Tracey is a freelance photographer and marketer dedicated to working with responsible brands celebrating the unity of functionality, responsibility and purpose. She is also the co-founder of Lagom, an online editorial focused on empowering people to invest in themselves and their environment so that together we cultivate change towards a fair and habitable world.
I was approached by La Marzocco late last year as an owner of a Linea Mini to share my experience with La Marzocco’s wireless technology. And as such, this article is not sponsored, and all opinions are my own. I still think the Linea Mini is one of the most wonderful things my partner and I own. It is our morning routine. I do believe that we need to be responsible, to act with intent when it comes to making purchases, but it is also not our sole responsibility. I think some brands are more conscious and responsible for wanting to minimise their impact. For me, the responsibility of design — how something is produced, it’s longevity determines how’ sustainable’ that product is. I don’t own a lot of things, people think minimalism is for the privileged, but it is, I think for anyone. It’s an out for those no longer willing to participate in a consumerist society. We all need to slow down.
la marzocco linea mini morning coffee rituals
Awaken by 6:30 AM, or if I am feeling ambitious 5:30 AM when everything is quiet, mornings are spent with my boyfriend in the studio. Coffee is the ritual that brings us together each morning, and we make it for each other. I love espresso. For me it is a health move, science says so. As with all things, coffee’s benefits come with buying quality and consuming with balance. And drinking coffee with dairy milk cancels out any of the health benefits — my boyfriend alternates between espresso and oat milk flat whites. This is slow coffee, and we make time for usually three of these a day.
the la marzocco linea mini is an investment
I never found takeaway to be an enjoyable coffee experience. It was late 2017 that my boyfriend and I decided to invest in a La Marzocco Linea Mini, not even an espresso machine — a La Marzocco. The Linea Mini is handmade with the same components used in La Marzocco’s commercial Linea Classic which ensures the same quality and durability of which the brand is synonymous. The Linea Classic is the machine that launched the specialty coffee movement of the early 1990s. In 1939, it was La Marzocco that developed and patented the first coffee machine with a horizontal boiler, now the industry standard. And still today, La Marzocco is an artisan company. People are making these machines by hand in Italy.
Unfortunately today, a society moulded around capitalism, conditioned to expect things to cost so little, challenging this mentality is considered niche and alternative. If we are honest, you cannot buy an espresso machine for a few hundred dollars and those pod coffee machines — they’ll tell you how you can recycle their packaging because they’re very aware of just how much waste they’re putting out into the world. We need to demand quality from everywhere and everything; the people we surround ourselves with, the products we buy. Planned obsolescence is real.
Redefining upgrade. La Marzocco’s wireless technology
When La Marzocco New Zealand contacted me with the opportunity to trial a wireless retrofit, the idea of adding value to the Linea Mini — of which I already love very much aligned with my ethos. La Marzocco had been quietly adding the necessary hardware into its latest production runs. So much like Patagonia’s ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ La Marzocco don’t want you to buy a new machine — they will be offering a retrofit kit for Linea Mini and GS3 owners. Wireless upgrades are available for both Linea Mini, and GS3 machines and this technology upgrade allows you to: Remotely turn the machine on or off\
Also with energy conservation in mind, often our phones are closer to us and so if you forget to turn your machine off at night or during the day if you already left for work you can do this remotely via the app.
Creation of an on/off schedule Ideal for saving energy, you can place your machine on standby.
My partner and I have a schedule set to turn the machine on at 5 AM, so the Linea Mini is sufficiently heated for those early mornings.
Coffee brewed and machine flushing counter
This is more for extending the useful life of your machine. I have had mine serviced twice, daily maintenance and more specifically backflushing is vital. Coffee oils are acidic — the group head and seals will be the worst affected, deteriorating the metal and blocking water flow. That and residual coffee grinds and oils will produce a bitter espresso. So yes, I’m definitely flushing the machine more.
Enabling and setting pre-brewing on/off times
Once Dave from La Marzocco explained pre-infusion to me, I turned pre-infusion on. I felt like I had been making espresso wrong all this time. Pre-infusion refers to the process of gently soaking the ground coffee in your portafilter before extraction. With pre-infusion, water evenly penetrates the grounds to ensure that the entire bed has the same amount of water flowing through it throughout extraction. And in theory, you should have fewer instances of channelling — where water finds a path of low resistance and flows through it, avoiding nearby grounds. Uneven tamping will do this too. You’ll end up with an uneven extraction and an inferior espresso. Pre-infusion has unlevelled the ritual.
Boiler temperature status and control
After speaking with Kōkako’s head roaster, Sam McTavish I now have a better understanding of how brewing temperature can impact flavour profile. Adjusting the temperature allows you to either accentuate flavour profiles or correct for less desirable characteristics. If your coffee has a sharp acidity you could, for example, increase your Linea Mini’s temperature, which would produce a lower acidity espresso. My machine is currently set at 94℃. I’ll be trialling temperatures between 90℃ and 93℃ as per Sam’s recommendations. Let’s see which produces an even better espresso.
We all need to consume less
We also need to consume higher quality. People need to realise that hidden behind a low price tag are incredibly high social and environmental costs that we will feel for generations to come. Until this self-actualisation occurs, industries, people will continue to profit from the ignorance and shallow ‘needs’ of everyday people at the expense of everything else. There is a wonderful book written by an Australian economist Richard Dennis — Curing Affluenza. An underlying theme, materialism versus consumerism. It means investing in clothing that you’ll wear for the next ten years versus ten weeks, or an espresso machine with a lifetime warranty versus a year.
That said not everyone has the desire or financial means to invest in a Linea Mini — these machines retail for around NZD5,700 and that’s fine. We don’t own a car. Before purchasing the Linea Mini, my boyfriend and I would use our 6 Cup Chemex. I still use it today, and it is as beautiful as it is functional. And there are many other options for making great coffee at home — a Clever Dripper or Moccamaster are both excellent options.
Perhaps for many, coffee at home is either instant or some unsatisfactory plunger. Making better coffee at home, so much of it comes down to the quality of your beans and how you brew it. One of the most amazing coffees I had made for me was from a client in her home, from a Moka Pot. My boyfriend and I both work on freelance projects in marketing/website development/and photography. And we’re working mostly from home so it’s so important to not have work dominate everything we do. That said, it’s not coffee-coffee-coffee all the time — it’s an opportunity to slow down. With all aspects of our life, intentional consumption is something we practice. Focus on quality. The quality of attention you give to others, to your goals — and to your purchases.