Advice on buying first good lever

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
Word_salad

Postby Word_salad » Jun 14, 2019, 5:37 pm

Been drinking pour-over for a long time and recently got into espresso. I'm currently using a Lido e/t and a Rokpresso that I bought years ago and dug up from the basement. I can get passable shots from the Rok, and the quality has definitely improved since I got the lido, but I am ready for an upgrade. Unfortunately I am a poor grad student so my budget is around $600. I don't use milk so a steamer isn't necessary, and I only make 3-4 shots a day for myself. With this in mind I've seen a few choices that would fit

Cafelat Robot
Used La Pavoni
Flair

And Streitman CT1 (obviously way over budget, but it's an absolutely beautiful machine and if it pulls as good as it looks I'd be willing to save for a year or so/ wait for restock)

Also I will be using a wide range of beans (I roast with a behmor and I am fond of experimenting)

Any advice is greatly appreciated

happycat

Postby happycat » Jun 14, 2019, 6:34 pm

Word_salad wrote:Been drinking pour-over for a long time and recently got into espresso. I'm currently using a Lido e/t ... poor grad student so my budget is around $600. I don't use milk so a steamer isn't necessary, and I only make 3-4 shots a day


Best bang for the buck:

Flair classic signature with second portafilter and tamper
PID kettle

Good to go for probably half your budget. Spend the rest on coffee.
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pGolay

Postby pGolay » Jun 14, 2019, 6:37 pm

I tried a Flair for a while and while I could make good coffee with it, the general fussiness of the process was just a bit past what I was willing to deal with on a day to day basis. I would guess the Robot is similar, and the ROK a step or two more fiddly, in my experience (I borrowed one for a week or three before the Flair). Hence, the CT-1 in my kitchen and the dent in the savings.
-PG

Word_salad

Postby Word_salad » Jun 14, 2019, 6:58 pm

happycat wrote:Best bang for the buck:

Flair classic signature with second portafilter and tamper
PID kettle

Good to go for probably half your budget. Spend the rest on coffee.


I do have the bonavita variable goose neck kettle which has been great. The only think I worry about the flair is it won't be a huge improvement over the Rok and I'll be looking for something new in a year.

Plus I'm getting green coffee for $6-8 a pound so that has never been a huge expense

happycat

Postby happycat » replying to Word_salad » Jun 14, 2019, 7:25 pm

use the search function on HB and you'll find comparisons

Like this

User Experience: Flair Espresso Manual Lever

it's a good idea to search first, figure out and state your challenges and criteria, then ask focused questions. just like the process of setting up your thesis proposal.
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redbone

Postby redbone » Jun 14, 2019, 7:34 pm

You can get a refurbished VAM or early Caravel for your budget. Currently using one on my lever rotation. Plenty of help available here if you want to refurb yourself. Many parts still available such as elements, baskets, seals and gaskets.
Image The Strietman CT1 @$2K+ is based on a VAM/Caravel.
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

Alslaw

Postby Alslaw » Jun 15, 2019, 12:34 am

redbone wrote:You can get a refurbished VAM or early Caravel for your budget. Currently using one on my lever rotation. Plenty of help available here if you want to refurb yourself. Many parts still available such as elements, baskets, seals and gaskets.

+1
Hands down best bang for your buck for straight espresso - I use one in my office. You can easily swap a European 220v element with a 110v for under $50. The boiler and piston are stainless steel so you know it is built to last, and they are easy to service and can be completely disassembled without any (special) tools.
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drgary
Team HB

Postby drgary » Jun 15, 2019, 1:13 am

Our in-depth reviews help with questions like this and give you a good sense of features and workflow. The reviews also link to user experience threads.

Cafelat Robot Review

Flair Espresso Maker Review

Flair Signature PRO Review
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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spressomon

Postby spressomon » Jun 15, 2019, 9:28 am

All good recommendations. FWIW, I love my EspressoForge. I have pulled hundreds of shots using it mostly while camping & mobile applications but also at home when I want to pull a different bean than what I have my main equipment set for. Super versatile. Simple, heirloom quality with only 2 wear items: 2-same size o-rings available anywhere (replace every 500 shorts or so). Easy to get thick syrupy shots or layered...all up to the person pushing down on the piston.

Apart of a recent dirt camping remote 4x4 of Utah a couple mornings I cranked out 15+ cappas using the 'Forge and a stove top Bellman with my MG-1 Grist for grinding duty. All went fine and folks were pleased :).
No Espresso = Depresso

LObin

Postby LObin » Jun 15, 2019, 9:32 am

There seems to be a consensus about the shot quality and consistency you get out of a Robot. Higher volume is also easier to achieve compare to a Europiccola. At 3-4 shots per day, a Robot would be ideal since there is no warm up time needed nor any issues with temperature management if you end up making a few shots in a row.

One advantage a La Pavoni has over the other is the possibility to make a cappuccino for your guests which tends to happen when you have a nice espresso machine on your kitchen counter.

I do not own any of these machines but they are on my "I soooo want one of these" list. A V1 Europiccola from a collectible stand point (it also makes quite good coffee apparently...) and a Robot because they are beautiful performers.