For the past few years we have been a roaster/retailer and we are (finally) opening a cafe and are torn between the La Marzocco Linea Classic Semi-Auto (EE) and the GB5 Semi-Auto (both 2-group). Does anyone have experience on both machines and think it’s worth the extra few grand to get the GB5? It looks like the main differences are the Piero caps and the “dynamic preheater assembly.”
We’re not opposed to spending the extra money if it’s worth it, but is it worth it?!
Thanks in advance for any insight.
I would avoid the GB5. The mixer valve can be troublesome and expensive to fix.
The PB offers the piero caps without the mix valve. It also has volumetrics, which I highly recommend for consistency and ease of barista use.
@eyeofthemiller thanks for the insight. We’ve also been torn on the AV in general - it seems to be a somewhat divisive topic. I’m open to it, but I talk with a lot of baristas who claim it’s not necessary and leads to more broken parts/expensive fixes. It makes sense to me to spend the few grand extra upfront and just not use the AV if we don’t want to, but then why buy it at all? Let me know if you have any thoughts.
We haven’t had issues with volumetrics, and the benefits are such that I would much rather deal with occasional fixes than not have it. We started our cafe with a Linea Classic EE, but as we got busier we wished for the ease of use and consistency of volumetrics. We got a PB in February and it’s been great. Baristas are freed up from focusing on stopping shots, and consistency is greatly increased.
The nice thing about the Classic AV is that the electronics can fail and you can still pull shots with the manual switch.
Good luck as you open your cafe!
Question about that PB: How easy is it to program the shot time/volume each morning? Do all of your baristas understand how to use and dial in the volumetrics?
The output is pretty consistent day after day. Reprogramming volumes is easy, but we hardly ever adjust them. Instead we adjust shot times and don’t worry if the output is within +/- a gram of our target. It’s way more consistent than a distracted barista and, I would wager, is just as consistent than a focused one. We only use scales to periodically weigh output to make sure something weird hasn’t happened with the volumetrics, but they’re usually right on.
First congrats on opening a cafe!
There are several differences between the two but in general both if taken care of are very reliable workhorses. The Linea EE doesn’t have quite the stability of the GB5. The GB5 has more temperature controls, programming menu with a digital display and barista lights now. The GB5 is super cool looking too. The temperature stability is superior on the GB5 also has the ability to clear the flow jets much easier (which you will do at some point)
Personally (as other have said) if you can, try to get the LInea PB its pretty much the best of both worlds and you get volumetrics. As a tech/rep for La Marzocco the PB is my favorite to work on install and calibrate. If I ever had a shop the Linea PB would be my first choice. Some could argue the best machine on the market. With that said, the Linea EE is the easiest to maintain and the most “analog”. Plus with the EE you could always have your tech install some ACE timers to give you preinfusion as well as some other cool features. The blend valve is really only a problem if you cut corners on your water treatment/filtration. Which you should budget for as well.
What part of the country or part of the country are you in?
I find that you only need to recalibrate the volumetrics when ever you get new coffees (so not every morning). However, calibrating is a breeze. With an AV you have more time to spend on calibrating the dose and grind.
Awesome! Thank you.
I worked at a shop in LA for a bit that bought a PB right when they came out. We always had a hard time dialing in how many “pulses” to set each group at to get the correct yield (pulses was the only option in the settings).
Since then I’ve seen videos of people programming their PB’s and it looks like they have changed the user interface and the way that you can program volumetrics. They appear to be much more user friendly now. Is that the case?
With our PB, we program it by shot volume/weight and don’t worry about the # of pulses. Once we know the shot volume, then we just adjust grind/dose to get desired shot time. With this route, you’d need to know what your target recipe is before you start programming.