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Thread: So whats so good about the LM?

  1. #1
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    So whats so good about the LM?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    3 Group machine

    So with a machine that looks as good as this is it really worth it?

    What features does it have over its competitors that make it worth double in some cases?

    Is it just build quality that make it cost that much or have the coffee snobs made it to be more than what it is?

    Thank you

  2. #2
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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?



    Actually I think youll find that Coffee Geeks have built this into a goliath, and David Schomer before them. Also Charbucks were using Lineas for a long time, and therefore a mystique developed. From a technical point of view, they are reasonably temperature stable and the GB5s and FB80 are temperature adjustable using a PID controller. Nevertheless, I think too much emphasis is put on the machine. Any decent barista using good fresh beans and a good grinder should be able to make excellent espresso on most commercial machines currently available. Ive seen this demonstrated again and again.

    From a commercial perspective there are issues far more important that temperature settability/stability. Cost, reliability and maintenance schedule are probably more important.

    Bottom line is that you shouldnt look at a machine to make good shots, but at the roaster and barista combo.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

  3. #3
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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    They are nothing special, yes they are good dual boiler machines, but the only model to rave about is the GB5 with saturated brew heads. Other than that the GB5 have roughly the same temp stability as an equivelent quality hx machine.

    The pros of dual boilers would have to be unlimited steam pressure.
    They also tend to produce a cleaner, lighter bodied shot.

    There are plenty of issues to look at when looking for a machine as Mark said.

  4. #4
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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Wow; I cant believe that I missed this post for so long!

    Actually I think youll find that Coffee Geeks have built this into a goliath, and David Schomer before them.
    Mark certainly has a point about the LM brand having built up a reputation. LM have quite a long history and have come up with quite a few innovations. They were actually the company that came up with the idea of making a horizontal boiler machine, so that you could have your groups next to each other. Unfortunately, they have always been quite a small business, producing a relatively small number of machines per year. This is probably part of the reason why they found themselves in financial difficulty around the stage that Starbucks was starting up ... or so the legend goes ... anyhoo, apparently Starbucks complained to the Italian government about difficulties in getting a regular supply of espresso machines and they were pointed in the direction of LM. The timeless Linea model was rolled out in Starbucks across the USA. Of course, Starbucks probably didnt care that it made great espresso - they really wanted it because it was quite a reliable machine that was easy to use; understandable when youre building an empire of that size. So that was the first thing that established LMs reputation. The second big break was being the sole company that actually ponied up the dough to be the machine sponsor for the World Barista Competition when it started in or about 2000. As Mark says, David Schomers widely published temperature studies also added to the LM legend. There is certainly a basis for the popularity of the LM machines, but they arent above question.

    Nevertheless, I think too much emphasis is put on the machine. Any decent barista using good fresh beans and a good grinder should be able to make excellent espresso on most commercial machines currently available. Ive seen this demonstrated again and again.
    Great point. The coffee is clearly the most important link in the chain and I would argue that the grinder is more important than the machine.

    From a technical point of view, they are reasonably temperature stable and the GB5s and FB80 are temperature adjustable using a PID controller.
    They are nothing special, yes they are good dual boiler machines, but the only model to rave about is the GB5 with saturated brew heads. Other than that the GB5 have roughly the same temp stability as an equivelent quality hx machine.
    Temperature stability is the one point that comes up again and again, ad nauseum, whenever someone mentions LMs, dual-boiler machines ... or pretty much anything. I agree with Mark that far too much emphasis is placed on temperature stability. IMHO, if you want to improve your coffee, you go down the rough checklist in this order of decreasing importance:

    1. Barista has correct training
    2. Barista has well-developed espresso palate
    3. Coffee is capable of producing target flavour profile
    4. Equipment is clean, capable and well-maintained (the basic stuff: groups clean, burrs sharp, brew pressure and temperature in the ballpark, brew path is scale free, pressure build-up/time before first drops OK, water is of acceptable quality, etc.)
    5. Dose is consistent
    6. Grind and dose combination produces envisaged shot profile
    7. Tamp is straight and at same pressure
    8. Grinder is of good quality
    9. Brew temperature is absolutely spot on

    Some machines are so bad that they eliminate themselves at step 4 by either producing brew water outside the acceptable range for a given coffee, or by being incapable of producing repeatable brew temperatures within a certain range (for some, you might be able to come up with an elaborate temperature management routine to overcome these deficiencies). For everything else, I honestly believe that most people make enough mistakes at steps 4 through 9 that the precise brew temperature is probably not going to be a revelation for them. You have to remember that the grind will change throughout the day, so the checklist is ongoing; its not set-and-forget.

    "Temperature stability" is an ill-defined term that keeps on cropping up. Brew temperature doesnt sit at a single number throughout the extraction, but, rather, fluctuates and creates a profile. David Schomers work implies that a flat-line, single number temperature profile is the holy grail. However, I think that even Schomer would tell you that that misses the point. What is important is inter-shot temperature stability, not intra-shot temperature stability. In other words, repeatability of the same temperature profile, so that if you walk up to any group on the machine at ten randomly selected times in an hour, you can produce a shot that tastes the same (presuming that everything else on the checklist is taken care of).

    Jason is correct in saying that some HXs out-perform LMs in terms of "temperature stability," but the few measurements that I have done show that the new LMs give you the same temperature profile to within a few tenths of a degree, which is an order of magnitude better than the best HXs that I have measured.

    ... to be continued ...

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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Are you trying to sell more GS3s Luca ;)

    It was interesting that during my recent Melbourne visit I didnt manage to have one shot worth writing home about from any of the synesso squadron. Then I bump into Tony (aka. GoD) at a bean bay pickup a few days later and he pours me a shot from his aging NS Mac2000 and it stuns me with beautiful rich flavours.

    Im not knocking either machine or barista here. I suspect it was the beans. So taste subjectivity has me rating a coffee van above some of Melbournes top coffee shops.

    I still love the technology, but as far as good coffee is concerned, Ill be saving my pennies for a new mountain bike, rather than a GS3.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

  6. #6
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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    It was a GoD shot Mark.

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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Everything Ive read of Schomers seems to point to intra-shot stability, but certainly all the discussion you ever see is about that. I guess stability within the shot would also imply stability between shots. I thought Jim Schulmans observations about the Elektras rather unstable profile were interesting, implying that intra-shot stability was not necessarily desirable (at least for blends). But, then, maybe Italian machines are designed to work best with Italian-style blends as well.

    Tell me, is there any taste impact from boiler water as opposed to HX water in anybodys experience?

    matt

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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dolcimelo link=1209639892/0#6 date=1211198871
    Everything Ive read of Schomers seems to point to intra-shot stability, but certainly all the discussion you ever see is about that. I guess stability within the shot would also imply stability between shots. I thought Jim Schulmans observations about the Elektras rather unstable profile were interesting, implying that intra-shot stability was not necessarily desirable (at least for blends). But, then, maybe Italian machines are designed to work best with Italian-style blends as well.
    Yep, all of Schomers stuff certainly focusses on intra-shot stability, but why? He does state that if the temperature wonders several degrees in a shot you get a worse result, but what machines has he used to be able to state that from? The answer is machines that give you different starting temperatures, not just temperatures that wonder about during the shot.

    I think that the thrust of Schomers research is all about repeatability and its rarely stated that the flat "slant L" profile is just a means to an ends and not an end in itself. Which is not to pass judgment on the flat profile, just to point out that if you gave a cafe owner a choice between a machine that always started off at the same temperature and always finished second crack colder and a machine that started at the same temperature +/- second crack and finished at that temperature, they would be mad not to go for the first machine rather than the second if temperature were the only consideration. I think that people have picked up the discussion about the flat profile in isolation and have elevated it to an important proposition in its own right - I bet that if most people were confronted with the two hypothetical machines above, they would go for the first.

    Tell me, is there any taste impact from boiler water as opposed to HX water in anybodys experience?
    How would you tell?

    For what its worth, Carlos from Oomph in Tasmania used to say that HXs were better for that reason ... but I notice that his ECM has made way for a LM GB5!

    Im not knocking either machine or barista here. I suspect it was the beans. So taste subjectivity has me rating a coffee van above some of Melbournes top coffee shops.

    I still love the technology, but as far as good coffee is concerned, Ill be saving my pennies for a new mountain bike, rather than a GS3.
    I think that were on the same page - didnt we talk about all of this at St Ali last time? Thats why I went to pains to try and show how important all of the technowizardry is by creating that checklist in the above post. I think that theres no doubt that most of the time there will be something that will improve your coffee more than buying a LM. However, its not fair to say that this means that what the LM offers is rendered moot - just that the LMs features have to be viewed and evaluated in the context of the whole espresso process ... something that I think I have been pretty consistent in saying. (Get a robur!)

    Cheers,

    Luca


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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1209639892/0#4 date=1211182730
    ... so taste subjectivity has me rating a coffee van above some of Melbournes top coffee shops ...
    ahhh, mobile cafe ta mate - not a coffee van ;) Qualitative difference.

    I am totally over the presumptuous bias that mediocre shots will/can be extracted from a HX out of the back of a van. Id probably get the same pre-disposed bias if I had a Linea & Compak up and running as well - its the set-up of a custom designed van with all the accoutrement in the back that throws customers ... then they taste my coffee.

    Ignorant presumption, basically.

    Thanks Mark for your enjoyment of my shots.

    Oh, & to answer succinctly the original question "so whats so good about the LM"?

    Little, but the marketing hype. Barista skill & bean quality will always shine behind any machine.

    Tony

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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1209639892/0#7 date=1211253133
    I think that were on the same page - didnt we talk about all of this at St Ali last time? *Thats why I went to pains to try and show how important all of the technowizardry is by creating that checklist in the above post. *I think that theres no doubt that most of the time there will be something that will improve your coffee more than buying a LM. *However, its not fair to say that this means that what the LM offers is rendered moot - just that the LMs features have to be viewed and evaluated in the context of the whole espresso process ... something that I think I have been pretty consistent in saying. *(Get a robur!)
    Yeah, were definitely on the same page. Its maybe worthwhile adding a few extra people to that page. While your checklist is more thorough, sometimes it works better to go striaght to the bottom line and say that Ive had better shots from ordinary machines than from these highly lauded machines driven by top grade baristas. Its so much about the bean, not the machine. And like you, my spotlight has moved over to the grinder.... Those K10s look awefully nice, and a lot smaller than a robur. Althought there were some very interesting grinders at the recent SCAA, like the Baratza Vario with the ceramic burrs...

    Cheers,

    Mark.


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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Luca,
    I think your comments on the temp profile are the most concise and sensible summary of that issue so far. Puts it into perspective.

    As for water taste, Id at least like to know if anyone can distinguish the two alone, just as hot water. Unfortunately, I no longer have my boiler machine to do a comparison. Probably get swamped by other things, anyway.

    matt

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    Re: So whats so good about the LM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1209639892/0#9 date=1211324895
    Yeah, were definitely on the same page. Its maybe worthwhile adding a few extra people to that page.
    Cool, just checking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1209639892/0#9 date=1211324895
    Its so much about the bean, not the machine. And like you, my spotlight has moved over to the grinder.... Those K10s look awefully nice, and a lot smaller than a robur.
    The new ones have metal forks and a separate doser lid cover, like most other grinders on the market. However, I dont know if they have gotten it holding up less coffee in the exit chute yet. But thats getting sidetracked!

    Cheers,

    Luca



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