Am thinking about it seriously...

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Why?
Thermal stability tends to run in the head. When you've used one head enough and you're getting crazy temp behavior on it then you move to the next head. If you're looking at a La Marzocco 4 grp then you get two separtate coffee boilers to work with as well. If you've got a busy shop and you really want to pull the best shot every time, then there is nothing wrong with a four group. But..... If you are thinking about a 4 group and you are that busy, I might suggest two two groups. This helps with the redundant redundancy of extra failsafe safegards. One is broken-one still works. You still make money.
If you are concerned about thermal stability and are looking for a multiple group machine, I would suggest taking a look at the Slayer. As of right now it only comes in a 2 or 3 group, but the design all but guarantees flawless temperature. It has a main pre-heat tank where all the water comes into and is heated to a given temperature. Each group has it's own boiler that is programmable to your desired temp. The steam wand(s) also have their own boiler, so everything is connected, but remains independent. As a test, the guys that built this beauty cranked the steam wand open and left it for 15 minutes. It did not run out of steam and temperature stayed constant. Pretty dang awesome machine. Once we open our second location, we are bringing in 2 slayers for that location and installing one in our current shop.
Yeah 15 mins with the steam cranked open is pretty impressive. I recently had a customer stop by, was admiring our 2 group NS Aurelia/setup and said that Simonelli makes a "pretty good" machine, then went onto say he was a bit biased because he previously worked for Conti. Next statement was him telling me how great Conti machines are and that for demonstrative purposes he opened the steam valve on one for 45 minutes in a closed room, came back to a sauna-like room and the machine was still at proper temp. continuing to crank out yet more steam. I simply told him that's quite impressive but pretty much totally doubt it.
Mostly I ask because it seems like overkill to have one. But I was seriously thinking about a Linea with dual PID so you can have regular and SOE available anytime without changing anything on the machine.

Mike Sabol said:
Thermal stability tends to run in the head. When you've used one head enough and you're getting crazy temp behavior on it then you move to the next head. If you're looking at a La Marzocco 4 grp then you get two separtate coffee boilers to work with as well. If you've got a busy shop and you really want to pull the best shot every time, then there is nothing wrong with a four group. But..... If you are thinking about a 4 group and you are that busy, I might suggest two two groups. This helps with the redundant redundancy of extra failsafe safegards. One is broken-one still works. You still make money.
Keep your eye out for used 2grp Lineas. Get two of them and pid them yourself. Having the extra machine is peace of mind and will save you overtime/weekend rates if something happens. You could even get a 2grp Linea and then a 2 grp lever machine. Levers make awsome coffee. Pressure profiling without the complicated valving/pump/electronic set up.
If you feel that you should have a 4 group machine, then you should have a 4 group machine. Question is: can you afford it (in both terms of counter space and money)?

For most coffeeshop operations, a 4 group machine will be overkill. You might only truly need it once a week, but what does that matter? If you want one, go get one! I worked several times on the Linea 5 group at the old Hines in Seattle and thought that was one of the most amazing experiences of my career.

Since you mentioned that you wanted to offer two coffees, why not have the 4 group custom built and go hog wild? Finance the machine through an equipment lease company, contact La Marzocco and anything is possible! A 4 group Linea with individual paddle boilers will allow you to have four separate temperatures. Go crazy and order it with individual pumps per boiler - the sky is the limit.

Or settle for the 3 group Strada and have it all built in with true pressure profiling in early 2011. Order now!
This is a great reason to have a 4 group IMO. That, and the 4 groups can be easier to find used than a three groups due to the prior use of them by the evil empire, which is why you may see more of them around.

David Myers said:
Mostly I ask because it seems like overkill to have one. But I was seriously thinking about a Linea with dual PID so you can have regular and SOE available anytime without changing anything on the machine.

Mike Sabol said:
Thermal stability tends to run in the head. When you've used one head enough and you're getting crazy temp behavior on it then you move to the next head. If you're looking at a La Marzocco 4 grp then you get two separtate coffee boilers to work with as well. If you've got a busy shop and you really want to pull the best shot every time, then there is nothing wrong with a four group. But..... If you are thinking about a 4 group and you are that busy, I might suggest two two groups. This helps with the redundant redundancy of extra failsafe safegards. One is broken-one still works. You still make money.
Funny because the N/S rep from the east coast called me out of the blue this afternoon and is stopping by our cafe on Tuesday. I told him to try and put a 3 grp. WBC model in the overhead compartment.

Shadow said:
Yeah 15 mins with the steam cranked open is pretty impressive. I recently had a customer stop by, was admiring our 2 group NS Aurelia/setup and said that Simonelli makes a "pretty good" machine, then went onto say he was a bit biased because he previously worked for Conti. Next statement was him telling me how great Conti machines are and that for demonstrative purposes he opened the steam valve on one for 45 minutes in a closed room, came back to a sauna-like room and the machine was still at proper temp. continuing to crank out yet more steam. I simply told him that's quite impressive but pretty much totally doubt it.
Someone that makes a lot of espresso.

The steamwand thing is pretty irrelevant. Its a cool stunt though. I know of one case when capacity like this was actually useful - a client of mine once steamed 40 gallons of half and half (nonstop) for hot chocolate for a catering gig. It took hours, but worked fine.

Pulling back-to-back-to-back shots for an hour with no brew temperature variation is a little better demo.
Still trying to make sense of this. Ok, assuming you are a specialty shop, you are grinding to order. It takes, what, 10-20 seconds to grind a double shot (depending on your grinder/how sharp your burrs are)? and 25-30 seconds for the shot to extract. Adding in time for steaming milk, dosing, and tamping, and you're really only physically able to make 1, maybe 1.5 drinks at one time, per worker. It's clearly ridiculous to assume that you will have 4 workers on your machine at a time. So, are you going to have 2 separate grinders, with 2 workers making 2 doppios at the same time, and 2 workers steaming milk at the same time? Plus someone on register? Assuming you're not making food? So are you making enough profit to have 5 workers making coffee? i mean, in order to actually put 4 groups to use at the same time you need 2 workers, am I crazy? And if you actually need that many shots at once then you don't have time to steam milk, so you need another person steaming, right? Seriously, someone explain the logistics to me because I'm starting to feel like a crazy person.

My opinion is somewhat based on my experience. I worked at a moderately high traffic place, and we only had 2 people working at any one time. We had a 3 group with the third group broken because the owner didn't know that pulling yerba matte shots would clog the pipes. But I really only used one group. Even with a line out the door, and we were making food. Admittedly, we would have been faster with 3 people, but the third person would have only been washing dishes and making food, and I still would have only needed 1 portafilter. Sometimes I would start a shot on the second filter while I steamed milk for the first drink, but that really only shaves off a few seconds.

So unless you're doing what Jay said and having different settings for each group (which seems like overkill, but I can appreciate the commitment), 4 groups seems totally unnecessary to me. La Marzocco makes 2 groups with double boilers, so water temp isn't an issue...If you maintain your machine, then having all your groups break at the same time shouldn't ever happen...so...

2 2 groups is a fine idea because if a whole machine ever broke, you'd have another, and you could use one for espresso training while you're open, and if you really are busy enough that you need 2 workers making drinks at the same time, then it makes more sense to have them in separate places rather than standing side by side on one machine, or you could have one 2 group on the front counter (where it should be) and the other taking up less valuable real estate somewhere else.
So aside from the 4 group question, does anyone have experience with the Simonelli WBC machine? While it's entertaining to look at a battle ship of an espresso machine, I think I am convinced that's it's probably not the best solution.

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