More and more people are adding espresso machines to their home kitchens.
There are many reasons for this trend. But perhaps the most important reasons are that it can save you money from not having to go to pricey coffee shops and you can get your drink right at home.
How do you choose which espresso machine to get, though? The La Marzocco Linea Mini and Breville Barista Express are two examples of great home models.
If you’re not sure which one to buy, we’ll compare them here for you.
We’ll shed some light on the following:
- Things the Linea Mini and Barista Express have in common
- What’s different between these espresso machines
- Information on their cost
- What factors to think about before you buy one
La Marzocco Linea Mini
You’re getting a high-end home model when you choose the Linea Mini. Due to its jaw-droppingly huge 3.5-liter steam boiler, this is the one for you if you want to make drinks fast and often.
Breville Barista Express
The Barista Express is a sort of all-in-one machine with its built-in grinder and tamper. On top of that, it’s remarkably affordable, making it a great choice for novices in search of a starter espresso machine.
Hot Water Dispensing
Do you like when an appliance can be used for more than one purpose?
If that sounds like you, you’ll love the hot water outlets included with the Linea Mini and Barista Express. Hot water is absolutely necessary for a classic Americano, so if that’s your favorite drink, you’ll be able to make it with either of these machines.
But the hot water outlets can be used for so much more than just Americanos. You can pull hot water for hot chocolate, tea, or even instant oatmeal.
That means these espresso machines serve more than just one use – they could potentially become an indispensable appliance in any kitchen.
Single Group Machines
The Linea Mini and the Barista Express each have a single group on them.
Generally, the more groups a machine has, the faster it is. That’s because the group is what dispenses the espresso, and if you have more groups, you can dispense more espresso at once.
However, single-group machines like the Linea Mini and Barista Express are the best choice for those just beginning in their espresso journey.
Brewing on multiple groups at once means you either need to have someone else working at the machine, or you need to divide your attention. But since these models only have one group, you’ll only need to pay attention to a single group at any given time.
The result is a drink that you’ve had time to focus on. You’ll have more time to sharpen your skills this way, and every single beverage will be as good as you can make it.
Pour-Over Water Reservoirs
Pour-over water reservoirs are used in both these espresso machines.
What exactly does that mean for you? It actually has a huge influence on day-to-day use.
Put briefly, it means that you’ll need to pour water in by hand when the tank runs low. You’ll need to pay attention to the water levels to make sure your espresso machine doesn’t run dry and damage itself.
Although this may seem like a hassle initially, keep in mind that it does grant you the ultimate level of mobility. Since they don’t need to be hooked up to a water line, the Linea Mini and Barista Express can be used pretty much anywhere you can plug them in and pour water into their tanks.
Do you want to make espresso at home that’s as good as what you’d get from a barista?
Then one of the things you’ll want is pre-infusion, which is used by both the Linea Mini and Barista Express. Pre-infusion smooths out any uneven parts in your grounds by gently settling them with a stream of water prior to extraction.
Later on, when the extraction occurs, it’s much more balanced and the water is able to reach every single coffee particle. What you’ll get in the end is an absolutely indulgent espresso time after time.
Cup Warming Shelves
Have you ever wondered why baristas sometimes put hot water into a cup before they actually pour in the drink?
The reason is that it helps keep your hot drinks warm for as long as possible. If you pour a hot drink into an ice-cold cup, it will cool down much more quickly.
You can pour hot water into your cups yourself, or you can use the cup warmers right on top of the Linea Mini or Barista Express. Simply put your mugs on the cup warmers, and they’ll be pre-heated for you.
On top of heating your cups, these warmers double as storage space for them, freeing up space elsewhere.
Dual Boiler vs Thermocoil Boiler
The boiler is as important to an espresso machine as a battery is to a cellphone. Like how a phone couldn’t function without a battery, your espresso machine wouldn’t work without its boiler.
Since they’re so critical, it’s important to look into the boiler of espresso machines you’re interested in to determine how you’ll use the machine every day.
The Breville Barista Express has a thermocoil boiler. It’s an energy-efficient boiler, but because it is a single-boiler system, it’s not capable of frothing milk and brewing espresso at the same time.
If you’re using a machine with one boiler like this, we’d recommend steaming your milk first. That way, your espresso won’t become bitter while it waits for the milk foam.
In contrast, the Linea Mini has a dual boiler design. It uses one boiler for steaming and one for brewing, so you can perform both these functions at the same time.
If you made drinks on both these machines at once, you’d notice that the Linea Mini is significantly faster because of its two boilers.
Espresso drinks made with milk, including the ever popular lattes and cappuccinos, need a strong steaming system.
In a side-by-side comparison, this is something the Linea Mini would clearly shine in. It has an entire 3.5-liter boiler dedicated to steaming.
Because of this, you’d find that it packs more steam power than the Barista Express, and can therefore steam more quickly and longer. If you’re going to make a lot of milk-based drinks, this kind of steam power is a must-have.
One thing you’ll notice instantly when comparing these machines is how they look.
The Barista Express has a polished stainless steel countenance with smooth, rounded corners that give it a graceful feel. Buttons dotting the control panel lend it a modern air.
Comparatively, the Linea Mini simply looks timeless. With slimming side panels that slant inward and a paddle at the top, it has a classic and minimalist aesthetic.
Because you can make adjustments to the temperature on either the Linea Mini or Barista Express, you’ll be able to experiment with flavor profiles on each machine.
However, the way you tweak the temperature is different here.
The Linea Mini has a stepped adjustment wheel on the left side of its face. Some prefer using this wheel, because using a digital PID temperature controller can sometimes be difficult.
With the Barista Express, you’ll get an electronic PID temperature controller. Once you adjust the temperature to your liking, the PID will help stabilize the machine thermally so you won’t need to worry about temperature fluctuations.
Breville Barista Express Built-In Grinder
One way to get even better tasting espresso is to grind the beans yourself right before brewing.
The problem is, buying a separate grinder can take tons of additional research. It’s also another investment on top of purchasing an espresso machine.
So what’s the solution? A bean-to-cup espresso machine like the Barista Express.
The Barista Express comes with a built-in conical burr grinder, so you can grind your favorite blends yourself moments before brewing. This makes the maximum level of freshness achievable on the same machine you brew and steam with.
La Marzocco Linea Mini Barista Lights
Dim settings aren’t an issue for the La Marzocco Linea Mini.
With lights built in right next to the group, you can use the machine safely at any time of day.
Aside from the increased safety provided by a well-lit workspace, though, you’ll be able to keep a closer eye on your espresso shots. You’ll see instantly if there are any visual issues with the quality, so you can make whatever adjustments are necessary.
Breville Barista Express Integrated Tamper
While both these machines come with tampers, only the Barista Express has a tamper that can be stored in the machine.
Storing the tamper with the machine can prevent it from getting lost, and let you keep everything you need in one place. You can even use the tamper attached to the machine if that’s more comfortable for you.
You’ll also get a metal tamper with the Linea Mini. However, it isn’t built into the machine like the one on the Barista Express.
La Marzocco Linea Mini Integrated Group
You’ll want your temperatures to be as stable as possible when making espresso because an untimely fluctuation can lower the quality of your drinks.
This is why the Linea Mini has its integrated brew group. The brew boiler is attached right to the group, so the water doesn’t need to go far to soak the grounds, reducing the risk for heat loss.
With this design, you can rest assured that each espresso will be as good as the last.
La Marzocco Linea Mini Brew Paddle
As opposed to buttons, like on the Barista Express, the Linea Mini has a brew paddle.
You’ll have the final say on when brewing starts and stops by moving the paddle left or right. But beyond control, the paddle adds something timeless in appearance to the Linea Mini.
If you’re a fan of vintage aesthetics, then you’ll love this machine.
Which one should you buy?
In short, either the Linea Mini or the Express would be a good match for homes. So when it comes to buying one over the other, you should consider a combination of your own personal preferences, your ideal price range, and how you plan to use it the most.
Those on a budget looking for a machine that combines everything they need for grinding, tamping, brewing, and steaming will find a solid partner in the Breville Barista Express.
It’s worth noting that it cannot brew and steam at the same time, however, so it will be a little slower than the Linea Mini. Thus, if speed is your priority, consider the Linea Mini because of its remarkable steam boiler.
Its dual boiler system will also allow the Linea Mini to withstand rigorous use. Home users who are searching for a machine that can endure extended periods of brewing and steaming will get a lot of mileage out of it.
Here’s our advice:
The La Marzocco model will be a solid pick for espresso lovers at home that need a machine that can keep up with high demands and perform under pressure.
But novices with tight budgets will find that the Breville Barista Express is a great starter option.
We don't carry either of these espresso machines in the Majesty Coffee store, but you can take a look at the La Spaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi II for an excellent alternative. As the name implies, it's small, and it has a powerful dual boiler system that will help you speedily prepare your favorite drinks.
Additionally, you can view our complete La Marzocco collection if you would like to see what else the brand has to offer.