability is achieved by integrating the second boiler with the brew group. Coupled with this is another analogue interface to adjust the group’s temperature. A click-wheel dial, found to the side of the machine, can alter water temperature during operation.

"Making espresso is fun and almost anyone can develop the necessary skills to make good coffee given the opportunity to practice the right techniques."

Coffee extraction also benefits from a pre-programmed pre-infusion of water (one second on, one second off) which aids in drawing out a more balanced shot. And naturally, the steam pressure is robust enough to please even the fussiest of latte art lovers.

The best feature of the Linea Mini is perhaps the lack of superfluous extras. La Marzocco has taken steps to ensure the operation of the Linea Mini is intuitive (shots are pulled with a paddle lever) and uncluttered. The machine offers the ability to make quality extractions without demanding the operator to have pro-level coffee knowledge.

However, for all the thinking that has gone into the Linea Mini, it’s still a manual espresso machine, and mastering one is always a challenge. Encouraging people to make espresso at home is something we are often in two minds about at Coffee Supreme. On the one hand, espresso coffees are our forte with 22 years (and counting) in the game. Making espresso is fun and almost anyone can develop the necessary skills to make good coffee given the opportunity to practice the right techniques.

On the other hand, without a commercial set up and the commercial experience that goes with it, making a similar quality of espresso to what you get at your favourite café, can be hard work for the home barista. To put it bluntly, it’s far easier to butcher coffee with an espresso machine than it is with a Chemex regardless of how well roasted it is.

Then there’s also the investment to reward ratio. The most affordable pour-over coffee brewer and grinder set-up for your home cost less that $100. A quality home espresso can set you back thousands. If you’re choosing fresh roasted, brew-method-appropriate coffee, a pour-over brewer like the Chemex or Gold Filter can be an immensely satisfying way to make coffee at home. But if making the best damned flat white or short black is your ambition, then getting the best home espresso machine should be part of that conversation. We think the Linea Mini is that machine.

Try It For Yourself.

If you’re considering purchasing a home espresso machine, we recommend putting it to the test first.

If you’re around Wellington, the new Linea Mini can be taken for a test drive at our Midland Park retail store. Send us an email and we'll tee up a time for you to take it for a spin.

For those around Auckland, you can get hands-on with the Linea Mini by visiting with our friends at the La Marzocco head office in Parnell.

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