Bringing commercial-style equipment into a home kitchen has been the natural result of American’s renewed fascination with food and, most especially, the reverence of chefs. If you see enough gas-powered stoves on TV, you’ll get to hankering for one. Overpowered blenders, stand mixers, salamander broilers, and even sous vide machines are no longer unusual in hobbyist cooks’ kitchens. Professional-grade, single-group espresso machines that can fit on a kitchen countertop have been around for years, but La Marzocco is making a play for the consumer-with-cash-to-burn market by launching La Marzocco Home today.
Back in 2007, La Marzocco entered the home market with its GS/3, a stunning machine that’s essentially a Strada with a built-in reservoir. During a chat with Scott Callendar last week that was part of La Marzocco’s media blitz, the director of the new division said the company had never really developed a retail strategy for the machine, which meant that unless you were a devoted home espresso fanatic you likely never ran into the GS/3. The website aims to fix that. The site is fully consumer oriented and it’s a luxurious thing to look at.
Which it should be because, make no mistake, the GS/3 is a luxury product. Even for high-end home machines, which run around two grand, the GS/3 is expensive. The baseline model costs $6,900. When Callendar took me through the customization interface on the site (I chose a white machine with walnut side panels and highlights, which was not a good combo: go stainless steel) the price popped over $8,000. La Marzocco is in the same category as Leica, Le Creuset, whatever your fantasy car is, and other prestige products priced well above their competitors.
When I ask, a bit dubiously, how many people out there will buy such a rarified machine, Callendar didn’t obfuscate. “It’s a small number, this is definitely a niche product,” he said, but he argued that with the continued growth of specialty coffee there are people out there who want a machine like this. And he’s probably right about that. If you’re willing to spend, on a regular basis, more than $20 on twelve ounces of beans and you enjoy espresso you’re probably a person who wants a great machine. As more and more coffee drinkers reach that level, La Marzocco expects them to at least wish for a GS/3.
—Cory Eldridge is Fresh Cup’s editor. He doesn’t have enough counter space for a GS/3.