The desire for commercial espresso equipment in a smaller footprint is not a new one. La Spaziale brought their first compact commercial dual boiler to market in 2003, and recently their Vivaldi line has culminated in the LUCCA A53 and Dream. But La Marzocco has been zeroing in on this market after the tremendous success of their GS3 machine, and their Linea Mini is the result. Given that these machines all pull temperature controlled shots and are ETL/NSF certified for business use, how do La Spaziale’s compare, and what about Linea Mini?
Since 2008 our customers have loved the La Spaziale Vivaldi’s exceptional performance, durability and approachable user interface (the machine launched in 2003). La Spaziale’s water reservoir model’s 1.2 liter steam boiler has impressive steam power, but the plumbed version’s double size 2.5 liter boiler offers the full power commercial experience along with a quiet rotary pump and programmable preinfusion. The switchable 20 amp mode allows simultaneous boiler heating which reduces warm-up and reheat time. But as time went on, we received increasing feedback that people wanted a simpler, cleaner look with fewer blinking lights, less shiny plastic, and a drip tray without comic sans font...
...We took this opportunity to work directly with the factory in Italy to create a modern custom version of the Vivaldi, with a bottomless portafilter ($90 value) included at no cost. The LUCCA A53 and Vivaldi machines share the same parts, features, performance mentioned above, and even the same NSF commercial certification. For businesses and homes that want modern cafe performance with durability and beauty to match, the A53 is always one of our first recommendations.
Once the A53 launched, our US distributor lowered the price of the Mini Vivaldi. This makes the Mini Vivaldi a huge amount of machine for the money, and if you’re interested in a more modern look then we're delighted to have LUCCA as an option.
The Dream was designed based on feedback from the home barista community, so it displays more information and has some more modern functionality. But the cup quality will be comparable between all these designs as they share the same temperature controlled boiler design. If you want electronic bells and whistles like a shot clock and programmable 7 day timer, then the Dream could be just the ticket. But as electronics get more advanced, troubleshooting and service can become more complex and costly (so we always want to make sure which machine checks the most boxes for each customer).
La Marzocco Linea Mini $4500
The Linea Mini can be instantly identified as a La Marzocco, because most people have had espresso made on the original big Linea. Compared to the Dream, the Linea offers a stark aesthetic contrast. Like the La Spaziale machines, the Linea will be able to pull back-to-back shots with excellent temperature stability (but you will have to manually start and stop the brew). And like the La Spaziale reservoir models, the tank loads from the front. But the Linea also has a rotary pump and an optional plumbing kit available. The brew temperature is controlled via an analog click wheel and there’s no display or shot timer. While the group isn’t a true mechanical paddle, it offers the traditional La Marzocco feel with increased durability.
The biggest functional difference and the main claim to fame (apart from the La Marzocco name) is that 3.5 liter steam boiler. Even taking the big brother GS3 into account, the Linea Mini is the most powerful steaming machine in this class. This pays dividends for steaming full pitchers of milk, but if you want to steam for small to medium sized milk drinks we’d recommend trying a smaller boiler first.