Thinking about a lever machine, but I have never had one.

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
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Moka 1 Cup

#1: Post by Moka 1 Cup »

I am not sure if these questions should have been posted here or in the section dedicated to lever machine. It's a mix between "looking for buying advice" and "please educate me about lever machines".
It has been for at least three years that I have been looking at those beautiful machines. Maybe the time has arrived. The problem is that I do not have experience with any of them. I understand that there are different brands/model/platform, but I do not know what really could meet our needs. I do not even know the difference between manual and spring loaded in terms of use and espresso quality in the cup. Is there a big difference in terms of meintanance requirements between them? I really would like something that does not require a degree in thermodynamics. Are they less or more demanding than pump machines? Londinium and Bezzera use a pump, I assume I should stay away from them but I may be wrong. What about the Londinium Vectis?
I also have the problem that I may have to decide very soon if I want to order one or to stick to better known (by me) pump machines, by keeping what we currently have or by buying a new model.

This machine, if we buy it, may become our only espresso machine, and will be used by my son (15) and I. It will be coupled by a Niche Zero and a Eureka Specialità.
We currently use a BES920XL. We make 5 to 8 shots each day, 2 or 3 of which are cappuccino. We only pull single 8 gr shots (dedicated La Marzocco 7g 58mm basket + Tidaka funnel)). Usually we do not make more that 3 shots in a row. The BES is super easy to use, ready to run in few minutes, temperature control, pressure gauge, perfusion and so on.
I understand that with a lever, due to the size of the portafilters, we may lose the ability to use the dedicated 58 mm La Marzocco basket and the Tidaka kit, but I also think that there are lever machines (Bezzera Strega, but it comes with a pump) that use the 58 mm portafilter. Or maybe there are similar kits for smaller diameters.

Looking for guidance, as far as the kind of lever machine I should look for, and possibly brand and model and also where to buy it from. I see La Pavoni's only on Amazon, Londinium on their website in the UK and domestic known vendors seem to carry a very limited selection of lever machines.
Again, I do not know what to look at, but I know I would like to see a pressure gauge on it :D .

I am not sure about the budget. Possibly under $3000.

Plumbing currently is NOT an option.
We drink medium and dark roast.
Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness.


#2: Post by flyingtoaster »

If I didn't already have a year-2000 pre-millennial La Pavoni, I would jump on the 1990 Olympia Cremina that's currently for sale. If you don't like it, just sell for the price you paid. It won't lose value like a new Londinium.

[FS] 1990 Olympia Express Cremina 67

Direct levers like this teach you everything the Breville does automatically. They also allow you to rescue shots if the grind is too fine or coarse. Too fine? Let it pre-infuse longer. Too coarse? Pull a turbo. La Pavoni and Olympia have 8g baskets available. They are either 49mm or 51mm so you'll need a new tamper. They are also stupid easy to maintain since there is no pump and just a single boiler.

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Moka 1 Cup (original poster)

#3: Post by Moka 1 Cup (original poster) »

Thank you.
What about the Profitec 800?
Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness.


#4: Post by erik82 »

The first queston you need to ask yourself is if you want the convenience of a large spring lever or you want to fiddle around with a small manual lever with the downsides. A large spring lever like the Profitec 800, Londinium and Bezzera Strega can pull great shots all day long without worrying about anything. A big lever you can turn on, leave on and pull shots whenever you want. With a small lever you need to plan to turn it on before a session, watch temperature management and do a sesison and turn it off. Keep this in mind as that'll probably give you an idea what direction you want to go.

Small lever give small shots, have bad temperature management (Pavoni) and need all kind of fiddling around to get a good shot. Also don't expect to pull more then 2-3 shots with them in a session without getting into problems. Especially if you like medium to dark roasts a 49mm filterbasket will only hold around 12-14gr and thus give small shots. There are 18gr filterbaskets but they're too tall and just don't work that well and the group of those small levers will be too small to even get to a 1:2 ratio. If you steam a lot there just not that capable of doing that other then 1-2 capps in a session but it'll take you 2-3 times as long as with your current machine.

Don't think about the pump on a Stega, Profitec or Londinium as something bad as it's a totally different principle then on a semi. Those lever machines will pull superb shots all day long with the biggest ease. That's the great thing about spring levers.

Let me make clear that I owned a new Cremina, La Pavoni, Strega and have worked with the Londinium multiple times. I own a Strietman and love those manual levers but it needs to fit your personal situation. A Londinium for example is a great commercial beast which will spit out great espresso and steam milk all day long without a hassle.

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#5: Post by espressotime replying to erik82 »

This pretty much sums it all up and should be made into a sticky for anybody thinking about going the lever way.


#6: Post by mathof »

Given your preference for Italian dark roast styles, I don't see that you would benefit from an advanced lever machine that uses a pump to provide extra pre-infusion pressure for lighter roasts.

The Vectis, which should be out soon -- but will probably be in short supply initially -- should suit your requirements. It uses 58mm baskets, so you can keep your current basket and tamper habits. Small doses should be easily accommodated by the, I think, 7bar spring. (Personally, I prefer a spring lever to a manual one, for the ease, consistency and removal of the uncertainty of what lever pressure to apply.)

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Moka 1 Cup (original poster)

#7: Post by Moka 1 Cup (original poster) »

Thank you very much, I really appreciate it. I need to process it.
The past night I made a lot of reading, and watched a ton of videos but there are still many things that are not clear to me. The reason why I would prefer to stay away from pumps, like in the case of the Strega or the Londinium is that I would like to keep problems related to maintenance to the minimum. That is the main reason why I want to go away from the current platform. I use pre infusion only for puck uniformity, I may be wrong but I don't think I need 5 bars for that.
The Profitec 800 does not use a pump for the preinfusion, just for filling the boiler, correct? From videos I see that that is done manually (Profitec 800). I have read stellar reviews about this machine, even if I understand some people had issues with overheating. I do not know if that has been addressed by Profitec with the newest version.

When I woke up, and fixed my first espresso, I realized the most obvious thing: I may have a problem with space. These two are the places where we fix coffee. Probably the area where I have the BES is not suitable for a lever machine. The Eureka is not mine, I will receive one in few days, The Breville grinder on the left will be replaced by the Niche, so the available space will be more or less the same as you see it in the picture. The concern is about the two doors, I am not sure if the lever would allow to open them.
Second one, maybe. I need to check measures.

Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness.

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Team HB

#8: Post by baldheadracing »

Moka 1 Cup wrote:... We make 5 to 8 shots each day, 2 or 3 of which are cappuccino. We only pull single 8 gr shots (dedicated La Marzocco 7g 58mm basket + Tidaka funnel)). Usually we do not make more that 3 shots in a row. ...
Plumbing currently is NOT an option.
We drink medium and dark roast. ...
1. Do you want the best currently-available new machine for your needs, or the best currently-available new lever machine for your needs?
2. What do you want to change about your BDB experience?
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada


#9: Post by Milligan »

Although not ideal, if the lever is positioned between the doors then the doors could swing out and away before they knock into it. I'm in the same boat as you. Love my current espresso machine but am wanting to dabble in the lever machines. Curious to see what you land on. I'll probably go down the path of buying one to rebuild because I have no plans to replace my current machine. This would be a side project.


#10: Post by DaveC replying to Milligan »

this is exactly how I sited my Alpha ACS Evo test bed. In fact my situation was exactly the same as the photo with the cupboard doors. The second image looks ideal as it's just a shelf and any lever should sit well forward of that.