It’s been a year since the Linea Mini graced my kitchen...
I threw out an entire kitchen table and chairs to make space. No regrets. Having the ability to make café quality espresso in your kitchen is every coffee enthusiasts dream. Once that dream becomes a reality, the possibilities are endless. For example, I drink a cortado in the shower most mornings. It’s the little things.
Having used it (nearly) daily for one entire trip around the sun I’ve had a chance to feel out its quirks, its pros and cons. The pros are easy, and I could list them for days. So to keep things in line with my concise style of writing I’ll narrow it down to my top three in each category.
- Pull and Steam simultaneously - Dual boiler or bust. To those unfamiliar, dual boiler machines are exactly that. One boiler is for the group head(s); i.e. brewing your coffee, and the other is for the steam wand(s). This means you can pull your espresso shot and steam your milk with no loss of pressure on either end.
- Commercial grade parts - This is important for two reasons. One is the gaskets, screens, steam valves, and other wearable parts are intended for high volume cafes, so they easily put up with even high home use. Also, they are easy to find when things eventually need to be replaced.
- Classic Linea appeal - If you’re like me you love the boxy, classic look of the La Marzocco Linea. If that's the case, the Linea Mini doesn’t disappoint. It looks just as at home in a café as it does on your kitchen counter.
- Difficult to make pressure changes - It’s not something that your average Mini owner would do regularly, but I love to play with different recipes, and new coffees. If I were able to change the brew pressure on the fly, or at the very least without removing body panels, it would be something I’d toy with even more.
- Temperature adjustment dial is unclear - Even in the official manual this is left a mystery. It took me some trial and error to figure out that the temperature of the machine is at the six o’clock position on the dial.
- No sight glass for water level - Unlike the commercial Linea, the Mini uses a reservoir that is behind the drip tray, so it has no sightglass. To check it you need to pull out the tray, which really isn’t that bad, but I’d love to know on the fly where my water levels are.
In the end my first year of ownership of a Linea Mini has been a pleasure. Looking back now on the the list of cons, they are more-or-less just little inconveniences. In the grand scale, this machine has brought me hours of learning and experience that I would've never gained outside of a full-time barista job. Better yet, all of these hours were in my home. No one looking over my shoulder, no customers waiting in line, and no pressure to do things to anyone else's standards. The initial investment is big, but what I've gained from this machine can't be summed up in dollars and cents.