La Marzocco Linea: The making of a classic
How the Linea helped shape the speciality coffee market as we know it today....
WELCOMING AN ICON
We are excited to be integrating the LaMarzocco Linea Classic into the Matthew Algie Espresso machine range this month. You can find out more on our website and from your Coffee Sales Manager.
In the meantime, we asked the team at LaMarzocco to tell you a bit more about the background of the Linea and how it came to be so iconic within our industry...
1. INTRODUCING THE LINEA CLASSIC
Espresso has been consumed for over 100 years and during that time, amazing innovations into the world of coffee and espresso machine manufacturing have been made. All of this has helped to improve the quality of the final cup and showcases all the passion and talents of those who have been a part of the journey; from farmer to barista.
In order to highlight all the amazing potential of the coffee, quality equipment is essential. As such, The La Marzocco “Linea Classic” has played a vital role in supporting the specialty coffee community, mainly because of the love it has garnered since its inception, and still receives to this day.
Over time, the Linea Classic has earned many different nicknames: the workhorse of the coffee community; an icon of coffee; a classic which will never go out of style. But above all, the Linea Classic has shaped - and is still shaping - the specialty coffee community into how we know it today.
It’s responsible for the sense of community and camaraderie that we associate with coffee – from meeting our friends for a quick catch-up over a delicious cup of coffee or having a friendly chat with our local baristas. For these reasons, the Linea Classic holds a special place in many people’s hearts.
2. LAMARZOCCO THROUGH THE AGES
Founded in 1927 by brothers Bruno and Giuseppe Bambi in Florence, Italy, La Marzocco was born from a love of innovation, design, and quality. Over the years, the company would earn a reputation for creating beautifully crafted espresso machines with exquisite attention to detail – both technically and aesthetically.
Their mission statement has always been about championing excellence in coffee through the manufacturing of the finest world-class specialty coffee equipment while encompassing people, heritage, technology, and design. This is always at the forefront of the design process for all their machines. La Marzocco thrives on building relationships that enrich the lives of others, and the support from the coffee community allows the company to continue to do so.
La Marzocco has seen a multitude of milestones and innovations over its 90 years of experience, including the creation of the first horizontal boiler espresso machine, The “Marus”, in 1939. This was just one in a long series of innovations that would set the standards for the rest of the industry to follow, but also to continue to inspire La Marzocco to push its own self further.
In 1970 the “GS” was born; the first machine to have a saturated group – a continuous brewing system with a group head welded directly to each coffee boiler. This was a revolution that meant that there was a higher degree of temperature stability as the water was heated directly above the coffee bed and wasn’t losing heat as it travelled through the machine. A vital piece of technology that is now also a permanent feature of all La Marzocco machines.
In 1987, a young man named Howard Schulz buys Starbucks, then a roasting company, and begins to focus on retail expansion after being inspired by the Italian coffee culture during a trip to Italy. By the 1990s, the US is hooked on coffee, in particular milk-heavy based coffees. When Starbucks grew to five coffee locations, Kent Bakke, former CEO of La Marzocco and now Board Chair and Advisor, was asked to repair one of their coffee machines at the same time as he was looking to distribute La Marzocco machines to the American market.
Whilst waiting for parts to arrive, Bakke lent Starbucks a La Marzocco “GS-2”. Starbucks baristas instantly fell in love with the GS-2 and Starbucks began working with La Marzocco exclusively to supply their coffee shops. It was this collaboration between Starbucks and La Marzocco which led to the creation of Linea Classic, designed in its entirety by Piero Bambi, (son of founder Giuseppe) who sadly passed away in 2020 but was the engineer, designer, and chief artisan who personally oversaw the development of La Marzocco and the machines it produced.
The partnership with Starbucks ended in 2005 as it geared towards more automatic espresso machines, however it helped cement the Linea Classic as one of La Marzocco’s most iconic machines.
By the end of the 1990s, we began to see the third wave of coffee fanatics arise, paying more attention to the journey from crop to cup. Following this, a new breed of coffee roasters and cafes emerged, inspired by the story of coffee, the journey it goes on, and the possibilities that each cup holds. These “indie” roasters began elevating coffee to great culinary heights. They communicated a level of experience, expertise and commitment to the craft of coffee, with the Linea Classic proving to be the perfect catalyst to do so. Thus the Linea Classic became a symbol of the Third Wave coffee movement and the specialty coffee movements that followed.
Son and nephew of the company founders, the legendary Piero Bambi, passed away this year at the age of 86. Right to the end, Piero spent almost every day at the factory in Florence.
3. A COMMUNITY MACHINE
The different features of the Linea Classic, from the dual boilers to the saturated groups, gave baristas full control over the coffee they wanted to create at a time when they were becoming more aware of the different flavour notes that could be highlighted from varying coffees; showcasing the uniqueness of different countries of origin, coffee varieties and processing methods.
This allowed the sense of community within specialty coffee as there was a shared passion that ran throughout all encompassed within it. As communities and personal relationships flourished, we see the growth of Barista Competitions, Community Cupping Events and Latte Art Throwdowns, in which baristas get together and find new and exciting ways in which coffee can be created and used and collectively enjoyed.
Since it was created in the early 1990s, the Linea Classic incites a sense of community wherever it goes. It can be seen in coffee houses and cafes across the globe and as such built a reputation for being the machine that was built for the community and continues to support it today. It represents a level of quality and knowledge, signalling the spaces it is used in as beacons of the continuing speciality coffee movement, from high street eateries to independent neighbourhood coffee shops.
La Marzocco is A keen supporter of coffee events, big and small, and believe that making speciality coffee accessible to everyone and building on the sense of community is exactly what coffee represents – people meeting and connecting over a delicious cup of coffee. The Linea Classic continues to be an enabler in making this possible and is still one of the most popular machines produced by the Italian Artisans, still handmade in Florence today.
La Marzocco strives to provide an unprecedented community presence within the coffee industry. Their two UK showrooms, in London and Leeds, are hubs of creativity and connection for those looking for barista training, cupping sessions, product launches and tech support. For all their progress and success, La Marzocco continues to show that human connection is vital and is easily brought about by those all-important conversations sparked around the Linea Classic and those who have fallen in love with it.
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