New to Lever, Experienced on Espresso - Buying Advice

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
BoulderMike

#1: Post by BoulderMike » Nov 06, 2019, 10:54 am

I am relatively experienced on espresso, and have what I believe to be is good equipment. LMLM, Niche Zero, Monolith Flat with SSP Burrs (coming next Feb.). I have been roasting on a Freshroast 500 (definitely the weak link). My results have been very good and I am very happy with the LMLM. I have been thinking about upgrading my roaster to a Cormorant 600 or a Bullet, but am now thinking that maybe the logistics of "higher end" home roasting might be too much in terms of where to put it, venting, etc.
My question is regarding Lever machines. I am thinking maybe rather than upgrading the roasting, I could supplement my current roasting with say a 50/50 split of home roasted beans and buying beans roasted by some of the highly regarded roasters mentioned elsewhere on HB. As to my question, I am thinking of either the Cremina or the Londinium R. I should note that I am OK with normal maintenance like cleaning, but not really much into complex maintenance like taking the machine apart and doing anything that requires more than a screw driver or a wrench. I really like the Cremina but am concerned that it might be too much for me in terms of what is required to keep it running year in and year out. The Londinium R also requires maintenance, but I think it might be simpler and less frequent than the Cremina. Perhaps I am completely wrong here, and my question is based on your knowledge and experience, which machine might be a better fit for someone with my skill set? Also, I should note that I generally make Oat Milk Cappuccino's, and don't drink straight espresso often.
Thanks for any advice and insights you might have.

ojt

#2: Post by ojt » Nov 06, 2019, 11:17 am

Only a partial answer based on experience with the Pavoni. Since Cremina is really quite similar I should say that a quick clean-up and relube of the grouphead and piston seals is in order roughly every 6 months or so. Should keep it running smooth and reduce wear. Not sure if this is the case with commercial and prosumer levers but I would do it anyway. There is always the piston moving up and down..

Congrats on the gear! Wish I had some of those, and the space for them.
Osku

BoulderMike

#3: Post by BoulderMike » replying to ojt » Nov 06, 2019, 11:22 am

Thanks for the response. I have been thinking that perhaps since I have the LMLM, I could use it for steaming "milk" and really could look into a Lever machine which doesn't steam. I really want a Lever machine that makes the "best" espresso, and that allows me to take advantage of the more nuanced flavors that can be obtained by the more manual tweaking of the lever throughout the shot. So, maybe a La Pavoni, the Cafelet Robot, or ...., not sure. Anyway, thanks for the response.

Dev

#4: Post by Dev » Nov 06, 2019, 11:29 am

I don't know anything about the Londinium R as I only have experience with the LP and Cremina.
As far as maintenance goes the Cremina is dead simple and should be dead reliable once you have one that has been inspected and rebuilt. If you get the upgraded lever pins on EBay it will make servicing the head every three months very easy. In the unlikely rare event you have a major repair its also very easy to access and replace parts.

From my past experience with the La Pavoni it was a love hate relationship but once I nailed downed some of the problems it became very reliable and now the new owner who is my friend is enjoying it without issue.

def
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by def » Nov 06, 2019, 11:32 am

I recommend that you narrow the choices down initially based on certain features:

110v-120v vs 220v-240v, 15A vs 20A
plumb-in only or water tank operation
dimensional limits such as max height
55mm vs 58mm pf
commercial spring lever group or non-commercial group
spring lever vs manual lever

Once you narrow down, there are not that many options and the choice usually comes down to two or three machines.

ojt

#6: Post by ojt » Nov 06, 2019, 11:32 am

BoulderMike wrote:I really want a Lever machine that makes the "best" espresso, and that allows me to take advantage of the more nuanced flavors that can be obtained by the more manual tweaking of the lever throughout the shot.
Well, Pavoni is easy to come by and is affordable if used. The down side IMHO is temperature management precision.

For more precision Cremina, or maybe even the Strietman CT-1. I've heard a lot of good about Robot but if you want precision for temperature I'm not so sure.

In fact I think I'd go looking for an open boiler lever such as the CT-1 or Arrarex Caravel (used of course).
Osku

def
Supporter ♡

#7: Post by def » Nov 06, 2019, 11:35 am

the Cafelet Robot, or ....,
I don't think you can go wrong with the Robot for your first lever machine because the cash outlay is very low and you can sell it for about what you paid for it. From my own experience, I don't think it is easy to find one's ultimate machine on the first try.

BoulderMike

#8: Post by BoulderMike » Nov 06, 2019, 11:48 am

A couple of follow up thoughts based on the above replies:

Robot looks nice but I don't want to heat water and pour in. I prefer a boiler or at least what the CT-2 has for heating. The CT-2 looks nice but it is 2080 euro which seems like a lot for a manual machine.

I definitely don't want temperature management issues as that was the driving force behind me finally retiring my Silvia.

Cremina looks nice but I think it has the smaller portafilter (55).

If the CT-2 was less expensive that would be my choice at this point as I am not really good at finding things like the La Pavoni used. I am always afraid of getting damaged goods.

RyanP

#9: Post by RyanP » Nov 06, 2019, 12:35 pm

I've owned a Strietman, Cremina, Robot and a LR. Out of those 4 the Cremina would be the last on my list. I know that's not a popular opinion as it's a much beloved machine around these parts, but as far as manual machines go I find the Strietman to be a class above it, and the Robot for a fraction of the price produces an espresso just as good. The LR being a commercial spring is its own beast. If it's calling to you, and you have the space for it, it is simply a joy to use.

espressotime

#10: Post by espressotime » Nov 06, 2019, 1:04 pm

I wouldn, t call the LR commercial since it has a reservoir.