Lapera DS first edition user experience

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
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baldheadracing
Team HB

#1: Post by baldheadracing »

All but one of the first edition machines has shipped now. I'm hopeful that I won't be the only one here with a machine.

First of all, the obligatory photo:

(Yes, I chose the serial number :P) For more pics of the machines, look at https://lapera.ca and follow @laperacoffeemachines on Instagram.

Getting the machine
Some of the pandemic travel restrictions lifted here earlier this week, so I was able to venture down to Montreal, meet Thomas and company, and pick up my Lapera DS at his shop.

Getting there was interesting: Montreal construction and weird intersections: 2. Google maps: 0. However, an auspicious sign - I found a parking spot on the street; unheard of in much of Montreal, especially just before moving day. (July 1 is moving day in Quebec.) I had to download an app (totalement en Français) to pay for parking.

The shop is just what you'd imagine it to be - full of Aurora's and prototype Laperas - and, when I was there, the other first edition Lapera's packed up for shippping. I was expecting to see a pile of dot-matrix printers - but there were no printers, just a bunch of metronones for a different project. (http://www.vimeo.com/6868193 if you have no idea what I'm on about.)

Back home:
- First impression - this machine looks really small and I thought it was; but when I measured it, it was about the same size as the Strega (which is actually an E-61 box). The looks are deceiving due to the narrow width of the chrome part of the front of the machine and the drip tray.
- Second impression - this machine is heavy. My Strega is about 65 pounds, and this machine feels heavier.
- Third impression - both the lever and portafilter handles fit my hands perfectly. Ditto steam and tap knobs. It's seemingly little thing, but none of the handles of my other machines feel this good in the hand ... Simonelli, Elektra, Rancilio. The lever handle is especially just ... right. The lever action is very smooth compared to the other levers that I've tried.
- Fourth impression - the relentless pursuit of perfection. Everything on the machine is just right. It feels like "Sweat the details." Of course, not everything is perfect, but I'll get to that.

How does the espresso taste?
I don't know; and, at the moment, I don't care. I'm sure that the espresso will be just fine. Eventually I'll get out the Scace and see what's what. Or not. I had put the machine in the spot that I measured and picked out for it ... and the lever handle blocks the cupboards :oops:. Road racing and track season just started here (pandemic again), so, for the moment, the machine will have to sit and wait. I might put the machine on a cart with a Flojet temporarily, but I'm in no rush; I've got other machines.

Why this machine?
There's the thread here, starting May 2016: Building a lever machine.... from scratch, but also this blog, first related entry March 2014: http://smallthingsihavemade.blogspot.co ... badge.html which really didn't get going until February 2016 http://smallthingsihavemade.blogspot.co ... ation.html and the Lapera blog, also starting February 2016 https://lapera.ca/contemplating-buildin ... ness-lies/ (There's some duplication between these sources.)

In other words, as quoted in the February 2016 Lapera blog entry, "that way madness lies" - for over five years. I can't even begin to comprehend the single-mindedness of it. All I can say is I think that this is a "dead guy" machine.

"I bought it from a dead guy, and it's not getting sold again until I'm dead. This car doesn't change hands without someone dying." - Jerry Seinfeld, referring to his 1973 Porsche 911 RS

What should potential buyers of the next (second) edition be aware of?
  • If you want additional portafilters, say, a bottomless, then do not order the usual generic E-61, a.k.a. "E-61 Modern" (Cafelat term). These generic E-61's typically have lugs about 6mm thick, and also fit Rancilios, Elektras, etc. The Lapera's portafilter has about a 7mm lug. I ordered an "original-style" E-61 bottomless portafilter (spec'd as 7.2mm lugs) from https://coffeeaddicts.ca/ and it fits just fine. Thomas mentioned that he will eventually have bottomless as well.
  • The design puts the hot water and steam wands pretty close to the group. Brugnetti Aurora's typically have either a short steam arm like the Lapera has - which looks good - or a long loopy one - that looks a bit ridiculous. If you like a lot of room around the steam wand, then you might also want to request a longer steam arm.
  • The top of the machine is a mirror-finished piece of stainless steel with a few small slots cut in the back part of the top. If you put cups on the top, then I'm thinking that the mirror finish is going to get scratched, and there is no grating or pattern to hide scratches. A matte finish - as is used on the drip tray lid - might be more practical. I'll put down a towel or some clear vinyl or silicone sheeting. Others may want their machines to "age" naturally.
  • The machine is based on an old-school Brugnetti Aurora with old-school drain tray-to-portafilter clearances. (My Elektras have the same clearance.) Pull an Americano straight into a mug? Not happening, although a typical mug will just clear the hot water tap. Use scales? No way with spouts, but maybe - maybe - with a bottomless portafilter. The biggest cup that I have that I could fit under the spouts (no scales) is an Inker wide 9oz - this one: https://49thcoffee.com/collections/merc ... cup-saucer
In closing
People buy espresso machines for varying reasons, but a very common theme is to "make better espresso." To that end, folks want to know how a machine performs, what features it has, how well those features work, and so on - and there's nothing wrong with that. However, "making better espresso" was not a critera for me. To me, this machine is aesthetically pleasing, and shows, to borrow from Honda, "the power of dreams."
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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IamOiman
Team HB

#2: Post by IamOiman »

Nice write up!

I personally considered a Lapera but I already had a Bosco (and maybe a few old ones too). If I did not have the smattering of equipment I currenty posses I was really likely to pull the trigger on a Lapera. I hope you enjoy your shots for years to come, and it's really cool a Canadian workshop is now up and running for espresso machines.

Bidoowee's/Thomas' progress has been a pleasure to follow here.
-Ryan
Using a spice grinder violates the Geneva Convention
LMWDP #612

Ad-85

#3: Post by Ad-85 »

Congrats on the machine. Looks amazing!
LMWDB #691
LeverHeads on Telegram

MemPast

#4: Post by MemPast »

Congrats!
baldheadracing wrote: "I bought it from a dead guy, and it's not getting sold again until I'm dead. This car doesn't change hands without someone dying." - Jerry Seinfeld, referring to his 1973 Porsche 911 RS
I am speechless!

TenLayers
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by TenLayers »

Yes, thank you for supporting his effort. I just can't say enough about someone taking things to his his level of commitment. Congratulations

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LBIespresso
Supporter ❤

#6: Post by LBIespresso »

I am simultaneously jealous and genuinely happy for you. Here's to a very long time before there is a "second" owner of 0007
LMWDP #580

Paolo

#7: Post by Paolo »

The humble Brugnetti Aurora was my first lever machine.

I bought it from an ad in Coffeesnobs in 2010. The seller was located only 5km from my workplace. It belonged originally to a guy in the Netherlands, who sold it to a guy in New Zealand and posted it over in two boxes...who sold it to another guy in New Zealand (who is now my friend)...who sold it to the guy I was buying it from.


A rather 'plain jane' -as I used to refer to it to friends.
This one started my obsession with lever machines. As I used other vintage machines, I came to realize the magic stored in one of these old Auroras. Maybe it was the heat exchanger design...maybe there was something mystical in the design of the group casting...who could tell?

But it was there.

As I made shots with other lever machines, I found that none of the other lever machines that I have used over the years could deliver the same gusto/oomph/crema/deliciously satisfying shots that the Aurora could. And that includes Mercurio, QM Achille, Conti Prestina and Empress, Urania, Mercurio and Lambro.

So when I first read of this intrepid Montreal-ian on HB (over 5 years ago) toying with the idea of building a modern day Aurora (from scratch), I was interested, to say the least.

There were soon mentions of low/no arsenic brass castings for the group, stainless boiler, PID etc etc.
And I was absolutely hooked.

This thread was my morning port of call going back to May 29th, 2016.
Building a lever machine.... from scratch

Imagine being able to actually OWN one of these beasties... And ... (as it turned out) it would be chock-full of modern tweaks and advancements that actually made it better than the original one...

I just HAD to have one.

I remember reaching out to Thomas five years ago and asking him if I could actually buy one from him.

Well...it has been a really long and entertaining journey for me. I don't know what Thomas would say. It must have been an all-consuming passion/obsession for him.


Until you actually see a Lapera in the metal, you wouldn't believe the level of detail and perfection that makes up this amazing machine.
I was lucky enough to put my hand in the air when Thomas announced that Lapera was open for orders.
#00002 was the closest to being the first one that was available...and I grabbed it! I didn't actually need another espresso machine but I simply couldn't turn this one down.



The travelling case that my machine (Roxanne) came to me in was pretty close to being a bulletproof vault. I am ecstatic that Australian Customs did not decide to open the box to inspect the suspect cargo from Montreal because they never would have been able to restore its integrity.


I carefully dismantled the box and hey presto...there she was.... in all of her glory!


A quick water connection here...and a flip of the switch there...and a scroll though the electronic controller and I could hear her boiler filling! Progress!

After a few minutes I could feel that the boiler was getting warm and could hear the heater heating...this was going to be good!

I waited until the anti-vacuum valve did its thing and then waited some more...the manometer started to move! YAH!!!!

I watched the gauge's needle rise...is it going to stop eventually? Of course...


In spite of being already in a caffeinated state, I pulled 4 shots with Roxanne and you will have to trust and believe me when I say that they became better...and betterer. Fancy a long black, anyone?




The meeting of generations-

Tell me again, Grandpa...what did you do in the war?


I thoroughly concur with Craig-#0007 Baldheadracing...AND Jerry Seinfeld. This one is 'a dead guy machine' for me too. A keeper that is to be kept by me even if the good doctor puts his hand on my shoulder and says those fearful words that we all dread may happen one day "You simply HAVE to give up caffeine!"

Amberale

#8: Post by Amberale »

Crikey Mate!
What a collection of beauties.
Is there an Evo on that bench as well?
There was a Lapera for sale in Melbourne recently an I was sooo tempted.

Edit: Ooops, Brugnetti Aurora

Paolo

#9: Post by Paolo »

Was it an Aurora for sale?
Either way...grab it if you still can....

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baldheadracing (original poster)
Team HB

#10: Post by baldheadracing (original poster) »

Paolo wrote:... "You simply HAVE to give up caffeine!"
Decaf will be the answer :wink:. I'm already on that path.

Glad to find out that I'm not the only one here. So nice to see the Lapera beside an Aurora :D .
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada