Here we go. I am at the point of choosing a new machine and I am SO lost....... I have only worked on automatics but am open to a semi and even am considering a manual. Part of the reason I'm interested in a manual is the frequency of repair is much less often, I'm told. In the past year, (prior to my shop burning down...) I had my pump replaced as well as my heating element and I think a relay switch...? This was on a basic Astra, 3 years old. I believe there was something else replaced, a main component, but I can't find my receipts to look at right now. The repair person I use sells Ibiteral (sp?) and unfortunately won't really give me any advice besides pushing what they are now representing/selling. My shop stats are from 125 to 200 rings a day and my guess would be I was pulling around 300 shots daily. I was a barista for 4 years 20 years ago and then bought my shop 7 years ago.  It is a steady shop with good local business as well as tourists in the summer. My main employee, sometimes my only one, and I went to ABC 2 years ago for the 3 day program so that gives you a little insight. We love our people, we appreciate good coffee done right, my husband small batch roasts all our beans and we are always striving to be the best in our small area. I would REALLY appreciate opinions and input, PLEASE~   Thanks, Amy

Elektra, new older stock

LaMarzocco Refurbished eBay

Arduino Lever

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Dear Amy,

LaMarzocco Linea machines are very reliable workhorses when fed filtered water.  A three group machine may be over the top as I've seen many 2 group machines meet high demands.  Easy to use or train others on.  Under heavy abuse, a professional espresso technician should visit every few months for preventative maintenance, depending on water quality.  Lever machines require a bit more attention, yet offer customers eye candy.  

When major internal parts of machines need replacing, it's time to think about a better machine.  If parts and labor exceed half the purchase price, a new unit should be considered.

Good Luck,

                 Coffee Mills


I'm with you on the filtered water, we've always had a pretty extensive Everpure filtration set up. As far as preventative visits, I am out near Yosemite National Park and just the drive time costs me $200 for the repair guy so my husband has learned to change gaskets, burrs, etc.. and after that I call when I have to. I agree on the quality of the machine vs repairs, that's why I explained the history of my repairs......and why I'm looking at what I think are higher quality machines. When you said the lever requires more attention were you talking the use of it or maintenance? Thanks~

Maintenance wise, lever machine gasket changing requires more parts and time.  Operation time is same as other machines.  Your shop location puts you at the mercy of coffee sharks just like coffee plantations in Africa - not fair.

Astra makes a great machine designed to last forever.  Check the pressure stat, OPV, vac breaker, steam pressure recovery rate, brew temperature, fill probe, and listen for hissing noises.

Any problems will be revealed through inconsistent colors and flavors.    

There have been quite a few discussions here on this topic in the past - just use the search feature to dig them out. That'll add more info while you wait for others to jump in now.

I do suggest that my more remote clients handle the regular maintenance themselves, assuming they are relatively handy. I would suggest a visit by a good tech from time to time though - once a year? Something you may try to reduce your bill is to coordinate your service with another shop in your area (even if they are an hour away). If a tech can do two calls in one trip, you ought to be able to split the trip charge. This may mean that you schedule PM service when your neighbors machine breaks and vice-versa though, so it takes some flexibility.

Regarding semiauto vs lever... yes you have fewer valves and no pump, but the operational capacity and speed is not the same. Because they lack 3-way valves, you can't quickly pull back-to-back shots on a lever. So you need to spec a larger machine (a 3 group lever is appropriate in an application you'd put a 2 group semiauto or auto).

Will post a link to some of my favorite "which brand" threads a little later this am.

Regarding the 4 machines you've linked to...

I generally like La Marzocco and Nuova Simonelli machines (Arduino are made by Simonelli). There are other good choices as well. I generally avoid La Pavoni machines, and have not heard much positive about Elektra (except for the Microcasa Leva home machine currently in my kitchen ;).

That looks like a nice refurb job on the Linea - however there are still negatives to a 14 year old La Marzocco. The big concern to me would be the expensive bits - the brain and touchpads. Plus I doubt that this machine comes with much if any warranty. Frankly, at $7500 you're in the same price range as a decent new 2 group with installation and warranty. Heck, you can get a new Linea 2 group EE for $8600, a semi-auto Aurelia 2 group for even less. I'd go with new and let someone else pay a tech to drive for a couple of years.

Links to past discussions on brand: Here's one. Another one here. Also here.

Good luck. Hope that helps.

Semi is the way to go.          It gives you so much more control when compared to using AV, for better or worse the shots you pull are your shots :-)  Talk to your roaster, and call every equip supplier about demo models you can probably get a new/demo/or newish linea EE for that price, or less.  I wouldn't pay 7500 for a 14 yr old machine.  speaking from a looong month of equip failures used stuff can cause huge headaches, loss of revenue, waste tons of time then need to be replaced anyway :-(  .  I took some good advice and put some money into a newer Linea EE which I've had about 2 months and I love it!  best & most valuable thing I own.    Good luck

Just want to add when I said semi is the way to go, I was only comparing to an auto.  I've never used a manual lever machine (except for an old Electra at home which doesn't really count) so I don't know much about how they'd work in your shop.  

I think we've ousted the manual idea as well as the refurbished LaMarzzoco so I'm now still eyeing the Elektra

this La Spaziale

or this one

Astoria Perla, new

La San Marco, new

I'm waiting with bated breath for your opinions, really.......the only thing my repair person did recommend I look at (besides his brand) is the La San Marco from this distributor. Thanks! Amy

Semiauto is a fine choice, you can make great shots. I wouldn't say it gives you more control though. Volumetric machines can do everything semiauto can, plus consistently dispense exactly the amount of water you want to.

Nick Leichtentritt said:

Semi is the way to go. It gives you so much more control when compared to using AV, for better or worse the shots you pull are your shots :-)...


I would not spend my hard earned money on any of those choices.

LaMarzocco Linea (over the GB5) is a clear first choice if you are not able to do your own maintenance. Proven. Simple. Awesome build quality. They tend to be easiest to service and have a very wide distribution and maintenance network.

As Brady said, Nuova Simonelli is a good choice as well. Based on price point, build, and performance, it's the top of it's class.

Stay away from Cimbali, Astoria, and Faema. Poor temperature stability and average to poor build quality. Unless the machine is coming from a reputable and well-known shop, don't consider buying sight unseen from Ebay.

Don't skimp on what is to be the centerpiece of your espresso production, and as you have seen, build quality is significantly different on lower tier machines. I would contact Nuova Simonelli USA and LM USA main distributor as well and ask about show used equipment. You can get fantastic deals that way, the machines are barely used, and professionally maintained.

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