Astoria Espresso Management/ vs. Marzocco Linea/GB/5 vs. Slayer

We run 4 Astoria espresso machines and one of them is at the end of its lifespan. We were going to purchase an Astoria Gloria, 4 Group, Automatic, but our service provider cautioned us. He said that Astoria was recently purchased, has laid off some people, and isn't providing the customer support that it used to. Has anyone heard of this? Thoughts? 

We have three other Astorias, so we have a lot of spare parts for them so I would like to stick with them if I could.

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Most manufacturers don't supply direct customer support, other then by phone.  Most service is performed by outside contractors.  What was Astoria doing for you?  I really know nothing of the ownership of Astoria, but is your supplier speaking of CMA the manufacturer in Italy or GEEC - the American company that imports and distributes Astoria?   I don't know if one is owned by the other or what the relationship is. I would say, if you like the product and you have a service provider you like, then stick with them.  

Slayer has outstanding customer service & even better espresso machines.

Erik! Slayer's Espresso machines are impressive. If we had just 1 or 2 coffeebars and I was still working behind the bar on a consistent basis, I would definitely consider a Slayer or La Marzocco's Stradda. But paddle machines require a barista that is dialed in. The new machine is being installed at our busiest location where there's 175 tickets hourly in the morning. With a paddle machine, my concern is that while the espresso is brewing, the brewed coffee could need grinding, dispensers could need to be replaced, condiment bar needs cleaning, etc. If a barista is distracted on a paddle machine, that(those) shot(s) would need to be repulled.
With me personally being behind the coffee less and unless someone can convince me otherwise, we're going to replace our current Astoria Divina Automatic with another Automatic.
I can get a 4 group Astoria Gloria, Chrome Finish, Automatic for $9,200. If I go with La Marzocco Linea, the GB/5, or even the Slayer, I'd be paying twice that. Why are these machines twice as expensive and are they really that much better than the Astoria Gloria?

And Erik, I need to send you some pics of our new bar!

Tim- The basic answer to your question about La Marzocco/Slayer(you could include Synesso in this group as well) vs Astoria is that both La Marzocco and Slayer use dual boilers; one for steam and one or more for heating the brew water. It is a much more precise way to control brew temperature and there is a greater volume of brew water for increased capacity.  Heat exchanger machines, like the Astoria, have a small volume of water available for brewing at temp, at a given time.  Beyond that there are obvious issues of quality; La Marzocco uses stainless steel boilers, group heads and portafilters.  Stainless steel components last longer  and contribute to greater brew water stability.   

I don't think you can compare a 4 group dual boiler machine to a 4 group HX machine for production output.  The dual boiler machine is going to be faster.  An 4 group HX machine would probably be closer in output to a 3 group or possibly even a 2 group dual boiler.     

I believe all the of the paddle configuration machines from the various manufacturers have a volumetric option that works with the paddle.  

Scott,

actually the new Glorias or Plus4You Machines from Astoria have separated boilers as well. The thing why a Marzocco is considerably more expensive is that these machines are hand crafted for the most part, while C.M.A is amongst the manufacturers with the highest automation (aka robots). Just take a Marzocco brew boiler - each of them is manually welded! Same is true for Slayer or Synesso.

Another thing is the material that is being used. Marzocco uses lots of stainless steel. Expensive but extremely durable. 

Performace wise there's indeed not that much difference between say an Astoria Plus4You and a Marzocco GB/5. It's like cars - a Honda serves well as a vehicle but a Mercedes is still something different.

Scott said:

Tim- The basic answer to your question about La Marzocco/Slayer(you could include Synesso in this group as well) vs Astoria is that both La Marzocco and Slayer use dual boilers; one for steam and one or more for heating the brew water. 

Hi Tim,

As the Canadian dealer for Astoria machines, I am very interested in who your service provider is and why they think GEEC is in any way vulnerable. In fact, GEEC has acquired BWT water + more and has strengthened their foothold in the marketplace. The only major change in staffing in the last year has been the replacement of their service manager by a very capable member of their service team, and GEEC continues to carry nearly every machine in Astoria's current product catalogue in stock for immediate shipment at all times. I deal with GEEC several times a week and have continuously done so for over a year, and can personally attest to the company's health and capability in serving all Astoria customers in North America. Where in the US are you located? I can refer you to a company local to you with factory support and perhaps a less pessimistic outlook on a leading brand in the industry that I depend on for my personal livelihood. My suspicion is your local provider is trying to sell you a competitive machine for which he has negotiated a larger gross margin as opposed to actually looking out for your own best interests.

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