The Espresso Machine Restoration site
A non-commercial site for those interested in espresso equipment repair and restoration.
Page 1
Comparison of the GB/5 and the Linea
Drain trays

Along with the steam wand hitting the drain tray, the drain tray itself and the drain box have been discussed as
"flaws" after the launch in Seattle.  The depth of the drain tray has been described by some as too small.  I just
measured it.  The Linea tray has a depth of 14cm from the steel splash panel to the front of the drain tray.  The
GB/5 is 13cm to the front of the drain tray plus an additional 2 cm when you take into account the front panel.  
Unless this machine is different than the ones in Seattle (not at all likely) I believe it may be an optical illusion.  The
actual measurements say that it's just 1 cm smaller and from pulling shots on both side by side the difference is
hardly noticeable.

Drainage and water connections

I have actually come to really like the arrangement for the front of the machine.  The lower front panel (with the La
Marzocco" logo on it) clips on and off.  This means that after you remove the drain trays you have easy access to
the underneath of the machine.  

The first picture above shows the machine with the front panels removed, the drain trays removed and the electronic
tray has been pulled from under the machine.  The middle picture shows the stainless steel drain box.   As you can
see the outlet hole is not actually the bottom of the tray so water will collect  - as you can clearly see in the picture.   
That is probably one of the only faults I could see - maybe fault is the wrong word, perhaps it is an area that is not
as good as the Linea.  Last you can see the water inlet connection.  Very easy to connect.
Control fascia panel

Without doubt this is the best aesthetic feature of the GB/5 for me.  I like the customer side of the machine however
this is one of the first machines that will look good from either side.  

The buttons are a great feature as they are backlit and look very funky.  In the middle of this 2 group is the LCD
display.  Access to the features is done through a  password system to prevent baristas changing the settings.  The
machine also has 2 pressure gauges rather than the standard double scale pressure gauge on the Linea.  The
smaller gauges do look great.

Again after using the GB/5 for some time it does make the Linea controls look archaic.  

Any negative points?  I should imagine that the small buttons will start to collect crud within a few weeks. At least
the Linea had a wipe clean membrane on the buttons but it's hard to do that with this machine.  Each button does
have a fair amount of "play" and they tend to wiggle and rattle around a little bit.  It's not really a big deal but worth
mentioning.  However the somewhat controversial feature of the GB/5 is the manual override buttons - or the lack of
them!  I'd be lying if I said that this didn't make me nervous because the manual buttons have proved invaluable
over the years on the Linea.  

However that said I have not had any PC malfunction on the Linea for several years now, the only times I have had
any dealings with it has been a flowmeter problem or an autofil problem caused by a dirty probe.  So in this case I
have absolute confidence in La Marzocco and their confidence in Gicar!    Also add the fact that the PC is now in a
cool position it shouldn't really give us any cause for concerns.
The electronic controls and features

After turning the machine ON you cannot access anything until the boilers are full.  The machine will then ask you if
the machine has stopped filling.  Push Enter for yes and the machine is on and heating.  So the first feature you
notice upon installation is the electronic autofill - there is no water sight glass.

A brief summary of the features are:

PID control - yes it does come as standard. Although the program does not have an "autotune" feature the PID
values are factory pre-set.  You can adjust but will have to adjust the values manually.

Volumetric Dosing - same as Linea you can set each button to dose the volume you require.  Each side also has
1 continuous run button.

Clock and Timer - Program the on/off times of your store.

Chronos feature - It will display the shot extraction time during the shot and the value will remain on display until
the next shot.

Name display - have your name on the LCD display rather than the chronos function.

Temperature setting - it will display and allow you to adjust the brew boiler(s) temperature.  It will also allow you to
input an offset adjustment.  

Total doses counter - As the label suggests, it will count the total number of shots pulled by the machine/groups.  

Backflush program - Based upon total number of doses per group it will remind the barista via the LCD screen to
backflush.   After inserting the backflush handle and detergent the machine will automatically do a routine of approx
30 cycles.

Cup heater program - Even the cupwarmer is controlled by the PC.  You can program when it will switch on and

Actually there are many many features and the book itself is over 50 pages.  The ones above are the most common
if we compare with the Linea.   Getting back to the autofil and the fact that it does not have a sightglass.  To match
this there are many safety features built in...

Fill time out - will shut down the machine if the steam boiler has not filled in the pre-set time allotment.  

Probe sensitivity - You can adjust to suit the water you are using, for example a lot of bottled waters are too pure
and the sensor has a hard time reading anything.

Brew boiler time out - If the brew boiler has not reached the desired temp. with a pre-set time it will shut down.  

Other neat features

Brew boiler has preference over the pump at all times - If you decide to brew when the machine is in autofil it
will stop and let you brew and then start again after brewing.  Also it will not decide to autofil "mid shot" and wait for
the brewing to stop.  That means no pressure fluctuations anymore!

Steam boiler stealth mode - Switch off the pump for autofil.

Hot water mixing tap - you can also decide if you want the pump to come on when using the tea button.  This will
mix hot and cold water to give you a more stable water temp.  
Misc pictures

L to R.  My booth at last year's Hofex exhibition with my own custom Swift. Hot water mixing valve. The right side of
the machine with panels removed.  The pre-heat inlet/outlet on the steam boiler.
Final conclusions

Bad points -
I would have liked to have seen either the hybrid groups or the other groups I have seen in Italy.  
These address the cooler group temp. if the machine has been idle for sometime.  

No water sight glass.  Although the electronics help us sleep better at night, there is no substitue for being able to
see the water inside.  Apart from actually knowing the water level it provides a perfect insight as to the water quality  
and the limescale situation.

Good points - PID, Pre-heat, Style and looks, all the electronic functions, front fascia panel controls, and of course
the welded-groups.  

From my point of view this machine makes my life a lot easier. All parts are easy to access and the electronics are
kept nice and cool under the machine.   I have no doubt that this machine is head and shoulders above the Linea
machine and will make the barista's life a lot easier.  One area I didn't dwell on was the quality of the drinks it
produces because to be honest the set-up is the same as a modified Linea and therefore it doesn't set any new
standards in that respect.  IF the machine is available with the hybrid groups then it would be a tough act to follow.

However as it stands I do believe that it has raised the bar as a complete package if we take into account, styling,
build quality, temp control, ease of servicing and the final finishing of the panels and steel.  As I said if they can look
at doing special versions with the newer group design then it will really be something very special.

Paul 13/02/06
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.