La Marzocco Strada EP coffee machine review

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This morning I woke up with good intentions. I had a look on my agenda at my article list and after scrolling down a bit, I stopped by the review section and focused on the title “La Marzocco Strada Ep review”.

Then I realised that it’s not an “easy” one as this machine requires deep knowledge before dealing with its technology. What does it involve? Let me clarify that.

la marzocco strada epIntroducing La Marzocco Strada EP

La Marzocco Strada EP (electronic paddle) is a game-changer as it works differently from any other espresso machines simply because it’s been designed differently. So, before explaining how the machine works, it needs to be done a step back and talk about pressure profiling.

Pressure profiling is whenever a pressure has been manually modified during extraction or set before, to alter its curve profile. Whatttt? Let’s make it simple.

Whenever we want to extract a shot of coffee we use a given pressure to force a certain amount of ground coffee to obtain a beverage that we call espresso.

Here’s the SCA definition of espresso: “Espresso is a 25–35ml (85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure…’

As you might now, almost every semi-automatic espresso machines keep the same pressure (around 9 bar) during all the extraction repeating the pretty much the same profile curve at every single shot. This is about semi-automatic espresso machines.

And then, there’s the manual espresso machine like the Strada Ep or La Marzocco Leva, which works with a pressure that is set by the barista. This means that the barista has the full control of the extraction process by previously setting a curve profile based on different pressures on the various stage of the extraction.

Now, let’s be honest: I’m not that confident with the Strada Ep as it takes ages before being able to control every single part of the process; there’s so much going on when you “divide” the shot into parts applying different pressures.” I’m also not sure that this kind of technology helps to achieve better extraction, or rather, an increased in TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) so tastier shots.

I just think that pressure profiling is still an experimental technology that needs to be improved before saying it can be introduced in a coffee shop because it’s making enough difference compared to any other commercial espresso machine. As Matt Perger says “it’s so confusing when you start to add different areas and pressure profiles. So, I don’t think that pressure is something that’s magical and there’s a magic spot, it’s more about manipulating flow rate”.

How does the machine work?

La Marzocco Strada EP manual has been patented with a gear pump system that has been made to deliver very precisely how you set your curve profile. This can be applied specifically to any group of the machine as each group comes with its pump.

It’s like being a deejay while recording a new track, you set different pressure profiles with endless possibilities by modifying the intensity and the time of the different pressure of every single part of the extraction. From the pre-infusion to the final part of the extraction process.

la-marzocco-strada-ep-two-groups
La Marzocco Strada EP – Two groups version

Main features of the La Marzocco Strada EP

La Marzocco Strada EP manual brings several features such as:

  • gear pump system: every single group is equipped with its gear pump. A gear pump ensures a constant pressure and it can be regulated by changing the pump motor speed;
  • pressure profiling: you can save up to 4 pressures profiles on each saturated group. Every group can run a profile without depending on the others and it can be settled with different temperatures as every group as its coffee boiler (with individual PID). Another separated boiler is dedicated only for the steamer to prevent any lack of pressure;
  • digital displays: there’s a display for every group with temperature, shot timers and pressures;
  • electronic paddle: La Marzocco Strada EP manual has no button or switch but electronic paddle that give you full-pressure profiling to extract the most out of the beans;
  • cool touch steam wand: as any versions of La Marzocco Strada there’s a long steam wand which is cold to the touch and it can be moved in multiple directions.

La Marzocco Strad EP comes in one, two or three groups. The capacity of the steam boiler is 3,5 8,2 and 11,8, respectively while the capacity of the coffee boiler is 1,3 litres for each machine.

The two groups machine is for sale from £17,000 while the three groups one is for sale from £20,000.

Final thoughts

As far as I’m concerned, this machine has changed the way we have always think about extracting espressos with a commercial espresso machine. We already know that a machine works at 9 bars keeping the pressure constant for all the extraction process.

But what about experimenting with turbulence, contact time and different flow rate? We could slow or make our shot faster by changing the turbulence on the pre-infusion stage affecting the final result on the cup or by increasing or lowering the pressure and taste several different curve profiles. Does this seem like gambling?

Or perhaps it’s just sound awesome and it can lead to new paths? I would say it can be both but it depends on how skilled you are.

I think La Marzocco Strada EP is a machine that is not ready to be introduced in a coffee shop, albeit extremely important to keep alive and play with.
I remain confident, that one day, the difference in taste between this machine and any other will worth the investment.

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