La Marzocco Linea Mini User Experience - Page 3

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
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keno (original poster)

#21: Post by keno (original poster) »

Fausto wrote:Can't believe you bought it already! Can't say I blame you was pretty fantastic. I'm sure you'll get a ton of enjoyment out of it, what a great setup!
I liked the machine so much I knew I had to get one so I put down a deposit that day to make sure I got one of the first ones coming in.

Have you figured out what machine/grinder you're going to get yet? Good luck!


#22: Post by LATrapp »

Thanks for the measurements and reseller info!

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#23: Post by AzulCoffee »

keno wrote:I would but I don't have a Scace device. Is that what you were using or did you use a portafilter with a thermocouple running into it?

The reason I ask is that it's very difficult to get a good reliable temp measurement without a Scace thermofilter and they cost a few hundred dollars. If you are using some kind of ordinary TC I would go by the max temp you hit when you pull a shot as otherwise it will read low.
It's not a Scace thermofilter. It's a hacked version, and I wondered the same exact thing. I also don't have $600 to drop on one either.
keno wrote:I can tell by the shot quality that I'm getting that the machine is definitely not off by anything like 13 degrees.
I agree completely. I am getting better shots out of this than the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II at the shop I currently work at.

I am interested in all of this because I plan on using this for a mobile coffee bar, and I want to ensure I've got temperature stability in brew water for consistent shots.

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#24: Post by Fausto »

keno wrote:Have you figured out what machine/grinder you're going to get yet? Good luck!
Definitely getting an HG One, that much is decided. The machine decision is less clear. I'm between the Breville Dual Boiler and the Profitec Pro 300 (I'm really regretting not playing with the open box machine at Clive). It's a really tough decision though, both machines have similar dimensions, weights, boiler sizes, heat up times (both are super quick), auto shot timer, etc.

Also, I've been in touch with Profitec directly and they insist that they haven't released a North American model of the Pro 300 yet, so I'm not sure how Clive got that one, and what might change in a completed model...

The Breville has more features, it has preinfusion, it has a PID on the steam boiler, it can turn itself on in the morning, and it costs a little less. Plus a ton of people have one, so it's easy to ask for advice/help in the forums.
Compared to everything else but the BDB, the Profitec is an amazing value (well even vs. the BDB, it depends what you value). Based on Profitec's reputation I imagine it will be a very high quality machine, that will last for years and years and be as easy to service as possible. So all else being equal, do I pay a little more for higher quality machine with a few less features...I'm not sure, but I think so.

I don't really care about the PID on the steam boiler, I don't care about the timed auto start because the Profitec heats up in less than 10 minutes...I'm a little worried about the lack of preinfusion though.

I'm sure that's a lot more info than you were looking for, but that's the current thought process.


#25: Post by gophish »

Great information, Ken. I also particularly like that you are sharing the little things that you notice once you get it home, it's often so hard to quantify or even find that info, thanks!

Besides the long warm up time of the E61 HX, what else were you hoping to gain/improve upon/change from the Technika, and has that list been checked off? Any other pleasant surprises or the like you've found with the upgrade?

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keno (original poster)

#26: Post by keno (original poster) »

gophish wrote:Besides the long warm up time of the E61 HX, what else were you hoping to gain/improve upon/change from the Technika, and has that list been checked off? Any other pleasant surprises or the like you've found with the upgrade?
Great question. I really liked the Technika and was not inclined to upgrade to another machine. Occasionally I thought a DB (eg, Profitec 700) might be nice, but when I saw one in person there were some things about it that I didn't like as much as the Technika. I told myself that I would only upgrade if I could find a machine that resulted in improvements across the board and would not require any sacrifices. When I saw the Linea Mini launch back in March I knew it would be a serious contender, especially after reading Chris Tacy's review and seeing some of the HB tests. Luckily since I live in the Portland area I was able to go in and test one out in person at Clive Coffee which is what sealed the deal for me. The espresso was just better than what I could get out of the Technika and it seemed like a very easy machine to work with.

What I've mainly been hoping to get is the shot quality that I get when I go into a really great cafe, with good consistency and the Linea Mini seems to offer just that. My coffee journey thus far has taken me to home roasting and that's where I get the greatest satisfaction. Roasting coffee has taught me a lot about different coffees, flavors, and enhanced my palate - especially in the last year after moving to Portland and getting a Huky 500. I think with a better more consistent machine that brings out the nuances of coffee better it will help take my home roasting to another level by providing better feedback. So when Chris Tacy and others described the Linea Mini as a "barista's machine" with its back to basics analog approach focused on taste, it immediately appealed to me. The Vesuvius, which the Linea Mini is often compared to in the forums because it is priced similarly, does not appeal to me at all. It's a machine for the gear geek who's focused on features. In general, I tend to prefer simpler, more user-functional, high quality products which is probably why I also own an HG One.

The simplicity of the Linea Mini helps to reduce the number of variables in play when making espresso. And based on my background in statistics and research I realize that due to potential interactions among variables each new variable can increase complexity exponentially - that makes it very hard to figure out the relationships between things and if you can't do that it's hard to improve. Compared to the HX The Linea Mini simplifies temperature management. So far with the coffees I'm drinking I've found that I like them best with the dial set to 203-204 F (not sure how it calibrates to actual temp at the grouphead and I don't really care as its ultimately about taste), so from there I've just left it alone. This allows me to focus more on dose and grind and ultimately, as I use the machine more, my home roasts. Everything with the Linea Mini (except for the indicator lights!) works great and I can tell already that it will be a joy to use everyday for many years.

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keno (original poster)

#27: Post by keno (original poster) »

I'm really enjoying using this machine and plan to post more about the brewing and espresso quality once I've had some more time with it. But, in the meantime, if you like milk-based drinks the Linea Mini would be an especially good choice because of its steaming performance.

There are a few reasons why the Linea Mini is such a capable steamer. First, the machine has a large 3.5 liter steam boiler. Most double-boiler machines have significantly smaller steam boilers due to space constraints. La Marzocco fits a 3.5 liter steam boiler into a relatively small package by increasing the depth of the machine and shrinking the size of the brew boiler and placing it directly on top of the group (this means they don't need to fit two vertical boilers side by side, compromising steam boiler size). Second, La Marzocco sets the pressure higher in the steam boiler higher than other machines. HX machines run the single-boiler at 1.0 - 1.2 bar and it seems that a lot of double-boiler machines also run at 1.2 bar but with a smaller boiler further reducing the steaming capacity. The Linea Mini steam boiler P-stat is set to run from 1.5 - 2.0 bar. At 2.0 bar the steam boiler has a pressure almost as high as a mountain bike tire pumped up to 30 psi. The large size and high temperature/pressure means the Linea Mini steams like a full-sized commercial machine.

The steam wand is a regular style wand with a rubber insulator at the bend in the wand (ie, it is not a no-burn wand). So you do need to be careful when using it (not a problem for me since I've never had a machine with no-burn wands). The tip is a four hole tip and is apparently the same tip that is on the Linea Classic. With the steam power of this machine it is possible to steam larger quantities of milk very quickly, which is particularly nice for those occasions when you are serving a larger group of people. Most of the time I find myself steaming milk for one or two drinks and the challenge is slowing things down to have adequate control. Fortunately, the steam knob works quite well and can be used to modulate the steam power down, but it does take a little while to get used to doing this (particularly in my case since my prior machine had a joystick and not a knob to actuate the steam).

The movement of the steam wand is also a little unusual in that it is not a 360 degree ball joint, but rather moves forward and back and arcs. See here for a video showing this. Initially it took a little bit to get used to this, but once I did I found I really liked it. I generally keep it pointed straight down toward the drip tray and then just arc the wand out to the side to steam. Another thing worth mentioning is that the steam wand placement is different than most other machines I've seen and used. The wand is on the right, instead of the left (note: original post had this reversed, fixed here). It took me a little practice to get used to switching over to the right but now I am getting more comfortable with it.

The one downside is that the high boiler pressure means the water temperature is higher and therefore the water drawn from the hot water tap is superheated and too hot to use for making an Americano or tea, unless allowed to cool somewhat first.

This morning I was able to produce the best microfoam I've ever made and as good as I've received at any cafe. It poured like a very thick heavy paint and was perfect for latte art. Once I get the steaming down with this machine I have the feeling that it's going to really help improve my latte art.

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#28: Post by CSME9 »

keno wrote:The wand is on the left, instead of the right. It took me a little practice to get used to switching over to the left but now I am getting more comfortable with it.
@Keno-You indicated the steam wand is on the left, photos i saw showed it on the right ? Also is there a valve/easy way to drain the boilers ?
Thanks for all the info on what seems to be a fine machine.....

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keno (original poster)

#29: Post by keno (original poster) »

Yes, my bad, it's on the right and not the left. Dyslexic moment. I will fix in the above post.


#30: Post by Beezer »

Thanks for the continuing posts and updates about your experiences with the machine. I'm really enjoying hearing how this machine works for a home user in the real world.

Is the pressurestat for the steam boiler a Mater or Sirai unit? I seem to recall it being mentioned in one of Dan's videos that it was a Mater, which seemed like an odd choice for such a high end machine. I was under the impression that Sirai pressurestats were better and more reliable. I remember my old Anita had a Mater p-stat, and I had to replace it every couple of years because it would wear out. I wonder why they wouldn't go for the more commercial style unit for the Mini, since everything else seems to be full commercial quality.

In any event, regardless of which p-stat it uses, the steam power and quality sounds really good. I'm able to get decent power and milk texture with my current machine, but I know that true commercial machines are on another level when it comes to both speed and the quality of the milk texture. It's not like there's anything wrong with what I have now, but that extra bit of oomph would be nice.
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