LMWDP Rollcall - Page 211

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
hege

Postby hege » May 14, 2019, 11:34 pm

Hello lever aficionados,

new member of LMWDP here: I have just finished setting up my Londinium R, and I have to say I am thoroughly amazed by the quality and hands-on feel of such a machine. But let me go back in time to explain how I ended up with the LR.

My first espresso machine was a refurbished Gaggia Baby I purchased more than ten years ago, and every machine since then was a solid upgrade. I have always paired my machines with hand grinders, starting with a Hario Mini. The Gaggia was then "upgraded" to a first generation 1970s Gaggia Baby, which I paired with the OE Pharos #046 in 2011. The temperature stability of the more massive group on the old Gaggia and the big burrs in the Pharos really impressed me, and I made some very delicious shots.

I have played a bit with the Arrarex/VAM Caravel at that time, but it did not make sense to me why anyone would choose such a machine. Yes, I was a newbie and I had to learn a lot. I thought of manual lever machines as the "steam locomotives" in the digital era. I understood their historical significance, but never thought they could keep up with new machines. I needed more time to grow up and realize that proven old technologies can sometimes easily outperform new tech :|

In 2012 I switched to a Rocket HX/E61 machine. It was a step-up in terms of consistency and certainly look&feel, but as a straight espresso drinker it didn't really improve my best shots. The next logical update was to get a grinder with better ergonomics, so I went for the HG One, which I still have to this day.

Suddenly a few months ago I started wondering whether I should upgrade my E61. For a while, I was looking at Linea Mini and even the GS3. They were quite expensive, yes, but offered even more temp stability, or even pressure profiling. Fortunately I also made a realization that I had some of my best shots on my old Gaggia Baby, and some local cafes that had spring levers (Andytown in SF, or the old Barefoot roastery bar which I believe had a VA Athena Leva?)

I started down the rabbit hole of levers vs. pump machines, and it all clicked. The machines that try to control many variables could actually confuse and distract from the main goal: pulling a delicious shot. Who cares if the temperature isn't kept exactly at a precise temperature, if the espresso tastes delicious? It suddenly made sense that a falling temp/pressure profile would lead to a different flavor profile, and might be more forgiving even. A whole new world opened up, and I no longer was convinced that lever machines are just an outdated old design that we replaced with pumps to improve the shot quality.

So I just ordered the Londinium R on a whim and now I am ready to explore the world of lever espresso. The ordering experience was extremely smooth, delivery was quick, and the machine has such a solid feel to it, I am amazed. My first espresso was OK, ended up pulling 6 more to play with the grinder settings / dose / PI pressure. What I didn't expect is that the machine is extremely forgiving. I have adjusted my HG One at least six settings away from the previous point, and each shot extracted perfectly. I think we'll be good friends.

Is the LR one of the ultimate machines? Only time will tell! I am trying to take good care of it, and explore the world of lever espresso!

cheers!
LMWDP #631

zesk

Postby zesk » Jul 03, 2019, 3:16 pm

Hi Everyone!,

Have been into coffee for quite a while. Been drinking hand drip coffee at home as I thought espresso was hard to achieve on a budget. However, from lurking these forums heard about the Flair Signature Pro and managed to get one! Was hooked on how fun a manual lever was and decided to get a La Pavoni Euro 1st get from Franceso's site. Still exploring and learning how to make good espresso especially on these lever machines!

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Pullit

Postby Pullit » Jul 14, 2019, 12:11 pm

Greetings All!

Thanks to this site, I've had a fun and educated start to this fascinating hobby. After reading dozens of posts, I started with a Breville Dual Boiler and a Eureka Mignon Silenzio. I like the adjustability of the BDB and the grinder really is low noise. Being in the Bay Area, it is not hard to find a good roaster and I tried as many as I could over the last six months. Then I found my favorite post, "Italian vs. American dosing" and started wondering if that might be the direction I wanted to go. It wasn't until a trip to Italy that I found what I was searching for, as far as espresso is concerned.

I now have a Profitec Pro 800 and got the Pro T64 grinder to match. I went ahead and put in the SSP redspeed burrs. It really is fun to pull that lever several times a day and know that even small mistakes still make an amazing espresso. I'll show some pics of my setup in another post, but for now I just want to say thank you to everyone here for a great forum!
LMWDP #633

MASONMAN

Postby MASONMAN » Aug 14, 2019, 10:38 am

I started in the lever world last year with the purchase of a La Pavoni Europiccola millennium I found for a good price on Facebook Marketplace. I played with it for a few weeks but just couldn't get the quality of shots from it that I wanted and it just wasn't a good fit for me. I have an Isomac Amica, which I really like, and decided to stick with that and sold the La Pavoni. Ever since then I have had sellers remorse and felt the call to give a lever machine another chance. I kept my eye on Craigslist and Marketplace for another deal.....

I found a vague local Craigslist post for a La Pavoni with no pics. After a couple of emails trying to explain to the seller how to add a picture to an email, I received a blurry pic which I thought was a copper and brass Europiccola. I met with the seller and was surprised to find an all brass pre-millennium. The seller had been stationed in Italy and bought the machine while there but she said she only used it a few times and it had mostly been a decoration in her kitchen for many years. My best guess is that it's from the 80's. It must have been dropped at some point and the steam knob was bent but that didn't appear to affect performance. She turned it on and it heated up quickly with no leaks and lots of water flow when the lever was raised. The heater coil was clean with no buildup. I bought it and brought it home. I decided I didn't like the shiny brass lacquered finish so I stripped it off. I am hoping it will naturally tarnish into a nice antique brass finish. I also cut the portafilter to make it bottomless. Still need to clean up a few small areas but I am very pleased with it so far.

I have now had it for two weeks and have fallen in love with her. Because I will be keeping her, I have named her: Mona Lisa. Does anyone else on here name your espresso machines? My Amica is named 'Betty'.

I have done more research and more testing and have worked into a routine which is giving me consistently excellent shots and some of the best espresso I have ever had. I realized that I needed to grind significantly finer on a lever machine than what is best for an E61 and tamp a little less firmly. Still perfecting things but that is part of the fun. I have a new gasket kit and pressure gauge heading my way.

I don't collect machines so I will be selling Betty and keeping Mona Lisa...

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pcrussell50

Postby pcrussell50 » Aug 14, 2019, 11:04 am

Great story. And I agree about the Millennium version being harder to "work" with. I have a Millennium and a late Pre-Millennium with one switch and a pressurestat. The Pre, while it will overheat faster, is easier to nail the temperature with. I only every make one or two shots at a time on any of my machines, so the the tendency to overheat does not affect me. Anyway, if I had to choose, and only have one Europiccola, it would be the Pre-M. And an all brass one would be too good to be true. Great score!

-Peter
LMWDP #553