La Marzocco Linea Mini Review - Page 6

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malachi (original poster)

#51: Post by malachi (original poster) »

Gman wrote:This is preferred by the more serious professional crowd!
Actually... that's not really true.

Multiple currently working bar baristas (well known, serious, and professional baristas) have checked out this machine and absolutely love the way brew temp is managed. And of course I'm a former (serious, professional) barista as well. And I love it.

It's totally fine to want a digital display and control unit on your espresso machine.
And it's fine to want a no-burn steam wand. And volumetric dosing. And programmable pre-infusion. Etc.

But if that is what you're looking for and that's what you value in a machine, you're probably not going to buy the Linea Mini. On a features and benefits matrix it will score poorly and on a features/dollar basis it will score very poorly.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

billsey

#52: Post by billsey »

csepulv wrote:Could Chris (or anyone else) explain why this is (or might be)? In my ignorance, I would have expected a quality prosumer machine, with similar specs, to be able to achieve comparable shots. Ergonomics, aesthetics, etc. aside, I've thought the capability of what can be achieved in the cup would start to converge at some point.

I don't doubt Chris' comment (especially given his experience), but I don't understand why this would be.
He's says the machine is nuts in a good way, performing way beyond his expectation.

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Gman

#53: Post by Gman »

malachi wrote:Multiple currently working bar baristas (well known, serious, and professional baristas) have checked out this machine and absolutely love the way brew temp is managed. And of course I'm a former (serious, professional) barista as well. And I love it
I find that interesting on two levels. The first, is the kind of "old school" simplicity of the machine, with its lack of bells and whistles. I can certainly appreciate the machine as a whole with that in mind. But, what's interesting is that the current state of many machines, i.e., "digital" readout PID's and dosing options, etc., points to more than just prosumer's wanting high end machines to perform better. Hey, I get it. I still use a flip phone, pick my newspaper off the lawn and listen to vinyl 80% of the time.

I guess after owning a E-61 style machine and using a digital thermometer at the brew head I came to realize that no matter how well I think I know my machine it still shows me how crazy it would be to run one w/o some way to at least see what's going on temp-wise. Anything else simply seems like a roll of the dice. Someone can say how stable their machine is but until I can "see" it I'm tough to convince. I'd be the first to admit that I don't pull enough shots at home to qualify as an expert barista by any stretch. I guess I just need to know what my machine is "up to".

bgn

#54: Post by bgn »

Thanks Chris for introducing this machine to us. I've always admired the classic style of the Linea but resisted buying one realizing that it was not designed for home use. I love the intentional simplicity and the adoption of tasting as the guide for temp adjustments. I love my lever for its simplicity and its natural method of pre infusing. But I'd like to try a Linea Mini beside it for a while to experiment with the easy temp adjustment. I've never fiddled with the boiler pressure on my lever which is my only form of temp management, but it also affects steam pressure. Look forward to checking the Mini out when my local dealer gets them in. Thanks again for the review. Barry.

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HB
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#55: Post by HB »

For commercial and semi-commercial espresso equipment, part of the review process includes serving a large group of people. This morning I brought the La Marzocco Linea Mini and Compak K10 to a local car dealership for their "cars & coffee" event. Encouraged by the warm and sunny weather, the turnout was good. The washed out photo below shows the backlog of eight drink orders waiting for my attention:



The ordering system is simple: Write your name and desired drink on a cup and place it on top of the espresso machine. There's only one size cup (~10 ounces), no syrups, and sugar is available in the service area around back if you really want it. Over the course of 2.5 hours, I went through three 12 ounce bags of Counter Culture Coffee's Big Trouble (formally known as Toscano) and two gallons of milk. I didn't count the number of drinks; maybe around 50? The majority of the orders were cappuccinos, though there was a good number of Americano orders and one (yea!) straight espresso.

I tried to regularly check the water reservoir, but I still ran out of water unexpectedly two times (the lack of water is indicated by the red power light going out and the blue one blinking). All in all, I topped off the reservoir four times; I haven't measured its volume, though Scott at La Marzocco says it's 3 liters. My guess is that you'll get around 20 espressos before needing to refilled, sooner if you're pulling water from the steam boiler for Americanos.

Despite the backlong of drinks, the workflow with the Linea Mini was easy, thanks to its prodigious steam capacity. I used a 12 ounce pitcher and added ~6 ounces for cappuccinos and ~8 ounces for lattes. I could lock in the portafilter, start the extraction, confirm the pour proceeded as expected, and still have enough time to finishing steaming before it was time to stop the extraction. Every barista will have their own preference for positioning the steam wand; I found positioning it facing outward and slightly to the right worked well for the back-and-forth movement necessary to purge condensation and creating a vigorous end-over-end roll in the milk. The texture of the milk was always good. A few were exceptionally smooth and the finish like chrome (heh, I took one such exceptional example that I had prepared for one of the attendees as my own :)).

The purpose of one puzzler was made evident this morning: The driptray is made of plastic and it has a small bolt-like protrusion rising up from the bottom. Because of the black plastic obscures details, it's not obvious in a photograph, but easily seen though the grate of the driptray. When you're using the machine and wondering whether the driptray needs to be emptied, the protrusion's purpose is revealed: It's time to empty the driptray when you can no longer see the top of the protrusion below the grate.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#56: Post by HB »

A member posed this question in La Marzocco's New $4500 Linea Mini:
ds wrote:Anybody seen videos of bottomless pulls from Linea Mini? Only reason I am asking is that machine goes to 9 bars fairly quickly so it will likely be sensitive to distribution...
The Linea Mini was on loan to Counter Culture Coffee since last week and yesterday I went to pick it up. While I was there, we discussed feedback from Jesse and others at Counter Culture. I'll collect soundbite opinions from those willing to offer them and post them within a week. For your viewing pleasure, Khristian and I then went to the business of creating this video:
It's Idido Natural Sundried from Counter Culture Coffee. While it's definitely a respectable looking pour, it's not the height of perfection as there's some evidence of channeling later in the extraction. Idido is a single origin and the margin of error is tight. The Linea Mini has a mere second or two for preinfusion, which means less time for tiny fissures to collapse prior to full pressurization. The result is a slightly lower forgiveness factor. If you want picture-perfect pours, espresso machines with longer preinfusion times are typically more forgiving of minor barista errors (e.g., La Marzocco GS/3 MP or an E61 group). Whether such minor channeling as exhibited above matters in the cup will surely be debated. I'd vote no, but a blind taste test with a GS/3 MP might be worth doing to advance the discussion.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#57: Post by HB »

Another member asked for a video of the Linea Mini in action. Jesse Gordon from Counter Culture Coffee has years of cafe experience and agreed to prepare a cappuccino on camera.
The running commentary in the background is Bob Barazza and I (he's harder to hear because he's standing well behind the camera while I'm right next to its shotgun microphone). It was his first time seeing the Mini and he raised many of the same points participants in the forum raised a week earlier. Needless to say, Jesse pours latte art much better than I do.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#58: Post by HB »

The final video of the series at Counter Culture Coffee. Jesse, Bob, Kurt, and I chat about the Linea Mini while Jesse prepares drinks. It was early in the session as evidenced by the grind adjustments.
Dan Kehn

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HB
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#59: Post by HB »

Below are some comments from attendees at our regular Friday meetup at Counter Culture Coffee:
Bob Barraza wrote:Some of the small and simple features that I found missing were the ability to plumb in the water supply and drain, and the lack of standby mode/boiler off position. Other machines also offer the ability for 15 and 20 amp installations for added versatility. None of these seem difficult or expensive to add, so it would be a big plus.

On the positive side, it was surprisingly compact, and rugged in construction. Steaming was very good and most importantly, the shots and caps tasted great.
Jesse Gordon wrote:Of the 3-4 quality home machines I've gotten my hands on to this point, the Linea Mini is my favorite by far. The build quality is nothing less than you would expect from La Marzocco and the small details tailored to home use make this machine easy to use and maintain in that environment. The steam wands are just as powerful as on the Linea PB which may be the most impressive aspect of this machine to me. I was able to quickly dial in delicious espresso using a Mazzer Kony E and the machine kept up nicely pulling back to back shots. I would say that any coffee professional will feel right at home on this machine and the home that purchases this beauty will never have need to buy another. In short, this is a commercial quality machine that will be right at home on your counter.
Lem Butler wrote:The "mini-liny" is an impressive home machine. After years of using the GS3 both at home and in the field (coffee demos), I would prefer the mini. Here's why: 1) The steam wand performance is reminiscent of its older siblings the Linea and GB5. 2) The consistency in espresso preparation outperforms any other home machine on the market. 3) The ergonomics make sense giving its user comfort and possibly extra confidence in their own skills on espresso preparation. 4) The compact size makes for easy kitchen placement. Finally, the price point is more "affordable" than any home machine with similar positives.
Khristian Ortiz wrote:The Linea Mini is the machine a barista would want in the home. I've always been against the thought of home espresso due to wanting shop quality espresso without having to break the bank. The machine is quite frankly a machine that I would feel comfortable using for a pop-up service or cart, all the while within a great price point. Using it took me back to my first year as a barista. Working with it was like a conversation with an old friend you haven't seen in ages, we just picked off from where we left off.
Phillip "the newbie" has had the Linea Mini for a couple weeks; his comments are below:
Phillip Marquis wrote:The first thing I noticed with the Linea Mini is that it really is not mini at all. It does have the same industrial commercial look as the larger version, but in a more compact size. However, when compared with the other machines I've had the pleasure of using, it is quite larger, particularly in its depth from front to back (21"). There are two downsides to the size for me: The aesthetic doesn't quite do it for us in our kitchen, and the front of the machine comes out almost to the edge of our counter. This doesn't provide much counter space to do anything in front of the machine. It makes tamping, weighing, on any other kind of prep cramped if you don't have a workarea to the left or right of the machine on you counter.

Regarding usage, I really like the paddle system to pull a shot. It does make me feel like a pro in a coffee shop every time I'm using it. Also, the steam is incredible; super-fast and powerful. It can steam a sizable cup of milk in no time at all. Faster than most other machines I've used. My thought is that this is an indication of why it is a larger machine than the others.

I also like the simplicity of this machine. I don't feel like it has a million settings that I'm not taking advantage of because I don't understand them. The lighting system is easy to understand... one light to let you know it's on, the other to let you know it's hot. I also like the water tank design how it is located under the machine behind the driptray. However, it can be inconvenient if your machine is not plumbed in, or next to a water source because it stays connected to the machine by a water tube. Because of this tube connection, it is hard to tip the reservoir over to empty it if you need to transport the machine. I do love the design of the driptray though. It has a magnetic connection that snaps into place to let you know that it's secured.

All in all, I'm most impressed with the sturdiness and build quality of this machine. Again, you truly feel like you are using a pro-machine. There is nothing on it that is flimsy or feels breakable. I'm sure even though it's considered a mini, it would be great for a small café.
Dan Kehn

dlodewyk

#60: Post by dlodewyk »

I am curious and am looking for a few more words on how the Linea Mini preforms in a bit higher volume setting.

It kept up? Shot, after shot, after shot? You had to wait for the brew boiler to heat up? You had to wait for steam pressure to build up? Both were depleted within 5 drinks?

Just like a GS3? Better than a GS3? Same as a GS3? Noticeably worse than a GS3?

I am looking for a machine that I could use at events. This one might work?

I haven't been able to find a boiler size listed.

Any insight would be helpful. Thank you. :D
HB wrote:For commercial and semi-commercial espresso equipment, part of the review process includes serving a large group of people. This morning I brought the La Marzocco Linea Mini and Compak K10 to a local car dealership for their "cars & coffee" event. Encouraged by the warm and sunny weather, the turnout was good. The washed out photo below shows the backlog of eight drink orders waiting for my attention:

Over the course of 2.5 hours, I went through three 12 ounce bags of Counter Culture Coffee's Big Trouble (formally known as Toscano) and two gallons of milk. I didn't count the number of drinks; maybe around 50? The majority of the orders were cappuccinos, though there was a good number of Americano orders and one (yea!) straight espresso.

I tried to regularly check the water reservoir, but I still ran out of water unexpectedly two times (the lack of water is indicated by the red power light going out and the blue one blinking). All in all, I topped off the reservoir four times; I haven't measured its volume, though Scott at La Marzocco says it's 3 liters. My guess is that you'll get around 20 espressos before needing to refilled, sooner if you're pulling water from the steam boiler for Americanos.

Despite the backlong of drinks, the workflow with the Linea Mini was easy, thanks to its prodigious steam capacity. I used a 12 ounce pitcher and added ~6 ounces for cappuccinos and ~8 ounces for lattes. I could lock in the portafilter, start the extraction, confirm the pour proceeded as expected, and still have enough time to finishing steaming before it was time to stop the extraction. Every barista will have their own preference for positioning the steam wand; I found positioning it facing outward and slightly to the right worked well for the back-and-forth movement necessary to purge condensation and creating a vigorous end-over-end roll in the milk. The texture of the milk was always good. A few were exceptionally smooth and the finish like chrome (heh, I took one such exceptional example that I had prepared for one of the attendees as my own :)