La Marzocco Linea Mini vs LUCCA A53
When it comes to single group, dual boiler machines that are truly capable of commercial use, there are two machines we get asked to compare more than any other: the La Marzocco Linea Mini and our LUCCA A53. Both can serve wonderfully as either a home espresso machine or be used in a coffee cart or shop. In the video below, we'll go over the key differences between these two powerhouse machines, starting with their brew boilers.
These two machines have very different brew boiler designs, but I’ll say up front that unless you aim to serve more than a dozen people in a row you’re not going to notice much of a difference between the two. The LUCCA A53 has a traditional 0.45L nickel plated brass brew boiler that is filled with cold water from the water line, as you might expect. The Linea Mini, on the other hand, has a small 0.17L brew boiler that is fed by a heat exchanger line that picks up heat on its way past the machine’s steam boiler. Both designs ensure relatively consistent temperatures even at high volumes. It must be noted that the Linea Mini’s design ensures an endless stream of proper temp water. You simply cannot outpace it, and we’ll touch on why a bit more later. While the A53 may be a powerhouse, it is likely to be slightly less consistent when serving a line out the door. At home, both machines will be superbly consistent.
This consistency is thanks in part to their PID temperature controllers. Both operate on the same principles, but they are controlled slightly differently. The A53 has a series of LEDs indicating the temperature in Celcius. These lights display the boiler’s current temperature, so you’ll know when to give the boiler a few seconds to heat up before pulling your shot. The Linea tucks its temperature control off the side of the machine in the form of a simple labeled dial. This keeps the face of the machine uncluttered, but the machine doesn’t indicate the boiler’s current temperature. Granted, it’s scarcely ever off-temp thanks to that heat exchange system, but you’ll have to trust the Linea here.
Now let's take a look at steam boilers. The A53 has a 2-liter steam boiler, and the Linea Mini has a whopping 3.5-liter steam boiler. Both of these are as big – or bigger – than anyone might want in a home machine. Even a long series of large lattes won’t slow these machines down, and you’ll have them done in short order. The speed at which they steam milk is almost identical, with both machines steaming 8oz of milk in 20 seconds and 12oz of milk in 30 seconds. When pulling many shots and steaming lots of milk in sequence you will see the Linea pull ahead thanks to its larger capacity boiler. Again, this can be a huge asset when running a coffee shop or cart but at home, you’d be hard-pressed to see steam power waver in either of these machines.
The Linea’s massive steam boiler is part of what helps that heat exchanger system work so well, providing plenty of thermal mass to heat up the water as it makes its way to the brew boiler. Since both of these machines have very powerful heating elements, you’ll find that both can keep up with large quantities of drinks, but having the relentless power of the Linea Mini can be a nice bit of insurance for those looking to serve a crowd.
La Marzocco Linea Mini Espresso Machine versus LUCCA A53 Espresso Machine Comparison
On the topic of efficiency, let’s talk volumetrics. One of the biggest advantages that the LUCCA A53 has on the Linea Mini is its programmable volumetric buttons. Once programmed, you can start a shot and have it automatically stop at a specified volume. This can drastically improve the efficiency of a single barista by allowing you to steam milk and pull shots at the same time without worrying about over-extracting that precious espresso. The Linea Mini requires you to manually start and stop your shot, which can prevent you from doing other tasks at the same time. At home, this is much less pressing but it can certainly be a comforting tool when serving a dinner party. Volumetrics also allow you to dial in and allow guests to pull their own shots without having to teach them Espresso 101 (though we’re sure you’ll try anyway).
Lastly, we have water supply methods. The A53 is a direct plumb only machine and the Linea Mini has an internal reservoir but La Marzocco offers a direct plumb kit. For those that wish to have a machine with true commercial capabilities at home, the Linea Mini’s built-in reservoir can be a really nice perk. If you’re a fan of the A53 but want to use it in a spot without access to a water line, we recommend using a 5-gallon jug and a simple flo-jet pump. This can be done with either machine and allows you to use them off the grid with a much larger reservoir capacity suitable for any setting.
These two machines continue to stand toe-to-toe with each other and are both truly appealing options as both high-end home espresso machines or single group commercial units. Now that you know the matchup inside and out, which machine will you pick?