Everyone’s morning ritual is sacred. Whether you’re a morning person or not, what you do in the morning matters. You might sleep in, go for a run, check Instagram — whatever. But for coffee people, the ritual of brewing a morning cup is more than just a routine, it’s a passion. I would self-identify as a “coffee person” and waking up to make a cappuccino is one of the best parts of my day.
Over the past few years, that ritual has been enabled by my Breville Barista Touch, and it’s been serviceable — quality espresso, easy to maintain, all-in-one machine, what’s not to love? But the more I use the machine, the deeper I fall into the espresso rabbit hole of WDT, RDT, extraction times, flow profiling and the like. I consume hours of content from YouTube coffee virtuosos like James Hoffmann and Lance Hedrick. I pull a shot and then pull one again, repeating until it is as close to dialed in as I can get it. And make no mistake, the Breville Barista Touch makes a damn fine shot of espresso.
I find myself wondering, though, what a more advanced espresso machine can offer. To explore my prosumer itch, for the past few weeks I’ve been testing La Marzocco’s new Linea Micra which launched in November of last year. It’s the smallest La Marzocco espresso machine in the lineup, and also the most affordable. Does the espresso quality and workflow justify the nearly $3,000 delta between my Barista Touch and the Linea Micra and improve my morning ritual for the better?
What's Good About the La Marzocco Linea Micra
Commercial build quality and La Marzocco's expertise
Right out of the box, the Linea Micra is hefty. While it’s not quite as robust as some of La Marzocco’s multi-group commercial-grade machines, it’s easy to see why the brand has built such a reputation for quality. The panels fit together nicely; there’s no rattling or loose bits while moving the machine around or fitting and removing the portafilter. The decades of experience in espresso machines also shine through in small details like the feet, which have suction cups on the bottoms to prevent the machine from shifting around on your counter.
Small footprint, sleek design
The Linea Micra, as its name implies, is quite small at just 12” x 12” x 15”. The Breville Barista Touch by comparison is 12.5" x 12.7" x 16". Of course, with the Linea Micra you need to factor in space for a grinder as well, but it's clear the La Marzocco team had small spaces in mind when designing the machine. If you’re really crunched for space, you can always go with a hand grinder from the likes of 1Zpresso, which will give you great results while freeing up counter space.
The best part of the Linea Micra’s design is undoubtedly the aesthetics. Its appearance is lifted directly from La Marzocco’s other commercial machines like the Linea Mini, Linea PB and Linea Classic S. It’s a retro-yet-modern look that fits well in any space. It even comes in seven colorways including crowd-pleasing black, white and polished stainless steel versions.
Powerful brew and steam pressure from dual boilers
The Linea Micra’s dual boilers allow you to steam and brew at the same time, though my shot-pulling workflow was nowhere near dialed enough to put that to the test. In terms of brew power, I did notice that with the same coffee and dose, I could grind far finer when brewing with the Linea Micra versus my Barista Touch. The Micra’s gauge displayed just over nine bars of pressure when brewing during my testing, and while the Barista Touch claims to brew at nine bars of pressure, I suspect that this isn’t always the case (there’s no gauge to know for sure).
The steam power is also remarkable on the Linea Micra when compared to the Breville. Café-quality steam is right there at the turn of a dial. The “ThermoJet” on-demand hot water design of the Breville can’t quite compare in the steam department.
It offers app connectivity
I’ll admit, when I first heard that the Linea Micra had app connectivity to change settings and monitor its status, I thought for certain that I’d have this in the “What’s Not So Great” section down below. But I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the app build and the settings that can be changed.
You can change the boiler temperature to fine-tune for lighter vs darker roasts, adjust the steam pressure, automatically set the machine to standby after a certain amount of time since the last coffee was brewed and can even adjust pre-brewing, where a small amount of water is added to the brew chamber to softly wet the puck before your desired static pressure is reached (which can reduce the chances of channeling in your puck). It’s all a bit nerdy, but it’s a nice interface overall.
My only concern here is long-term update support for the app and machine firmware. The machine has the build quality to last a lifetime, so one would hope that the term planned obsolescence isn’t in the La Marzocco vernacular.
What's Not Ideal About the La Marzocco Linea Micra
It's still expensive
No matter how you slice it, the La Marzocco Linea Micra is still expensive. But it’s far more affordable when compared to the previous entry machine in the La Marzocco line, the Linea Mini. The Mini is priced at $5,900, a full $2,000 more than the Micra.
That said, it’s still more expensive than other dual-boiler machines like the Profitec Pro 700 ($2,979), Lelit Bianca V3 ($3,200) or Rocket Espresso R58 Cinquantotto ($3,300) as well. And of course, it’s much more expensive than my Breville Barista Touch ($1,099) with its built-in grinder (you’ll need to buy a grinder separately with the Linea Micra and that’s an entirely different conversation for another time). You’ll need to determine whether the La Marzocco is worth the extra coin from your perspective, but it’s hard to argue with the classic good looks and dependability of the Linea Micra.
It takes a while to heat up
If you’re switching over from a thermoblock-style machine akin to the Barista Touch which delivers hot water essentially on demand, it’s a bit of a recalibration to need to wait for the machine to heat up. The enthusiast consensus on the Linea Micra is that you should wait about 20 minutes after turning on the machine for it to fully heat up. I had great results in about half that, but if you’re after a quick cup, you should likely look elsewhere.
The water tank isn't all that large
While the 2-liter tank on the Linea Micra is the same as my Barista Touch, I did find myself needing to refill the tank more often. I assume this is due to the dual boilers of the Linea Micra, and a fair bit of water being converted to steam. If I owned the machine, I would probably plumb it into my water line and not deal with refilling the reservoir. You can also plumb the drip tray to the main drain for convenience.
The included filter baskets are arguably too small
The accessory kit that’s included in the Linea Micra package leaves little to be desired (though there are a few pain points and things that I would upgrade). The included portafilter features a new design that allows you to use it either spouted or naked by snapping on or off an adapter which is a nice touch. I only used it as a naked portafilter as it’s what I prefer, but I could see it being useful if you’re often making two single-shot drinks at a time. The included tamper is also high quality, though my uncalibrated hands prefer the consistency of using something like Normcore’s Spring-Loaded tamper or the Force Tamper to make sure my tamping force is the exact same every time.
The biggest downfall of the kit though is that it doesn’t include a 20g portafilter basket. The included basket sizes are 14g and 17g, and while that might work for some folks, I prefer a 20g dose when pouring espresso. It’s an easy fix by picking up a VST or IMS 20g basket, but something you’ll need to factor in if you’re like me and prefer the larger dose size.
There's no flow control
While I didn’t find this to be a particular issue while making use of the pre-brewing feature in the La Marzocco Home app, it’s worth noting that the Linea Micra does not have traditional flow control like you might find in the Profitec Pro 700, Lelit Bianca V3 or La Marzocco’s much more expensive GS3 MP ($7,900).
That said, if you don’t see yourself manually dialing in the pre-brewing pressure once starting your shot and then ramping up your brew pressure toward the middle before tapering off at the end, all by turning a paddle on top of the brew head, then you probably don’t need to worry about flow control and flow profiling anyway. Personally, I’m not deep enough down the rabbit hole to worry about flow profiling, so I didn’t find this to be an issue.
La Marzocco Linea Micra: The Verdict
So, is the La Marzocco Linea Micra the prosumer upgrade I was looking for? Unequivocally, yes. It allows me to do things that my Breville simply can’t, and the only real sacrifice I’m making in terms of convenience is the start-up time.
It’s as close as I’ve gotten to café-quality espresso at home, and as a bonus, it even looks like the machines you find in high-end cafés. That said, it’s not for everyone. You have to be willing to make the trip down the rabbit hole and weigh your doses, fine-tune your grind settings and play around with your brewing techniques. Like anything else, espresso is a hobby and in the same way that you might step up from a Seiko to a Tudor in the world of watches, the Linea Micra is an enthusiast’s pick for upgrading a Breville espresso machine.