Bay Area: coffee shop with lever espresso machine

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
macaber8

#1: Post by macaber8 »

Hello,

I am currently a aeropress user and looking for an espresso machine for home. So far, I have already spend around a month researching the machines and found I must get a lever machine.

The only problem is: I have never tried the taste of lever espresso machine myself. Never. I think this is a problem. I must try it for myself before pulling the trigger.

Lever Coffee at Alamo is one. I wonder is there any coffee shops running lever machines around Santa Clara, San Jose?

vecchi della seattle
Supporter ❤

#2: Post by vecchi della seattle »

I'm interested in your findings. Any sort of pre-wetting or flow control on my E61/HX just muddys the flavor profile and levers all have pre-infusion as part of the process.

Pressino

#3: Post by Pressino »

Trying coffee from a cafe that uses a lever machine will likely tell you how much you like the coffee brewed by the barista there more than it will tell you what you will produce with whatever lever machine and coffee you buy for home use. It might be a better test of potential differences if the shop had both a lever machine and a non-lever espresso machine and you could taste the same coffee brewed on each machine by the same barista.

imp96

#4: Post by imp96 »

You can buy a flair/robot to try out and then sell it once you are done. I don't think a coffee shop experience will tell you much unless the coffee shop has both types of espresso machines pulling the same coffee on them which I think is unlikely. Coffee bean/technique/recipe will have a much bigger effect on taste then lever vs conventional machine.

User avatar
yakster
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by yakster »

I don't know of any local shop with a lever anymore. Barefoot Coffee had a three group Victoria Arduino lever at their roastery roll-up bar in 2012, but I haven't seen that in a while. I used to hang out every once in a while to catch up with the baristas there and get a lever shot, usually on my way to or from work.

Visiting your local lever

-Chris

LMWDP # 272

macaber8 (original poster)

#6: Post by macaber8 (original poster) »

yakster wrote:I don't know of any local shop with a lever anymore. Barefoot Coffee had a three group Victoria Arduino lever at their roastery roll-up bar in 2012, but I haven't seen that in a while. I used to hang out every once in a while to catch up with the baristas there and get a lever shot, usually on my way to or from work.

Visiting your local lever

<img>
Hi yakster. Thanks for the tip. I will go and check them out this week.

macaber8 (original poster)

#7: Post by macaber8 (original poster) »

Pressino wrote:Trying coffee from a cafe that uses a lever machine will likely tell you how much you like the coffee brewed by the barista there more than it will tell you what you will produce with whatever lever machine and coffee you buy for home use. It might be a better test of potential differences if the shop had both a lever machine and a non-lever espresso machine and you could taste the same coffee brewed on each machine by the same barista.
This is a very good point!

It will be very difficult to even find lever machine coffee shop near by. I already decided to drive to Alamo this weekend to see if they can help me with my request.

Since we are already here, should I bring my beans and grinder and ask the barista to brew some coffee for me with my own beans and with 2 types of machines? I dont want to sound offensive but probably should ask them for a private lesson if I like their coffee.

macaber8 (original poster)

#8: Post by macaber8 (original poster) »

imp96 wrote:You can buy a flair/robot to try out and then sell it once you are done. I don't think a coffee shop experience will tell you much unless the coffee shop has both types of espresso machines pulling the same coffee on them which I think is unlikely. Coffee bean/technique/recipe will have a much bigger effect on taste then lever vs conventional machine.
I know this is probably cheaper to start out. My past experience with other things will tell my espresso story would go like this: I start with something cheap, find out more, gradually upgrade, then inevitably I end up with something fancy as my "end game". Everything I used on the way would be either returned or sold for half price or less. When it comes to selling stuff, I am sure even the cheap Flair will depreciate. Let alone if I get a Flair with QM Steam to start out, a Cafelat Robot is nice and cheap to try out, so I get that, after that I would get board and upgrade to a PV Lusso or Lelit MaraX, then probably a CT2 or a Cremina, then I would probably want to sell all of these for half price and get a Nurri L Type or ACS Vesuvius Lever or Londinium R24.

Worst of all, I am going to have to drink a lot of terrible coffee that I produced during this learning and upgrading process. I cannot do that given I already have tried some really good coffee.

Usually, the cheaper things are, the less value they hold over time. If I find out LR24 is not my cup of tea, I can probably sell them for $3K after using it for a year. However, if I try my way up, I am sure this is going to cost way more. I'd rather pay this money to for one or two private coffee brewing lessons.

If, luckily, I get to try enough before I buy, and get a relatively versatile machine like Vesuvius, I could be from 0 to end game and good forever.

User avatar
bostonbuzz

#9: Post by bostonbuzz »

There were a bunch in Monterey with levers, but they closed. Only Happy Girl now still has a lever. They are not very careful about their coffee program though so I would not use it to judge levers as a whole. They are an amazing place for other stuff and I stop there every time I go through.

You will not learn much from going to a place with a lever unless they have impeccable espresso prep which is extremely unlikely in any coffee shop let alone ones with levers.

Better is to ask for a local HB user who has a lever and will pull you a shot.
LMWDP #353

imp96

#10: Post by imp96 »

You have exactly the same approach as I do for any hobby, in terms of not wasting money on continuous upgrades, but your analysis for this case is wrong.

1. Resale value of the Robot/Flair is actually pretty high. Regardless of resale value, I believe this would be the cheapest way you could try to understand if you like lever espresso. As others and I have mentioned, trying to understand if you like lever espresso machine by trying espresso at coffee shops is futile. To add to everything that has been said, the vast majority of shops don't make good espresso. I too started to learn about espresso by trying it at coffee shops around the Bay Area and came to realize that most are mediocre at best. A few are great and a good chunk are flat out awful. At the end of the day, you would probably lose 100 dollars on the resale or even less if you buy used. You might also end up just keeping the Robot/Flair around as they are easy to experiment with pressure profiling. I started with a Robot to try and don't have any desire to upgrade as I like the workflow and the coffee it produces.

2. An important thing to realize that espresso at home is not a hobby of drinking espresso but making espresso. Regardless of the machine you get you will make terrible espresso for a while. It is very unlikely that you will make good espresso in a week.

3. You can check recent sales of LR24 on this board. You would probably lose more on the resale then the cost of the flair/robot. The resale value has little to do with the original cost. It is about current availability of the product/demand and depreciation. The Robot/Flair are in demand and have no depreciation as long as you don't scratch or break them. Any other machine will depreciate as you will need to service them and maintain them.

If you are dead set on going straight to LR24/Vesuvius then I would just do that and forget about trying to find a coffee shop or other ways to try a lever. You will never know if you like it until you get to play around with it yourself. I am sure either machine will serve you well. Most importantly you haven't mentioned a grinder, which in my opinion is a more important consideration then the machine choice. Thats another topic though.