Scott Callender has a secret project to show us, but it’s not in the main office of La Marzocco USA, the Seattle outpost of the classic Italian espresso machine company. Instead, it’s a few blocks away, hiding in plain sight in the break room of a co-working space where La Marzocco has been occupying space — and where the workers aren’t as aware of the project’s significance in the espresso world.
It’s called the Linea Mini, and the reason for the secrecy is that it represents a major milestone for La Marzocco: The new machine, being unveiled today, is the first that the company has made specifically for the home espresso market.
If the Linea Mini looks familiar, there’s a reason: its predecessor, the larger Linea Classic, was the machine that Starbucks used to fuel its early U.S. expansion some 25 years ago.
La Marzocco’s existing GS3 espresso machine is available to home users, but it was originally a professional machine that was adapted for the home, with a starting price of $6,900. The new Linea Mini isn’t cheap, with a price of $4,495, but the company hopes the lower price will make it accessible to more people.
“It does create more of an entry point into the professional-grade espresso market,” said Callender, the director of La Marzocco Home. “It is offering this experience to a lot more people.”
The Linea Mini is meant for the countertop, at 14 inches wide, and 21 inches deep. The dual-boiler system is part of a special integrated design that helps to reduce the size of the machine, while offering a much faster heat-up time than a commercial espresso maker.
It offers fine-tuned temperature control, a built-in water reservoir, and uses 15 amps of current, allowing it to work in home kitchens without an electrical upgrade. It comes in stainless steel, red, black and white, and is available for pre-order starting today.
Because of its lineage, as the offspring of the Linea Classic, the company says the Linea Mini can be easily fixed by any experienced espresso technician. “You’ll have this machine the rest of your life,” Callendar said.
For an expert take on the Linea Mini from the perspective of an espresso pro, see Mark Prince’s early hands-on report on coffeegeek.com. But we can say from our limited experience that the Linea Mini does make a great shot of espresso.