How to Buy a Commercial Espresso Machine: Exploring the Linea Line

July 22, 2021 in Education

When planning your cafe project, choosing the espresso machine and grinder can feel like a daunting task. As the heart of your business, the espresso machine should be the right fit for you, your baristas, and your business model.

We are often asked about the differences among the machines in our line and which machine to choose for a specific scenario. While every business is unique, we’ve developed a few espresso setup recommendations to help you decide what kind of commercial espresso machine to buy.

In this post, we’ll explore our Linea Line – three machines built on a similar platform and growing in feature set as you move up. Each machine will be paired with grinders and tamping solutions to present a complete picture of the drink creation process in a typical coffee bar.

Linea Classic

Linea Classic 2 EE | Major V Electronic | Super Jolly Electronic

The La Marzocco Linea Classic is the machine that has supported the development of the specialty coffee industry since 1989. The clean lines and familiar charm of the Linea occupy many of the cafés, roasteries, and chains whose names have defined the industry.

In this setup, we’re highlighting the Linea Classic EE, or semi-automatic — a machine that will start the extraction when a barista pushes a button, and requires the barista to push the button again to stop the extraction. With a Mazzer Major V for espresso coffee and Mazzer Super Jolly for decaf, this is a low-maintenance choice for your new cafe, restaurant, or bar.

Baristas using this setup will prepare each drink manually, from preparing and tamping the puck to starting and stopping the shot. The machine delivers consistency in the form of pressure and hot water temperature and the grinder delivers the grinds and dose.

Linea PB

Linea PB 3AV | Puqpress Q2 | Major V Electronic | Kony S Electronic | Puqpress Q2

Next in the lineup is the Linea PB, released in 2013 and echoing the Linea Classic‘s polished stainless steel body with updated technology and a lower profile. With the Linea PB, La Marzocco debuted a new set of proprietary electronics that allow for a more intuitive user interface, advanced auto-volumetrics and optional built-in scales.

In this setup, we’ve added a pair of reliable, durable Mazzer grinders – newly updated with improved retention and user interface – as well as a Puqpress to provide automatic tamping. AV technology gives the barista freedom to multitask by automatically stopping the shot at a given volume, as well as offering consistency shot to shot – espresso ground and dosed to a specific recipe, automatically tamped in a uniform way, and brewed to a specific volume.

Shifting away from manual movements in each step also improves barista health by alleviating repetitive stress injuries. With Puqpress, your baristas won’t need to turn and elevate their arms to tamp – a simple forward motion reduces joint stress and streamlines workflow. Which leads us to our next machine in the lineup:

KB90

KB90 3 AV ABR | Puqpress Q2 | Kold S Electronic | Robur S Electronic | Puqpress Q2

The KB90 was released in 2019 and builds on the Linea PB electronics platform with several key innovations. Most obviously, it is equipped with Straight-In Portafilter technology for improved barista ergonomics and seamless workflow. The machine also has Auto Steam Flush functionality, Performance Touch steam wands and easy rebuild steam valves for both improved usability and maintenance.

For this example setup, we’ve chosen a KB90 in our ABR configuration. ABR stands for Auto-Brew Ratio and means the machine comes with scales built into the drip tray, a game-changing innovation that allows the barista to program shots to brew to a specific mass or based on a defined brew ratio. Mass and brew ratio based programming offers a step above auto-volumetrics in terms of consistency and repeatability, as each shot will brew to exactly 30 grams (or a 1:1.5 ratio, or whatever your recipe indicates) every time. The barista can then review the shot timer to determine if a grind adjustment needs to be made.

Looking at the rest of the setup, the Kold S and Robur S are among the fastest and most accurate Mazzer grinders, so the espresso dose will be speedy and consistent. Then the barista will simply tamp on the Puqpress and insert the portafilter straight into the KB90 group: building an espresso shot requires just 3 small, lightning-fast movements. The Auto Steam Flush feature on the KB90 automatically rinses the group after each shot, further reducing steps in the barista’s workflow. This Ultimate Workflow setup means drinks are built and delivered faster, leading to happier customers that will keep coming back.

Which machine is right for you?

Determining where your cafe lands on this lineup of equipment can be tricky, and often depends on budget and priorities. If a super fast, repeatable system is important to you and you expect to turn over a lot of tickets in your shop, it might make sense to head for a KB90. If you’re just getting started and need to keep costs as low as possible, a Linea Classic is an excellent choice.

Learn more about all our equipment setups in a new set of documents recommending espresso, grinding, and tamping solutions across our lineup: 

download equipment setup sheets

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