06 May 2024

An in-depth review of the exquisite La Marzocco GB5 S: mastering the art of fine coffee making

An in-depth review of the exquisite La Marzocco GB5 S: mastering the art of fine coffee making

Step into the world of fine coffee making with the La Marzocco GB5 S, a machine that's been changing the game in coffee shops across the globe. This modernized model, expertly infused with Luminaire electronics and an eye-catching touch of red, has raised the bar with its redesigned features and premium materials - a testament to its legendary designer, Piero Bambi. As we delve deeper into this review, you will learn just how this machine's unique features, like its dual PIDs, ruby flow restrictors, and proprietary La Marzocco electronics, work in harmony to deliver a consistent shot of espresso that will leave a memorable mark on your taste buds.

The most important features of the La Marzocco GB5 S

Let's explore this coffee marvel's key features which makes the GB5 S an exceptional coffee brewing machine. From its innovative design to its precision engineering, each aspect of this machine contributes to an amazing espresso experience.

Size, design, and iconic accents
The GB5 S seamlessly blends timeless elegance with modern aesthetics. Its redesigned front panels and iconic red lilies pay homage to La Marzocco's rich Florentine heritage, transforming it from a mere espresso machine into a symbol of exquisite craftsmanship. Bold red accents adorn the buttons and branding, adding a touch of sophistication to its design. Additionally, the inclusion of dimmable barista lights allows for customizable ambiance, ensuring your focus remains on perfecting each extraction and presentation.

Precision with saturated groups
Equipped with saturated groups, the GB5 S guarantees thermal stability and precise temperature control with every espresso shot. This ensures consistent extraction, allowing you to deliver shots that are rich, aromatic, and bursting with flavor. Available in multiple configurations, you can choose between 2, 3, or 4 groups, tailoring the machine to suit your specific needs and volume requirements.

Dual PID
The separate PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) temperature controllers allow baristas to tweak the water and steam temperatures separately, providing ultimate control over the brewing process and resulting in excellently balanced espresso.

Dual boiler
Experience optimal temperature stability with dual boilers, allowing seamless simultaneous brewing and steaming. Reduce energy consumption with insulated boilers while contributing to temperature stability. The innovative Piero group caps (designed by Piero Bambi) and saturated groups ensure unsurpassed thermal stability for consistent shots.

The boiler for the coffee group heads is a single one. If you would like to have independent boilers for each group head, we advise you to have a look at the La Marzocco GB5 X. It has a lot of the same features as the GB5 S, but some of them were upgraded.

Optional Pro Touch steam wand
The machine comes with a normal steam wand that makes perfectly good, velvety milk foam, but you will have to watch out not to scald your hands by touching it while steaming milk, or after.

Luckily the GB5 S also has the option of the Pro Touch steam wand or a vacuum-insulated, double-walled steam wand. This wand keeps the heat inside which is vital for the smooth operation and milk texturing. No need to worry about burns either, because the double-wall design ensures only a warm touch to the barista's hands.

Luminaire electronics
Modernization has touched every aspect of the GB5 S. The Luminaire electronics offer an advanced touch pad, allowing precision control over brewing parameters. This feature exemplifies the careful fusion of tradition and innovation in the realm of coffee brewing.

Piero group caps and ruby flow restrictors
Piero Group Caps and Ruby Flow Restrictors work alongside each other to ensure temperature stability. The consistency of temperature prevents fluctuations during brewing to give you nothing but the finest espresso shot. These distinct features provide that consistent pleasurable taste, sip after sip.

Dimmable barista lights
The barista lights in GB5 S are dimmable, allowing for a convenient adjustment according to the ambience or user preference. Now, your workspace lighting will never interfere in making the perfect shot of espresso.

Water sensor
La Marzocco has integrated the first-ever water sensor in this machine. This feature helps to ensure the perfect balance between water and coffee ground for every shot. Thus, a perfect espresso is always within your grasp. This is done by measuring the conductivity and hardness of water as it enters the machine and allows you this way to monitor water quality and verify filtration performance. No need for additional testing tools!

Durability and longevity
Known for its robustness and durability, a GB5 S is a worthy investment. With proper care, this machine is known to run smoothly for a very long time, consistently delivering barista-quality espressos.

Control Over Boiler Temperature and Brewing Volume
An espresso made to your perfection needs precise control. The GB5 S offers just that, giving you control over the boiler temperature, brewing volume, hot water tap dose, and automatic cleaning cycles. Now, customizing your espresso is as simple as a touch of a button.

The GB5 S comes in a Semi-Automatic (EE) version, Automatic-Volumetric (AV) version and an auto brew-ratio (ABR) version. 

The EE feature refers to its ability to operate in semi-automatic mode. In this mode, the barista has manual control over the duration of the espresso shot.

The AV feature allows baristas to program the amount of time or volume an espresso shot receives. The machine automatically dispenses the desired amount of coffee.

The Auto-Volumetric with Scales (ABR) uses La Marzocco’s patented Auto Brew Ratio technology and scales built-in to the drip tray. Using this feature, baristas can brew each espresso shot by mass, volume, or brew ratio (for example, a 1:2 ratio with 19g of coffee in and 38g of liquid espresso out.)

Pros and cons

Pros of La Marzocco GB5 S: 

  • The inclusion of saturated groups enhances temperature stabilization, enabling the espresso machine to maintain an even temperature throughout the brewing process. This feature eliminates unexpected fluctuation that could possibly spoil the taste of your espresso.
  • As a benefit of the improved temperature consistency, the brewed coffee boasts of a uniform quality and flavor. This ensures that every sip from every brew delivers a reliable and indulgent coffee experience.

Pros of La Marzocco GB5 S: 

  • While the inclusion of saturated groups largely benefits the brewing process, it does contribute to a more complex machine design. This could potentially lead to higher maintenance needs and technical difficulties for users who lack familiarity with advanced espresso machines.
  • More features often come with a higher price tag. Therefore, the complex design of La Marzocco GB5 S may make it less affordable for small-scale coffee shops.

    The difference between La Marzocco GB5 S and La Marzocco GB5 X

    The La Marzocco GB5 S and GB5 X may share a common lineage, but their distinct features set them apart. This character touches every detail from functionality to the aesthetic appeal. So, what sets them apart? Let's have a look.

    The most significant difference lies in design. The GB5 S boasts a more elegant design, showcasing a sleek casing with red accents that's inimitably modern. On the contrary, the GB5 X has a more retro appeal, featuring metallic hues and a minimalist aesthetic.

    When it comes to technical aspects, differences become more nuanced. The GB5 S features Luminaire electronics, an enhanced system offering comprehensive control, and easier management from the barista’s side. The GB5 X, however, incorporates the standard La Marzocco electronics. While still robust and reliable, it may not offer the same degree of advanced control as the GB5 S does.

    Another exclusive feature of the GB5 S is the introduction of the water sensor. This innovative addition ensures the utmost precision and consistency in brewing, every time. In contrast, the GB5 X is not equipped with the same water sensor technology.

    Yes, the La Marzocco GB5 S does feature saturated groups. This key feature contributes significantly to the machine's exquisite temperature-stabilizing abilities, ensuring that each and every shot of espresso brewed showcases a consistent quality and tantalizing flavor profile beloved by coffee connoisseurs.

    However, the boiler for the coffee group heads is a single one. If you would like to have independent boilers for each group head, then the La Marzocco GB5 X might be what you're looking for.

    Fundamentally, both the GB5 S and GB5 X uphold the La Marzocco legacy, but they do so with varying degrees of sophistication and intricacies. Either way, both guarantee an exceptional coffee experience and are an exquisite expression of La Marzocco’s constant pursuit of perfection in coffee brewing.

    Maintenance and longevity

    Maintenance and longevity - that's where the GB5 S really outshines. The unique combination of superior European design and advanced La Marzocco electronics enables this espresso machine to provide a robust performance over the years. This hardy machine holds the fort with a strong resilience to frequent usage, keeping up with your love for consistent, high-quality espresso.

    The machine's design enables easy maintenance. Automatic cleaning cycles ensure that the machine remains in tip-top condition with minimal effort on your part. Moreover, the high-temperature stability, coupled with saturated groups, dual PIDs, and ruby flow restrictors, ensures that the machine does not endure unnecessary strain during the brewing process. These design considerations enhance longevity, allowing the machine to maintain optimal performance even after years of regular use.

    With the GB5 S, you're not just investing in an espresso machine. You're investing in a promise of enduring quality. Whether you're a professional barista or a coffee enthusiast, rest assured that the La Marzocco GB5 S is a purchase that would stand the test of time, providing delightful coffee experiences day after day, year after year.

    1. Daily Cleaning:

      • Wipe down the exterior of the machine with a damp cloth to remove any spills or residue.
      • Flush the group heads with water to remove any coffee grounds or oils.
      • Clean the steam wand with a damp cloth and purge steam to remove any milk residue.

    2. Weekly Maintenance:

      • Remove and clean the portafilters, screens, and baskets with a brush and detergent.
      • Backflush the machine with a cleaning solution to remove any buildup in the group heads and valves.
      • Check and clean the water reservoir and refill as needed.

    3. Monthly Maintenance:

      • Descale the machine to remove mineral buildup in the boilers and plumbing system.
      • Inspect and replace any worn gaskets, seals, or o-rings to prevent leaks and ensure proper sealing.
      • Lubricate moving parts such as hinges and levers to prevent rust and corrosion.

    4. Professional Servicing:

      • Schedule regular maintenance checks with a certified technician to inspect internal components and address any issues.
      • Keep records of maintenance and servicing for reference and warranty purposes.

    With these insightful cleaning techniques, you can effortlessly keep your La Marzocco GB5 S in the best condition, ensuring its performance remains consistent and uncompromised. This way your machine will have a longer life expectancy!

    What we at OR think about the GB5 S

    Here at OR Coffee Roasters, we are absolutely thrilled with the performance of the La Marzocco GB5 S. It's not just an espresso machine, but a crucial part of daily operations that set the pace for delivering delicious, well-crafted coffee to customers.

    The modernized design with those striking red accents adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to your coffee counter, making the GB5 S not just a tool, but an aesthetic centerpiece. We love the Luminaire electronics functionality that makes operating the machine a truly gratifying experience. As well as the water sensor, it elevates the attention to detail to even higher levels, letting you stay in full control of the brewing process.

    But where the GB5 S really shines for us is in its impeccable brewing consistency. Thanks to sophisticated features like the saturated groups, dual PIDs and ruby flow restrictors, every shot we pull has the perfect balance of flavors, warmth, and texture. The GB5 S ensures every customer has the same incredible coffee experience, time after time.

    The icing on the cake? The ease of maintenance and in-house repairs, truly makes this machine a coffee roaster's dream. With the assurance of ongoing support from La Marzocco, you can be confident of keeping the GB5 S in prime condition, extending its longevity and protecting your investment.

    So, for us at OR Coffee Roasters, the conclusion is clear. The La Marzocco GB5 S is an invaluable ally in the quest for coffee excellence, and we wholeheartedly recommend it to any serious coffee lover and professional barista.

      Final thoughts on the GB5 S

      Quite simply, the La Marzocco GB5 S advances the narrative of coffee making into a breathtaking new chapter. The precision, sophistication, and versatility it brings to the table ensures that you craft not just a cup of coffee, but a truly mesmerizing experience. As you delve deeper into the art of coffee making, this machine becomes less of a tool and more of a comrade, always ready to bring your innovative espresso concepts into delightful reality.

      The journey of coffee from bean to cup is complex and richly nuanced, and the GB5 S respects every step of this journey. It faithfully extracts the perfect symphony of flavors from each coffee type, enhancing their individual qualities while weaving them seamlessly together into a well-rounded, harmonious whole. This extraordinary machine definitely stands out as your perfect partner.

      In conclusion, the La Marzocco GB5 S is more than a machine. It's an invitation to elevate your coffee routine, to delve into the original essence of each coffee bean, to engage all your senses in the coffee making process and above all, to discover and redefine your own concept of what a perfect cup of coffee should taste like.