The Espresso Machine Restoration site
A non-commercial site for those interested in espresso equipment repair and restoration.
|Comparison of the GB/5 and the Linea
|The GB/5 has it's formal "launch" last April at the SCAA Seattle and was also used during the WBC finals held at the
same time. Shortly after arriving back to HK I had to prepare for one of Asia's largest F&B tradeshows called
HOFEX at the beginning of May. I was lucky because La Marzocco had provided me with GB/5 number 0011 - the
previous ten units all went to Seattle. Maybe I was just tired or it was the whole stress of the exhibition but I wasn't
that blown away with the GB/5 as I thought I should have been. A few weeks ago I had my second chance to
evaluate the machine as my customer had purchased another GB/5 and a Swift grinder.
For those people who believe that Hotels and fancy restaurants do not try with their coffee then listen to this. My
first GB/5 + Swift sale went to The Hotel Lisboa in Macau (an hour ferry from HK) last May. The restaurant is
"Robuchon" after the Michelin Chef Joel Robuchon - who presumably pops in once a year or so. Said restaurant
also have a small roaster so I was told. The good news is that the GB/5 and Swift replaced a Cimbali Super-Auto.
|Stainless steel is still the theme for the GB/5 although the
shape is far more curvy and the corners have these
rounded sections. The GB/5 is definitely a front counter
A cup rail has been added to the top and is much larger
than the steel bars used on the FB70.
The striking feature must be the 2 lions at each of the front
corners. They are certainly different but I'm not entirely
keen on these - they must get dusty and dirty in no time at
all and be hard to clean.
The main talking point from a barista point of view is the
drain tray. The Linea is 14cm and the GB/5 is just under
13cm. Not much difference but because the top fascia
panel overhangs it makes for seeing your shots a rather
gloomy affair on the GB/5.
The other point to note is that on early machines the
steam wand would hit the drain tray - meaning purging the
steam wand before steaming resulted in hot water and
steam all over the baristas leg. As you can see it is better
on the newer models but still different than the Linea.
The control panel of the GB/5 is amazing to look at. 2
pressure gauges compared to 1 and some very attractive
brew buttons. The steam knobs are different and the
"heart" of the machine has to be the LCD display on the
front. More on all those in detail later.
||Inside the machine
|Naturally the double boiler system is in place with
saturated groups. However the GB/5 has the steel groups
whereas the Lineas still come from the factory with the
brass groups. Yeah for us non-US distributors we still get
the brass groups.
Boilers are the same sizes, however there are a few other
differences apart from the group materials. The GB/5
does not have a sight glass and therefore uses 2 autofill
There is also a pre-heat system which is the funny shaped
box below on the right. It's quite unique because there are
actually heating element fittings welded into both ends of
the steam boiler yet the one on the right is the pre-heat
The hot water for tea/americanos also has a mixing tap to
control the temperature.
PID is standard and has been configured on the GB/5 and
the Fenwall thermostat has been replaced by the
The machine on the left is not new - it's a reconditioned
machine so the wires will look a bit straggly.
Alright I'm struggling with the comparisons. To put it simply, it is impossible to compare the Linea and the GB/5
because apart from the boilers almost everything is different and i'd be here all day droning on. They are the same
manufacturer but in all honesty completely different machines and the Linea doesn't have probably 80% of the
GB/5's functions which makes comparing then hard.
So I'll try and address the new features on the GB/5 and if they are a step in the right direction.
An entirely new valve adorns the GB/5, the only remnant of the Linea that remains is the steam tip. The wand
swivels on a ball valve which will makes it more durable and less prone to o-ring failure. The actual knob is different
and it has a new insert too. However the most unique feature is the fact that you can go from no steam to full on in
just half a turn 180 degrees.
The new steam valve is way ahead of the Linea - some baristas may not like the steam wand and the fact that
purging is a bit tricky but the half a turn to full on will save many baristas from wrist injuries and aid milk texturing.
|Electronics and electronics layout
Hmmm the poor old Linea suddenly looks rather prehistoric when you start to look at the electronics on the GB/5.
From a servicing point of view the GB/5 is on top again. The Gicar brain has thankfully been placed in a cool
environment under the machine and is in a neat and tidy box which pulls out for easy access. Also inside the cool
box are the triacs to handle the current switching of the elements. That means no more noisy and clunking
contactor relay on the steam boiler!
A really nice touch has been that the thermal fuse for the steam tank now has 2 studs welded on, no more fiddling
around with wire straps.
|This website is created by Paul Pratt, Hong Kong 2004-06. If you would like to use any of the images or text I am
sure I will say yes, but please ask first!
Email me here.
|Inside the machine