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La Marzocco Booth & At Home Program - SCAA 2014 Show Report
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: May 3, 2014
Article rating: 10.0
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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La Marzocco has been, for many years now, the most popular booth on the show floor at the annual SCAA Convention and Trade Show. At least for the real specialty coffee crowd (one could argue some of the pavilion booths for national coffee associations are the most popular). It's virtually impossible to get a clean, detailed shot of the La Marzocco booth in its entirety at this year's Show, it is that crowded.  

Every day, teams (as in multiple) of baristas would be manning various La Marzocco machines, making shots and building drinks for everyone. La Marzocco's sales force was in full effect, talking up the company's technology, both their own (Stradas, Lineas, Linea PBs, FB80s, and grinders like the Vulcano and Swift), and others companies' products that LM USA represents (including the Uber boilers and other products).

All the heavyweights in the industry seemed to gravitate towards this booth this year, from former barista champions and Cup of Excellence senior jurors to the most prolific coffee bloggers and most vocal coffee enthusiasts. If you wanted to find anyone of note in espresso at the SCAA, just hang out long enough at the La Marzocco booth, they'd eventually come by.

Have a look at some of the booth activity this year.

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Selling the machines - the Strada was very popular in the La Marzocco booth
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Linea PB - We did a full report on this machine last year - it is proving to be a good seller for La Marzocco
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Barista Talks - a former WBC champion talking up La Marzocco Quality
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The Strada EP 2 Group machine is a dream machine for many baristas
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Anthology Coffee team mans a Strada MP 2 Group
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Great, friendly baristas were manning all the machines in the LM Booth, ulling great shots.

In fact, their booth was so popular, they were actually running a second, slightly unoffical booth as part of their sponsorship and partnership with the SCAA to run a free "Skybridge Cafe" in the Seattle Convention Center's 4th story skybridge between two buildings. And it was at this booth where things of most interest to the home consumer took place.

A running theme at the SCAA in Seattle this year was customizations. Even La Marzocco was getting into the act, creating a new At Home program (launching fall 2014) for the La Marzocco GS/3 prosumer to allow users to customize and update their GS/3s to truly custom proportions... and much more.

You may recall, the La Marzocco GS/3 is the company's ground breaking machine technology for home and portable (ie, event) use, first initiated and designed back in 2002, and realised in 2006 (the final prototypes were shown in a hotel room during the 2005 SCAA Show). At launch it was an automatic brewing system, with the paddle version coming a few years later. The GS/3 was so ground breaking with it's dual boiler, preheater, dual PID system that it forged the groundwork for many of the industry's leading machines today, including nearly all of La Marzocco's current machine lineup, the Synesso, the Slayer, the Speedster, and many more machines.

In the early development of the GS/3, the product's main cheerleaders were La Marzocco's co-owner Kent Bakke, and company engineer (at the time) Bill Crossland; others within the company weren't quite sure if the GS/3 would really take off. That attitude has changed within La Marzocco in recent years. "It has become an important part of our product line and it has been enthusiastically and fully embraced by our entire team." said Mr. Bakke. I asked him what he saw as the main goal of the new La Marzocco At Home program: "I see it as a way to expand the machine to a wider audience for people who want to experience better better coffee in the home ... and to further embrace those who already own the GS/3. The At Home Program's goal is to create a stronger connection to people who have GS/3s and those who want the machine." Mr. Bakke, who owns several GS/3s, plans on joining the program himself when it launches in the fall.

To showcase the new focus on the GS/3 and the At Home program, La Marzocco took over a corner of the Skybridge Cafe at SCAA to set up four GS/3s (three auto models, one paddle model) for anyone and everyone to pull shots on. These machines featured wood and side panel designs created with the aid of Jacob Ellul-Blake of Pantechnicon Design, who also does some uber-special commercial La Marzocco customizations.

Each one of these GS/3s had new prototype cosmetic modifications. They featured a range of various woods used for portafilter handles (and the one paddle group had a wood paddle). Each machine had different glass side panels featuring a take on the iconized La Marzocco lion logo. From fiery red to powder blue, a range of colours were displayed, making every machine look unique. One machine also had a different finish on the metal parts - what looked like a black lacquer finish on the trays and even on the grouphead.

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Custom panels and handles on the La Marzocco GS/3 MP
Scott Callendar demonstrating the GS/3 to interested booth visitors
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Panel detail - the stylized La Marzocco lion looks 3 dimensional on the glass side panels for the show.
Beautiful wood accents used to demonstrate how the company plans to customize the GS/3s down the road
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Seafoam blue side panels with darker wood accents on the EP GS/3
Three long time principles behind La Marzocco USA - Kent Bakke, Joe Monaghan, and John Blackwell.

After the SCAA show, we took a moment to interview Scott Callender of La Marzocco about the new At Home program.

Q: You seem to have a lot of admiration and pride in the GS/3; can you explain why?

I have had a very long relationship with the GS/3. I was one of the first people to receive one when the production models first came into the US back in 2008. I pulled the machine apart and performed all of the early fixes that tend to be required with an early adopter machine, so I got to know it intimately. I used it to open up Incognito Coffee, which was a concept where I served coffee out of my kitchen window in a little town in Napa Valley. In many ways the GS/3 sent me on my life's path, and I have always been amazed at the quality of machine that Bill Crossland and the Italian team were able to build in such a small footprint and with 110V power.

Q: Can you explain what the planned scope of the La Marzocco At Home program for its launch?

For the initial launch, the plan is to release a e-commerce website where people will be able to learn more about La Marzocco's story and products and also purchase GS/3s and customization options. We are also developing ways to enhance the level of service and training that current and future owners have with La Marzocco Home products.

Q: At the SCAA 2014 show, you showed off a variety of GS/3s with different customized panels and handles, and one machine with black paint on the body work. Will these, and others, be available for sale to GS/3 owners down the road?

The customization options that were shown at SCAA were prototypes of some of the pieces that we are planning to offer in the future. The final offerings may be a bit different, but our goal was to give people a glimpse into our vision. They will be available for people ordering GS/3s to customize their machine to their preference from the initial order as well as being available as spare parts for current owners of GS/3s.

Q: What other customizations do you envision for the GS/3 At Home Program?

We have discussed many ideas about customization for the GS3, we will reveal more when we have put all the parts through their testing procedures.

Q: Will a customer be able to buy "off the shelf" customized GS/3s down the road?

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the plan would be to allow customers to build their dream GS/3 and have it delivered in that configuration. It is something that we have heard that our customers want and we are working to try and make that a reality.

Q: What are the price ranges you see for these customizations existing GS/3 owners can buy down the road?

With all of the different options we have planned, someone could potentially spend $50 to $1,000 on customizing their machine depending on the number of options they choose. The customizations will be priced competitively with the other customizations out on the market.

Q: After launching At Home this fall, how do you see the program expanding? What future plans do you have for the GS/3 program?

We will be able to reveal more as we move forward, but I will say that we are looking at the home barista's experience with buying and using the GS3 and trying to find ways of making the entire process more accessible and enjoyable.

Q: What is La Marzocco doing to stay in touch with current GS/3 owners, especially early adopters?

Honestly we don't have as much of that information as we would like. One of my goals with the new website will be to try and find a way to connect with the early GS3 adopters and see how their experience has been and how we can be more of a resource for their needs now.

Early Adopters
If you are an early adopter, early owner of the La Marzocco GS/3, the company definitely wants to hear from you. You can get in touch with Mr. Callender via the La Marzocco website, or through the new At Home website. Mr. Callender did tell me that it is a big goal for the company to reach out to existing owners and early adopters, to, as he said "bring them back into the fold".

Article rating: 10.0
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: May 3, 2014
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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