Comments on La Marzocco Linea Micra Espresso Machine Review - Page 12

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Mike-R

#111: Post by Mike-R »

drH wrote:Plenty of Micra frothing happening in this video.

video
I noticed that everyone in that video has the wand inserted as far into the pitcher as it will go. But I don't think anyone was complaining about it affecting their result, so maybe it's just long enough.

JayBeck
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#112: Post by JayBeck »

This question is probably mostly directed at Jim but I'd love to hear some more comparisons with the MIrca vs a high end E61 Dual Boiler, specifically the Bianca, since that is the most direct competition for this machine. Jim's review of the Bianca swayed me heavily and after using it side by side a DE1 made me realize Bianca is a far superior machine to the DE1 (not trying to incite a fanboy war by any means; just my experience after extensive use of both machines).

Specifically, I want to hear more about how the 'forgiveness factor' compares on Bianca (or any high end flow profiler E61 DB) and Micra. One thing that swayed me to the Bianca over the DE1 was this. DE1 is the most unforgiving machine I've ever used. Granted, I had a v1.0 and no manual control which was very frustrating when dialing in a coffee. Bianca makes dialing in a breeze; I often times can pick up a random coffee and by looking at the roast and origin, can dial it in near perfect in one shot, maybe 2. It's so forgiving to be able to bloom as long as need and adjust any reduced flow/pressure based upon how the shot is progressing. I know Mirca is an 'on/off' type mechanism but I do wonder about this grouphead design and how it impacts consistency as relates to water dispersions and temperature CONSISTENCY. I find Bianca to be very accurate on the offset based off the flash boil dial in method so much so I have more confidence in it than I ever did the DE1 or other machines I used. I rarely feel like I need to adjust temperature away from 94C and when I do, it's on the extreme ends of the roast spectrum.

I love Bianca and I doubt Mirca is a better 'in the cup' machine. But, looks (sans the super cheap portafilter that I would never use) and brand cachet has me eying Mirca as an eventual replacement to Bianca which is surprising me at this point. I keep hearing about this new group design and it is starting to seem like a new gold standard that I want to have access to.

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another_jim
Team HB

#113: Post by another_jim »

Expectations are a funny thing. I did a host of side by side unblinded shots, and became convinced that the Bianca produced rounder, more balanced shots, while the Micra produced ones with better mouthfeel.

That did not turn out to be entirely the case in our two blind tasting sessions. In these, the first round was a complete tie, with the shots mostly being indistinguishable, and our guesses as to which was which being random. My tasting partner and I occasionally split on which one we liked more, but the differences were within the margin of shot to shot variation of either machine. In the second round, I decided to use lighter roasts that were only three days old. Now the differences were systematic; with the profiled shots being rounder, and the Micra shots edgier, with a tad more mouthffeel. After a few shots, we were able to blindly identify the machines for each coffee.

This is my goal when blind testing -- not score keeping, but locating specific differences. The Micra is forgiving enough that profiling only makes a difference for very light and young roasts -- deliberately difficult ones. You can drop doses on the Micra and grind finer, but the result will sill be tad edgier. This is good thing for bland coffees, but not so good for very acidic ones. The Micra is supplied with 17 and 14 gram baskets. The 14 gram, or a single, will do well for almost all light roasts except very acidic or astringent ones, where profiling is required. Obviously, you can't do the specialized long dwell, fast flow lungos that are becoming popular for such coffees.

I mentioned dialing in. On the Bianca, the second shot is dialed. On the Micra, it's takes a third on occasion. But it is, along with the Mara X, the most forgiving non-profiling machine I've ever used.

I would not want to trade in my Bianca, because I like fiddling and improv during the shot. But the Micra was a joy to use, and a small step up in terms of both engineering and quality. The DB E61s are good quality and good deals, because they are based on sunk cost components. The Micra is engineered from scratch, so the higher cost makes sense. For people who enjoy high quality, innovative engineering, it's almost a no brainer.

This brings us to the Decent, which is even more innovative in its engineering, and is also good quality, albeit with budget components. However, here the shot making philosophies are entirely different. The Decent is a very deliberate, plan everything ahead, lab-like machine; the Micra invites a much more casual expertise. The choice is based on looking at yourself, not at the espresso machines.
Jim Schulman
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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#114: Post by RapidCoffee »

JayBeck wrote:DE1 is the most unforgiving machine I've ever used. Granted, I had a v1.0 and no manual control...
At the risk of going off track: I've used a DE1 v1.0 for four years, and could not disagree more. The DE1 is more complicated to use correctly, because you can control all the fundamental extraction parameters (temperature, pressure, flow) throughout the shot. But extraction consistency is excellent, and forgiveness is on par with other high end HX/DB machines. In my experience, it is the entry-level "beginner" espresso machines (like the Gaggia Classic) that are the least forgiving.
John

JayBeck
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#115: Post by JayBeck replying to RapidCoffee »

To clarify what I mean: Pre-programed profiles do not expedite the dial in process. So if I tell it I want 7 seconds of pre infusion and that's not enough, TOUGH LUCK! Yes, there are fail safe things you can program but they will never be as good as someone actually in control of the shot. I cannot fathom the amount of coffee I wasted in 2 years of using the DE1 due to this. When I got Bianca I basically never, ever sink a shot. If grind is too coarse I can modify it into a turbo very easily; if too fine, I can turn off pump and not purge water and let it bloom indefinitely. If it's close, I can easily fine tune to maximum extraction based upon how it's flowing. Full manual control is akin of a manual lever. Next up I would argue a spring lever, then a large gap to a fixed pump style machine if processing what I think 'forgiveness factor' means in practice (i.e. the ability to rapidly dial in a good shot when changing roasts several times in a session or in a back to back day period; consistency / repeatability would also go here -- can I do the same thing I just did and get essentially an identical shot?).

It is relevant to the conversation IMO because the Micra is essentially a fixed shot profile. Even if you're using the programed pre infusion, you're limited to fixed elements meaning that when rapidly changing coffees like I (and most home baristas I think) do, then you may not know if you need 3, 5, or 15 seconds pre infusion. I'm talking myself out of a Micra now as I process because loosing that control seems like a deal breaker in home use. I rarely use the same coffee back to back days even, much less back to back shots.

All that said, LM is such a cool brand and Micra is a beautiful machine. Much more beautiful than an E61 which, I do find elegant in its own way. Here's to hoping someone gets a gear pump in one of these attached to the paddle (or perhaps even a Jake style needle). Or what may be nearly as useful, create a 2-step process where step 1 is the pre-infusion and step 2 is full brew (basically take the automated feature from the app and let it be hands on where the human says when pre infusion is done rather than rely on an arbitrary (unless fully dialed in) timer.

JayBeck
Supporter

#116: Post by JayBeck »

Jim -- when you mention Micra shots have better body than Bianca, what Bianca profile are you doing and how are you using pre infusion on Micra? Were you plumbed on Micra? Or Pre-wetting? Or just letting its 6-7ml water debit do its thing. If the latter, then did you try the same profile on Bianca? I find that when I want to boost mouthfeel, I grind coarser and open up the water debit from 5-6 (paddle far right when far left is 0) and goose it to about 12 like a LMLM (one paddle adjustment, keeping it far right). Sometimes I'll even do a small programmed Bianca pause (3 seconds pump on which gets you to 3-5 bar, boiler pressure holds it steady since brew path is opened) and then 5 seconds pump off to soak, expand, then full pump. I don't have a Micra or LMLM to compare to but I sense it has to be wildly similar to that standard / classic pump profile when you want to boost mouthfeel.
another_jim wrote:Expectations are a funny thing. I did a host of side by side unblinded shots, and became convinced that the Bianca produced rounder, more balanced shots, while the Micra produced ones with better mouthfeel.

That did not turn out to be entirely the case in our two blind tasting sessions. In these, the first round was a complete tie, with the shots mostly being indistinguishable, and our guesses as to which was which being random. My tasting partner and I occasionally split on which one we liked more, but the differences were within the margin of shot to shot variation of either machine. In the second round, I decided to use lighter roasts that were only three days old. Now the differences were systematic; with the profiled shots being rounder, and the Micra shots edgier, with a tad more mouthffeel. After a few shots, we were able to blindly identify the machines for each coffee.

This is my goal when blind testing -- not score keeping, but locating specific differences. The Micra is forgiving enough that profiling only makes a difference for very light and young roasts -- deliberately difficult ones. You can drop doses on the Micra and grind finer, but the result will sill be tad edgier. This is good thing for bland coffees, but not so good for very acidic ones. The Micra is supplied with 17 and 14 gram baskets. The 14 gram, or a single, will do well for almost all light roasts except very acidic or astringent ones, where profiling is required. Obviously, you can't do the specialized long dwell, fast flow lungos that are becoming popular for such coffees.

I mentioned dialing in. On the Bianca, the second shot is dialed. On the Micra, it's takes a third on occasion. But it is, along with the Mara X, the most forgiving non-profiling machine I've ever used.

I would not want to trade in my Bianca, because I like fiddling and improv during the shot. But the Micra was a joy to use, and a small step up in terms of both engineering and quality. The DB E61s are good quality and good deals, because they are based on sunk cost components. The Micra is engineered from scratch, so the higher cost makes sense. For people who enjoy high quality, innovative engineering, it's almost a no brainer.

This brings us to the Decent, which is even more innovative in its engineering, and is also good quality, albeit with budget components. However, here the shot making philosophies are entirely different. The Decent is a very deliberate, plan everything ahead, lab-like machine; the Micra invites a much more casual expertise. The choice is based on looking at yourself, not at the espresso machines.

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another_jim
Team HB

#117: Post by another_jim »

I don't like the pump on-pump off preinfusion. Don't ask me why; but on every machine I've tried it, the shots were worse. Maybe I'm missing something.

You get big body and crema on machines with short dwell times (i.e. minimal preinfusion). The Micra is unique (in my experience) in that it is very forgiving, but retains the very short dwell times of standard LMs. With the supplied 14 and 17 gram baskets, nominally dosed, in the order of three to four seconds (it's about 1.5 seconds more with an LM single dosed to 7.5 grams). The Lelit Mara X is also very forgiving, but due to having its preinfusion lengthened to around 12 to 15 seconds.

Now before people jump on me -- yes you can get good body and crema with longer preinfusion, but it is not as reliable as minimizing headspace and dwell times. But doing this also makes all the prep -- dose, grind, and puck prep -- a lot touchier. Moreover, the resulting shots are often underextracted and rough tasting. This is where the Micra was the exception; it had short dwell times, along with forgiving, high extractions. It only got rougher tasting with very light roast, very fresh coffees.
Jim Schulman

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Ypuh

#118: Post by Ypuh »

Do you mean the 'old' pre-brew where the puck is pre-wetted and the pump turns off for a few seconds. Or the pre-infusion based on line pressure before the pump is activated?

Pre-wetting is indeed useless and may even decrease the taste as you describe. Pre-infusion is way more useful without having to put much thought into it. Flow profiling gives you the full control.
I don't want a Decent

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another_jim
Team HB

#119: Post by another_jim »

Ypuh wrote:Do you mean the 'old' pre-brew where the puck is pre-wetted and the pump turns off for a few seconds. Or the pre-infusion based on line pressure before the pump is activated?
It's not old; but new. Line pressure preinfusion is old; since it's been a feature of many commercial machines since the first HX levers. But yes, the pump boogaloo on tank machines, a so called preinfusion, is worse than useless, at least in my experience.

Manipulating the dwell time on any machine, by varying the water debit and headspace, has been done since E61s. Longer dwell times make for more forgiving machines.

However, to repeat this point for the third time: LM machines have always been short dwell time machines. The Micra is forgiving despite its short dwell times. I do not know how they pulled that off.
Jim Schulman

nick_111

#120: Post by nick_111 »

another_jim wrote: However, to repeat this point for the third time: LM machines have always been short dwell time machines. The Micra is forgiving despite its short dwell times. I do not know how they pulled that off.
Is it possible that this could be due to a different/better dispersion screen ? Or is the dispersion screen the same as in LMLM ?