The E61 grouphead design has been on the market and an integral part of home and commercial espresso for a long time, after all it debuted more than 50 years ago! I was thinking to myself, for such an old technology, it still seems to be dominant, at least in the home espresso market till today but what if the E61 grouphead is not your thing. What if you need a grouphead that’s not just passively heated or what if the exposed grouphead design is not for you, or what if turning a lever up and down is not your favorite thing (volumetric dosing anyone?). What are the options out there for someone who’s willing to spend north of $2000 on a Heat Exchange or a Dual Boiler machine? I currently have a Nuova Simonelli Musica and one of the reason I asked myself these questions is because I’m not crazy about the E61 groupheads and I was wondering what my next upgrade will be If I decide to upgrade my machine by this Christmas. Surprisingly, there aren’t too many options out there for someone like me!
for this post, I have decided to look at 3 of the top home espresso gear dealers and list the machines they have that meet the following criteria:
- Costing $2000 and up
- Use a grouphead technology other than an E61 grouphead.
The dealers are: Seattle Coffee Gear, Whole Latte Love and Chris Coffee. Please keep in mind that I’m excluding machines that have built-in grinders as I’m assuming people upgrading from their existing machines are serious enough about their espresso that they have a separate grinder with steeples adjustments.
The machines I found are:
La Spaziale S1 Dream T ($2100) – Chris Coffee
La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II ($2200) – Whole Latte Love and Chris Coffee
La Spaziale S1 Dream ($2300) – Chris Coffee
La Cimbali Junior Casa DT1 ($3000) – Chris Coffee
Nuova Simonelli Musica ($2200 – $3500) – Seattle Coffee Gear
La Marzocco Linea Mini ($4500) – Seattle Coffee Gear and Chris Coffee
La Marzocco GS3 ($7100 – $7500) – Seattle Coffee Gear, Whole Latte Love and Chris Coffee
Slayer 1 Group ($8500) – Seattle Coffee Gear and Chris Coffee
Unfortunately, the list is extremely short and the options are very limited, especially compared to the number of available machines with the E61 grouphead. Also, all these options are limited in some shape or form, except when you step up to the GS3 and the Slayer.
La Spaziale machines use a 53mm portafilter and have spotty reliability records. La Cimbali is not popular in the home espresso market in the US so support, parts, etc. will be difficult to come by and expensive once the warranty has expired. The Musica is a great machine but frankly I prefer a dual boiler so I can have maximum control over temperature. Also, the Musica is extremely overpriced (see my post here about the things I don’t like about the Musica). This leaves the Linea Mini, GS3 and the Slayer, all of them are more than $4000!
I’m hoping that more grouphead designs find their way into new machines in the future, as they become cheaper and readily available.