The newly released La Marzocco Linea Micra is La Marzocco made truly domestic for the first time ever!
The Linea Micra is a home espresso machine true to the heritage of La MarzoccoLa Marzocco
And this newly released domestic espresso machine is certainly making waves. Any La Marzocco released is a cause for a stir, but the Linea Micra is even more so as it seeks to answer the loud demands for a home espresso machine that genuinely meets commercial standards.
While La Marzocco’s home line already includes the GS3 and the Linea Mini released in 2015, the Micra is the first La Marzocco specifically designed for a domestic rather than commercial setting.
While similar in appearance to the Linea Mini, the Micra is not simply a scaled-down Mini but instead a whole new beast with a host of new features.
So is the Linea Micra the answer to the question we are all asking?
Specifications of the Linea Micra
What we like
What we don’t like
Linea Micra vs Linea Mini
Now the biggest question on many people’s minds when it comes to the Micra is how does it compare to the Linea Mini? I mean the Mini was already part of the home line of La Marzocco along with the G3. It is a single group head, has the option of plumb in or reservoir, and has a footprint that can fit into the average kitchen (barely!). So what is the difference between the Mini and the Micra? And which is the better fit?
And there are a few differences worth being aware of. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the Linea Micra has a smaller footprint and significantly shorter heat-up time. So in terms of size, the Linea Micra is about 2/3rds the size of the Mini. This is mainly managed through a clever change in the placement of the boiler in the body of the machine. This is significantly appealing for many home brewers who keep the espresso machine on the already small kitchen top. It means the Micra can fit in many places where either the Mini couldn’t or would be intrusive.
Similarly, the Linea Mini took about 20 or so minutes to heat up sufficiently to pull a shot or to use the milk steamer. This is fine and indeed fairly short in a commercial setting but it is a long time for a home machine. You decide you want a coffee or a guest walks in and then you have to wait a minimum of 20 minutes. In comparison, the new Breville Bambino takes 3 seconds to warm up!
The Linea Micra by comparison has a far shorter heat-up time which is better suited to the home brewer. Our friends over at homebarista.com suggest that the Mirca takes 5 minutes to heat from cold to pull a shot and 6-7 minutes from cold to steam milk. This is a massive improvement from the Mini largely made possible through the slightly controversial metal/plastic portafilter. More on that later.
Another difference is that the Linea Micra is cheaper. As many of you will know the price of the Linea Mini has significantly risen over the last 2-3 years. The Linea Micra, while still a pricey machine, is significantly cheaper than the Mini. The Micra also has a cool touch steam wand which while not a huge deal is a nice touch.
Perhaps the most controversial difference between the Micra and the Mini is in how the temperature is adjusted. In the Linea Mini, the temperature was adjusted by an unsightly but highly practical jog wheel on the side of the machine. With the Linea Micra, the temperature can only be changed via the app. This has already had some pushback in the specialty coffee community and I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed this in one of the later models. While changing the temperature is easy on the app, quite simply many coffee brewers aren’t huge fans of apps, and prefer to do it all on the machine itself.
As you can see here, the Micra has virtually the same brewing specs as the Mini and is certainly no downgrade in terms of hardware. Instead, it is a sleeker, smaller, faster version of the Linea Mini that has been specifically designed with the home barista in view.
Features of the La Marzocco Linea Micra
As with many recently released espresso machines, the Linea Micra is ‘smart’ with Bluetooth compatibility built into the design and intended use of the machine. The app itself is very easy and natural to use and is far better, to be honest than some other coffee apps of the last few years. However, as noted many home baristas already have more than enough screens in their lives and prefer to tinker with the machine itself. The app can control many functions of the machine but the shot temperature is the only feature that must be done through the app.
One of the most notable changes with the Linea Micra is the distinctive-looking portafilter. In other La Marzocco espresso machines, there was a standard double spout portafilter that could be swapped out for a bottomless portafilter if desired. In the Micra, there is a new convertible portafilter that can be used as a single, double, or naked. Basically, it is a metal bottomless portafilter with black plastic attachments for single and double spouts.
While it seems that this could break easily, it has been designed so that you can tamp it without pressing on the plastic. Similarly, users have noted that the attachments click well into the portafilter and don’t feel loose or flimsy.
Whether you like this or not comes down to preferences. If you are a purist who doesn’t want any plastic in your espresso machine then you won’t like this regardless of what I say. However, if you are not too bothered then it is actually a rather ingenious idea.
There are basically two advantages that come from this design decision. Firstly, very pragmatically it means that you don’t have to pay extra money to buy an additional bottomless portafilter. Virtually everyone who is willing to fork out for a La Marzocco wants to at least try a bottomless portafilter. Now that can be done without an additional purchase. Even more significantly, the plastic double spout attachment significantly decreases the thermal mass that needs to be heated up for optimal extraction. Basically, this design decision is a core (although not the only) reason that the Micra’s heat-up time is significantly shorter than the Mini.
The steam wand is basically of the quality that you would expect; that is commercial. It is a powerful 4 holed steam wand that will easily compete with a La Marzocco in a cafe. It is quick to use and is able to make superb microfoam for latte art. It is also a cool touch wand which is a nice feature and basically means you won’t ever accidentally burn yourself.
The only downside to the steam wand is its length. In line with its smaller overall footprint, the Micra has a fairly short steam wand which some don’t love. Basically, it means that it can be slightly harder, although by no means impossible, to brew larger jugs/quantities of milk at a time. Again this fits with the whole idea behind the Micra, that it is an espresso machine for home use. So not a big downside.
As expected the performance of the Micra is superb as we have come to expect from La Marzocco. Users have also noted that it is surprisingly forgiving and easy to dial in. When it comes to shot quality the Micra easily competes with one of La Marzocco’s commercial machines. It simply makes superb coffee.
The one potential downside is that the Micra cannot pull shots back on back indefinitely the way the Linea Mini could. This again reflects the domestic design of the machine. On average, the Micra can pull 5-6 shots before it will need a brief rest to recover temperature. So not a big problem for the average home user, but it does mean that unlike the Mini it is not ideal for even light commercial use. However, with a brief rest, it can then easily pump out more shots.
A significant difference between the Mini and the Micra is that the Micra is far easier to maintain and even replace components if necessary. This again is due to the placement of the components in the interior of the machine. Basically, access and serviceability are better and easier.
Similarly, a quick look at the interior of the machine makes it abundantly clear that La Marzocco has not cut corners but has used the same premium components that characterize all of their machines.
The biggest concern for most potential buyers, however, will not be the quality of components or performance but instead the daunting price tag. Put simply this is a very expensive prosumer home espresso machine. While still cheaper than the single-group Slayer or Eagle, it is very expensive. In fact, it seems to be about the price that the Linea Mini was about 2-3 years ago.
However, I am not overly surprised or bothered by this. The simple fact is that it is still a La Marzocco espresso machine. It is not a Breville or Rancilio, no it is authentically commercial quality. And the price reflects that.
Certainly, La Marzocco could have cut corners to make a cheaper machine, but that is against all that it means to be a La Marzocco machine. So yes it is very expensive but that is because you are buying quality that will last, from one of the best espresso machine-making companies in the world.
Who should buy the Linea Micra?
So who should buy the La Marzocco Linea Micra? Well, the simple answer is those who love the best but aren’t bothered about flow profiling.
If flow profiling is your thing the Micra is not for you.
If you are on a budget the Micra is not for you.
If you are intending to use it commercially the Micra is not for you.
But if you have the cash, love the best, and just want to make delicious coffee then the Linea Micra is a superb option. You are paying for the best and you will get the best. While expensive, this is better than the Linea Mini for home use and is simply an incredible espresso machine that makes incredible espresso.