Videos of Greg Scace at home (and his La Marzocco Leva X) - Page 5

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.

#41: Post by gscace »

drH wrote: Thanks again for all of your efforts posting about the Leva X. It's such an intriguing machine.
Now that you've had some time with it, would you say that you can use it to prepare shots at least as good as the straight 9-bar pump machines?
Do you think that given the profiling, that you can repeatably do better?
Given a choice, would you prefer this machine to another equivalent La Marzocco (e.g., a Linea PB or something else)?
These are tough questions to answer. Specific espresso machines are always going to produce slightly different coffee because water flow rates, preinfusion, pressure ramping, water flow field vary from design to design. Fortunately the best machines in the world can produce amazing coffees with high repeatability, and differences are becoming smaller. Folks obsessing over brewing machinery should realize that the best machine in the world won't make excellent coffee from poor source coffee or poorly roasted coffee. And the result will also be substandard if the coffee is not ground properly or well, even for the best coffee in the world. There are 3 two-group machines here in my labspace, plus the Leva. Two of the 2-groups are used for production testing of Scace devices and one was a test bed that I used for a consulting project. They all produce slightly different cups between themselves, but are excellent machines that produce an excellent cup. And they produce a slightly different cup compared to the Leva, which is also excellent. Demonstrating quantitative advantage of any of the machines over another with regard to how they brew coffee takes a ton of work, and I'm not being paid to tease out differences between the machines here.

The Leva excels in several areas. Temperature reproducibility is really good. Water is introduced above the coffee in a way that is not possible with a pump machine grouphead. The pressurized water is a cylindrical column above the coffee bed with the Leva, whereas water is introduced through a small opening in a pump grouphead, then dispersed radially before it is pushed through the coffee. Preinfusion time and pressure ramp is very flexible - user controlled. And the Leva is very clean, in that there is no coffee backflow through the group after brewing. I'm big on cleanliness, which is one of the many reasons I hate spouts on my portafilters.

The result is that the Leva produces astonishing quality if I feed it right and do my part. Would I prefer another La Marzocco machine over it? I don't have experience with all of La Marzocco's product line so can't say for sure, but the Leva ticks the boxes of theater, uniqueness (a word?), my conception of how water ought to flow through coffee, consistency and performance. Based on that I'd be surprised to find something better. Having said that i also had very good coffee in the past two weeks from one of the new-design Slayers and from a Cafelat Robot.


#42: Post by Monsterzero »


Thanks for the review of the Leva X. I would really appreciate to know what your feeling is about using this machine as compared to other lever machines, in particular a Londinium R24, which I currently own. Or if you have tried other lever machines, how does it compare?


#43: Post by gscace » replying to Monsterzero »

I don't know how much I can answer your question. I'm not really a lever geek, although I'm in a lever users group on Friendface. I haven't used a Londinium although I'd like to try one. I've used a Kees Ven der Weston Idrocompresso, but don't have the amount of experience with it that I now have with the Marzocco. What is special about the Marzocco is the amount of effort that was put into solving traditional lever problems - temperature control, easily adjustable shot volume without having to pull shots early or do silly double pulling things. Lever machines introduce water to coffee pretty gently. There's no central hole from which the water leaves the group, so less dispersion issues above the coffee. Preinfusion is more easily manipulated. But temperature control is historically pretty sh**ty. The Marzocco fixes that.


#44: Post by Monsterzero »


thanks for the reply and the summary of your experience with the La Marzocco Leva X, thus far. I have to ask, after watching your video of you trying several shots with the other gentleman (who I believe, roasts his own coffee beans), I noticed that you'd always would "pre-heat" the group head, by pulling the lever slightly, in order to run hot water through.
Is this necessary with this machine? I ask because with my limited experience on the LONDINIUM R24, I was told the water circulates though the group head and back to the boiler, not requiring a "warm up" pull prior to pulling a shot. Not a big deal for me either way, I just wanted to see if there would be a temperature difference, one way or another.
I guess the bigger question to you is, would you consider the Leva X to be an end-all type of espresso machine, which really doesn't need improvement, since it checks off all the boxes, when searching for an all-around great lever machine?
As a preface, I am seriously looking at trading in all my machines for this one machine, in particular, and I am very appreciative of any constructive criticism that you may have of it, prior to pursuing it. TIA!


#45: Post by gscace » replying to Monsterzero »

That other gentleman is Jay Caragay, who is a past barista champion, USBC judge, professional coffee roaster, and owner of several third wave shops in the Baltimore area over the years. He's also an accomplished cinematographer. You've seen his work.

Lots of companies tout their particular temperature control schemes and will tell you what they want you to hear. The way to know for sure is to use one of my devices, check it for yourself and learn how to compensate for the idiosyncrasies of your machine. Lever machines have a lot of metal that is difficult to heat and that is not always in contact with hot water. Regardless of whether or not water circulates through the group, I bet it doesn't circulate on the piston side of the group. That water tends to run cold, and needs to get heated. The Leva actually has three independent heaters in the boiler, group neck and group. And it still benefits for a group flush if it has been sitting idle for a long time. Once that flush has been performed, the brewing water temperature is really consistent, with average temperature within 0.5 C for all duty cycles shorter than 5 minutes. It has a slightly declining temperature profile (temperature during each extraction) and is remarkably reproducible.

Regarding short group flushes, that's my usual practice to clear any old coffee particles off of the group showerscreen. It's actually required if you're a WBC competitor. I'm not, but I do periodically test equipment for suitability in competitions so it's in my workflow.

I'd think that if you were looking for an "end-all" espresso machine then the Leva ought to be on your short list. I'd look at the Strada EP as well. I have a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2, T3 2-group that is freakin awesome. It's so good that I use it as a benchmark for comparing other machines, besides being a test bed for Scace devices aimed at the Simonelli sphere. If I had the real estate, I'd go for a 2-group Leva. I love my one-group, but 2-group machines steam like no tomorrow - they just never run out. I don't have any experience with Slayer, but I've had really good coffee from them. Kees machines are gorgeous.