A Barista’s Review of the La Marzocco Linea Classic

To say the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine revolutionized the coffee industry is an understatement. Built with equipment designed to withstand heavy-duty use and with a sharp, eye-catching design, this iconic model has secured its spot as the go-to espresso machine for years to come.

But, does the La Marzocco Linea Classic meet the needs of your coffee shop?

The La Marzocco Linea Classic is a tried-and-true espresso machine that the specialty coffee industry relies on for quality, consistency, and value.

We spoke with Do Kim, owner of RaonJena Coffee & Dessert, and Konstantin Suvorov of Vera Coffee Solutions, about the Linea Classic’s features, maintenance schedule, and performance in high-volume cafés.

In this guide to the Linea espresso machine, we’ll show you:

  • What core features of the machine contribute to an effective barista workflow
  • The Linea Classic’s maintenance timeline (+ what common problems to keep an eye out for)
  • How the Linea Classic performs during high-volume rushes

By the end, you’ll know if this espresso machine is the right fit for your shop. 

La Marzocco Linea Classic: An Overview

La Marzocco launched the Linea espresso machine in the late ‘80s. The initial machine was built on the GS/2 platform and offered auto-volumetric options. Roughly 1,500 Linea units were made before the Linea Classic was introduced in 1993.

The machine rose to stardom in the ‘90s when Starbucks equipped their shops with La Marzocco Linea Classic espresso machines.

Designed with a similar appearance to its predecessor, the Linea Classic boasted a black frame and updated features such as:

  • PID temperature controller — The Linea Classic uses an algorithm to regulate the heating element inside the machine. This drastically reduces temperature variability and enhances drink consistency. Baristas can also use a keypad to program a specific brew boiler temperature.

  • Dual boiler — Baristas can pull espresso shots and steam milk at the same time, minimizing delays on the bar.

  • Insulated boilers — To reduce energy without detracting from thermal stability, La Marzocco has insulated both boilers inside the Linea Classic.

  • While the Linea Classic may not have as many technological upgrades as the newer Linea PB, the espresso machine still reigns as the gold standard for quality.

    Available Modifications 

    The Linea Classic can be modified to meet the needs of your coffee shop.

    Model Size

    Opt for a 1, 2, 3, or 4-group espresso machine.

    Functionality Configurations

    Choose from Semi-Automatic (EE), Standard Mechanical Paddle (MP), or Auto-Volumetric (AV) functionality. Single group machines are only available in Semi-Automatic or Auto-Volumetric.

  • Semi-Automatic (EE) — Baristas must manually start and stop each espresso shot to achieve the preferred amount of espresso.

  • Standard Mechanical Paddle (MP) — With this option, baristas control pre-infusion and pressure with the paddle as well as starting and stopping the shot. This is a more manual process but offers greater control over the end result.

  • Auto-Volumetric (AV) — Using this feature, baristas program the amount of time or volume they want the espresso shot to receive. The machine then automatically dispenses the desired amount of coffee. Linea Classic AVs 2, 3, and 4-group machines also come with the Cronos Keypad which includes a digital shot timer. 

  • Barista Lights

    Add LED lighting to your Linea Classic to help baristas focus on brewing espresso.

    Colors & Finishes

    Your espresso machine can also match your brand. Linea Classic machines are available in a specific color or finish on the RAL color system by request.

    Check out the latest prices for the La Marzocco Linea Classic (and learn more about wholesale discounts) here.

    Two Coffee Expert’s Thoughts on the Linea Classic

    Do and the team at RaonJena Coffee & Dessert in Glastonbury, CT have used a Linea Classic since opening their coffee shop in 2018. The shop has built a reputation for top-quality coffee and desserts and is in the process of building out a larger location.

    Konstantin owns Vera Coffee Solutions, a coffee equipment sales, maintenance, and repair company based in Bridgeport, CT. His company works with some of the top manufacturers in the coffee equipment industry including La Marzocco, Slayer, Faema, Mahlkonig, and Mazzer.

    We spoke with both coffee professionals about their experience with the Linea Classic.

    How do first-time baristas do on the machine?

    K: The Linea Classic is a workhorse behind the bar and it is beloved by baristas, so much so that many of the other La Marzocco models are based on the original Linea Classic design. It is a machine that many first-time baristas used early on in their career and everyone seems to love it.”

    How does the machine do with large rushes? Average day?

    D: The Linea Classic keeps an incredibly stable temperature and extraction, even during our typical rush time. This is why we chose this particular espresso machine.”

    K: “The Linea Classic AV allows for auto-volumetrics, this means that a barista can program the machine to dispense a specific water output for each shot. This special configuration adds an extra boost of efficiency to an already very fast and straightforward machine. The Linea Classic paired with a skilled barista or two should be able to handle some of the busiest rushes.”

    Are there any features of the Linea Classic that contribute to an effective workflow?

    D: The Linea Classic doesn’t offer many of the convenient features like auto-backflushing or auto-volumetric dosing compared to other espresso machines on the market these days.”

    K: “The Linea Classic does not come with shot timers or a display board. This makes these machines simpler and less prone to mechanical or electrical failures.

    How are the machine’s ergonomics for baristas?

    D:All the functions of this machine are very simple to understand and easy for baristas to use.”

    K: “The Linea Classic has been around for nearly 30 years and LM has subsequently added features to newer models to make these machines more ergonomic, most notably the KB90 pioneering the straight insert portafilters, but the Linea Classic still allows for an economy of movement and manual input for a machine that is as old as it is.”

    What should first-time users know about using this machine?

    D: “This machine is not ‘fancy.’ There is no function to control specific variables, other than starting and stopping the shot. However, you can make coffee with repeatable quality easily.”

    K: “There is a rocker switch on the right-hand side of the Linea Classic; this is a switch designed to engage the pump motor and manually fill the steam boiler. Occasionally baristas will overfill the boiler, by holding that switch down. My advice would be to not use that switch unless there was a reason you needed to fill your machine manually.”

    What is the standard maintenance timeline for the machine? How often are repairs required?

    D: “We do a backflush every day after finishing our daily routine. Other incidental maintenance is required to repair the machine when something goes wrong. Our machine has been in operation for four years and during that time we replaced the boiler safety valve once and gicleur three times.”

    K: “Maintenance schedules are often dependent on variables such as water quality, volume, and age of the machine, but generally we recommend getting machines serviced bi-annually or annually.

    The great benefit of having your machine routinely serviced is that it allows for issues to be identified before they escalate to a point where repairs would be required. If a machine is routinely cared for and maintained, then repairs are very rarely required.”

    What's it been like implementing repairs without a technician? Is this something the staff can do?

    D: “It was easy enough to replace the parts without a mechanic. However, coffee shops with no experience in managing espresso machine maintenance may find it difficult.”

    K: “There are certain issues that are mendable by staff, assuming they have a basic knowledge of how espresso machines should work. A good example of this would be changing out a grouphead gasket or a drain hose. 

    However, I would discourage any baristas from attempting to work on the hydraulic or electrical systems without having prior training from the manufacturer. Most of these machines operate at high temperatures, high pressure, and high voltage therefore for safety reasons these machines should always be worked on by a trained technician.”

    Can you describe some of the common problems you’ve experienced with this machine?

    K:The most pervasive problem in espresso machines is poor water quality. Espresso machines need to be fed with appropriately filtered water, otherwise issues such as scale buildup or corrosion can arise. Oftentimes if these issues aren’t caught early enough they can then lead to more serious issues that require more comprehensive repair.

    Testing your water quality and choosing an appropriate filtration system is paramount to espresso machine performance. Then having a schedule for changing out the filters is equally important.”

    In combination with a quality grinder, how does the espresso pulled and milk steamed from this machine compare to others you’ve used throughout your career? Do any specific machine features contribute to drink quality?

    D: “In my experience, the most important thing is good quality coffee and a grinder. I think espresso machines are devices that help us express the quality of a coffee and the Linea Classic is very strong and consistent in that respect. I have noticed that the steam function also feels stronger than other machines. Sometimes I’ll also adjust the temperature and pressure to make delicious espresso.”

    K: “With the implementation of a PID device and a rotary pump motor, this machine will allow for consistent temperature and pressure for extracting espresso. It is equally capable of producing fantastic espresso as any of the other La Marzocco models. The steam boiler system is also identical to what you’d find in any other La Marzocco model. 

    The differentiating factor for quality espresso is the human input and how well a barista can use this machine as a tool to extract coffee to its peak potential.

    Auto Volumetrics also helps minimize human error and improve drink consistency. From a barista’s perspective, it is very hard to stop shots manually while also abiding by a recipe throughout the day. AV or scale configurations should be used as a tool by baristas to improve efficiency and consistency.”

    Is there anything else that someone who’s considering buying this machine should know before they commit?

    D: “As I said earlier, this machine does not have the convenient technology or features that are popular in espresso machines these days. However, with the Linea Classic, you can make consistent coffee with fewer variables. And, the failure rate is very low.”

    K: The Linea Classic has time and time again proven to be a reliable and functional tool. It is an incredible investment that will bring joy and fantastic espresso for many years to come if it’s treated with care and love.”

    A Review of the La Marzocco Linea Classic

    Coffee shops that experience high-volume and frequent rushes will find that the Linea Classic fits their needs and is well worth the investment. Between the solid construction and effective features, your baristas will enjoy working with a reliable espresso machine.

    Let’s check out the pros and cons of the Linea Classic.



    • Dual boiler and PID controller provide reliable thermal stability for drink consistency
    • Steam wands are not double-walled or insulated
    • 30+-year history and reputation for quality manufacturing
    • Digital timer only available with AV configuration.
    • Choose between Semi-Automatic, Manual Paddle, and Auto-Volumetric functionality for preferred level of extraction control
    • Newer La Marzocco technology such as digital displays, auto-backflushing, and Auto Brew Ratio features not available
    • Simple and solid machine design equates to a reduced risk of mechanical or electrical failures.
    • Customize your machine’s color finishes, machine size, and functionality to meet the needs of your shop

    The reliable La Marzocco Linea Classic is ideal for coffee shop owners looking to invest in a machine that:

    • Boasts a simple design, quality equipment, and long lifespan
    • Pulls consistent espresso shots throughout a busy rush when paired with proper barista training and equipment
    • Retains its value long after the initial purchase

    Does the Linea Classic sound like it’s the espresso machine for you? Check it out and ask us about available wholesale discounts on your other espresso gear.