Levering up - machine suggestions

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

#1: Post by TynH »

Hi all!

I got into espresso a while ago with a nice entry level Lelit, bought all the accessoires (as you do) and considered myself happy.
Unfortunately I then discovered the madness of lever machines. First by playing with pressure on my Lelit using a Lance Hendrik hack, then by buying a used Pavoni "as an experiment".
Well contrary to most online comments the Pavoni was almost an immediate success for me and my cups have never been sweeter.
Initially I even considered modifying the Lelit to emulate lever profiles using an ito microcontroller (http://projectcaffe.bplaced.net) but apart from the superior taste I also got addicted to the qbsence of noisy pumps: I simply LOVE the zen-like workflow!

Okay where to go from here?

While the Pavoni is great for single shots and even though mine was modified (overheating mod) it's simply not designed to serve more than two, maybe three drinks in a row. I have made more than that and it can be done, given good preparations but still. Steaming has been great by the way, which is interesting since this seems to be a problem for a lot of (new) users.
In theory I could get a second Pavoni and simply run both in case I want to entertain guests (I actually thought of that as well).

At the moment I'm looking at the Ponte Vecchio Lusso II which seems to have a lot going for it. It's a lever machine, no pump and two groups would make serving more than one coffee a breeze. Steam is also said to be very good and while I personally don't drink milk at all my partner drinks nothing but. I do however like the occasional americano so having a separate hot water wand is nice.
Shots are very much on the small side though (16ml) and I'm not a big fan of the triple or quadruple Fellini. With the Pavoni I do add just a little more after pre-infusion but that's about as far as I'm willing to go.
So the PV means getting used to smaller shots or using both groups to make a dopio. Guess that would work but seems a bit of a hassle tbh.
It's also a surprisingly tiny machine with very limited space on the cup tray.

So are there any true competitors? I did look at the Strega but the pump was a deal breaker for me. I also considered plumbing in but it's just not a viable option for me, including workarounds like FloJet etc. The Olympia Cremina is a bit on the expensive side and doesn't really offer anything over my Pavoni apart from build quality which hasn't been an issue for me. The Elektra range is a bit too flamboyant for me so that's out as well.

Any other machines I should look at? Price range under EUR 2000, might consider used but not vintage.



#2: Post by bgnome »

The Odyssey Argos is due out this fall. It is a 58mm direct / spring lever with a microcontroller that uses PID to control both boiler and group temp. It can handle at least 6 shots back-to-back without refill.

Supporter ❤

#3: Post by harris »

I'm looking forward to the Londinium Vectis. It's been in the planning stage for awhile but has gained fast track with the reopening of the world. Copied from the Londinium Forum " we are firmly focused on improving on the olympia cremina, firstly with an all new compact 58mm group to capture more flavour complexity in the cup and secondly with a full fat spring for consistent results. the machine is 20cm wide. there are no probes electronics pumps sensors wifi apps or anything else of that nature. this is our kalashnikov model in all its durable dependable field serviceable glory"


#4: Post by clynch »

I have a brand new Pavoni pro. You are absolutely correct. You can pull maybe three shots. Its a simple single boiler. I might be looking at the vecchio. As an aside I have had absolutely NO heating issues like what I've been reading about online. I added a gauge so I can see shot pressure. I must pull the lever to heat it up. Overheat? Naaa. Works great. Had it for a month and all my shots have been awesome. Its all I need. Trying pouring a fresh lever shot over tonic wates, ice, with a slice of lime.

User avatar
Kaffee Bitte

#5: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

I have two millennium professional Pavoni's. One Stradivari the other the gen 3 group. Having two makes my routine so much easier. I can pull two drinks from one and then switch to the other for more. Meanwhile the first is cooling for another round if I need it. So nice for company or making a couple to go drinks.

Steaming performance on the pro models is comparable to the Elektra. The europiccola is okay but tends to lose steaming power pretty quick due to it's smaller boiler and steam column. That's just my opinion from the few times I used one. Lots of europiccola users don't feel that way.

What you should get is what you want. Want a spring lever to go with the manual? Commercial spring machines would be one way to make multiple rounds for larger gatherings, but most are out of your $ range unless you can find used and don't mind a little repair work. A domestic spring will be similar to your pavoni in overheating after multiple drinks but with smaller gatherings might work just fine.

Ponte Vecchio lussos are almost impossible to get in the USA, but you shouldn't have a problem in Germany. They are more temp stable too. The export model though is similar to la Pavoni's in group overheat (reports are it makes more shots before over heat than Pavoni's).
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
★ Helpful

TynH (original poster)

#6: Post by TynH (original poster) »

Thanks for the replies. I did read about the Argos but it's not really something I'd want to have in my kitchen. Haven't heard about the Londinium Vectis but uhm is there any information? They're more tight lipped than Bristol Cars it seems.
Two Pavoni machines would work but it would add a lot of clutter, which I'm not keen on. My experience being with a vintage two stage Europiccola I also found them a bit quirky. Now that's not a bad thing it just means you have to know your machine. However running two simultaneously might get confusing with each having its own quirks.
On the other hand I'm still having serious doubts over the PV's tiny shot volume. The pavoni is already on the small side which took me a while to get used to but less than that? Hmmmm.

User avatar

#7: Post by mrgnomer »

When my e61 HX was down a Europiccola and Cremina 67 was my go to. For just morning lattes I alternated the days between both. The Cremina pulled consistently better shots and was more forgiving on the steaming. The Europiccola lever pulls with less effort. The Cremina lever gets stiff over time and needs the piston gaskets lubed up to move freely. I noticed the Pavoni losing steam power when the boiler level was low more than the Cremini. Because of their size and limitations I've always considered them backups.

I prefer a lever now. Looked at levers available to replace my e61 HX and the Profitec 800 was on the top of the list for a while until I came across the Strega. I considered a Quickmill Achilles too but the more I looked into the Strega the more it appealed. I don't mind the pump or HX line since I'm used to that already. I don't have dip tube boiler lever machine experience but the quality and consistency of the Strega shots are better than my e61 HX. With a plumbed in Top there are no worries of running out of water, the steam is great and I can pull shots all day. The Strega price is also good considering you're getting a commercial grouphead that's 58mm which is a bonus if you're coming from an e61.
LMWDP #116
professionals do it for the pay, amateurs do it for the love

User avatar
Team HB

#8: Post by Jeff »

If you're in the land of 230 V, a Dualit steamer might open up other options like a used Streitman.

I have not used the Dualit myself as I'm stuck with the feeble 120 V decision here.

User avatar

#9: Post by bostonbuzz »

I have had a Strega for about 8 years. I PID'd the grouphead, installed a pump dimmer for pre-infusion, and a brew pressure gauge. I think it's a great machine with these additions. My curiosity wouldn't let me NOT do this to it.

These days, low pressure, different pre-infusion pressures, etc. are all the rage. The strega is aging very well.

You keep the pump low and pre-infuse at 3 bar, and then release the lever and the shot is much lower than 9 bars. You let the pump come to full pressure and when the lever releases you have a high pressure shot. You always have a declining pressure, but you can change the preinfusion pressure and starting lever pressure before the decline.
LMWDP #353

User avatar
Team HB

#10: Post by drgary »

To add possibilities. if you can find a used but recent Elektra Microcasa a Leva that's in your price range it has better boiler capacity and steams well. Or get a Robot or Flair so you can use your La Pavoni primarily for steaming.

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!