Is there a lever espresso machine for me?

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

#1: Post by leverendeavor »

Hi all! Long time reader, first time poster. I'm hoping I can benefit from the advice of people here who have actually used some of the machines I'm considering, so thanks in advance!

Currently run a Flair Pro 2 / Eureka Silenzio and am sick of the workflow, namely all the extra fumbling with using a Nano foamer + flow tip jug on a stovetop for milk, and all the preheating juggling with the flair / lack of a portafilter. So, I'm looking to upgrade.

My household drinks something like:

1. 2 espressos or milk drinks in the morning
2. 1 in the afternoon

If we have folks over for brunch I'd like to be able to make 5-6 milk drinks without too much trouble. If we have guests visiting that number would also climb.

Mostly use medium-dark roast coffees.

I absolutely love the shots I'm getting with the flair, and I love the feeling of using a lever physically. That said, I've never used a semi-auto machine, but using buttons just seems a bit sadder. I've looked at the following machines in depth, and read many of the lever threads on this forum.

Ideally I'd get either a la pavoni pro/strad or an Elektra microcasa, except both my partner and I are worried about ourselves / others burning ourselves on the machine, particularly if kids are over. I have a vision of them touching some shiny chrome and winding up in an urgent care. I'm wondering if I'm overthinking this however, we obviously cook things and have hot items on the stove, but it's something I've heard come up in reviews online, that these machines are dangerous in households where kids are present. How much a concern is this, practically?

So, looking beyond those I'm considering two other machines:

1. Bezzera Strega (tank only, at ~$2400 would be the top of my budget)
2. Lelit Elizabeth

The strega is a bit overkill, and would require a smart plug for sure to be ready for morning coffee, but seems like a fun machine, and well built from what I've read.

The Elizabeth is obviously not a lever at all, but I'm wondering if it may just be more practical to own an Elizabeth as a main machine and haul out the Pro 2 on weekends when I have the time to mess with stuff. Seems like a good balance of features, fast warmup, and the ability to make a bunch of steam if need be.

I've also considered the Ponte Vecchio machines, but I've heard they're really finicky and have quality issues. While working on an espresso machine sounds like fun, I'd like something with a stronger reputation for reliability.


#2: Post by erik82 »

Forget the Ponte Vecchio as it won't make you happy. The Elektra and Pavoni are nice for max 2 shots in a row and no more then that. The output will be no more then 25gr and they're finicky.

The Strega on the other hand is really nice and very easy to work with. It heats up pretty quick and I had it on a timer too. I've owned one for 3 years and it's just a very good machine for the money. And it isn't overkill as it's a prosumer machine and 95% of all people who own one will use it as much as you'll be doing.

And in terms of children I have one walking around of 5 years and many visiting during the week. Only one has ever been so stubborn to want to touch the grouphead while I told him it's very hot and don't do that. They'll be able to put there hand on it for 3 seconds before they start crying without any harm just a bit of pain so I won't worry too much about that. Those small machines can tip over which in my eyes is a lot more dangerous but even then I've never heard about that happening.

Hope this helps.

Supporter ♡

#3: Post by Mat-O-Matic »

+1 - surface burns less of a worry, but the MCaL, etc. wouldn't easily suit the volume you describe. The Strega would be a good choice.

I love my lever, but there was nothing sad about pulling shots on my Elektra A3. It was pleasure to bang out an excellent drink every two minutes for... infinity. Something with more capacity than the Elizabeth, like the Profitec 600 that recently sold on the Buy/Sell here, could also meet your bruncheon needs.
LMWDP #716: Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.

User avatar
Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

The Argos Odyssey may turn out to be a strong contender in the compact lever category, with potentially easier temperature management than classic countertop levers. If you're not in a rush, I'd hold off until it ships and there is a body of opinion after the honeymoon period.

leverendeavor (original poster)

#5: Post by leverendeavor (original poster) »

Thanks for the thoughtful responses all. This has been very helpful. I think the small boiler on the Odyssey rules it out, as well as the lack of a track record. I think the Strega sounds like it's in the lead.

The profitec 600 isn't something I'd been thinking much about, I'll check it out in more detail. I can see using an e61 group as having some of the charm of a lever, certainly more than a push button.

User avatar

#6: Post by mrgnomer »

My experience with a lever is that it offers more extraction parameter control than a pump driven machine. More fun as well. After years with an e61 HX rotary pump plumb in and two table top non spring levers I swapped the e61 HX for a Strega Top. Yeah, the Strega HX could add flush temp surfing to your routine and a range of preinfusion and lever pulling moves for extraction control if you want but the automatic fill boiler gives you consistent steam power, the grouphead heating fairly temperature stable multiple shots and, if you get a Top or dedicated plumb in, plumbing in a machine is a nice convenience. After 6 months with a Strega I am getting consistently better extractions than I did with my e61. A good machine for a reasonable price.
LMWDP #116
professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love

leverendeavor (original poster)

#7: Post by leverendeavor (original poster) »

It does seem like people consistently love the different flavor profile of lever machines, glad to hear more experiences.

For the Strega owners out there, how much force is required. Given the flair pro 2 as a reference point is it more? Less?

With the flair I mostly use body weight and just lean on it. In videos I've seen it doesn't looks like people are exerting themselves much at all. Would an adult in average shape find it easy, taxing, etc?

User avatar

#8: Post by mrgnomer »

Force is relative to where you place the machine and your arm position. There's enough force in the spring to give you a good black eye if you let the lever go when it's down with nothing locked in and your head is in the way. Maybe 50lb force from what I remember. The higher you place the machine the more you can use your body weight to pull down so the force isn't as noticeable to your shoulder and arm.

At first it seemed like a lot of force having only had experience with spring less levers. After about 7 months I don't even notice it even when I'm pumping the lever for a cleaning flush. It requires less force to pull the lever down and compress the springs than shucking a stubborn oyster.
LMWDP #116
professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love


#9: Post by erik82 »

Force seems a bit high in the beginning if you're not used to a spring lever but after a while you won't even notice it anymore. If you keep your arms stretched out and use your bodyweight then it's easy. But just as every with spring lever don't ever put any body part over the lever arm because when it slips it goes back with great force and can potentially break your jaw.

And the Strega will easily beat a E61 because you have so much more options for extraction. It's such a joy top use and very forgiving in pulling shots.

leverendeavor (original poster)

#10: Post by leverendeavor (original poster) »

I want to thank everyone in this thread for their valuable input. In a shocking turn of events, I decided a lever machine isn't For me right now. My main concern was with the cooling flush on the Strega, as a somewhat clumsy person I just didn't want to deal with being tired and accidentally smacking myself with that spring force.

I was lucky enough to come across a used quickmill QM67 at a great price on craigslist, and purchased that. I still have the flair pro to play around with pressure and time.

That said, we're it not for that the Strega would have been an easy choice.