Here's what's up. Looking at a "new" machine. New for us anyway. Right now we are looking at either a Linea with PID or a 1981 GS2 paddle. The GS2 has modernized guts and would be good to go in our commercial setting. Everything is rebuilt and is cosmetically flawless. To me the GS2 seems like the way to go, but I'm hoping that there are those of you out there with experience on both machines that can aid in this decision.
Well, that depends on your environment.
The GS2 is a classic and sexy machine. However, it was designed in the 1970s when the espresso world was very different. Today's average coffeehouse is pumping out lattes and flavored milk drinks, meaning that steaming capacity is a critical issue. It is not unheard of for a classic GS2 to start showing the signs of its smaller steam boiler capacity under a constant stream of milk drinks.
I'm not sure what you mean by "modernized guts" but if you desire to use the GS2 in a professional environment, a complete rebuild is a must and a total refurbishment is even better - and it will still be a bit handicapped compared to current models. Consider that places like Intelligentsia Venice Beach and Barista! in Portland both have GS2 machines but neither use them for regular production, saving their use for low-volume applications. Even shops where the GS2 is the primary machine, like at Tim Noble's Town Hall Coffee outside of Philadelphia, are finding them a bit limited for today's environment and are opting for current releases.
The Linea is always a good choice. I have three of them. They're workhorses and I think there are some design features of the Linea that trump the GB5. Both models are still current production and will be the best bang for your dollar.
Thanks Jay. Maybe this list will make more sense to you than to me. This is what I've been told about the machine.
studded front boiler! Full size (not small Boiler). Powdercoated lm brown, vintage style gauge, lines are polished, tempered glass panels, heads are rebuilt with all new seal and come with kits. Microswitches. Choice of original or ceramic steam wands. Metal is polished. This machine is one of the few left in existence. We can laser etch or screen print our clients image on the side of the machine
Upgraded to autofill (rl40 gicar)
Everything is cosmetically flawless.
Powdercoated light burgandy
all new stainless hardware
Metal has been polished
Heads have option of original or clear heads
Painstakingly found original steam wands (period era!)
New intake assembly
Heads have new teflon seals
Heads are rebuilt completely with original la marzocco kit (83)
No pitting in chamber (rare!)
All new kevlar boiler gaskets
New wiring harness
Original marzocco top insignia logo
Front boiler has new cages, bolts, nuts, double thickness head gaskets from gardico (we have a custom die)
Steam wand rebuilt utilizing original la marzocco kit
Sides are high temp tinted poly
Preheat line run
Cup warmer option is available in place of 2nd steam wand
I'll chime in here a bit:
The description of the machine sounds pretty bomb; tempered glass sides? Polished steel? Nice. Watch out for that studded front boiler, though: if you are planning an annual disassembly and descale, make sure you read everything Paul Pratt has ever written well ahead of time, they sound like some heartbreakers.
Jay already mentioned the maybe-too-small steam boiler: definitely check on that. They say "not small boiler," but it looks to me to be referring to the studded boiler, which must be the front (brew) boiler. So check on that. If you're doing a small-bev type operation, you may even be able to get away with an old-school steam boiler. But, recognize a 20oz latte/mocha morning rush would probably be stressful with waning steam pressure.
If it were me I would find out what kind of Pstat they have installed. I'm not sure if the new Sirai's are compatible (I dunno why they wouldn't be, someone more informed maybe could chime in?) but I am a fan of them. Easy to service, which for me is a big bite.
I am not sure what it means for the GS2 to have modernized guts: It's definitely the original front boiler if it's a stud boiler, I believe. This is a pretty thorough rebuild, no doubt about it. Someone put a lot of love into it, and it would be a real show piece.
That being said, I think it depends on your intended usage. I would never put a GS2 into any of our shops; the volume is too high to expect consistent steam pressure, and those 20oz vanilla mochas pay my salary. I would consider it for a lower-volume location, if we had only progressive-cafe type sizes (ah, Prufrock!), or if I had a 220V outlet in my kitchen.
I'd go with the Linea in this circumstance. I'm also curious to hear your Linea over GB5 reasoning, Jay.
The details sound interesting, though the whole "few left in existence" sounds more like marketing hype (or a price drive) than anything else. Again, I would ignore the "sexiness" of those specs and look at the needs of your business. Let that dictate your purchasing and you could well be rewarded. Sure, the GS2 will cause the cool kids to drool but is that your intent and/or market? If not, consider elsewhere.
I like the Linea over the GB mainly due to the driptray design, the solid base frame and "backup-ability" of the Linea. Electronics fail on the Linea and your still brewing. Electronics fail on the GB5 and you're shut down. While a failure like that on the GB5 is unlikely, the Linea offers backup features and if you're hell bent on GB5 specs, you might be able to convince La Marzocco to build you a custom Linea. Maybe.
I have checked out the GS2 at Town Hall coffee extensively, and the original boilers are small in diameter. I too thought this meant that steam quantity might be an issue in time where traffic is heavy. As it turns out, with a small boiler it takes but a second for the steam pressure to build up again. Practically the moment the steam valve opens, the element cuts on, and the pressure comes back up. This idea that older machines cant keep up with steam is, I think, just an urban legend.
As far as temperature stability, the old GS2 Scaces out practically identical to a traditional Linea (no PID), a good 4-5 second flush on both machines will get you boiler temp, with shorter flushes for lower temps, temperatures increasing .75 per group as you go from left to right side groups. So modernizing it, if that means installing Linea boilers and what not, would be practically the same as all original.
So what are we looking at in terms of reliability?
MP will be a wonderful machine. I am trying to put together a custom 3 group with a MP in the middle and AV on the sides. my wife wants a auto machine. best wishes on your new purchase! it is a great machine.
Jeff Hoeppner said:
That's a slick unit! We did, however make a decision on a brand new 2 group Linea MP. We are SUPER pumped about it! Thanks everyone for your input. It's much appreciated and we did take all of your advice into account. Thanks much!!!