Siren call: Espresso Art Series #10. La Marzocco GS3 EMP

We all know the story of the Sirens… It goes like this:

In Homer’s Odyssey, Book XII, the Greek hero Odysseus and his crew, advised by the sorceress Circe were able to escape the danger of the Sirens call by blocking their ears with wax…

It’s a great story, but what if your eyes were the problem?

Too many years ago, I saw an early La Marzocco GS. I was entranced by its arachnoid appearance and I told myself that I’d own one someday. It never quite happened but I did own two GS3 machines and I loved both of them. Problem was that there were always things which irritated me about them. Top dollar machine with plastic sides? Manufacturer con. External fit and finish? Manufacturer con. Internal bits were great but the attention to detail? Manufacturer con. LM then sold hugely expensive glass sides so that you could see inside. Nope. I didn’t want to see it. You want to show it off, you need to detail it like the under bonnet of a custom car. Manufacturer con.

I played with some amazing zebrano timber sides per favour of Specht Design and later a brilliant lever steam mod: a collaboration from the minds of Specht and my buddy Rick, The Coffee Machinist, but ultimately it was time for it to move on and it did.

Later, LM released the more recent conical valve upgrade upgrade for the GS3 which promised pressure profiling. Sorta worked but was crude and for me the design story of a gauge sitting on top of the group cap? Manufacturer con: Parts bin machine with left over, redundant Strada MP bits. I always thought that the GS3 should have been a true, manual, gear pump driven machine, but nope. LM failed to deliver.

You might be thinking that LM has frustrated me at times and you’d be right. I love much of what Florence does, but in general, I haven’t enjoyed the Australian experience. That a whole ‘nother story and not for this blog…

But let’s wind the clock back a few years….

I have the incredible luxury of working in close proximity to the aforementioned Rick and we chatted about “our” GS3 many years ago. As it so often does, Rick’s grey matter did its stuff and lo and behold, a Frankenstein proof of concept bread board machine was born. This was essentially a bit of timber to which was attached an old Synesso group/boiler, a clever pump, a whole heap of smarts to make it work and it was all driven via a knob. More pressure to the right, less to the left. Bloody brilliant! It worked in the cup too…

Back to 2020…

Rick had always said he had his eyes peeled for a good LM GS3 MP and I spotted one. He grabbed somewhat of a bargain. Both businesses were busy and the machine sat on a shelf. COVID came and so did some time…One day, I popped by and the GS3 was off the shelf and on the bench.

“What are you planning for that”?

“You remember that bread board machine?

As always, it’s never simple, but the final product was destined to be- and has proven to be far, far better than your LM espresso dreams.

Rick had a vision and somehow everything miraculously fitted and that abundant grey matter plus a whole heap of hard yakka have made it work perfectly. Inside? Way, way better than OEM fit and finish. Watch and learn, La Marzocco.

I watched this machine come to life and I ultimately simply had to have it. It’s better than anything LM have ever made and the more you look, the more you will see. You’re going to fall in love. That’s the Siren call for you…

Herewith the first real pressure profiling GS3 ever (re)manufactured… La Marzocco GS3 EMP #1

Rick, I am absolutely awestruck.

The nitty gritty: What did it get?

To quote Rick directly:

“Culmination of an 8 month project and many longer term collaborations and thoughts, here’s my personal take on the stunning La Marzocco GS3.

I always wanted to combine the classic La Marzocco Paddle group with its smooth tactile feedback, with a modern variable pressure pump – the goal being full manual control to dial in flow rate, with the buttery smooth feeling of a well set up MP paddle.

This was achieved by retrofitting a variable speed rotary pump with 3 phase brushless DC motor and associated control gear, which was linked to a sensor so that paddle position regulates pump speed – drive by wire. It’s beautiful,  fun and intuitive to use – think fully manual Strada EP.

The exterior features signature Coffee Machinist parts,  finishes and colour palette for understated elegance in satin and brushed textures.

These include a customised display and keypad in brushed and blackened brass, grey anodised sides and steam lever with blackened brass accents, custom GS3 badge and name plate in blackened brass plus many other visual, tactile and operational refinements.

If you’d like to see the story of the internals, you can view it in Rick’s insta. Enjoy!

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