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Thread: Lever machine upgrade?

  1. #1
    Member Arcade's Avatar
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    Lever machine upgrade?

    Hey - recently tried an Elektra Micro-Casa and really enjoying the taste. I can't quite get the crema I get from my ECM Giotto, but the flavour is excellent.

    So just wondering if it's worth looking at higher end lever machines, or is it much of a much? Any recommendations as to what to look at with a new or used budget up to say $3k?

  2. #2
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    We had a pretty big discussion about this last week, happy for you to hijack as much as need be

    Lever options around the $3K mark

    Also I am still yet to make a choice, but I think I am getting close!

  3. #3
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    Also many recommend before going the whole hog to an extreme $3K plus machine it's not a bad idea to get a smaller lever to make sure you really like it. You can pick up second hand La Pavoni's which are very similar to the Elektra for $400 ish dollars.
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    For under $300 you can get a Flair. Best espresso maker out there, in my vast experience... of owning 2 ��

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    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Hi NickC - would be interested in hearing about your experiences with previous espresso maker or seeing any pics about the Flair - manual espresso - Espresso Forge owners?

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    FWIW (from a fellow lever head), the bigger 'commercial' levers are completely different from the smaller home levers. You get to handle a lever with both but in no way they're representative of each other.

    Commercial levers are super consistent and really shine when used for on-demand walk up and pull a shot. Takes longer to heat up so best used with a timer. With small levers, you start/heat up the machine when required, wait a bit, do a bit of temp surf, and get a smaller shot volume with a little less consistency (but still can be excellent). Both excels in different situation.

    For heavier body/crema, the manual levers will fare better because you can exert higher pressure(9bar). Home spring levers just can't accommodate large enough spring and thus less brew pressure (4-6 bar).

    Even with bigger levers, the crema will be slightly different from an E61/pump (from my previous experience but not too sure if it extends to every other machines). The crema from lever is bit more dense (less airy crema if that makes sense) and a lot more delicious.
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    I have a Via Venezia which I now just use for the steam wand. I'll write up more of a review later on, there's just too many things I love about the Flair to type on my mobile...
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  8. #8
    Member 3rutu5's Avatar
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    setting that range you can almost get any type (probably second hand for the big machines), under that 1500k mark you can find La Pavoni or Ponte Vechio's (both work differently direct drive v piston), might be able to snag a elektra. Or there is the Strega etc

  9. #9
    Member Arcade's Avatar
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    I'll check that other thread, cheers. When I say tried, I bought an Elektra and have been using for several months in combination with the ECM. It took me about 6-8 weeks to actually get it. I'm using two grinders as I find the Elektra craves a far finer grind. But I hear what you're saying re being able to apply more pressure manually. That sounds good.

    Dream machine would be the Olympia Cremina Lever but they're not cheap!

  10. #10
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcade View Post
    Hey - recently tried an Elektra Micro-Casa and really enjoying the taste. I can't quite get the crema I get from my ECM Giotto, but the flavour is excellent.

    So just wondering if it's worth looking at higher end lever machines, or is it much of a much? Any recommendations as to what to look at with a new or used budget up to say $3k?
    There are many factors that may be influencing the amount of crema you are getting.

    There is certainly no reason you shouldn't ne getting an equivalent amount of crema with the Elektra. One thing to be aware of with the smaller levers (Elektra, La Pavoni etc ) is that they can over heat relatively quickly and this will dramatically reduce your crema.

    They are good really for only 4 or so coffees in a row, any more then that, or if the machine is left on for 30 min or more, the group head overheats and the crema is reduced.

    Larger commercial style group heads on Stregas, Alex , Profitec etc do not suffer this problem


    Cheers

    Antony
    www.casaespresso.com.au
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  11. #11
    Member Arcade's Avatar
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    Hey thanks Antony, I suspect the latter is true as I tend to leave it on for longer times as I'm used to with my Giotto.

    I'm liking the idea of going to a full manual for potentially more pressure, and I wouldn't mind going to a larger group head to be honest. The max amount of beans I can manage in my Elektra is 12.5g and pushing it, I'll get 40ml of coffee. I'm used to about 60ml from my ECM. I may be pushing too much water through but that's what I've been doing and so wouldn't mind a larger basket.

  12. #12
    Member 3rutu5's Avatar
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    Sounds like the Beginning of a wonderful group... LEVERHEADS

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3rutu5 View Post
    Sounds like the Beginning of a wonderful group... LEVERHEADS
    Not a bad idea at all...

    A 8g single shot (CS Guatemala SO roasted 1.5 week ago) from my beloved Brugnetti Aurora this morning...








    Video of the pull Delish!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfPYuDCEMFQ
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Gavisconi007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcade View Post
    Hey - recently tried an Elektra Micro-Casa and really enjoying the taste. I can't quite get the crema I get from my ECM Giotto, but the flavour is excellent.

    So just wondering if it's worth looking at higher end lever machines, or is it much of a much? Any recommendations as to what to look at with a new or used budget up to say $3k?
    Hi Arcade (the scales are going well- thanks again). I went from the ECM Giotto to a large commercial lever- MyWay Pompei. I found it to be a dramatic step up in terms of taste, crema volume, and uber consistency. Would definitely recommend trying a large commercial lever. Since buying it I have stopped even looking at other machines whereas previously I always had my eye on the next upgrade:
    samuellaw178 and chokkidog like this.

  15. #15
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    Out of curiousity can you pressure profile with the elektra? I am looking to downsize from my rocket giotto. For weeks I have been combing the net for guidance between the full control la pavoni and spring elektra.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timothyp View Post
    Out of curiousity can you pressure profile with the elektra? I am looking to downsize from my rocket giotto. For weeks I have been combing the net for guidance between the full control la pavoni and spring elektra.
    Hi Tim, unfortunately no, not with the Elektra. I guess you could retard the spring/lever (reducing the already-low brew pressure) but you cannot push on the lever to increase pressure.
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  17. #17
    Member 3rutu5's Avatar
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    That looks great... I'm amazed at how the higher end levers opperate. The roaster at the markets has one similar to that but slightly bigger with 3 groups and you just pull it down, leave it and flick it up... My PV export you hold down and release and the LP's you drive it down.... All make unreal shots
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  18. #18
    Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    diverging from the question slightly...what sort of yield do you generally get from spring lever machines? i aim for 30g from 15g from my flair, but that’s a direct lever, which stops flow as soon as you stop pulling. on youtube i see many baristi pulling the cup before the shot has finished. what’s the deal with that? is the group delivering more water than needed and mucking up the brew ratio, or are the baristi pulling once they see blonding, or something else?

  19. #19
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    diverging from the question slightly...what sort of yield do you generally get from spring lever machines? i aim for 30g from 15g from my flair, but that’s a direct lever, which stops flow as soon as you stop pulling. on youtube i see many baristi pulling the cup before the shot has finished. what’s the deal with that? is the group delivering more water than needed and mucking up the brew ratio, or are the baristi pulling once they see blonding, or something else?


    What machines / videos are you talking about?

    I use a Quickmill Achille (which uses same lever group as Profitec 800 and Londinium....it the newer CMA group). Typically one would pull the cup away when the shot starts to blonde (or if you want to make a ristretto). Nothing more to it.

  20. #20
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    As above..big spring levers typically deliver more volume than required, so you move the cup away when you get the desired volume. The rest goes to drain and at the end of it, you get a nice dry piece of puck.

    The max volume varies from levers to levers. It's better to have more than less. I get 40g easily on my lever (and slightly more if I really push it). Some levers like the Londinium R can get to almost 60g. On my smaller Pavoni, I can only get about 25g reliably and 30-32g at its best. With higher capacity you have a lot more flexibility, like pulling larger brew ratio or using larger dose (18g+ or even the mammoth 25g VST basket!)

  21. #21
    Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    sweet, thanks guys. i'm pretty keen on being able to start and stop flow to control brew ratio. i weigh all my shots, so volume and blonding aren't my deal. if a spring lever can deliver a consistent dose of water, i could probably play around with coffee dose to adjust the ratio. cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    sweet, thanks guys. i'm pretty keen on being able to start and stop flow to control brew ratio. i weigh all my shots, so volume and blonding aren't my deal. if a spring lever can deliver a consistent dose of water, i could probably play around with coffee dose to adjust the ratio. cheers!
    Interested in seeing what you end up with as I'm in a very similar situation.

  23. #23
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    sweet, thanks guys. i'm pretty keen on being able to start and stop flow to control brew ratio. i weigh all my shots, so volume and blonding aren't my deal. if a spring lever can deliver a consistent dose of water, i could probably play around with coffee dose to adjust the ratio. cheers!
    I spoke in volume and blonding to hide my geekiness and to blend in better here, as in my impression that's what a lot of CSers here do.

    But of course as a true geek, you could do like I do. Use a timer-scale like Acaia Lunar or Brewista on the drip tray, start the timer exactly when you pull down the lever. Preinfuse for exactly 10s (or whatever that suits you). Release the lever. Pull the cup away when you reach your desired beverage weight and note the time. I do weigh my dose in and beverage out down to 0.1 g. Stir and drop a few drip into the refractometer if I feel like it. On an excel sheet, note down the TDS & EY%, the grind setting, the preinfusion time, and flow time, and make adjustment as required after tasting the shot. Very importantly, also note down how the shot tastes so you know how the variables affect the shot.

    With this method, there is an inherent lag with the scale so you can miss your target by a fraction of g or a little more, but I can't see how it could better than this. I don't recommend using the full piston volume to deliver an exact beverage output weight, as they can vary a few gram or more based on the air trapped and other factors - such as how fine the coffee is ground, coffee dose, what coffee, preinfusion time, tamping technique, channeling etc.

    On the occasion when you don't feel like being so precise and just want a coffee (I've done this too frequently), just eyeball the shot volume and pull the cup when it blonds. I still weigh the dose in as that can dramatically affect the flow rate. The eyeballed-shots are still pretty good this way, almost as good as with using the scale, but I don't have as much data to work with to change/replicate the shot precisely. Still it's comforting when you can just eyeball it and get a really good shot.
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