Help a lever newbie out? La Pavoni Pro? Wait for an Argos? A Vectis? Or, or...? - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#11: Post by Tjyven »

Maybe you should take a look at the ACS Evo Leva also, think that machine and Vostok and Nurri will give about identical result in the cup. If you can buy directly from ACS I think you can get a much better price than for the Nurri.

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#12: Post by Jeff »

Arrarex gaskets and baskets are "readily" available. Brooks is one supplier (there are threads here). A PID is up to you. A thermometer works too. If you don't want to deal with a step-up transformer you can boil water and the 230 V element on 120 V has enough to hold it. I don't know what you're looking for. If you think a PID is essential to make espresso, I'd avoid classic levers, and probably most contemporary ones as well. If you're looking for an espresso experience that relies more on art than science, then maybe a classic lever is something to consider. They are all different. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Things as simple as the shape of the basket can change the flavor profile of the espresso it produces.

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#13: Post by drgary »

I have a version 1.0 Caravel with temp sensor in the tank connected to a PID. These have great build quality. And although they look very vintage, their design is very innovative, including the ability to do much disassembly without tools. I boil water on my stove and fill the tank and wait 10 minutes until it's ready. The advantage you get is becoming familiar with the analog experience of the lever pull, and you get these delicious and consistent shots of nectar.

OK. You probably also know that I have a Conti Prestina on a PID. It's my daily driver. And although it's a spring lever, it's very consistent for tuning shots and has commercial steaming power. I start it on a timer and it's ready when I get up. Can't be beat. There are many other new levers, including the current Conti one group lever. But it doesn't look steampunk like my Prestina. It has tactile feel too, which you get if you've ground a bit too coarse or otherwise have a fast shot and hold back the lever.
And ... I reviewed the Ponte Vecchio Export. The build was a bit off center but I hear they've improved. It has great spring power and pulls a rich shot and steams well. Get a used one and re-sell.

And then ... a kitted out La Pavoni is pretty good. But I don't like a base that can rust or that flexes with the pull and would stay away from anything but chrome. I like the very early models because they are so solid and wonderfully old fashioned technology. You control brew pressure by adjusting the venting. I just give plenty of the time for the group to fill and start dripping and then do nice pulls. I always have a way to measure temp at the group and use half double pumps to bring it up to temp. The high/low power gives strong steaming power but then it takes awhile to cool the brew group, so pull your shots first.

And of course the Cremina would be great once you have it fixed and tuned. Being a DIY guy, you'll find that satisfying. I have a vintage one made of parts from many machines. It's consistent and a classic and you'll be able to re-sell it easily.

If you want a working shot puller now, get a Robot. Warmup time is how long it takes to boil water. Build quality is like a La Pavoni first series or a Cremina. If you're in a hurry, you can have consistently excellent shots with it, including light roasts. People are all over pre-heating but some light roast aficionados dial back temperature to avoid astringency with the Niche Zero, which is my grinder, too, or at least my daily driver grinder.

I saw the Odyssey Argos and would wait to let them work out the kinks. It didn't seem to have the satisfying heavy build of a Robot or Cremina or early La Pavoni or Caravel, but I might feel differently if I get to try one.

A CT2 would be great and you probably wouldn't sell it. BTW, getting any of these levers and then getting your dream machine would probably stack one cost on top of another because they grow on you like pets.

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

Accidemic627 (original poster)

#14: Post by Accidemic627 (original poster) »

Jeff, you're right... I'm definitely falling prey to some serious mission creep here. PID + vintage manual lever: kinda silly, and not actually what I'm after as a first wade into the lever world. What I'm looking for is some tactile, hands-on experience with a more or less classic or classic style lever, but one that won't completely break the bank.

So with that said, and knowing that gaskets and baskets are out there if needed, is $500 +/- a good price for a v1.0 Caravel? All we know about the machine comes from the seller, in Italian: "in buone condizioni, sostituite tutte le guarnizioni, riverniciata con vernice originale", which I gather to mean that it's in good condition, with all the important parts (gaskets etc) replaced, and "revarnished with original varnish"(?).

Tjyven: The ACS Evo Leva has also been on the list for the bigger purchase down the line... But I still feel like my heart's set on the Nurri, I dunno, it just seems to check all the boxes for me, once I have the money saved (which could be a year, or more, or...)

But in the meantime: Argos, Vectis, Caravel, Faemina, La Pavoni? Sigh.

Accidemic627 (original poster)

#15: Post by Accidemic627 (original poster) »

drgary this is all super helpful, thanks for those insights.

I think I've read your thoughts on the Conti Prestina, and they also piqued my interest a lot. Those seem pretty scarce out there at the moment too, but I'll add it to my list of machines to keep an eye out for.

I think deep down I know that if I get one of these small classic lever machines I'll very likely keep it even as I continue to save up for the fancier piece of kit. I think deep down I'm perfectly fine with that...

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#16: Post by drgary »

Conti Prestina, Faema Lambro, any vintage small commercial lever would be great as a daily driver. Any of those choices I mentioned can make excellent espresso. I would get one and enjoy it until you buy your dream machine, unless what you get out the gate is your dream machine. The Prestina surprised me and ended my upgradeitis.

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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#17: Post by Jeff »

I wouldn't pay over US$300 for an early Arrarex from an unknown seller. I believe Francesco's refurbished VAM / Caravel units generally go for around 350€ and they are ready to use (early and rare ones are a bit more).

Do I have a PID controller sitting on the shelf over there for my Arrarex? Sure looks like it. But it is still in the box. That's from someone who owns a DE1 and writes software for it. The Arrarex and Robot are the machines I don't have to think about. I put grinds in, push down the handle, and enjoy espresso. Temperature, yeah -- right off boil for the Robot and right at fast simmer getting ready to boil for the Arrarex. Easy. I don't even need a thermometer to figure that out. If you ask me "What makes lever machines different?" that's going to be a big part of my answer -- so much more forgiving than most pump-driven machines.


#18: Post by jgood »

I would get a Robot with pressure gauge, and enjoy that whilst you make up your mind and save up for the ultimate. It also travels well and can serve as a portable setup, if that's useful to you. You have the grinder covered, and you present machine can be your steamer. The Robot is very good and will give you some experience with a direct lever.


#19: Post by Amberale »

Hi Greg.
I second everything that Jeff and DrGary have said.
I got a Faema Baby by chance at half the price of a Robot.
Then got a Caravel at around $350aud, I would not pay 600euros.
Then I virtually stole a CT1 from a bloke(actually paid a lot more than he asked).
I love the CT1. It is beautiful and hard to make a bad coffee with.
The open boilers in these two are more temperature stable because they don't have the addition of pressure complicating the process.(Boyles law, it's for gas but that is what you get in a pressurised boiler)

I also have a Lelit Bianca but in my continuing journey I have:

An Argos being built and awaiting CE certification that should ship soon and round three of orders should reopen then but I wouldn't expect deliveries from those orders until next year.
I expect the Argos to be the machine I finally take into an aged care facility when I downsize(decades to go).

I also have a Vostok wending its way from Naples to Oz. I have the room, love the idea of the pressure controlled shut off(no more scales) and want that big beast on my bench.

If the Faema Faeminas are in good workable condition I would consider one of them.
They are supposed to be more temperature stable than a LP and I love their Art Deco styling.

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#20: Post by espressotime »

Many espressomachines out there. Do not forget the type of beans are more important than the espressomachin. Every machine mentioned can make great coffee.
You don,t need a 6000 dollar machine to make good espressos though.
Choices choices.