Lever Espresso Machine Recommendations

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
ShotClock
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#1: Post by ShotClock »

I've been idly wondering about levers recently, and whether i might be a good candidate for one. While I've enjoyed the decent a lot, and think that it's a particularly great tool for learning, I'd like to have something with simplicity and more of a tactile response.

What i need: 1-3 espressos per day, mostly medium roast, occasionally light or dark. All in the range of 15-40g output. Fast warmup, no exposed boiler. Maybe 2/3 of my espresso goes in milk drinks, so good streaming is required. Counter space is at a premium in my house, so smaller machines are greatly preferred. Minimal electronics would be good, as would a degree of mechanical simplicity. A nice additional feature would be a 58mm portafilter to utilize my existing baskets etc.

Is there a suitable machine? One that springs to mind is the cremina - can this pull an 18g in 40g out shot?

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espressotime

#2: Post by espressotime »

Ponte Vecchio Export ticks all of your boxes.
No 58 baskets though .

bgnome

#3: Post by bgnome »

ShotClock wrote: What i need: 1-3 espressos per day, mostly medium roast, occasionally light or dark. All in the range of 15-40g output. Fast warmup, no exposed boiler. Maybe 2/3 of my espresso goes in milk drinks, so good streaming is required. Counter space is at a premium in my house, so smaller machines are greatly preferred. Minimal electronics would be good, as would a degree of mechanical simplicity. A nice additional feature would be a 58mm portafilter to utilize my existing baskets etc.

Is there a suitable machine? One that springs to mind is the cremina - can this pull an 18g in 40g out shot?
Not having an exposed boiler does limit your options. I can understand it from a safety perspective, but the group head also gets pretty hot and it may be too limiting for what you are looking for.

Typically, lever machines would use a smaller diameter portafilter, as reaching higher pressures takes less effort. There may be 58mm commercial lever machines, but consumer machines are few and far between. The Flair 58 is a recent entry that comes to mind. The Odyssey Argos is one to watch as it isn't available yet, but ticks a lot of boxes.

The Cremina would be a great option, but I believe it uses a 49mm portafilter. You could do an 18/40 with the appropriate basket and a Fellini maneuver, but I think you have to alter your expectations as a Cremina is not like a standard 58mm vibe pump machine.

baldheadracing
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#4: Post by baldheadracing »

18g:40g output would imply a commercial group unless you do Fellini moves or maybe mod a Pavoni (or do two separate 9g:20g pulls). I can only think of one domestic lever basket that can reliably take 18g: the 29mm deep IMS. In addition, my experience with the Fellini move is that it only tastes okay with dark espresso roasts.

However, a commercial group machine probably won't fit your definitions of fast warm-up or small size.

(Yes, a smaller group may be able to physically produce 18:40 without Fellini. However, the shot will taste different as more of the spring's range/travel must be used, resulting in a different pressure profile. A commercial pressure profile that tapers from 9 bar to 4 bar is going to taste different from one that tapers from 9 bar to atmospheric. Which tastes better is a personal preference, of course.)

Good luck!
- My espresso: Swirled, not stirred. My pourover: Stirred, not swirled.

baristainzmking
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#5: Post by baristainzmking »

Why not get a robot or Flair 58 and use the Decent for steam???
Julia

ShotClock (original poster)
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#6: Post by ShotClock (original poster) »

Thanks for all the advice - it's very much appreciated.

The ponte veccio machines are interesting, and a little odd. The group seems extremely small, so i assume that the shots will be small, and baskets etc will be a pain to get. I also hear some mixed reports about build quality...

An exposed boiler is out because i have small kids. I assume that having an exposed group head would only be something like 80C, compared with 130C or so for the boiler. My experience with the E61 group head was that it was hot enough to be a warning for wandering hands, without too much risk of injury. I'm fairly certain that the injury risk with the LP boiler, for example, would be far higher.

The cremina might work for 2:1 shots at 16g, but probably not at 18g. Seems like the shot volume of the cremina is a complex topic in itself.

I had a suspicion that 58mm levers are pretty much all commercial GHs, and that seems to be the case. I'm not a fan of the idea of hearing such a huge chunk of brass for a couple of shots per day, especially given the huge size on the counter. Having said that, the functionality of the Londinium Compressa would be great.

The Argos and small Londinium could both potentially fit the bill, but i consider both to be vaporware for the time being...

The robot and flair 58 also don't appeal, as i would still need the decent, or some other steamer.

baldheadracing
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#7: Post by baldheadracing »

I agree with you that one would want to avoid an exposed boiler with children ... and not to discourage you even more, but I would wonder about having a spring lever with children around (and their friends). Except for a very few machines that are way outside of consideration, an unloaded spring lever can literally break a jawbone if the lever is operated without a puck. There will be a certain age where they are strong enough to pull the lever down, but not quite understanding what releasing that lever will do. (There are not-a-few adults who have learned that lesson the hard way.)

Cremina 67 sounds like the obvious choice among currently-existing machines. No spring, covered boiler, no 58mm. (I'm one of those people who think 58mm is less-than-ideal for a small group.) Burn-me steam wand, but that's not on the same level as an exposed boiler.
- My espresso: Swirled, not stirred. My pourover: Stirred, not swirled.

drH

#8: Post by drH »

I have a Cremina and it never disappoints me. You have to be ready to do the temperature management if you make multiple drinks (which will be easier than on a Pavoni, probably harder than on a Ponte Vecchio).
If a 58mm basket makes that much of a difference to you, I feel like the Londinium Vectis, although a long time in coming, really does have a shot at appearing this year. If you follow along on the Londinium community, they are working on final touches to the group head design, which I believe is the last piece to the puzzle.

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drgary
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#9: Post by drgary »

Don't worry about basket size. I have heard that PV build quality has improved. I liked the looks of it on my counter. Their groups need a special tool or a clamp to service, but it's quite doable. Creminas are very nice but even the old ones are pricey. Pulling dark roasts on one will be your first shot of the day.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

tompoland

#10: Post by tompoland »

How about a Strietman CT2? (2nd from left). Written about by John Buckman who wrote that it represented his preffered lever style.

Some people drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.