So I'm planning on opening a shop soon, and I'm browsing through different brands of  machines in the market. I have used the Unic Stella di Caffe 2 group, and I'm quite comfortable with this piece of equipment. However, I had a brief experience with the La Marzocco Linea.

  I heard good reviews about both, however La Marzocco seems to be the most popular among baristas,coffee shop managers, and their customer service/support. I need some feedback, before I decide which brand will become the bedrock/foundation of my business.

Any suggestions?

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In the end, both machines can pull an excellent shot.  That said, the two machines you mentioned are very different from one another in both technology and price. The Linea is relatively simple (in a good way), has great temperature stability and track record.  The Stella di Caffe is the flagship machine of UNIC featuring individual brew boilers, individual pid control, intelligent heat management, hydraulic locking portafilters...to name a few. 

 

I would recommend a machine based on several factors:

1-Your budget (buy within your means)

2-Your business model (what market are you in?  Are you serving heavily sweetened and flavored drinks with lots of milk, or micro-lot SO espresso's?)

3-Service availability in your area (it is sure great to have that exotic car in the driveway, but if nobody is qualified to fix & service it in your area...and it is your daily driver...better to buy a Ford)

 

Both companies offer a whole line of machines as well.  With La Marzocco, the Linea is their most affordable machine and with Unic, the Stella is their most expensive. 

 

Another often overlooked company here in the Northwest is Rancilio.  Their new XCelsius machine takes temperature control to a whole new level, allowing shot temperature to be varied during the shot.  I was on a demo unit and was totally geek-happy with the flavors I was able to extract dependent on the temp.  One you find a temp profile you like, the machine remembers it for automation.  You can also use each brewhead at any time to extract a different espresso (so if you have your daily E blend and a SO blend that you pull at different temperatures, you do not need to have dedicated groups on your machine as temp is controlled instantly, great for a higher volume environment). Much of the focus of the industry has been on pressure variability during the shot and Rancilio has quietly brought a whole new element to the game.  Worth exploring, dependent on your needs of course.

If you're starting a new shop, and reliability is a major factor (which it should be), I have to recommend the Linea. This is not based on any experience (negative or positive) from Unic, just based on positive experiences with LaMarzocco in general, mainly their Linea line of machines. They are pretty basic dual boiler machines, with a limited amount of components, making them easy to repair and maintain.

 

Good luck with whatever you choose.

 

Thank you so much Keith for your response and suggestions! I really appreciate it.

 I will definitely consider the above factors and the Rancilio as well.

Keith Eckert said:

In the end, both machines can pull an excellent shot.  That said, the two machines you mentioned are very different from one another in both technology and price. The Linea is relatively simple (in a good way), has great temperature stability and track record.  The Stella di Caffe is the flagship machine of UNIC featuring individual brew boilers, individual pid control, intelligent heat management, hydraulic locking portafilters...to name a few. 

 

I would recommend a machine based on several factors:

1-Your budget (buy within your means)

2-Your business model (what market are you in?  Are you serving heavily sweetened and flavored drinks with lots of milk, or micro-lot SO espresso's?)

3-Service availability in your area (it is sure great to have that exotic car in the driveway, but if nobody is qualified to fix & service it in your area...and it is your daily driver...better to buy a Ford)

 

Both companies offer a whole line of machines as well.  With La Marzocco, the Linea is their most affordable machine and with Unic, the Stella is their most expensive. 

 

Another often overlooked company here in the Northwest is Rancilio.  Their new XCelsius machine takes temperature control to a whole new level, allowing shot temperature to be varied during the shot.  I was on a demo unit and was totally geek-happy with the flavors I was able to extract dependent on the temp.  One you find a temp profile you like, the machine remembers it for automation.  You can also use each brewhead at any time to extract a different espresso (so if you have your daily E blend and a SO blend that you pull at different temperatures, you do not need to have dedicated groups on your machine as temp is controlled instantly, great for a higher volume environment). Much of the focus of the industry has been on pressure variability during the shot and Rancilio has quietly brought a whole new element to the game.  Worth exploring, dependent on your needs of course.

 

 Thanks Kevin for your response, I agree with you reliability is a major factor with starting a new shop. I've been told by a few baristas/managers that the more bells and whistles a machine has the more chances of it breaking down. Thanks again!

Kevin Ayers said:

If you're starting a new shop, and reliability is a major factor (which it should be), I have to recommend the Linea. This is not based on any experience (negative or positive) from Unic, just based on positive experiences with LaMarzocco in general, mainly their Linea line of machines. They are pretty basic dual boiler machines, with a limited amount of components, making them easy to repair and maintain.

 

Good luck with whatever you choose.

Keith thanks for talking about the xcelcious. I posted something a few months ago asking if anyone had tryed it and what there thoughts were. There were no responses from anyone that had used it. Its pretty crazy when you think about it. If La Marzocco had released a temp profileing machine, 90 percent of the industry would be talking about it. There would be heaps of people wishing they had one, and tons of reviews. But that's not the case.

 

Ive been lucky enough to work on first the strada MP, and now the strada EP. But honestly would be more excited to work on an xcelcious. (sorry op for veering of topic)

 

Ive had experience on the Linea, and its a pretty great machine. Put a p.i.d on it and you will be good to go! Plus you most likly can find a used Linea for pretty cheap and refub it, for way less than a new machine.

Dustin,

What Rancilio has done is truly amazing and the lack of buzz is baffling.  I would love more time on the Xcelcius to play and experiment. 

Not sure why you find this baffling. There are quite a few interesting things happening with lots of manufacturers that the community pays very little attention to.

 

Why?

 

I think its because, despite the neat new features, a La Marzocco is still a La Marzocco, an Astoria still an Astoria, a Rancilio still a Rancilio, and a UNIC still a UNIC. If you weren't into the old model, chances are good you won't be all that excited about the new model. Seems like everybody has new bells and whistles... but they've been designed and built by the same crew that built the last model. If that crew built a reputation for workhorse machines, why would people suddenly look to them as innovators.

 

In a cafe, does it really matter how many multicolor LED accents the new one has?

 

For the record, I do think the new Rancilio system is pretty cool, as are the systems on the +4U, the Strada, etc. I'm not running out and buying them though, nor am I going to quote them, because my customers don't really care about that kind of stuff. They just want good solid espresso machines that will make good espresso, be easy to operate, and not be super expensive to maintain and repair. You know what? I kinda want the same thing.

 

On the original topic...

 

Keith's first reply was spot-on, mostly. I'd only substitute that there are lots of good machines out there worth considering in place of the Rancilio commercial.

 

La Marzocco's reputation is well-deserved, as are most companies' - for better or for worse. If a company is well regarded and well supported in your area and you like their machines and the espresso that they make then they are worth considering. Try not to be too distracted by the flashing lights and high-dollar marketing though.

 

Keith Eckert said:

Dustin,

What Rancilio has done is truly amazing and the lack of buzz is baffling.  I would love more time on the Xcelcius to play and experiment. 

I would add that you want to make sure that the service provider has experience and parts for the machine you choose

Booth machines are well bult from good parts

they are respected brands for reliability when taken care of properly

The LaMarzocco Estrada and the Unic Stela Di Cafe are the only independent boiler machines they make 

The rest of the MaMarzocco line use twin boilers one for coffee and one for steam

Unic are single boiler with smaller ft print and with plenty of power 

Unic has independent master power boards for each brew group and touch pad adjustable pre infusion settings

If space and price are a consideration go Unic

If looks and twin boilers are needed and price is no object go LaMarzocco 

If space iss a problem looke at unic Mira 

Their are other coffee shop machines that also work very well Some with PID temp CONTROL is always a nice thing to have for controling coffee water temperaute with more stabelity 

the UNIC Stela Di Cafe as it for both the coffee and Steam 

Pre heating of the brew water is importent also for coffee water stebelity 

The Linea fropm LaMarzocco does not have pre heating only the GB% and The FB80 do

Other Brands like Faema Teorema, LaCimbali M34, M39 or the M 100 with independent boilers are also good coffee house machines as well 

Grinders play a very big part

water filters also play a good part in how does the coffee taste 

When looking at a water temperature stability system.

It is very impotent to understand your coffee and the water temperature needed along with

pre-infusion time along with coffee volume, weight & grind.to get the sweet spot

Look for PID control of the coffee water first then PID of the boiler temperature for your steam

Some machine brands can run hot when setting to long, this will burn your coffee with out a pre flush of some cooler water over the brew head before pulling your shot.

slower shops may be best served with a different machine brand or model then a very busy shop. It not just a mater of more groups its also a mater of ease of us and water temperature stability. 

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