Lever machines, only you using it?

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
BSdV

#1: Post by BSdV »

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, and looking for some advice.

Both my wife and I love coffee and espresso.
I like to tinker and "play/experiment" , she'll prefer to get a decent espresso with ease of use.
To put this in context, for normal regular coffee we have a pretty good drip machine and V60. Manual hand grinder and electric hand grinder.
She uses the normal drip machine and electric grinder, I almost only use the manual (commandante) hand grinder and v60.

With my current profession (I'm a seaman) I spend at least 6 months away from home. So I would like to purchase a machine that both of us can and will use.

I've been looking at the various available machines and style of machines and I'm very, very interested in getting a lever machine. I'm quite certain that once I acquire the skills I will thoroughly enjoy this type of machine. But I also think that my wife will not be as keen to go through this learning curve the way I do.

I'm now strongly considering purchasing a Bezzera Strega. From what I have read and understood this machine is able to give very decent results, even with limited experience.
I would like to think that if I go through the process of dialing everything in, she'll be also be able to make good espressos and as a result be using this espresso machine.

I'm curious to find out if you're usually the only person using your lever machines, or if others in your family are using the machine as well.

I don't want to buy something that only I'm able to use, especially since I'm away half of the time. If it's not too difficult to get good results I'm quite sure that my wife will also use this machine. If it requires a steep learning curve this is not very likely.

Any comments or advise is very welcome. Thank you in advance!

Ben

LObin

#2: Post by LObin »

My wife pulls shots and steams milk every day on our Londinium at home. She also single dose with our DF64. I keep a file with different coffees, doses and grind settings for both of us.

She also learned to use a LP Europiccola / Niche Zero combo on the weekends at the cottage.

She rocks!

But yeah, if you go with a commercial lever machine, the routine is fairly easy to learn and the forgiveness is very helpful. Paired with a forgiving grinder (NZ is pretty forgiving but there's an obvious extra step), she should be fine, if she's willing to learn of course.

Whatever you get, make sure to put it on a timer or a smart switch!

Cheers!
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NYC Frank

#3: Post by NYC Frank »

I have a La Pavoni Professional for which I'm the only user in our household. My wife and son do not have any interest in it and rely on other automated machines. Although I've failed in trying to convince them otherwise I'm happy to be the only user of my little beauty. Even though you spend so much time away at sea, a nice lever machine will make your homecoming all the more welcoming...

mborkow

#4: Post by mborkow »

My wife and I have lived together with a lever since 2007. Next time she pulls a shot will be the first time!

However, she does insist on two americanos each morning so I don't get any push back on coffee purchases

Jeff
Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

I think the experience for an espresso maker (in contrast to an espresso hobbyist) on a spring lever machine is very different (much easier) than that on a manual lever. A spring lever is an old-school semi-automatic, just mechanical in its pressure profiling pump and system rather than electrical or electronic.

BSdV (original poster)

#6: Post by BSdV (original poster) »

LObin wrote:My wife pulls shots and steams milk every day on our Londinium at home. She also single dose with our DF64. I keep a file with different coffees, doses and grind settings for both of us.

She also learned to use a LP Europiccola / Niche Zero combo on the weekends at the cottage.

She rocks!

But yeah, if you go with a commercial lever machine, the routine is fairly easy to learn and the forgiveness is very helpful. Paired with a forgiving grinder (NZ is pretty forgiving but there's an obvious extra step), she should be fine, if she's willing to learn of course.

Whatever you get, make sure to put it on a timer or a smart switch!

Cheers!
Thanks!
Hadn't thought of the timer. Good thing to come downstairs in the morning with the coffee machine already being warmed up.

Where your wife appreciates lever machines mine probably really prefers a Jura deep down. I just need to find something that she's also happy enough to use with minimal effort and still get decent results.

What makes me interested in the Strega is the expected ease of use or forgiveness factor which makes it much more likely that she will use it. If I have everything dialed in for a particular coffee I think that will work.

What I'm a little afraid of with this machine is the force required to pull the lever. I have the feeling that this may be a hurdle.

Most of what I've read on the Strega is already close to 10 years old. Are there any better or more suitable machines nowadays?
The Elektra MCaL is an option, but contrary to most I don't like the looks at all and they are priced similarly. I also have the impression the Strega might be a more capable machine.
La Pavoni's will have a steeper learning curve and probably not be as consistent or forgiving.
Cremina - well, that's actually one of the few machines I like the looks of, but too expensive. The SL would be a very good contender otherwise. Perhaps even our ideal machine? Compact, durable, assumed ease of use of SL version, easy to operate spring, not as strong as the Strega.
The Londiniums are even more expensive than Olympia Cremina which is at this stage too much.

I don't know, I think that even though not a traditional lever, the Strega might at this stage be my best bet..

BSdV (original poster)

#7: Post by BSdV (original poster) »

mborkow wrote:My wife and I have lived together with a lever since 2007. Next time she pulls a shot will be the first time!

However, she does insist on two americanos each morning so I don't get any push back on coffee purchases
Thanks, that's reassuring :wink:

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MNate

#8: Post by MNate »

Yeah, I don't think it's the lever aspect so much as all the other little things that go into making a good espresso... weighing, basket prep, cleanup. It's not her hobby so hers don't turn out as well, so she is not willing to do it any more.

BSdV (original poster)

#9: Post by BSdV (original poster) »

NYC Frank wrote:I have a La Pavoni Professional for which I'm the only user in our household. My wife and son do not have any interest in it and rely on other automated machines. Although I've failed in trying to convince them otherwise I'm happy to be the only user of my little beauty. Even though you spend so much time away at sea, a nice lever machine will make your homecoming all the more welcoming...
I get what you are saying, but I don't want to be buying two machines. We already have too many machines taking up space.

My wife will most likely prefer the convenience of a fully automatic over the better quality shots a semi automatic or fully manual lever can give. But if everything is dialed in I'm sure she'll use it if it's not too difficult to do.
In the case of the Strega the spring will take the guesswork out of much of the process. Only looking at some videos I do fear that the spring tension on this unit might be a bit much for her. Haven't seen or tried it yet as I'm onboard at the moment.

We used a breville at some point, one of those grinder/espresso combo units. I never liked this machine too much but my wife was quite happily using it.

If they weren't so expensive I would get the new Cremina SL in a heartbeat. I like the looks, a lot actually, and the SL feels like it's something that she'll use as well. A spring assisted lever for which you don't need to workout in the gym to operate. Also it's a device which is built to last an incredible long time. Something I normally look for and put a lot of value on.
But with my non existent experience with these machines this seems like a long shot and I couldn't justify the cost at this time.

BSdV (original poster)

#10: Post by BSdV (original poster) »

MNate wrote:Yeah, I don't think it's the lever aspect so much as all the other little things that go into making a good espresso... weighing, basket prep, cleanup. It's not her hobby so hers don't turn out as well, so she is not willing to do it any more.
The weighing is no problem. She's weighing and grinding beans before making coffee every day. So we're good there. Basket prep and cleanup, no problem - she'll happily do that as well as long as she'll be able to make good espresso.
It's not the actual work that is the problem, I just don't think that she'll be interested in acquiring the skills to make great espresso. If I could do the dialing in and take the guesswork out of it, I'd like to think that she would use the machine.


The dialing in of the grinder, and all of those things will be a stretch. A pure manual lever operated machine that requires practice to get good results is likely not going to be a success. Therefore I'm - perhaps incorrectly so - thinking that maybe a spring operated lever would be a good alternative.

If I would not be away for 6 months or more every year, this wouldn't have been an issue. I would just get the machine I like best and make the espressos for both of us. She'll be more than happy with that. It's only that I don't want to be buying two different machines and hope that there's something out there that will work for both of us.