La Marzocco GS3 Manual vs Automatic

Are you wondering what the difference between the La Marzocco GS3 and Automatic is?

We’ll clear up any confusion you have. In this guide, we’ll be comparing the La Marzocco GS3 Manual vs Automatic.

Along the way, you’ll find out:

  • The shared qualities the GS3 Manual and Automatic have
  • What the main differences between them are
  • Information regarding the prices of these machines
  • What factors to consider in determining which is better for you

Quick Summary

La Marzocco GS3 Manual

La Marzocco GS3 Manual


This model is perfect for those aiming to hone their craft and exercise the ultimate control over each espresso. Its mechanical paddles are exactly what you’re looking for if what you want is to make artisan drinks with a hand-crafted feel.

La Marzocco GS3 Volumetric (Automatic)

La Marzocco GS3 Volumetric (Automatic)


The GS3 Volumetric was designed to streamline the brewing process. Invest in this machine if you need something that’s easy to learn, or want to ensure that each drink is as good as the last.


Dual Boilers

Your boiler is essentially the center of your espresso machine. Because of this, the boiler design is crucial to daily use.

As an illustration, a single-boiler system uses only one boiler to both brew espresso and froth milk. Because there’s only one boiler, it can’t steam and brew at the same time.

Instead of using one boiler, these La Marzocco machines use two. One boiler holds the steaming water and the other holds the brewing water.

Due to this design, they are quite capable of brewing and steaming simultaneously. Making beverages is a lot faster on either the GS3 Manual or Automatic.

Boiler Capacity

Aside from the number of boilers, how much the boilers can hold is also important. That’s because a bigger boiler generally equals more power.

The boilers on both the machines have the same capacity: 1.5 liters in the coffee boiler, and 3.5 liters in the steam boiler.

Such a capacity is rather substantial, and you’ll find that you can make drink after drink without having to stop to allow breaks.

Cool Touch Steam Wands

In most coffee shops, experienced baristas have been burned by a blazing hot steam wand at least once before.

For this reason, the GS3 Manual and Automatic were built with insulated steam wands. The steam wands remain cool to the touch, no matter how prolonged the use.

An apparent benefit to this is the increased workplace safety. You or your employees can operate the espresso machine in complete comfort throughout the day.

But there’s one extra advantage to cool touch steam wands: faster cleaning. This is because milk doesn’t burn onto the ends of the wands, so you don’t need to spend as much time scrubbing milk off them.


Taking note of the dimensions of an espresso machine before buying it is always a good idea. Doing so ensures your investment is a fitting one, and that you’ll have room for your purchase.

Just like many of their features, the GS3 Manual and Automatic are very similar in their size.

The Manual is 17.50 inches high, 16 inches wide, and 21 inches deep. In comparison, the Automatic is 15 inches high, 16 inches wide, and 21 inches deep.

They’re both fairly small-sized, so then if you can fit one in your home or establishment, you can likely fit the other.

Stainless Steel Casing

Stainless Steel Casing tip

Stainless steel casing on the Manual and Automatic versions of the GS3 serves two purposes:

First, it’s good-looking. The metal exteriors of the machines are clean in appearance, shining on your counter tops.

Second, it increases your machine’s durability. The stainless steel works to protect the parts inside each espresso machine, so you can be sure your investment will be long-lasting.

At the end of the day, you can be certain you’ll be able to create espresso in style for a long time.

Versatile Direct-Connect or Pour-Over Configurations

Even in the same homes and businesses, your needs for your espresso machine may change.

In a way, the GS3 Manual and Automatic can grow as your circumstances change. If you need to be able to move your machine around, you can use it in its pour-over configuration.

As a pour-over machine, you’ll need to pour water in yourself when it runs low.

Although this can be inconvenient if you have a high volume of espresso you need to make, it can be ideal for businesses on the move, like caterers. It also can work better in homes that aren’t able to plumb in their espresso machine.

But if you’ve got to make lines of espresso orders, you can convert either one of these models to direct-connect. When they’re used as direct-connect, the Manual and Automatic will add water to their tanks by themselves.

This flexibility to go back and forth between direct-connect and pour-over means they’re perfect for an even wider variety of situations.

NSF Certification

NSF Certification tip

Certifications from trusted agencies like the National Sanitation Foundation can guarantee the quality of your investment in an espresso machine.

Both the GS3 Manual and Automatic carry certifications from the NSF. While you won’t necessarily need this certification to make tasty espresso, its value as peace of mind is priceless.

These certifications signal to both you and health inspectors that your espresso machine has received a seal of approval from a well-known organization.


Automatic or Manual Paddle

Automatic or Manual Paddle tip

The greatest difference between these GS3 models is their basic operation.

The Manual uses mechanical paddles to control the brew cycle. You begin and end brewing by moving the paddle above the group backward or forward.

This takes a little more skill, because you need to know when to stop brewing at the right time. Otherwise, you could end up with espresso that’s been over-extracted.

But once you’ve learned its use, the Manual will give you the maximum amount of control over each shot. That’s preferable for talented baristas, as it allows them to showcase their abilities or customize drinks.

Alternatively, the Automatic uses buttons to start and stop brewing. Plus, as a volumetric machine, it will use pre-programmed settings to end the brewing cycle for you once you’ve started it.

As a result, the Automatic is more forgiving to beginners. It does, however, mean you will have a little less control over the duration of the brew cycle.

La Marzocco GS3 Manual Periscope Manometer

The second difference between the Manual and Automatic is the Manual’s Periscope Manometer.

Right above the group head, you’ll find a gauge that lets you monitor the brew pressure. Pressure is crucial to brewing, as you generally need at least nine bars to optimally make espresso.

This manometer will signify to you when the machine is ready to brew. Additionally, you can use the manometer as a maintenance indicator, as you’ll be able to look at it to determine if your espresso machine isn’t reaching the correct pressure frequently.

Which one is better for you?

Since there’s only a couple differences between the GS3 Manual and Automatic, your decision will only need to focus on those differences and how they apply to you.

For example, you can think about your or your employees’ skill level. If you’ll have to train new hires commonly, you’ll want an espresso machine that’s easier to use, like the GS3 Automatic.

The GS3 Automatic will also be more applicable if you want a machine that makes consistent espresso time after time. Since the duration of the extraction doesn’t depend on the barista, your flavors will be unwavering in quality.

But if you want more flexibility and control, or you want to be able to customize drinks more easily, you’ll prefer the GS3 Manual. It’s also a great choice for talented baristas who want to display their prowess.

The bottom line is:

Get the GS3 Automatic if your employees will often be inexperienced, or you need a machine that will make the same espresso every single time.

Choose the GS3 Manual if you want more control over the drink-making process, or you want to improve your barista skills.

As we do not have either of these La Marzocco machines in our store, you will need to check availability through other sellers online. However, we do have some great alternatives to them below. You can also check out the collection of La Marzocco machines we do have as potential alternatives.

We'd recommend the La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II as an alternative to the GS3 Automatic. It has a powerful dual boiler design and easy-to-use volumetric dosing that will allow you to produce consistent shots.

If the GS3 Manual is more your speed, think about the Rocket Appartamento. It also has beautiful stainless steel casing and a more flexible semiautomatic design that gives you total control over the duration of the brew cycle.


Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.