Pros & Cons - Londinium-R vs Izzo Alex Leva

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Espresso_Monkey

#1: Post by Espresso_Monkey »

Folks, a local retailer has the Izzo Alex Leva on special. With the special, it is marginally cheaper than the Londinium-R.

Necessary preface: I have read many posts, both on HB and other forums.
Including, but not limited to Taste preference - Pro 800, Bosco, Alex Leva, Londinium or Strega and Long term thoughts on the Profitec Pro 800?

I am limiting myself to these 2 options as they are the only locally available.

While I am aware I probably can't go wrong either way, I've summarized the pros and cons / differences as I understand them.

Leva:
  • Double springs lever
  • Large 5L boiler - takes longer to heat
  • No tank. Must be plumbed in - not a concern currently, my E61 DB is plumbed in
  • LSM group which is 55 mm
  • Dipper design - need to warm the group before shots?
  • PID - though marginal benefit for this application?
  • After sale support: Only 1 retailer, so I am relying on this shop for service and support
Londinium:
  • Single spring lever
  • Smaller 2.3L boiler - faster to heat
  • Option to run off tank
  • Thermosyphon design
  • New digital pre-infusion control
  • After sale support: I live in NZ so guaranteed easy support from Reiss
Any other decision points I should consider?

My main priority (other than taste) is reliability and ease of maintenance. I'm drawn to the Leva for its reputation of build quality and simplicity, but I like the fact that true technical support for the Londinium is local.

I'm totally open to opinions also!

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espressotime

#2: Post by espressotime »

The issue of the heating of the machine.
The factor that determines if the machine is ready for the shot is the mass of the group.Of course the volume of water counts to but not as much.
My Pompei is ready for a sk=hot in 45 minutes in the morning.
Some flushing will speed it up a little.

Double vs one spring. I've tried both and prefer double.

55 mm group works great.No issues there.

If you're the type who likes to change temperature for every shot a PID can help.
I change my my presso setting maybe once a year .
A dipper doesn't need a flush before a shot.
i've read Issues her with the first Londiniums needing a flush to prevent stalling of the thermo.
I don't know if the L- R needs a flush.
I just walk up to the machine and pull a shot .No flush needed.

Reliability.
I've owned my Pompey for 8 years now.25000 shots have been made. Hasn't let me down once.

A pic of the mighty LSM group.

Grind,rake ,tamp and enjoy a great espresso.( by F. G.)

def

#3: Post by def »

Good question. There is a huge following for Londinium R levers, so they must be pretty good. I have never used one, and I never will. I like a plumbed-in dipper, silent operation, massive steaming power, excellent thermal stability, combined with the ability to fine-tune brew temperature via a PID. Once you have used such a machine, there is no way you would consider something else unless you need to operate from a tank. I understand that, but in my opinion a much more enjoyable setup is a plumbed-in dipper spring lever machine.

I agree with all the points from @espressotime.

55mm vs 58mm has absolutely no effect on espresso quality in my experience/opinion. What does have an effect is the filter basket size and correct dosing. Most people just use the deep triple filter that comes with the Alex Leva, and if you drink only dark roasted Italian espresso, the triple basket works well. In that case, dose 20-21g of dark roast. For light to medium roasts, I feel I get better results with a smaller basket to obtain the correct head space between the coffee bed and shower screen. The Alex Leva is just as capable for handling well developed light roasted espresso as any 58mm lever or fancy flow profiling machine (regardless of machine, you need a capable grinder for light roast espresso). See the thread I started on filter baskets and dosing the Alex Leva for further details on this subject.

There is only one drawback to the LSM group (and this really bugs me), but I overlook it because the Leva makes such great espresso and is otherwise a pleasure to use. The drawback is the design of the group head which uses a circlip to retain the shower screen. This certainly works to retain the shower screen, but it is messy because ground coffee deposits around the circlip and the cylinder sleeve, and therefore requires cleaning between shots. A short flush is not sufficient to rinse away the coffee grounds, so I use a brush and a flush after every shot to sweep away the old coffee. The Bosco/Condor group with Cafelat IMS screen is much cleaner and to me much more enjoyable to use than the LSM group. Not because it is 58mm, but because it does not require tedious cleaning between shots.

Zero, one, or two springs? What matters is the amount of force applied to the piston which determines the peak pressure of the shot. How this affects the taste of a shot I cannot say because I have not done any testing (and not many others have). I leave it to the experts (the Italians) to figure this out. On that note, I will never buy another spring lever machine that is not designed and manufactured by Italians. They have been doing it for a while.

espressotime

#4: Post by espressotime »

I clean my screen and piston once a month or so.
Easy.
I've made a quick video how easy this is.

It literally takes no more than 5 minutes to do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBrGLrmQKCE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2NH79H7UAQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9KqykSNzEQ
But I agree. Some dirt gathers at the piston as you can see in the clip.
But it is just a tiny bit.
Grind,rake ,tamp and enjoy a great espresso.( by F. G.)

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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#5: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Good points to consider, yet you seem concerned about support. I would dig into that much more given you have only one source of support. Ask detailed questions of them on servicing the Leva, including cost differences. Are you close enough to both service places so that you don't have to ship it if needed. How long has this shop been there and do you think it will be around in the longer term?

First page I opened on the Leva saw a user review whose machine failed just after a year.

As to ease of maintenance, what have you discovered that says one is easier than the other, and as far as local support the Londinium is in fact local, and that would offer you peace of mind.

So my 2 cents is get satisfied on those questions first.
CarefreeBuzzBuzz
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espressotime

#6: Post by espressotime » replying to CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

I've had lever machines for over 15 years.What maintenance has to be done? I still haven't found any.
Besides an occasional cleaning of the screen and applying some fresh lube on the seals once a year.Which anybody who's able to play with Lego can do.
Grind,rake ,tamp and enjoy a great espresso.( by F. G.)

User avatar
CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#7: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

I don't know, as the guy whose said of his Leva -
But today after right at one year of use it has stopped working... You flick the on switch and nothing , the PID does not light up but the on/off switch lights up sometimes but not always.. Other than the light on the on/off switch the machine seems dead.
Sometimes things work for a long time and sometimes not. Maintenance helps. The OP seems likes he wants support. When I bought my Vivaladi back in 2006 from Chris Coffee in NY it needed work twice in a decade that I couldn't do. I had to find local support. If support is a primary concern to the OP, then it's a primary concern.
CarefreeBuzzBuzz
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JohnB.
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#8: Post by JohnB. »

def wrote:Good question. There is a huge following for Londinium R levers, so they must be pretty good. I have never used one, and I never will. I like a plumbed-in dipper, silent operation, massive steaming power, excellent thermal stability, combined with the ability to fine-tune brew temperature via a PID. Once you have used such a machine, there is no way you would consider something else unless you need to operate from a tank. I understand that, but in my opinion a much more enjoyable setup is a plumbed-in dipper spring lever machine.
I agree with most of what you said except the PID. I fine tune brew temp with a flush. I use different brew temps for different coffees throughout the day. Set the p'stat once so that the machines idle brew temp is at the low end of your preferred temp range & easily raise the temp with a 1,2 or 3 second flush. No waiting for boiler temp to change & slowly effect the group temp. Owned my Bosco since 2015 & I've adjusted the p'stat/boiler temp twice.

Had a dual spring spring lever & definitely prefer the taste profile of a single spring. Had a 53mm group machine, sold on 58mm. As for local tech support you might need it with all the stuff Reiss has packed inside the L-R but chose a simple plumbed in dipper & there is nothing in there that would require a tech. My advice is forget about local support & order a Bosco. :D
LMWDP 267

def

#9: Post by def »

@JohnB. Fair response and I could learn to use a pstat machine as well. However, I can also set and forget a PID dipper machine, and then use the same techniques as you to fine tune brew temp. I prefer a PID over pstat because it is quieter, and I can set the temp lower or higher for a particular coffee that I use for a particular day without flushing.

I hope to get a Bosco, but it will come with PID instead of pstat.

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truemagellen
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#10: Post by truemagellen »

I think your cant go wrong with either machine. The stalling issue on the Londinium was sorted out a while back fortunately.

I prefer steam knob vs joystick in operation but but joystick looks a bit better imho. Exposed spring? love it some think it looks industrial,

For me it was the almost totally silent operation of a dipper lever particularly a PIDed one.

Service of either is incredibly easy to diy but a slight nod to the line fed dipper with less components.

Steam cup warmer is fun but a once a month for guests sort of thing so not a deal breaker.

Lucky to be able to choose between these fine machines.