If there's one thing you need to know about the GS/3 from La Marzocco, it's this: this is the machine that started the whole current trend of super high tech commercial espresso machines with near perfect temperature controls and stability.
The development of the GS/3 lead to machines like the Synesso, the Speedster, the Strada and other super advanced machines. The GS/3 was a challenge machine - provide La Marzocco calibre commercial espresso in a home espresso machine running on 110V. To do this, advancements in boiler technology, PID use, pre heaters and more had to take place. And it did take place. And it was built.
The GS/3 is still to this day an extremely advanced home espresso machine, and unlike most of the high end machines on this list, this one can run happily on 110V without requiring any special plumbing or wiring. Of course, you can choose to plumb it in and get even more benefits from the machine, and you can choose to run it on 110V 20A service (instead of 15A) and get even more power and performance, but therein lies one of the machine's many perks - it can handle anything you throw at it. Want a catering machine you can keep in the back of your van and plug into any old 110V outlet? No problem. Want a machine that you never have to empty the drip tray on? Plumb it in and voila.
Now onto more serious things: the GS/3 does have some minor issues, and fortunately for espresso production, they're almost all cosmetic. The fit and finish isn't nearly as good as a Slayer or a Speedster or a Synesso. The sides are plastic, which, on a $7000 machine, is kind of cheap. For years, the drip tray was absolutely horrible (this has been fixed!).
But as a shot pulling, milk steaming machine, it's right up there with the Slayers and Speedsters. And the paddle wheel version gives you even greater control, allowing fully manual preinfusion controls and even graduated pump pressure (albeit very very slight control). Steaming is... interesting, with it's rather unique joystick method, but it can steam fast and well.
Now, we're featuring the Clive Coffee version of this machine because Clive Coffee fixes one of the glaring problems with the GS/3 - the cosmetics. For only a few hundred dollars more, you get fantastic handcarved and finished walnut side panels for the machine that take it to another level and make it truly look like a $7,000+ machine. Plus Clive throws in other goodies, including one on one live video tutorials and a coupon for their website.
Product Link (Clive Coffee, USA)