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Lever Machines
CharcoalRoaster
I was reading up on manual lever machines and was curious for your opinions on the pros and cons of facing the challenge of manually preparing your favorite espresso drinks?

Part of me thinks it would be amazing to have the control and joy of hand pumping an espresso in the morning while another part of me would fear the necessary practice and knowledge needed to even operate one.

I want to know what you think!ThumbsUp
 
ciel-007
CharcoalRoaster wrote:

Part of me thinks it would be amazing to have the control and joy of hand pumping an espresso in the morning while another part of me would fear the necessary practice and knowledge needed to even operate one. I want to know what you think!ThumbsUp


It's already been six years since I purchased the exceptional Expobar Brewtus II (electric pump with E61 group head) espresso machine, and the amazing Mazzer Mini E grinder. Before deciding to purchase them, I spent months reading everything I could find in search of excellence... and I have not been disappointed. The pulls that flow from my exceptional Brewtus are among the very finest that I have ever enjoyed; that is saying a lot, since I have been fortunate in being able to sample espressos prepared on every continent of the globe (...a few great espressos... but mostly mediocre ones).

Before choosing the Expobar Brewtus II, I gave serious consideration to an expensive lever (manual piston) espresso machine. I was initially attracted by the romantic espresso heritage, and the elegance in style. However, after email correspondence with two reviewers, I quickly discovered some significant disadvantages with levers (no pressure relief at end of shot, danger from very hot exterior, lack of water tank requires frequent manual fills with risk of steam burns, high maintenance, inconsistent pulls, etc...) However, the real decisive factor for me was when each reviewer admitted (confidentially) that they would be returning the lever espresso machines they were testing, without ever considering purchasing one for their own use at home. They both recommended that I consider a high-quality, semi-automatic, machine instead.

There are some great choices out there among semi-automatic machines - I own one of them. I encourage you give special consideration to those machines that feature the E61 group head.
Ciel
Ciel... seeking Heaven in my cup with ................................................... EXPOBAR Brewtus II - MAZZER Mini E - MAHLKÖNIG Vario - GeneCafe - RAF-1 Extreme (Modified B-2 HOTTOP) - BellaTaiwan XJ-101
 
farmroast
I love my Bezzera strega and Olympia cremina. But some do prefer pumps.
Ed B.
DreamRoast 1kg roaster, Levers, Hand Mills http://coffee-roa...gspot.com/
 
snwcmpr
I love my La Pavoli Europicola pre-Millenium Lever machine.
Manual???
I only do one or two occasionally, so slow is ok for me.
I am low budget, I got it for under 300 and refurbished it with parts from Orphan Espresso. I would NEVER spend retail for one. But, I am on retirement income.
None of the disadvantages Ciel mentioned matter to me.
BUT, I am not an expert. My local shop, when I brought it in, said it's the best "Home Shot" he ever tried.

It isn't like a pump machine, small single shot. No tamping, 12 grams max (Or it chokes). I have to let it set to relieve piston pressure or it blows out the grounds.
Small counter space, easy to put away. It's a beautiful work of art.

Just my thoughts,
Ken in NC
Backwoods Roaster
"I wish I could taste as well as I wish I could roast."
 
ginny
Ken:

that is a beautiful machine. A friend, yes I have one, in Laguna Beach has the same and it pulls an outstanding shot...

you were lucky to find it, Orphan Espresso is a great place to buy from...

ginny
What you're reading is my slow descent into insanity...
 
JimH
A little off topic, but Ken, if you raise the lever slightly then it will relieve the pressure in the portafilter. That will let you get in that second shot (and maybe even a third) before the Pavoni overheats.
 
snwcmpr
Hmm, I had not thought of that.
But, that makes 'Obvious' sense.
Thanks,
Ken in NC
Backwoods Roaster
"I wish I could taste as well as I wish I could roast."
 
coffeeroastersclub
CharcoalRoaster wrote:

I was reading up on manual lever machines and was curious for your opinions on the pros and cons of facing the challenge of manually preparing your favorite espresso drinks?

Part of me thinks it would be amazing to have the control and joy of hand pumping an espresso in the morning while another part of me would fear the necessary practice and knowledge needed to even operate one.

I want to know what you think!ThumbsUp


I have a vintage euro config La pavoni lever. It runs on the 200+ AC euro configuration voltage and I use a step up transformer with it to convert the U.S. 110 to its voltage. It had a bit of a learning curve, however I got it down and have to say that when I wish to take the time to make a shot with it the shots are always superior to any other espresso shot I have ever had from any of my other semi-autos, superautos, or from anywhere else as the case may be. PLUS it is truly a work of art, so an additional plus there. ThumbsUp

Len
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." ~Abraham Lincoln
 
http://www.coffeeroastersclub.com
ciel-007
Over the past 6 years, I have discovered that learning how to make great espresso has its share of inconveniences. For example, before purchasing the Brewtus II, the Mazzer Mini E, the Hottop, etc... I didn't need to prepare that much coffee earlier in the morning, or perhaps even later in the day... However, all of that changed once I started roasting, grinding and pulling my very own. Not only did my personal consumption of heavenly coffee increase, but more and more people started coming over to visit; familly and friends alike have started arriving earlier and earlier each day... and staying later and later...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Can you think of anything better than chatting with friends and family over a delicious cup? However, this demand meant that I had to increase my proficiency at the helm of the machine. Presently, when I am making espresso, it usually involves a minimum of three or four successive pulls; on the weekend, that may involve as much as eight successive pulls. That's quite a challenge to place on the shoulders of a barista with a manual lever.

In order to speed up those heavenly pulls, I bought extra portafilters. Should I have three guests, I will ready (load and pack) four portafilters just before I start drawing espresso. That means I can pull four shots in two minutes, and then sit down with my guests to savor the elixir. I'm not convinced I would be that proficient when pulling with a lever machine.
Ciel... seeking Heaven in my cup with ................................................... EXPOBAR Brewtus II - MAZZER Mini E - MAHLKÖNIG Vario - GeneCafe - RAF-1 Extreme (Modified B-2 HOTTOP) - BellaTaiwan XJ-101
 
SmokNmirz
I started out in 1972 with a Moka Pot and a Chemex. I went to an inexpensive Krups "espresso" macine and then to a Rancilio Silvia. Probably sounding very familiar to many of youShock

Then I got a bit more serious with a Rocket R-58. Loved the shots but hated some of the other things about the machine. It made weird noises and since it was under warranty I sent it back for a refund because I did not want to be in a situation of ongoing warranty issues all the way across the continent! So then I went for the gusto and found a LaMarzocco GS/3 MP for a fair price. Great shots and some features that one can only dream about. But I found I did not like tinkering around with temperatures and pressures and keeping such a hotrod/Ferrari in tune, so I sold it for a Lever machine.

I had both the GS/3 and the Londinium Lever at the same time so I could make a decision side by side. The big lever won. Sold the GS/3 and only miss the water wand system and its compact size.

Get a Spring Lever and enjoy the shots!!ThumbsUp
L-1p, HG-1-motorized, Monolith Flat, (ordered) mini500Plus.

If whatever you do does not put a smile on your face then rethink what you are doing.
 
http://mini4fun.info/Quest/Quest_M3_Mods.html
PaulNewport
My thoughts on manual lever machines are similar to a photographers thought on using a film camera. It's an art but it's worth pursuing. La Pavoni espresso machines are well reputed and you can look into them more here http://www.dailyc.../la-pavoni. The Daily Cuppa Coffee website has every kind of lever machine and there are some blogs that can help you understand how to get the best out of your manual machine. If you want a challenge, you will love becoming a pro.
 
Koffee Kosmo
Lever machines produce the most consistent espresso results
The reason they went out of favour in commercial settings was speed

Since then machine makers have tried to replicate a lever machines result with a pump machine

I have had a Bezzera Strega for over 2 years and haven't fallen out of love with it

Also no chemical back flushing is required

KK
My web site > koffeekosmo.com.au I home roast and I like it :P
Blog - http://koffeekosm...gspot.com/
Bezzera Strega: BNZ MD74 Grinder: 5 Box hand grinders: Pullman Tamper Convex: (KKTO) Turbo Oven Home Roaster: CONA Glass Rod Syphon: Pyrex Brewer:
 
koffeekosmo.com.au
jedovaty
The biggest drawback to a lever is waiting for the remaining water to exit the group, so you don't get pf sneeze. Having a single group makes it tough to do more than one or two drinks, even with a commercial lever.
 
snwcmpr
As to the sneeze ...
Did you see the solution posted above?

JimH wrote:
A little off topic, but Ken, if you raise the lever slightly then it will relieve the pressure in the portafilter. That will let you get in that second shot (and maybe even a third) before the Pavoni overheats.


Ken in NC
Backwoods Roaster
"I wish I could taste as well as I wish I could roast."
 
troposcuba
I have been pulling shots on my LP Pro for about 2.5 years now. I also have been home roasting for about 10 years, and do a pretty good job of that if I may say so. I am lucky enough that the fellas at my local coffee shop (which is where I buy a significant amount of green coffee) let me get behind the bar and play with their Nuova Simonelli when I want to. I can honestly say that I can pull a better tasting shot at home about 75% of the time. Now would my little lever cut it in a cafe environment? Nope. Not by a long shot. But that is not what it was designed to do. So I think a big part of the consideration is what exactly do you expect of your machine. as to the portafilter sneeze issue. by the time I drink my shot, the pressure has subsided. If I am really in a hurry (wife is screaming for a cappuccino?) then I can lift the lever a little or wiggle the portafilter and no big mess or sneeze. It is not a big deal. I also use a hand grinder. It is enjoyable controlling the process and taking the time to enjoy it. If this is not what you are after, then don't get the lever machine.
Sean
 
SmokNmirz
If speed is what you want then don't buy a Lever Machine. On thew otherhand, if great tasting shots are your goal then pounce on the good Lever Machine. Preferably a Spring Lever since the pressure to the shot is the same each time. Use the waiting time for prepping the next shot into a second PF.

Now if that is not fast enough for you then buy a 2 Group Lever machine.
L-1p, HG-1-motorized, Monolith Flat, (ordered) mini500Plus.

If whatever you do does not put a smile on your face then rethink what you are doing.
 
http://mini4fun.info/Quest/Quest_M3_Mods.html
noelh
Pulling shots in a home setting on a variety of machines since '81. Started with a Gaggia Coffee. Next vibe pump machine was a HX/E61 unit. Today use the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva(MCal) or two group Ponte Vecchio Lusso(PVL).

Different machines resulting in different characteristics of the espresso pulled.
The MCal yields what I consider a shot with more depth and complexity. The PVL a cup with more body and weight. Similar to the HX/E61 vibe pumper.

The good and not so good regarding lever machines.
1. Less margin for slightly off dosing and grind issues. Consider a commercial grade conical burr grinder to sit beside your lever machine. Invest in a scale.
2. Water temperature control. PVL has a thermosyphon loop that more or less keeps the group head temp under control. MCal can have some overheating issues.
3. Both the machines used are spring powered. The lever loads up the spring. Good is you get a repeatable level of force. Bad is it's not a totally manual machine.
4. Simpler and over the long haul less expensive to maintain.
5. Quiet.
Operatore>Macina>Acqua>Miscela>Macchina
 
HoldTheOnions
I lust for a PVL, but too expensive :-(
 
noelh
HoldTheOnions wrote:

I lust for a PVL, but too expensive :-(


When 1st introduced into the USA market they were relatively inexpensive. But so was the MCal when purchased back iat the beginning of this millennium. Paid $395 for the MCal just prior to the US$ going down against the Italian Lira. Today the MCal would be a difficult purchase. PVL2 lacks the finished build quality of the MCal. The PVL2 is built on the same platform/frame as the single group. It really needs a larger frame. Number of form not following function design flaws. Not first class machining and metal working. But, the "Ugly Duckling" does pull a decent shot. Less finicky than the MCal. Plus by tag teaming the group heads you can pull shots as fast as you can grind, dose and tamp.

If interested in a lower priced PV consider the Export. Single group, no thermosyphon group.
Operatore>Macina>Acqua>Miscela>Macchina
 
HoldTheOnions
I was looking at the single group before, but it doesn't look like they sell it anymore. I had seen somewhere that they had done some work on the structure of it, not sure if that would be before or after you got yours though. The export would be too small boiler me thinks. I've looked at old crappy ones to fix up, but those were still pretty expensive, so...LONG LIVE DELONGHI!
 
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