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!