Single lever coffee maker duel: Prima E1 vs GS3 vs Bianca

One lever and two boilers. Small but professional espresso machines

I've assembled a stellar trio of selected espresso machines for this comparison from these particular espresso machines:

  1. Victoria Arduino's Eagle One Prima espresso machine
  2. GS3 coffee machine from La Marzocco
  3. Bianca coffee machine by Lelit

They are all Italian-made and each attracts you from the first glance with its unique charisma. Simply, coffee machines that every good espresso lover desires.

The decision to compare the Prima with the GS3, after the Prima vs Linea Mini review, offered itself. I have complemented these two beautiful machines with the coffee machine you adore the most in our range - the Lelit Bianca.

La Marzocco GS3. The name that baristas hear

It's only a few years ago that job postings for baristas sounded something like this: "We are looking for a skilled barista to join our cafe. We offer work with a selection of coffees and La Marzocco coffee machine". In those days, La Marzocco was like the Ferrari of the coffee machine world.

I'm talking about La Marzocco a brand that predetermines the quality of its machines. I'm going to focus now on a specific product, or coffee machine for the discerning home barista and small business. This is their GS/3.

The main advantages of the GS/3:

  • PID controlled stainless steel boilers.
  • Saturated coffee machine head
  • Preheated water from the mains water supply
  • Change all parameters conveniently in the menu on the digital display
  • Hot water "economizer" for tea (mixing with cold water)
  • All stainless steel construction, hood, sides are black plastic
  • Automatic "back-flush" cleaning program
  • "Cool Touch" steam nozzle with lever switch
  • Boilers are thermally insulated
  • Rotary pump

Victoria Arduino E1 Prima. Coffee maker of champions in a small

Let me introduce our most compact coffee machine from the famous "eagle" series of Victoria Arduino. These Italian manufacturers of coffee machines with the eagle in their emblem have brought to the barista world mainly commercial coffee machines with masterful technology and almost artistic appearance.

After the multi-cup models popular in coffee shops (especially those with heavy traffic) such as the White Eagle and Black Eagle, the Eagle One came to light in 2019. A year later its compact version, the Eagle One Prima.

The main advantages of the Eagle One Prima:

  • PID system controlled stainless steel boilers.
  • Saturated coffee machine head
  • Preheated water from the mains water supply
  • Change all parameters conveniently via mobile app
  • All-stainless steel construction, hood, rear LED backlight
  • Automatic rinsing of the coffee head
  • Automatic back-flush cleaning programme
  • "Cool Touch" steam nozzle with paddle switch
  • Boilers are thermally insulated
  • Rotary pump

Lelit Bianca. The star of coffee-loving households

Further proof of Italian skill in the manufacture of espresso machines. Representatives of this "stable" are some of the most common home lever coffee machines. That is to say, in those households where they welcome quality coffee and need a more affordable coffee machine.

From some 14,000 to 60,000 crowns. In this range they offer their maximum practical and minimalist coffee machines. Everyone can find their Lelit according to their budget. However, to compare coffee machines in the premium class, I choose Lelitthe model with the highest equipment, the Bianca.

The main advantages of the Bianca:

  • PID-controlled stainless steel boilers.
  • E61 coffee machine head
  • All-stainless steel construction, hood, wooden handles
  • Paddle control for extraction pressure
  • "Cool Touch" steam nozzle with rotary valve
  • Rotary pump

Prima vs GS3

The first motivation for this article was a comparison: E1Prima vs GS/3. So I'll get right into it.

These coffee makers are so similar. First of all, when you compare the basic specifications described above. At the same time, they are different in appearance and use. But under the hood, you'll find a fundamental technical difference.

The fully saturated head of the GS3

La Marzocco has a very sophisticated design solution to maintain thermal stability. As you know, you need to maintain the set water temperature for extracting espresso.

Otherwise, the coffee in the cup will lose points for quality and flavor through failed preparation. A premium coffee maker is supposed to take care of the stability of the watertemperature, from the boiler to the cup.

That's why the GS3 has a fully saturated coffeehead. It'sdirectly connected to the boiler, it's actually an extension of the boiler. Since the water is in the boiler until it comes into contact with the coffee, temperature stability is guaranteed.

A drawing of the interior of the La Marzocco GS3 with fully saturated head. Image source:

GS3: boiler capacity

Giant with 3.5 l capacity. This is the size of the boiler under the hood of the GS3. This boiler is primarily used to prepare steam for the coffee maker nozzle.

Its size thus directly and proportionally indicates the possibilities of whipping milk. These are virtually inexhaustible in a La Marzocco coffee machine.

The second boiler at espresso then has a capacity of 1.5 litres. An appropriate size when you consider that it also forms the inside of the brewing head.

Appearance and use of the GS3 coffee machine

Major differences:

  • Buttons and display - the GS3 has smaller square-shaped buttons below the digital display. On the one hand, you can program the volumetrics in this way for several options (espresso, doppio,...) and you can set up the coffee machine in this way even without the mobile app. But if you're a fan of button minimalism like me, they'll seem like an unnecessary element.
  • Steam nozzle control - the curved antenna or steam nozzle that protrudes significantly into the space is controlled by a traditional lever. At this point I was perhaps most puzzled as to why they came up with it this way? Maybe the habit of whipping milk using the top switches is to blame. Anyway, even after a few cappuccinos, it just didn't fit with my "workflow".
  • Design and style - La Marzocco just sticks to the classic look. The coffee maker evokes the mood of the 70′s. In fact, it kind of fits it given its technical aspect as a sturdy "old school" coffee maker.

NEO System E1 Prima

To ensure temperature stability, Victoria Arduino went a different route. Their idea is NEO power with so-called Instant heating technology. Well, a classic commercial saturated head (actually semi-saturated, i.e. with internal circulation).

The introduction of New Engine Optimization means that the coffee maker will not heat water in unnecessarily large boilers, but will catch, by extra fast heating, always the necessary amount of water to make coffee.

This system of Eagle One coffee machines has a23% lower environmental impact than using coffee machines of a similar category. All this with perfect water temperature stability.

NEO system for instant water heating in the E1 Prima coffee machine. Source.

Prima: boiler volume

The capacity data of the Prima coffee machine's boilers will now seem small when compared, but for normal use they are more than sufficient.

Thesteam boiler has a capacity of 1.4 litres. If you're not going to make a litre of tea and 6 "lattes" in one minute, you'll have no shortage of steam and hot water.

For espresso, you'll be fine with 0.15 litres. It may seem small in numbers, but remember that boiler size is related to the innovative NEO technology mentioned above.

Appearance and use of the E1

Key differences:

  • Buttons and display - Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. The "Ghost" display really appeals to me. It doesn't intrude when you don't need it. As soon as you press the button, it shows the exact readings. Beautifully legible even without glasses. Three buttons underneath make direct control as easy as possible.
  • Steam nozzle control - I really love their "paddle" switches. I've worked on coffee makers with both levers and rotary knobs, but this solution is the most convenient for me. Plus, the paddle controls for the hot water nozzle can be programmed and used for precise water dispensing for lungo or tea, for example.
  • Design and style - The Eagle One Prima benefits from not following the traditional model of years past. On the contrary, it is a brand new version of the coffee machine. So it is created in an elegantly modern style. The LED backlighting and the simple visual of the eagle as a modern Victoria Arduino logo match each of the colour palettes in which the Prima coffee machines are offered.

GS3 vs Bianca

How does our favourite Bianca from Lelit compare to the GS3? In a quick glance, the Bianca doesn't seem to be significantly behind the much more expensive La Marzocco-branded machine.

The Bianca is also a two-barrel single lever coffee machine with a PID system and rotary pump. Its boilers are 1.5L and 0.8L in size. Adding to the thermal stability is the E61 type head, which since its invention has been considered an exceptionally great technical feat for temperature retention.

Despite all this, with half the volume of the boilers it can never achieve the performance of the GS3. Well, that's its main minus point in this battle.

It also loses points for the lack of volumetrics and the rotary nozzle valves may not suit some people either (but that's more or less a matter of personal taste). What it wins the attention of espresso lovers with is the paddle-operated extraction pressure control.

Bianca Lelit and La Marzocco GS3 coffee machines with manual extraction pressure control.

The GS3 can also be found in a version with manual extraction pressure control. The price of the coffee machine will of course be even higher.

To sum up: The Bianca is for that kind of relaxed espresso preparation. When you want to set everything up nicely manually and have time to let the machine fully heat up (the only drawback with E61 brew heads).

Bianca vs E1 Prima

The last comparison of our great girls: the Prima vs Bianca. As I described above with the Bianca vs GS3 comparison, Lelit's beautiful coffee maker loses out primarily in performance. This is also true next to the E1 Prima.

In fact, the Prima replaces the boiler volumes with the unique NEO technology that the Bianca does not have. The Bianca takes a classic approach to everything. It feels absolutely great in a family environment of espresso lovers, where they want quality coffee and don't push performance so much.

In fact, unlike the Bianca, both the GS3 and the Prima can beset up in a small coffee shop, coffee window, catering, kiosks or modern mobile coffee bikeswithout hesitation.

Which premium coffee machine to choose?

Of the trio of coffee machines reviewed, the obvious question when choosing is whether you have fallen in love with the small home coffee machine Bianca or your heart gravitates towards the super premium performance of the luxury Prima and GS3 coffee machines.

For these two stellar single lever coffee makers, then ponder whether the massive retro coffee maker from La Marzocco is a better fit. Or whether you appreciate the technological features, modern design and style of the coffee machine, the Victoria Arduino.

From my point of view, of course, the coffee maker with the eagle in the emblem wins, the EagleOne Prima. I adore its UXgadgets, whether it's the clever nozzle control, the "ghost" display or the automatic rinse, which the coffee maker uses to rinse the head of the coffee maker by itself when the portafilter is pulled out (this is an absolutely brilliant hack).

Finally, there's a third way of looking at it. I'm a big fan ofthe makers of the Victoria Arduino and their intention to make coffee makers in an environmentally friendly way and with a concern for reducing energy consumption. The handy Prima is proof that it can be done. Its enjoyment is much more meaningful and sustainable.