Now that you have one of the best machines in the world from the best in the business lets get you the skills you need to make amazing coffee at home.
You don't need to be a professional barista to make incredible coffee but having the right knowledge and skills is essential. Getting the right knowledge specific to your equipment is the most efficient way to get on the path to being your own home barista.
I have both a Linea Mini and GS3 MP at home and use them every day because they all the functionallity you will ever need in a beautiful and reliable package. These machines are both easy to use and manipulate once you have the know how.
Lets make home coffee more than just something you do at home for fun, lets shoot for the stars and make the best coffee you have ever had each and every day.
La Marzocco Linea Mini
My first La Marzocco was a Linea Mini and I love making coffee on this every day because of the simplicity. The Linea Mini delivers everything that a commercial machine can and because of this there are some important things you need to understand when using it.
The Linea Mini gives you a staight 9 bar extraction out of the box. You can modify the pressure if you want to experiment with lower pressure extractions but this does require a manual adjustment at the pump.
The Linea Mini has a pre-brew function which initiates an extraction at full pressure for a specified time (set by you on the LM App). This might be useful if you are using lighter roasted coffee such as Kenyan or Ethiopian natural processed coffees.
Brew Temp Control
I exclusively use the IOT app to control brew temp in my Linea Mini because of the accuracy and ease of use. It is important to understand the manual tempreature wheel must be set to a lower tempreature than what is on the app however. I have mine set down very low so this is never an issue.
Now, this is where the new home barista needs to be careful. As a general rule the Linea Mini will be deliverd to you with a steam boiler pressure of 1.5 - 1.7 Bar. Whilst this sounds great on paper, it can be a significant problem when steaming only enough milk for 1 or two drinks. As a professional barista I have lowered my steam pressure to 1.4 Bar (a relatively simple thing to do) to give me a little more time when steamin. Using 1.7 Bar on the small jug provided with the Linea Mini will blow the milk all over your floor.
La Marzocco GS3 MP
This machine is a Rolls Royce four wheel drive supercar. It can literally do everything. If you have the MP then you are capable of extracting with incredible control and variability.
You can extract even the most difficult lightly roasted coffee with ease on the MP due to the real time pressure adjstment. Some coffee needs a little more finesse and benefits from a no pressure pre-infusion followed by a gentle increase in pressure. This can also be applied to darker roasted coffee which can benefit from a slow decrease in pressure in the last third of the extraction to increase sweetness. Imitation is the highest form of flattery and with the MP you can imitate any of your favourite machines or extraction profiles.
There is a lot going on under the hood of this machine and it can all be controled by the IOT app and the function buttons on the right hand side. Understanding what each of these functions can do for you, or to your coffee only increases your knowledge and ability to get the best out of each coffee you make.
The E61 grouphead on the Rocket can be found on many machines accross the world. Once the standard for espresso machines the E61 is still capable of producing amazing quality coffee in the right hands.
The E61 grouphead functions differently to those found in LM's and as such needs to understood to get the best out of your coffee. These machines require a quick flush to 'normalise' the brew temp before you lock in your portafilter. If the machine sits idol for some time, the actual tempreature of the grouphead is subject to the ambiant tempreature which impacts the water temp as you are making coffee. A 2-3 second flush ensures the gouphead is at the correct temp in accordance with what you have set on the PID.
One of the considerstions with machines like the rocket is how quickly you can make back to back coffees and steam milk. Understanding how much you can push a true 'home espresso machine' is important in maintaining quality accross all the drinks you make. Fluctuations in brew tempreature or drop in steaming pressure can really ruin a coffee. These are amazing machines and with the right knowledge are capable of producing amazing results.