La Marzocco GS3 Review: Should You Get the AV or the MP?
Buying La Marzocco GS3 is a big commitment. Not only is it a huge financial decision, but the espresso is dangerously good. So before you drain your bank account and risk caffeine addiction, make sure you know what you’re getting into!
Our La Marzocco GS3 review will help you decide if the GS3 belongs in your kitchen, and whether the MP or AV model is right for you.
Summary: La Marzocco GS3 Review
- Saturated group for brew temperature stability
- Flow-rate profiling capability with the MP model
- Cafe-quality milk frothing with the Performance Touch steam wand
State-of-the-art technology at home that is not only easy to use but capable of delivering excellent espresso EVERY time.– Jay Millar, customer
A Full La Marzocco GS3 Review
La Marzocco home espresso machines have a well-deserved reputation for quality and consistency. You can find them in coffee shops, cafes and homes all around the world.
Let’s do a deep dive into the GS3’s details to see how it measures up.
Brewing Capacity – 4.5/5
The home barista should expect a lot from the GS 3.
And guess what? At this price, it delivers.
In fact, people often chose it for light-duty commercial use because it can pull consecutive shots with exceptional speed and consistency. Before you drop the big bucks, definitely consider whether you need this level of capacity at home.
The GS 3 uses a saturated brew group instead of the E61 groups you’ll see on most prosumer espresso machines. Compared with the E61, saturated groups provide better brew temperature stability and consistent pre-infusion and extraction (1).
The GS 3 is a dual boiler espresso machine with stainless steel boilers and it is even the best double boiler espresso machine we’ve tried. The 50-ounce brew boiler uses a PID, controlled by a digital display, to ensure boiler temperature consistency, and the sizeable 118-ounce steam boiler produces impressive pressure.
The high-end rotary vane pump at the heart of the machine, combined with an upgraded vibration-damping design, makes the GS3 exceptionally quiet, even with the Linea Mini. This pump is compatible with direct plumbing if you’d instead not make use of the 85-ounce water reservoir.
User Friendliness – 4/5
This is a perfect place to discuss the two models of the GS 3, the Auto Volumetric (AV) and the Manual Paddle (MP). The former offers more manual control, while the latter is easier to use.
- The AV, which costs a few hundred dollars less, is a fully automatic espresso machine. There are four programmable buttons for different extractions, and the pre-infusion is pre-programmed. It’s simple to get reliably great espresso, but you miss out on one of this machine’s best features, flow rate profiling (2).
- In the MP, you control the puck’s water flow with the paddle via a conical valve inside the grouphead. You can adjust the flow rate during pre-infusion and extraction to optimize your espresso. The brand’s only other espresso machine with this feature is the top-of-the-line La Marzocco Strada MP. The Linea Mini’s paddle, in contrast, is a simple on/off switch.
Playing with flow profiling is what true espresso enthusiasts love about the MP model, but it takes skill to master and can be difficult to replicate consistently.
This is espresso as art, not science.
Milk Frothing – 4.5/5
The milk frothing on the GS 3 is fantastic. The large boiler generates a ton of steam pressure, rivaling the Linea commercial espresso machine. If you don’t have a professional barista background, it will take some practice to work quickly and smoothly enough. But it’s worth the effort; the silky microfoam is stunning.
New to the latest model is the Performance Touch steam wand, which combines the comfort and safety of a no-burn wand with a pro wand’s performance. Older no-burn wands had a Teflon insert, but now double-wall steel is used to keep your steam hotter and drier.
It’s always touching metal, so your steam is much drier. You’re getting better microfoam with this double-wall steel cool-touch wand.
You use a rather awkwardly positioned joystick to control the pressure when you steam milk. Sure, this is uncommon. Most prosumer espresso machines, including the Linea Mini, use a knob to adjust pressure.
The hot water wand is a bit stiff but otherwise fantastic. You can easily tweak the temperature for the perfect tea or Americano.
Build Quality – 5/5
If you like to spend more money on products that last longer, La Marzocco’s a brand you can get behind. Their machines are known for being workhorses, and this one is no exception.
Yes, it’s expensive, but its price directly reflects its commercial-grade components.
Maintain it properly, and it will last decades.
It can run in half-power mode or a 20 A full-power mode as befitting a commercial-rated machine. At full power, you’ll get rapid steam boiler recovery, great for consecutive lattes. But you’ll probably want to assign its outlet.
The gorgeous design is highly customizable, so it’s easy to pair with your existing decor. The base model is sleek stainless steel, but you can change the body and sides’ color and/or add classy wood accents. I think the black body with walnut accents is incredibly drool-worthy!
It’s a bit wider than many prosumer machines but surprisingly compact in height, so it doesn’t look out of place in a small kitchen. The MP model, which includes a brew pressure gauge on the group head, is about 3 inches taller.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
Day-to-day cleaning and maintenance of the GS 3 are the same as for any home espresso machine.
The primary consideration with the GS3 MP is managing water because if you’re playing with flow profiling, the valve diverts excess flow directly into the drip tray. So the tank will empty, and the tray will fill faster than you expect. Luckily, the tray on this machine is massive, so spills are still rare. Or plumb your GS 3 MP to your water line, set up the drainage kit, and be worry free!
Regardless of plumbing, always use filtered brew water.
Your espresso machine will stay healthy and happy, and (bonus!) your espresso will taste better (3).
It’s easy for less routine service to remove the side panels to access the interior of the machine, and because these machines have been around for so long, there are plenty of experienced technicians. That said, it remains easier to find both parts and expertise for the E61 groups.
Don’t Buy the GS 3 If….
You’re not interested in flow profiling: You could buy the AV model. But if you prefer a semi-automatic espresso machine, you can save a big chunk of change by opting for the equally well-made Linea Mini. Here’s our La Marzocco Linea Mini review.
You’re on a tight budget: If you want to play with flow profiling but can’t afford the brand name, you can get a less expensive dual-boiler like the ECM Synchronika and add a flow profiling modification for a few hundred bucks.
You have limited space: If counter space is at a premium, the Rocket Appartamento is one of the most compact prosumer machines on the market that still offers fantastic espresso and impeccable style.
The La Marzocco GS 3 is a beautiful addition to any home, provided it fits your budget.
- If you’re interested in flow profiling and espresso as an art form, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the MP model.
- If you’re more science-minded and looking for a delicious shot that you can quickly reproduce every time, the AV model is for you.
- Joseph, H. (2019, December 10). Longtime Espresso Pro Michael Teahan on Pre-Infusion, the Problem with SO, and Much More. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/12/10/longtime-espresso-pro-michael-teahan-on-pre-infusion-the-problem-with-so-and-much-more/
- Grant, T. (2020, July 29). How Flow Profiling Impacts Espresso Extraction. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/07/how-flow-profiling-impacts-espresso-coffee-extraction/
- Spindler, C. (2018, August 30). A Beginner’s Guide to Commercial Water Filtration. Retrieved from https://prima-coffee.com/learn/article/coffee-basics/a-beginners-guide-commercial-water-filtration/33235