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Thread: La Marzocco KB90 - Kent Bakke

  1. #1
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    La Marzocco KB90 - Kent Bakke

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    La Marzocco - KB90 (Kent Bakke)

    Looks a little like La Marzocco found the Rocket Giotto in design.


    La Marzocco KB90 front:
    La_Marzocco_kb90-front.png


    La Marzocco KB90 back:
    La_Marzocco_kb90-back.png


    Giotto:

    Giotto.jpg



    La Marzocco KB90 has a new feature though.

    The group-handle (portafilter) is not 1/4 turn twisted, it goes straight-in and is locked in place with a thumb lever.


    La_Marzocco_kb90-thumb.png

    LM claim this will help with RSI with 12 times less impact but I suspect it might have just moved the problem.
    Maybe the thumb can take more punishment than a wrist-twist?


    Another feature on this is the auto steam flush of the group-head.


    steam-flush-image.png

    A shot of steam followed by a hot water flush when releasing the group handle is a neat idea if it works as described.

    Other features are double boilers, in-built scales, PID control and I'm sure some otehr stuff I've missed.


    I've not used one yet but look forward to having a fiddle when I can.

  2. #2
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    Certainly looks interesting, La Marzocco "thinking outside the box" compared to the Linea series :-)
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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    These have been around for a little while now. La Marzocco held release parties in both Australia and NZ earlier this year and I know of a few Iím action in NZ already. Interestingly, even though they claim itís Ďrevolutionaryí LM werenít the first manufacturer to come up with this group handle design. Thereís actually two others that beat them to it - one in the commercial market and one in the domestic.

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    Yeah- they did 1/2 the job. All that work on the group and yet it still uses rotary steam knobs.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    Yeah- they did 1/2 the job. All that work on the group and yet it still uses rotary steam knobs.
    Lots of people still prefer the rotary controls. I had the choice of a machine with the lever type when I bought this machine but just went for the rotary dials as I had them before and I had no issues.
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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wattgn View Post
    Lots of people still prefer the rotary controls. I had the choice of a machine with the lever type when I bought this machine but just went for the rotary dials as I had them before and I had no issues.
    I prefer rotary valves too, however we are using our machines to make a couple of coffees a day at our own leisure. I suspect our preference would differ if we required to make hundreds of them under the pump in a busy cafe.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    These have been around for a little while now. La Marzocco held release parties in both Australia and NZ earlier this year and I know of a few Iím action in NZ already.
    St. Ali have had one in their South Melbourne cafe for a while.

    As a technician, I will wait to see how well the group head design lasts in use - coffee machine manufacturers seem to be good at designing new features that work well in testing, but end up failing under heavy cafe use, since they don't seem to have the budget to do really serious long-term testing, and are fond of finding complicated solutions to simple problems. The design looks like the inevitable wear of the handle lugs and the ramps they slide on may potentially cause the handle to tilt in the head and leak, if the contact points between lugs and ramps are not 180 degrees apart around the group.
    Being different to every other commercial machine means lots of baristas will likely be frustrated by their 'muscle memory' around fitting/removing group handles having to be un-learned. And potentially the groups will be prone to damage caused by baristas forgetting and trying to rotate the handles in or out of the heads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeinator View Post
    Yeah- they did 1/2 the job. All that work on the group and yet it still uses rotary steam knobs.
    I think rotary knobs can be good, and better than some of the alternatives. I know you know all of this, but, for others following the discussion:

    The circa 1990 designed linea had a steam knob that was a long barrel. That valve sucked because it allowed for a lot of free rotation; I think you had to do like a whole turn or two or three turns or something to shut the steam off. Then it had all of this free play that did nothing before the knob seated against the machine.

    With the GB5 (and the FB80, which is basically a GB5 in a different shell), the useability of the steam knob took a big step in the right direction with the valve being replaced with one that was like a half turn to full on. Using that steam setup was great. I'm sure a lot of people probably grabbed the knob between their thumb and their fingers and turned it like a tap handle or a prosumer machine steam knob, but the best way to use it, IMHO, was to keep your hand flat and roll it over the top of the knob. No grasping, no carpal tunnel, no big movements. Simple. It would have been even better if they had stuck with the old school linea steam knobs, since they had ridges on them that made this motion even easier.

    With the linea PB, LM introduced these short steam knobs. Step backwards, IMHO, since they aren't as nice to do the hand rolling trick, so you're more likely to want to grasp it and twist. Do that several hundred times a day for your job and I'd have thought that it could increase risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

  9. #9
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Steam knobs are not better than levers. Levers are not better than knobs. Well designed knobs are better than badly designed knobs, and levers. Well designed levers are better than poorly designed levers and knobs. And it doesnít take a high end machine to get it right either - the Faema Due I had a few years ago had levers that sort of worked like sliders and they were awesome.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    My preference is definitely for rotary valves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post

    With the linea PB, LM introduced these short steam knobs. Step backwards, IMHO, since they aren't as nice to do the hand rolling trick, so you're more likely to want to grasp it and twist. Do that several hundred times a day for your job and I'd have thought that it could increase risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
    I find the workflow quite good on the PB & have no trouble with the taps rolling trick.
    With any machine you just need to find the best workflow for you & the workmates, which may not be the best for me & mine. No right or wrong, just different.

    It’s the hydraulics that concern me the most on the KB90. From an engineering background I know that they will fail at some point. Hopefully it’s not at full pressure when it lets go

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Steam knobs are not better than levers. Levers are not better than knobs. Well designed knobs are better than badly designed knobs, and levers. Well designed levers are better than poorly designed levers and knobs. And it doesnít take a high end machine to get it right either - the Faema Due I had a few years ago had levers that sort of worked like sliders and they were awesome.
    G'day LeroyC

    I agree - standard knobs and levers are about equivalent.

    However both are quite inferior to my "1985" 2 group La Pavoni: looks like a rotary knob, however it is still "off" when you turn it to the desired setting. It is spring loaded: all you need to do is push it in to activate the steam at that setting. Considering the rotary pump is about the size of an old Holden generator (with power to match), easily controlling that extreme power is essential.

    The front of the knob is also recessed, so when you push it in you can "fine tune" the steam quantity simply by rotating it a little either way. Simply brilliant...

    Now what I cannot tell any CS'r's is why every other machine does not do it the same way. One of life's mysteries.

    Have a great XMas all.

    TampIt

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post
    The circa 1990 designed linea had a steam knob that was a long barrel. That valve sucked because it allowed for a lot of free rotation; I think you had to do like a whole turn or two or three turns or something to shut the steam off. Then it had all of this free play that did nothing before the knob seated against the machine.
    The free play in a Linea knob can be mostly shimmed out by stacking extra washers of an appropriate thickness between the main brass washer and the split pin (I usually do this at service time, as the shim stack thickness usually needs altering then).
    The factory doesn't appear to bother to shim these correctly on assembly (or even lubricate them appropriately), just as they also don't bother to adjust the freeplay in GB5/FB80/PB taps at the factory, so they sometimes come out of the box with almost half of the knob rotation being freeplay.

    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post
    With the GB5 (and the FB80, which is basically a GB5 in a different shell), the useability of the steam knob took a big step in the right direction with the valve being replaced with one that was like a half turn to full on. Using that steam setup was great. I'm sure a lot of people probably grabbed the knob between their thumb and their fingers and turned it like a tap handle or a prosumer machine steam knob, but the best way to use it, IMHO, was to keep your hand flat and roll it over the top of the knob. No grasping, no carpal tunnel, no big movements. Simple.
    The only issue with using that rolling motion is that a lot of baristas end up doing it quickly and forcefully, slamming the tap open and closed. This eventually breaks the stops on the back of the knobs, which are just thin plastic tabs. PBs have less of a problem with this, as the stops are part of the brass insert in the knob, but slamming these on and off repeatedly seems to result in hairline cracks through the plastic.
    Dimal likes this.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Steam knobs are not better than levers. Levers are not better than knobs. Well designed knobs are better than badly designed knobs, and levers. Well designed levers are better than poorly designed levers and knobs. And it doesn’t take a high end machine to get it right either - the Faema Due I had a few years ago had levers that sort of worked like sliders and they were awesome.
    The Faema Due taps worked so well that Synesso used them, just flipped upside down then swivelled 90 degrees outwards, so the wand comes out the top and the plunger in the tap is actuated by a ramp on the back of the steam lever.
    Dimal likes this.

  15. #15
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MorganGT View Post
    The Faema Due taps worked so well that Synesso used them, just flipped upside down then swivelled 90 degrees outwards, so the wand comes out the top and the plunger in the tap is actuated by a ramp on the back of the steam lever.
    Well there you go. Donít just take my word for it people, even Synesso thinks theyíre awesome.
    Dimal and magnafunk like this.

  16. #16
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    I like the rotary steam and water dials. I have had them in the two machines I have had. It is important to be able to modulate the steam pressure and they work well and it seems rotary dials are here to stay as they still feature on most machines.

    Mind you I haven't tried the others but the rotary ones just work well.

  17. #17
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    If you use rotary steam knobs to modulate steam pressure then something is wrong. Steam should only ever be fully off or fully on regardless of the type of valve. If you find you have to reduce or control pressure using the valve then you may have an issue that could be anything from a machine that isnít set up right, to the wrong type of steam wand tip, the wrong size jug or poor technique.
    Ronin, Dimal and level3ninja like this.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    If you use rotary steam knobs to modulate steam pressure then something is wrong. Steam should only ever be fully off or fully on regardless of the type of valve. If you find you have to reduce or control pressure using the valve then you may have an issue that could be anything from a machine that isn’t set up right, to the wrong type of steam wand tip, the wrong size jug or poor technique.
    100% agree



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