This is the ultimate espresso machine. The last you will ever have to buy.
Positive Product Points
Great brew temperature consistancy Incredibly powerful dry steam Ability to run as auto or semi-auto
Negative Product Points
Difficult installation for home use Large footprint for home use
This is the full comercial unit, 220 volt and fully plumbed. It took me almost 6 hours to install it and this was after a plumber and electrician provided all connection points under the counter for me. In the company's defense, they would have provided installation for free but I didn't want to wait for that! After the installation was complete, I spent the next week tweeking the machine. Using David Schomer's book, I dialed in the steam pressure and brew temp. I have to say that the shot quality was much improved over the Lyra (which is a very good machine in its own right). Consistancy is this machine's best attribute. Many less expensive machines can be coaxed into providing great shots but the Linea seems to provide shot after shot of exceptional quality with ease.
Let's talk about steam. The Lyra is a heat exchange system and stem is good but a little weak for whipping. The Linea is so powerful, I had to forget about using my small pitcher as milk was blasted all over the place! I can whip a large (32oz) pitcher with so much force, it almost becomes whipped cream! I found my latte art much improved with this frother (but still lacking)
Overall, I am very pleased with the Linea but would have rather had a home model that required a less involved installation.
I bought this machine from Espresso Parts Northwest and was very pleased. They provided alot of support and cell numbers for after hours support as well. A great experience.
Three Month Followup
After using the Linea for three months I am still very pleased with the quality of this machine, although I now only use the manual shot dispenser since the automatic buttons are not consistant enough.
The build quality is exceptional and cleanup is a breeze. Shot quality continues to be consistantly great, as is the frothing ability. Even when I entertain the machine is always ahead of me.
I would continue to recommend this machine highly but if I had to do it over, I would have gotten the Schomer model that has better brew temperature consistancy.
One Year Followup
It's been about 7 years but I figured I would weigh in. Much has changed with my Linea since I bought it. Back in 2003 I had no idea about why this machine was so good. Now I have a better understanding of how machines work and what makes work horses like the Linea so popular. In 2010, I would never buy a Linea for home use, the GS3 is a much better suited to home use and has all the mods that I did built in. It also has a pre-heated brew water system which seems very slick. I sort of fell off the espresso earth for a few years but I kept brewing away. I recently decided to re-educate myself about this craft and also learn more about the inner workings of the Linea. I installed a Fuji PID system and the Piero group cap. These two mods brought my machine more in step with La Marzocco's current technology. Working on my Linea gave me a better appreciation for the build quality and thoughtful design of this machine. In the past seven years, the only failure I've had was the steam boiler's autofil probe became coated (probably scale) and stopped sensing water and the tank overfilled. A quick sanding of the probe made everything work properly again. Being under the hood reminded me of a time when I could work on my own car. Everything is neatly layed out and there is minimal electronics. In the single group there is plenty of room to get your hands in and work. I've seen pictures of the GS3 and that looks much tighter!
I would update my review to reflect my long term opinions:
Positive Points: Great brew temp consistency (with PID properly set and learning a pre-shot routine using something like a Scace) Powerful steam Reliable Retains value and should last a lifetime
Negative Points: Doesn't have pre-heated brew water Should have PID and Piero caps included Unsightly for home use