Although the Marzocco GS/3 MP is a fully commercial espresso machine with enough capacity to cater a small wedding, it's nicely sized for the home. The MP model sports a paddle that enables the barista to easily control the length of the preinfusion. Because the pump is controlled manually, the barista must also monitor the extraction and decide when to stop it. In contrast, the AV model's preinfusion time is programmed and the AV's bank of four push buttons can be programmed for various shot volumes (single, double, lungo, etc.).
The La Marzocco relies on a saturated group design to minimize the difference between the boiler temperature and the grouphead temperature, which lends itself to more stable, predictable temperatures. Thanks to this design, it's a lot easier for the electronic temperature controller (PID) to respond to temperature changes measured at the boiler since its reading lags only slightly behind the actual brew temperature delivered at the grouphead.
ESPRESSO: Thanks to the GS/3's impressive brew temperature reproducibility, it's easy to explore how a coffee's taste profile changes by temperature bracketing. My favorite temperature brackets are the three settings 198°F (low), 200°F (medium), and 201.5°F (medium-high), though some who don't like high acidity may wish to shift this range to include +202°F. This strategy can yield interesting results, especially for single origin espressos, which are often more temperature sensitive than commercial roaster espresso blends.
The GS/3 delivers espressos that are medium-bodied with clarity (separation of flavors). Many online comments I've read about the La Marzocco GS/3 emphasize its temperature reproducibility; there's less discussion of the machine's impressive capacity. I learned this first-hand at an event where I agreed to serve espresso/cappuccinos. For a home barista used to serving no more than 4-6 people in a session, it was quite a surprise to have 8+ orders waiting for my attention. With the GS/3, I was effortlessly able to pull drink after drink with nary a thought about flush routines, recovery time, etc. Coupled with a steam time of 15 seconds for a cappuccino, it was easy to start the extraction and have enough time to finish steaming before it was time to end the shot.
STEAMING: When the GS/3 was introduced in 2005, some early owners weren't happy with the stock wand/tip, but these issues have clearly been addressed in today's model. Plainly stated, the GS/3 stock configuration is excellent and deserves a five-star rating. The so-called optional "burn me wand" is slightly faster, which may be appreciated by those who regularly steam very large lattes in the same spirit as a Starbucks Venti. But for those who don't serve Big Gulp lattes, the stock configuration is unbeatable.
CONCLUSION: When someone who's unfamiliar with making espresso at home asks about budgeting for equipment on this site, the response is frequently greeted by an incredulous gasp. Their reaction is understandable because espresso gear-- for them --isn't a "rare air" purchase. That's the type of purchase where budget is a distant concern, well behind considerations like performance, capability, and the sheer pleasure of operating a top-notch piece of equipment. Keeping this in mind, a typical GS/3 buyer is someone who:
- Has ample funds to pay for it,
- Expects precise control of the espresso-making process, and
- Appreciates and is willing to pay a premium for uncompromising craftsmanship.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (no reviews)