While we’ve carried the GS/3 for awhile now, we’ve decided to expand our La Marzocco selection to include their commercial-class equipment. Our first round of testing and reviews covers one of their most popular machines, the Linea, which comes with choice of 1 – 4 group heads and is available in manual paddle, semi-automatic and automatic configurations.
Gail gives us a brief overview of the machine’s internals, walks us through its features and makes us a latte on what is fondly referred to as A Northwest Workhorse.
In our next round of updated buying guides, Gail takes us through several single boiler espresso machines under the $1k mark, giving us a basic overview and comparison of their features. She talks about the Saeco Aroma, Via Venezia & Sirena, the Francis Francis X7, the Rancilio Silvia, the Ascaso Dream & Uno Pro with PID and the Crossland CC1. If you’re in the market for a machine, this is a great primer on some of the available options.
Filtering your water is essential if you plan on plumbing in your espresso machine to a direct water line in your location. Without this, you run the risk of scale build-up that can only be removed by a professional taking apart the machine and physically removing the scale. How quickly this occurs will depend on your location — we did have a cafe attempt to go without filtration for just a couple of months and their equipment completely seized up as a result. Clearly, they were working with very hard water, but it’s not a risk we recommend you take, at all.
For commercial locations, there are tons of filtration options that will address a wide variety of water source needs. If you’re looking at that kind of a setup, then you’ll need to install something a bit more sophisticated and robust that will be able to address the multiple appliances that will require water (such as drip coffee makers, ice machines, water fountains and your espresso machine) in a way that’s easy to manage. But for just straight espresso machine filtration, the Mavea Purity C filters are simple, easy to install and do an excellent job of filtering out what you don’t want in your espresso machine’s boiler.
Watch Gail as she walks us through an overview of how she installed a Mavea filter on our La Marzocco Linea.
We love our Airscape containers so hard! They do a great job of keeping coffee fresh over extended periods of time, so when we were getting ready to test a new container, the Friis, we decided we had to see how it compared to our reigning fave.
Gail threw a very freshly roasted bag of Velton’s Bonsai Blend into each container and then we tested them after one week and two to see how they held up and if there was a distinct difference in their ability to keep beans tasting fresh.
Being able to pull an excellent shot once is awesome, but how can you make sure you’re able to consistently do so? In addition to coffee freshness, water temperature, grind and tamp pressure, the actual dose volume you put into the portafilter also plays a big part in pulling similar shot after shot after shot.
While at the SCAA this year, we took a class on dosing and Gail shows us some tips she picked up from the pros.
Always on the lookout for new gear, we were excited by the prospect of a new entry-level machine being shepherded through development and into production by Bill Crossland, who previously designed the La Marzocco GS/3. Over the past year, we were lucky enough to play with different iterations of this machine, give general feedback on the basic functionality and beta test a final production model in our store for the past couple of months.
You know that we believe there’s a market for every machine, and while those operating in the upper echelons of espresso machine nirvana might find the CC1 a bit utilitarian, we love the fact that it effectively addresses some of the long term issues of machines in the under $1k class — namely, easily maintained temperature stability.
Watch as Bill gives a functional, spec-based overview of the new CC1, which is now available for pre-order.
Our refurbished Sirenas are incredibly popular because they have some great functionality for the price — including automatic, programmable buttons. The key with the two programmable buttons is that you have minimums below which you cannot program them: The single cup cannot produce less than 1.5 oz and the double 3.0 oz. If you try to program them for less than these minimums, the programming will not be saved and it will revert to the default values.
Watch Gail as she walks us through programming our demo Sirena.
When is it time to say when? We’re often asked where the portafilter should be in respect to the machine — at a 90 degree angle? 45 degree? A little over to the right? Every machine will be a little bit different and the key is to make sure that it feels snug. Additionally, you’ll find that you’ll move it further as the gasket ages.
Watch as Gail demonstrates the position on several of our demo machines of varying style and age.