The La Marzocco Linea Mini is the most coveted prosumer espresso machine. But, it’s also one of the most expensive machines. 

Does its quality justify its price? Or are you paying a premium for the brand and style? That’s what we’re here to find out!

This deep dive into the details of the Linea Mini will help you decide if it’s worth emptying your wallet (or bank account!).

Summary : La Marzocco Linea Mini

  • A Dual-boiler semi-automatic espresso machine

  • Unique integrated brew group for excellent temperature stability

  • Commercial-quality milk steaming

I loved the look, the fit, the finish, the substance that the Linea Mini presented. I loved the steam performance, and I liked how easy the machine was to work with in pulling good shots pretty quickly.

– Mark Prince

The La Marzocco Linea Mini Review

Thanks to their reputation for consistency, quality, and longevity, Italian-made La Marzocco espresso machines are found in homes and cafes worldwide. But does the Linea Mini belong in YOUR kitchen? 

Keep reading to find out.


The La Marzocco Linea Mini Review

  • Brewing Capacity

  • User Friendliness

  • Milk Frothing

  • Build Quality

  • Cleaning and Maintenance

la-marzocco-linea-mini-steel

Brewing Capacity 4/5

The major innovation behind the Linea Mini is the integrated grouphead

This grouphead is distinct from the saturated groups for which La Marzocco is known. It’s also different from the E61 groups found in some of the best prosumer espresso machines.

With the integrated group, the brew group is bolted directly to the boiler.

Basically, you get the same temperature stability that makes saturated groups so popular. Yet, in a much more compact footprint suitable for home use.

I’d say that’s a perfect combo!

The Linea Mini measures only 14” x 21” x 15” (W x D x H), which is impressive given its capabilities.

Inside, there are two stainless steel boilers: a large 118-ounce steam boiler and a surprisingly small 6-ounce brew boiler. 

The small brew boiler is advantageous because it heats quickly, in just 5 to 10 minutes. It’s also quick and easy to flush if you want to change brew temperature using the PID controller. For example, you probably want a higher extraction temperature for a light roast coffee than a dark roast (1). The steam boiler takes about 30 minutes to come to temperature and stabilize.

The rotary pump is more than powerful enough for the requisite 9 bars of pressure and is pleasantly quiet during operation. It also allows this machine to be plumped directly into a water line, handy in high-volume situations.

User Friendliness 4/5

The Linea Mini is a semi-automatic espresso machine, which means user skill is a part of the equation. But some design decisions by La Marzocco have simplified its operation. Some die-hard espresso fans might regret the loss of control, while others will enjoy the ease of use.

To control water flow, you use a manual brew paddle on the grouphead, a lovely tactile way of feeling the shot. It’s very smooth, with no jamming or sticking issues. But any user control is an illusion. 

The paddle acts as a simple on/off switch, and the 1-second low-pressure pre-infusion is preprogrammed.

The brew temperature is PID controlled, but a knob sets it on the machine’s side rather than a digital display. Though some users prefer the intuitive feel of the knob, most find the system a bit cumbersome. Without being able to set a specific temperature, trial and error is the only real way to dial in the shot, which can be time-consuming if you regularly change beans.

The rest of the interface is very straightforward. There’s a red light that serves as a temperature indicator, and a blue light provides the status of the water reservoir. You use two knobs to control steam pressure and brew pressure.

Milk Frothing 5/5

The commercial-style steam wand, which is the same one found on the original Linea (2), and tremendous steam pressure are two of the most talked-about aspects of the Linea Mini.

Professional baristas accustomed to commercial machines have been INCREDIBLY IMPRESSED. 

Many agree that the milk frothing on the Linea Mini is on par with that of the La Marzocco Strada, their top-of-the-line model that retails at upwards of 4 times the cost! 

It’s one of my favorite steamers on all the machines. I do use a commercial machine every day, and I just find this to be a much drier, beautiful design for me to make perfect silky milk.

If you plan to make a lot of lattes and cappuccinos this could be a decisive factor (3). Especially if you’re interested in mastering latte art.

There is also a hot water tap, which produces a substantial flow for making tea or an Americano. However, unlike La Marzocco’s GS3 model, there is no option for incorporating cold water to adjust the water temperature.

Build Quality  4.5/5

The industrial look of the Linea Mini, available in six colors, is designed to mimic the original Linea, and how you feel about it is a matter of personal taste. It’s certainly a departure from the “chrome box” look familiar to many prosumer machines.

While the aesthetics might be divisive, the build quality is universally approved. Many of the exterior and interior components are the same ones found on La Marzocco’s commercial machines, and it feels that way. This is a sturdy and robust machine that is NSF rated for cafe use.

The attention to detail in the design and features of the Linea Mini is impressive. The stainless steel portafilters with quick-release spouts and baskets and ergonomic handles are based on those used in the Strada line, and barista lights come on automatically when you slide the paddle.

Cleaning and Maintenance 4.5/5

The cleaning and maintenance of the Linea Mini are straightforward. Since it uses many of the same components as the Linea, you can expect the same longevity if you’re diligent about it.

As with the commercial model, it’s equipped with a 3-way solenoid valve, so your pucks will be dry and comfortable to knock into a knock box. The stainless steel filter basket just needs a quick rinse. 

Other than that, day-to-day maintenance is just emptying the drip tray and keeping the water reservoir topped up, though both are massive, so this may not even be a daily task. Or you can use the plumbing and drainage kit to avoid dealing with the water altogether.

All remaining user-serviceable parts, including the steam wand tips and shower screen, are easy to access cleaning or maintenance. The valves allow you to manually back-flush without running an automatic cleaning cycle, which is worth regularly doing with filtered water to avoid unwanted build-up in the machine.

Don’t Buy the Linea Mini If…

You’re on a tight budget. With the Linea Mini, you’re undoubtedly paying a bit of a premium for the brand and style. For a cheaper two-boiler prosumer espresso machine that still pulls a fantastic shot, check out the Rocket R58.

You don’t want a semi-automatic espresso machine. If you’re looking for a little more automation to simplify your morning, the La Marzocco GS3 AV model, though a bit pricier, allows for volumetric programming.

You’re interested in flow profiling. Flow rate profiling, both for the pre-infusion stage and while pulling the shot, is all the rage these days for optimizing extraction with specialty coffee. If that’s something you’d like to learn, consider the GS3 MP or an ECM Synchronika with a flow control modification or, if money is no object, the Slayer Single Group.

The Verdict

The Linea Mini is an undeniably great espresso machine, exactly as you would expect from a brand like La Marzocco. It’s well built. It’s fun to use. It pulls incredible espresso and steams milk like a commercial machine.

If you’re looking for a dual-boiler espresso machine with a unique retro style, and you don’t mind spending a good chunk of change on getting it, you absolutely won’t be disappointed with the Linea Mini.

LINEA MINI

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References

  1. Kelly, H. (2018, November 12). Exploring Temperature and Espresso. Retrieved from https://onacoffee.com.au/news/temperature-and-espresso-hugh-kelly/

  2. Reznick, A. (2013, May 13). Inside La Marzocco: Starbucks’ original espresso machine gets a high-tech makeover. Retrieved from https://www.geekwire.com/2013/meet-linea-pb-la-marzocco-unveils-generation-linea-classic/

  3. Aupiais, S. (2015, July 30). Step-by-Step Guide to Milk Texturing & Latte Art Pouring Techniques. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2015/07/step-by-step-guide-to-milk-texturing-pouring-technique-for-latte-art/


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