By JON SHADEL
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Espresso machines by La Marzocco, a leading Italian maker of commercial coffee gear, have long graced the countertops of some of the finest coffee shops in the world. But now the company hopes to place consumer espresso machines in homes across the United States. For the first time in the company’s history, it is selling directly to consumers with the launch of the La Marzocco Home website and online store. However, as one might expect, this high-end espresso experience comes with a high-end price tag.
The website, which goes live today, sells equipment and coffee supplies directly to consumers as well as offering resources for espresso enthusiasts to learn more about coffee and barista techniques. But the most compelling part of this story is not the launch of a website. Instead, La Marzocco’s entry into the consumer coffee market shows they believe consumer interest in specialty coffee will translate to interest in specialty coffee gear.
The company has spent the last 87 years working solely with a commercial clientele. With today’s launch of their consumer facing website, however, they hope to deliver the same specialty-café experience with a kitchen counter-friendly footprint. The website sells the GS3, a professional-grade espresso machine with the same standard features of a commercial machine.
While the GS3 has been available for several years from commercial retailers, this is the first time that La Marzocco is selling the respected machine directly to consumers. And the company offers a highly customizable experience: With a few clicks, anyone can customize a coffee machine with extra features and special design elements (including matte black body panels, wood accents, and glass side panels). The experience feels like customizing a premium sports car. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that this premium machine comes with a premium price tag.
With the base model of the GS3 starting at $6,900, the price is similar to a low-end commercial machine, and several thousand dollars more than most other high-end consumer machines already on the market. At this price point, La Marzocco gambles on demand from a high-end market interested in specialty coffee. And they’re offering a full online retail experience appealing to those who have fallen in love with the daily ritual of making espresso.
œFor some people, the coffee-making experience is simply pushing a button and drinking whatever comes out of the machine, says Scott Callender, director of the consumer division of the company. œLa Marzocco Home is for people who demand higher quality. And the price point certainly makes clear they are targeting an elite, quality-conscious audience of espresso enthusiasts. But the creation of the GS3 also stems from the company’s decades-long desire to expand beyond the commercial market.
œIn 1979, when my business partners and I first met La Marzocco’s founders, Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi, we dreamed of having a professional-quality espresso machine at home because there were very few places to even find espresso beverages in the U.S., explains Kent Bakke, CEO of La Marzocco International. œThe GS3 is the culmination of that dream, and La Marzocco Home provides all of the tools and resources needed to bring the ritual of home espresso to life.
La Marzocco doesn’t skimp on the details of commercial machines, and the consumer devices are no different. The home website offers a treasure trove of interactive resources for coffee enthusiasts and includes a full line of products for those with a deep love for espresso. Just be sure to bring some deep pockets along.
Jon Shadel is a Portland-based writer and lover of fine coffees. He writes for Oregon Business and Oregon Home magazines. He’s also the founder of Rusty Bike Media, a storytelling agency helping startups, lifestyle brands and nonprofits engage their target audience. With years of experience as a barista, he loves coffee culture and is often found furiously typing in a cozy cafe.
I was excited when I heard La Marzocco was starting a direct-to-consumer site, but was decidedly disappointed when I realized the GS3 was the only machine being offered. I was hopeful they were, perhaps, launching a new product that would be a little more downmarket than the GS3. One of these days…!