So I'll go ahead and kindly ask if I may enter the club (and if not, that's cool too!). Just came into possession of this beautiful 2003 Elektra Microcasa a Leva after posting a WTB ad on here. A really cool fellow enthusiast who was just a few miles away responded and hooked me up with this fully sorted out and turn-key machine. Dude also generously threw in a bunch of extras to keep this machine going forever.
Which is exactly my intention as I've owned a number of levers in the past. Back in the 2000's old lever machines were plentiful and half the going rate of what we typically see today on the used market. I had a Pavoni Europiccola, Sama Export, and Olympia Cremina all sitting side by side on the kitchen counter back around 2008. Then the recession hit and I sold everything off, and of all of them the Cremina was the one I had regretted the most (obviously). Not to mention that I had collected literally every spare part minus the boiler and group while I had owned it. I made a big profit when I sold her but that didn't matter - I could never find another and watched as both price and scarcity for old levers greatly increase over the years. I went an entire decade using a Mazzer Kony along with an entry level Saeco Classico utilizing a pressurized portafilter. That was the point where I'd hit espresso rock bottom.
Now I'm back at it, learned my lesson (NEVER selling my espresso machines again), and have enough spare parts to keep the Elektra operating indefinitely. The really cool part about purchasing equipment from your fellow enthusiasts, is that the equipment in most cases has already been dialed in perfectly. I was surprised to find that my Valentina and MCAL both use the exact same grind setting, which was always a big deal in the past as that meant I had two giant Mazzers sitting on the counter as well. To me this is like hitting the jackpot. I now pull a shot with the Valentina when I wake up, and then pull another from the Elektra in the afternoon without having to change a thing. It is.... the best
The MCAL has been a huge surprise for me. Its performance certainly rivals the Cremina and is solid as a tank. Yeah, one can pull a little better of a shot with the Cremina, possibly, but it comes at the expense of repeatability which the Elektra completely has going in its favor. Shot volume with the Elektra isn't the biggest, but I think it has more flavor and a different effect than the Cremina. The MCAL shots have to be without a doubt some of the strongest espresso I've ever made. Cremina has more body and crema, but the look of the espresso pull itself from the MCAL is some of the more visually stunning I have seen. The colors and the striping really pop out with the Elektra.
Having owned quite a few levers, I think I'm safe to say that the MCAL is fairly underrated compared to the almighty Cremina. The latter has always gotten most of the fanfare and unilateral attention, but the ease at which the MCAL can repeatedly make great shots makes it run pretty neck and neck with the Cremina at the end of the day. Steaming is certainly better with the Elektra, like by a standing mile better. I'm very happy with this machine and will be using this thing daily from here on out. My stable is now complete!