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Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
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Clancey
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Joined: 8 Aug 2012
Posts: 11
Location: NYC
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 4:05am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

Hi MJW- I would say machines at this price point can produce great shots ($700-3000), not just medium quality level.  Occasionally, they will be on par with a big commercial unit.  Theoretically, all espresso machines should have the same variables, i.e. 199 degree water (or other, depending on beans), x Bar of pressure, etc., buy they have different ways of producing this, some with a lot more consistency through the shot it self.  

A machine like a GS/3 has reduced the variables that can work against a barista.  What LM has done is produced a product that is very stable, consistent and has the ability to micro-tune the performance.

Hope this helps!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 6:07am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

JonR has had the range of machines asked about and though I have not had those machines, I have played with a few and I think his conclusions are DEAD ON, again it is not a matter of one being better than the other rather it is a personal preference that comes to the fore.

In this hobby, it is very easy to look at different machines etc to be "better" when it really is not so much better but rather different and what you prefer is personal to you so what one person sees as the answer to them, may not be applicable to you.

This is why I really discount the "I have X machine and it is the BEST so it will be the best for you too!" mentality.  Once you hit the commercial level equipment it is much more personal preference than one thing being BETTER than the other regardless of microprocessor control etc. It is the skill of the Barista not the equipment that makes the difference at this level, well at any level as far as that goes!!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,044
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 8:52am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

JonR10 Said:

It's not just the machine, it's also the barista ...

Posted August 13, 2012 link

calblacksmith Said:

... It is the skill of the Barista not the equipment that makes the difference at this level, well at any level as far as that goes!!

Posted August 13, 2012 link

If a sophisticated machine was able to brew the best espresso possible, it would probably be some high tech computer controlled superautomatic. To this day it's baristas who know their trade and operate the machine skilfully.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
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Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 10:08am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

Most people start their love affair with espresso in Italy.  I am willing to bet most cafes over there do not use the latest sophisticated machines, yet they turn out very good espresso all day every day.  That is the skill of the barista.  That is skill excites the pallet not the machine.

If you are like me and turn out 2 at most a day, we will take months to pull what they do in one day.  This is a big part of the problem.  So, we use  sophisticated machines to take away a lot of variables so we can pull shots that are more like the pro baristas.  If you take away the barista completely like with the fully auto machines the result is mediocre at best.

Logically, you are back to the barista as the key element.  I believe in just a few months of having an espresso machine, I pull more drinkable shots than sink shots.  As I get to know my machine better and plan to take a class I will be doing even better.  

Do I wish I had 6 k in my pocket to get uber equipment? Yes.  But I am not pining for it because I am working with what I have and I am pretty happy with my results.  I can beat the pants off most espresso places within a 2 hour drive of me.  (and the ones that can beat me have world class baristas in them)  And if I upgrade I believe I will keep what I have for parties and get one of the new lever machines like the strega or the londonian machine to have a completely different profile of coffee over what I have right now and not a GS/3 machine.

 
Coffeenoobie

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MJW
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Joined: 25 Jul 2012
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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 10:19am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

Thanks guys for your responses and I hope I haven't hijacked the intent of the OP.  What I believe I'm hearing is that, taking into account all the great technology & features the GS/3 has, including the enhanced precision, the GS/3 consistently delivers shots that have more flavor clarity and less body compared to what an E61 machine would consistently deliver.  And that at this level the GS/3 shots are not considered better just different.

I've always assumed in these comparisons that other variables (grinder, barista) are optimized separately for each machine to make it perform at its best.

The difference in convenience between a DB like the GS/3, and an HX has been covered many times, and I wanted to nail down the difference in shot quality.  My takeaway from this discussion is that a GS/3 would not give a lot of added value to most home buyers, compared to a much less expensive dual boiler... unless the individual wants the particular shot character the GS/3 provides.

-Mike
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Clancey
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Joined: 8 Aug 2012
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Location: NYC
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 10:49am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

Hi MJW- not exactly!  

You say, " the GS/3 consistently delivers shots that have more flavor clarity and less body compared to what an E61 machine would consistently deliver.  And that at this level the GS/3 shots are not considered better just different."- I would argue that the GS/3 shots do offer more body as well.  The consistency of the machine and the entire process makes shots that can be hard to replicate using machines that do not offer this level of consistency & stability.

Yes, at the end of the day, it is up to the barista.  But holding all factors constant: beans, grinding, tamping, water, humidity, gravitational force, room temperature, grinder, etc, if you put a GS/3, Speedster, Synesso, Strada, etc. up against a HX (single boiler) or a double boiler like the R58 or Izzo, with two IDENTICALLY talented barista's, the commercial machines with produce better espresso shots a majority of the time.  Not to say the barista on Izzo or R58 won't, but their ability to get the depth, clarity, flavor, etc that you can get from a big commercial machine machine is very challenging.  It is just a matter of physics and math.  The barista on a non-commercial unit is having to deal with varying temperatures, not just before the shot, but during the shot; pressure that is not as consistent as a commercial rotary pump; you cant fine tune the temperature as well.... so the barista is doing their best to manage all this and HOPE they are hitting the variables at the right point, where as the barista on a commercial machine is not having to manage/fight these to the same degree.

I have been to events where espresso machines (including those mentioned above) where lined up and tested amongst others, using the same grinder (changing grind to match the machine), water, etc. and using the same beans--leveraging some of the best barista's.  The result, on the high end machines, you can taste more and different flavors than you could on the lower end units. The lower end units still produced great shots, but when you tasted those from the high end machines, the difference was apparent.

This is the main reason people pay more for this!  Spending $5500 vs $2800 is a big gap.

Same can be said for grinders as well, they all pretty much do the same thing, but they do it differently and you can get different results.
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 10:54am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

MJW Said:

My takeaway from this discussion is that a GS/3 would not give a lot of added value to most home buyers, compared to a much less expensive dual boiler... unless the individual wants the particular shot character the GS/3 provides.

Posted August 13, 2012 link

I agree with this statement, in terms of shot quality.  The GS/3 has some other advantages that aren't easy to come by....

For example:
  • It has a 'self cleaning' auto backflush feature (volumetric models) that I found very convenient
  • It has digital control over boiler/brewing temperatures + great clarity, ideal for testing different temperatures on different coffees.  
  • It has MAJOR steampower, and with the right wand and steamtip it can be used to create lovely microfoam.  
  • It has big boilers and an excellent design for preheating water on brew boiler fill....so it can keep pace making drinks for a crowd.

There are probably other advantages that other folks also enjoy, but for me the above stands out.

Edited to add:

Clancey Said:

I have been to events where espresso machines (including those mentioned above) where lined up and tested amongst others, using the same grinder (changing grind to match the machine), water, etc. and using the same beans--leveraging

Posted August 13, 2012 link

If the barista has to change grind, it is no longer a direct comparison of the machines.  Grind is a critical variable
When I did it (side by side) I had the pumps adjusted so that we could use same grind & dose for both.

I'll assert that at the level of judging high-end machines against each other, barista skill plays an even more important part.  I'll also stipulate that if you're looking for easy-to-reproduce precision and clarity, Saturated groups rule.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 11:01am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

MJW, If you mean bang for the buck I agree that at 6k for the GS/3 for most people will not give them the same bang for the buck of a good 2k machine.   There is a huge jump in quality from the low entry levels and the 1.5-2k machines.  And each step up from that is less of a jump.  (this goes for the grinders as well)  At the very top the best machines are just different from each other and not better.  So, it is personal choice at that point. That is what Jon and Cal are saying.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
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Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Scotts
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Joined: 9 May 2004
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Location: Washington, DC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: La Valentina
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 11:03am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

I agree with JonR10 and Clancey- it is like an LCD monitor or flatscreen TV.  Two monitors on paper have the same statistics in terms of pixels, viewing angle, warmth (color), and brightness.  But when you look both, you will notice one is just better.
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Clancey
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Joined: 8 Aug 2012
Posts: 11
Location: NYC
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 11:10am
Subject: Re: Espresso Quality: Double boilers vs La Marzocco GS/3
 

I agree with CoffeeNoble- there is a big jump from a machine that costs a few hundred to one that costs $1200-2800- here you get great espresso.

When you jump up to $6k- you are tasting new flavors, even subtle differences in blends. The jump is not as much from the prior jump of a few hundred to $2800.  It is like the difference between a NASCAR and a Formula 1- both are very fast, one is just much more refined and in the right hands, can do amazing things. At this price point to $20k- you are paying for different features in machines.
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