Spring Levers for Light-Roast Coffee Fans

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
Jeff
Team HB

#1: Post by Jeff »

Again considering a lever, I'm left with too many possibilities that aren't completely unobtainable vintage machines. There's a lot of great information out there on some of the in-production levers and a handful on vintage machines. Unfortunately, pouring through it hasn't helped me figure out which of them are good candidates for someone that isn't primarily looking for classic espresso.

Edit: For clarity, I'm completely open to vintage machines.

A recent post in another thread added yet another dimension
baldheadracing wrote:Each of the home machines that use commercial spring lever groups has advantages and disadvantages. They are all good in their own way. To me, a key differentiator would be the varieties of coffee that you drink. As an example, a "modern espresso" light roast may not work easily on a machine tuned to work with Neapolitan (Southern Italian) espresso - and vice versa.
I had a hard time finding information that, for example, "A Maximum Maximum has a 58 mm basket that holds 18 g and can pull a 55 g shot."

With that in mind, what would those more familiar with the machines, both old and new, suggest for someone that:

* Generally pulls at 1:2.5 or even 1:3 with 17 g of grinds (around 42-51 g in the cup)
* Would consider a machine that could pull those longer ratios with a basket-appropriate dose, if not a 58 mm basket
* Doesn't mind a bit of temperature management
* Doesn't mind dealing with a FloJet or the like
* Doesn't mind getting their hands dirty keeping it running smoothly

I'm not interested in fancy double-pull rituals to get the ratio. Prep, lock, infuse, let the spring work its magic, enjoy...

Price range is relatively open.

Auctor
Supporter ❤

#2: Post by Auctor »

If you know John (from Decent), you may want to ask him. The Spotify podcast that was linked here today, while incredibly long, was incredibly informative for the first hour. Given how many machines he's claimed to have tested, I sense he might have an opinion.

PS - I bring this up because the podcast gave me the distinct impression that there was no low cost way to pull light roasts outside a manual lever or BDB (and even then, it's quite challenging without a good grinder).

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shotwell

#3: Post by shotwell »

I've been using the Cremina SL to do just this, and it's been a fabulous machine. 16.5g in is a little easier than 17, but you can make 17 work easily if you don't have to hit 1:3. It's temp stable enough at the group, has a boiler pressure gauge for easy surfing, is tiny, and pulls stellar shots. I like the coffee I can make with it every bit as well as my Bianca, and I'm very comfortable with that machine. If you have any questions just let me know, but I think it's a great fit if it fits the budget.
★ Helpful

RyanP

#4: Post by RyanP »

I can only speak to my personal experience, but I almost exclusively pull light roasts with the Londinium R and it is still a joy to wake up to every morning. I had one before I owned a DE1, and I went back to it after a year with the DE1 and a couple years later I've yet to find a reason to move on to another machine. As you mention... prep, lock, pull, release, enjoy... repeat. Temp stable, can pull large volume shots, adjustable PI if that's important to you, and consistent shot after shot.

HoldTheOnions

#5: Post by HoldTheOnions »

Any commercial lever will get the job done. Strega has two springs and full pump pressure preinfusion, so supposedly is the king of light roasts. That said, never heard a L1 or Pro 800 owner complain.

LObin

#6: Post by LObin »

Vesevius evo leva and Londinium R24 would be at the top of my list. There's also the Nurri Leva but very little information on it thus far.

The Vesevius is intriguing with it's very precise temperature control and awesome LSM group. Not convinced about the double spring and 11 bar peak pressure though. Although, I believe removing one of the spring is an easy task.

What I sometimes find myself missing with a commercial spring lever is the ability to pull certain roasts at 6 or 7 bar.
I would actually like to try that Pro800 group manual conversion just for this.
LMWDP #592
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ojt

#7: Post by ojt »

I always the Londinium machines were the go-to light roast levers, especially with the preinfusion controller or whatever that's called.

With that said, part of the reason I got a Pavoni for starters was that it is so easily adapted for light roast use. Need higher temperature? Pump a little and you got it. Lower? Cool the head and there you go. I would think the same dance can be done on a Cremina SL. With bigger commercial grade groupheads this might be more difficult? Not sure since I haven't owned one.

Partly I guess one coming from pump machines and especially the Decent just has to be OK with loosing some of that control and learn to enjoy what the more manual machines produce.

Interested to see where this discussion goes.. who knows, perhaps I'll find my upgrade path :)
Osku

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shotwell

#8: Post by shotwell »

There are multiple posts talking about higher pressure preinfusion using a pump for light roasts here, and personally I don't think that is remotely necessary. Coming from the Bianca I had all the flexibility I could possibly need for that style of shot preparation, but moving to a dipper that preinfuses at boiler pressure didn't leave me wanting. Extraction is as high, evenness of extraction is easy enough to achieve, and flavor balance is excellent. The dipper system works and is quite a bit more flexible than you might expect it to be. A 6 bar spring is also super nice for this type of coffee.

If you're going to buy a spring lever I'd personally look for a simple dipper, but I do conceptually like the LR24 since you can use it's preinfusion system as a pump machine when you're in the mood.

pham

#9: Post by pham »

Hey Jeff,

I'm using a Faemina to pull 1:3 daily that was really not designed to do so, but it's working great. I'm working with a 51mm basket, so I'm actually dosing 12g, the puck height equivalent of 15.5g in a 58mm straight wall basket. Temperature management for me is letting my machine get up to heat in 3-5 minutes, turning off the machine and bleeding some steam, then prepping and pulling. I do a "fancy double-pull" ritual, but it's not actually fancy. I let the lever rise until I see drops (preinfusion) then I just pull it back down and let the spring take over. I don't mind doing it, and it works very well. The Faemina doesn't pop up often, and it is known as a ristretto machine from the vintage age, but I use it for light roasts and its great. This is to say: I think most lever options will actually work great, whether it is a dipper, HX, or small home lever.

If you struggle with the shot volume on a dipper, then there is room to down-dose to 15g in a VST, or just to downdose to 12-14g in a tapered basket (IMS, E&B superfine, etc) if you would like to reach a longer shot with limited shot volume. I think your options are very open to making awesome coffee, regardless of spring pressure, preinfusion parameters, or group temperature.

RyanP

#10: Post by RyanP »

shotwell wrote:There are multiple posts talking about higher pressure preinfusion using a pump for light roasts here, and personally I don't think that is remotely necessary.
I think it depends on the grinder whether utilizing high(er) pressure PI will be beneficial for light roasts.