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Thread: Do you regret buying a lever machine

  1. #1
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    Do you regret buying a lever machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi,

    I have been introduced to some nice coffee at university, cappuccino to be precise. At home, my other half has one of those pod machines; I cannot bare to drink anymore of the coffees that things make. I have been looking at domestic setups, and have become quite fond on the lever style machines. I was wondering what peoples experiences are with them?

    I understand I am in for a learning curve buying one for my first machine, but Im willing and look forward to the hands on setup. I will be purchasing a good grinder, still unsure as to which one to get, I was thinking a manual hand grinder.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Welcome Etheral,

    Don't take this the wrong way, but this is a bit a of a strange title for a first post. Just to avoid going around in circles, by 'lever style' machine......what exactly do you mean? Do you mean a machine that uses a spring lever to provide the pressure needed to force the water through the ground coffee.....or simply a machine that uses a lever to activate a pump?

    Nothing wrong with a hand grinder, but would be useful to know your total budget.

    Cheers

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    by 'lever style' machine......what exactly do you mean?
    Thanks for the welcome

    I was looking at the spring piston lever machines, for example the elektra leva machine. Furthermore, was looking at the direct lever machines like the la pavoni europiccola.

    Budget would be around $1000
    Last edited by Etheral; 9th September 2015 at 09:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member noidle22's Avatar
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    I don't regret buying my Europiccola as i got it cheap and rebuilt it but to be honest, it was just too much work for a coffee.

    It looks great, is a good talking point and will have good resale value but it takes a whole lot more work to procure a coffee than I wanted to put in.

    The results are varying, it overheats after 2 coffees and is extremely dangerous, particularly if there a children around. Every metal piece is boiling hot.

    I have not owned a spring lever but I imagine they are a lot easier to tame. They're also very expensive and for a first machine, you could do better.

    Consider a mid range Breville (BES840, BES870) or Sunbeam (EM6910, EM7000). Bear in mind an approximate 5-6 year lifespan for these machines.
    An entry level single boiler (Silvia, Lelit, VBM Piccolo, Isomac Zaffiro etc.) or small HX (NS Oscar, Giotto etc.) would also be good options. Consider sending an email to the site sponsors for some more advice.

    Also remember to budget for a good grinder. Expect to pay between $400-$1000. Have a look here for advice on grinders: Buying guide- coffee grinders | Talk Coffee

  5. #5
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    A new Lido grinder and an excellent condition 2nd hand europiccola could be had for about $1000.

    definitely talk to talk coffee & casa espresso.

    and no. No regrets.

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    Thats the plan, lido + La Pavoni

    Seems there is a lot information around about the temperament of these machines, but everyone that has one likes it.

  7. #7
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    Hi Etheral . I have an Elektra Micro Casa a Leva and Lido 2 which I take on holidays in the caravan. I love this combination. Makes great espresso and latte. 2nd hand leva and new grinder was less than a grand. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    I have a Europiccola and a Gaggia G106 which is a Pavoni Pro with Gaggia badge. I also bought a Pavoni Pro for one of my daughters, and I don't regret buying any of them.

    However they were not my first ever coffee machines. I already understood the basics of grind/dose/tamp and how they go together, and had a good grasp of temperature and pressure control needed to make espresso. Even so, I needed to brush up a little on my techniques to get the best from the lever machines. However, I got the hang of them fairly quickly, and they made some of the best coffees I had ever pulled myself, and better than many I had paid for. I only use them when I'm making one or two cups, which is most of the time.

    Yes they do require some attention to detail, yes the exterior does get hot, and could be dangerous for small children, and yes they take a bit more effort than some other machines, but it's not that much trouble.

    I have not used a spring lever machine so I can't comment on them, but an Elektra is on my wish list, and if a good S/H one comes up at the right price I will probably grab it.

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    Other aspects that appeal to me is the compact design, as bench real estate is minimal. I was impressed with the site sponsors, contacting me with in the day of doing a quote. Im currently having 2 coffee's a day, and the other half will have about the same. It should do us for a while to get our fix. All I have to do is to wait for a nice second hand unit to come up in the trade section.

  10. #10
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    I've got a hx giotto evo rotary pump machine and also an old 76 model Europicolla lever as a 2nd machine. Whilst the evo is the daily driver, I regularly use the Europicolla for something different and although it is harder to operate, the coffee it produces is mind blowing once you know what you're doing. I've got no regrets buying a lever machine. To me, the lever machine is like driving an old Italian sports car, harder to drive but when you know how, it's an awesome experience.

  11. #11
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    I have both a Vibiemme Domobar Super (heat exchange machine) and a Europiccola. If I go away, I take the europiccola and a Portaspresso hand grinder (fantastic grinder) but typically at home I just use the Vibiemme as its easier to just walk up anytime and it's ready to go. Where as the Europiccola, I have to turn it on then have a window of opportunity in which to make the coffee before it overheats. It's still a lot of fun and does make a truly great espresso/latte when you get it right, but for me I find you get one shot at it before it overheats and you have to wait for it to cool. Forget entertaining with it. I still use the europiccola at home occasionally when I need a coffee quickly and the Vibiemme isn't on or I actually just want to experience the pleasure and simplicity of the lever.

    Ultimately, it would be up to you whether these limitations you could work with or not.

  12. #12
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    starting with a Europiccola is not the best way, that machine needs a lot of experience.
    I have a Bezzera leva and a Astoria Perla, there are both easier to handle.
    if you start with a Europiccola, you should have a good grinder, at least that makes it a bit easier.

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    I have purchased a Europiccola and Lido E grinder, can't wait for them to arrive. Excited for the steep learning curve!

  14. #14
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    Aaah. Good move. You'll enjoy rapidly improving shots, & within a couple of months you'll wonder what the hoo har is about!

    one last purchase. Jar of Kraft peanut butter: eat or wash out the jar's contents. The plastic jar fits nicely on the lido as a replacement/ spare/ risk free jar.

    that is, unless the lido e has a plastic jar to start with. Can't remember....

  15. #15
    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    Hey

    You will enjoy it lots. I have a La Pav Europiccola from the late 1970's and a modern Ponte Vecchio Lever machine. I like both though I make use of the Vecchio more as it does not overheat as much. Its usually just an espresso for me and a piccolo for the wife. Hopefully I'll find one day an affordable lever machine with a full 58mm PF size.

    The learning curve is not too steep. Just read posts here and watch the many youtube videos and practice. It can make a great shot off coffee - just make sure you use good beans. Popping down to Woolies or Coles for beans to try out in your new machine will lead to disappointment :-) Order in some nice roasted CS beans.

    Best wishes
    Mike

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    I bought my La Pavoni in 1993 and it's still going strong. New gaskets when needed are easy to obtain and fit. There's plenty advice on the web. I will never part with it. And suits me well as I'm the only coffee drinker in the house.
    It did take me about 5 years before I worked out how to pull a consistent good shot, though. However those were the days before YouTube and the web.
    One piece of advice that was given to me, I'll pass on. Don't stick with one basket. Have at least 2. When you're making more than one coffee, it saves a huge amount of time to have filled baskets ready. They just drop in and aren't a tight fit.
    And good luck with your first portafilter sneeze.

  17. #17
    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    > And good luck with your first portafilter sneeze.

    Haha .... I have done that on my Ponte Vecchio :-)
    I notice there are NO Youtube videos of PF sneezes.

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    Hi Etheral. I owned a pre 2000 La Pavoni Europiccola and now a Silvia w/ PID. I would say, it really depends on what type of person you are. If you enjoy the process, then I would definitely suggest a lever machine to you since it gives you more sense of achievement. But then again, this moment may come eventually after tonnes of frustration especially because this is your first machine. I kinda regret selling it to buy my Silvia really. Whatever your decision is, hope you will enjoy your machine.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordL View Post
    And good luck with your first portafilter sneeze.
    Care to elaborate, do you get covered in a shower of coffee grindings?

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    Haha. You might. It makes a right mess.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etheral View Post
    Care to elaborate, do you get covered in a shower of coffee grindings?
    Mostly a bit of everything. A right mess too.
    Term has even made the Urban Dictionary

    Urban Dictionary: portafilter sneeze
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  22. #22
    Senior Member deegee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etheral View Post
    Care to elaborate, do you get covered in a shower of coffee grindings?
    It depends on the severity of the sneeze .

    So far my impatience has only caused a couple of minor sneezes that resulted in some of the grounds on my hand, the base of the machine, and on the bench around it. This was when I had taken the handle off just a bit too soon. But I believe that if the handle is removed way too soon, the entire contents of the basket, probably still hot and very wet, can be spread much wider.
    It's only likely to happen if you are knocking out a couple of short blacks in quick succession. If you pull a shot and then steam milk for a cap/latte the pressure is usually gone by the time you have the milk in the cup. If I'm in doubt, I lift the lever about halfway, and hold it there while I remove the group handle.

    Having a second basket pre-filled and ready to go is a good way to speed up the second shot but it also increases the risk of a sneeze !.

    An extra handle and basket is a good way to reduce the tendency to overheat after a couple of shots. Alternating between two handles will help cool the grouphead for second and subsequent shots.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etheral View Post
    I have purchased a Europiccola and Lido E grinder, can't wait for them to arrive. Excited for the steep learning curve!
    Do, please,post dates on this venture!!!!

    I am leaning towards this machine myself.... Sneezes and all.

  24. #24
    Senior Member 3rutu5's Avatar
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    I too would love to hear your experiences. I saw a LP pro in the flesh yesterday and sort of wondering if Im regretting my purchase of the Ponte Vecchio Export (which I should have next week). That is a spring driven lever.

    But defintely the LP is a beautifully made machine and would make a nice edition to any bench top

  25. #25
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    GreanBeanGenii,


    If you are in Melbourne please come into our showroom for a demo on the la Pavoni pro we have on the bench. We have also had the new Lido 3 grinder arrive, a nice bit of gear indeed!

    Cheers

    Antony
    Casa Espresso
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Espresso View Post
    GreanBeanGenii,


    If you are in Melbourne please come into our showroom for a demo on the la Pavoni pro we have on the bench. We have also had the new Lido 3 grinder arrive, a nice bit of gear indeed!

    Cheers

    Antony
    Casa Espresso
    (03) 9530 8992
    You have discovered my plan!!!! An interstate trip from NSW is on the planning board. heehee!

  27. #27
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    I'm heading up to Newcastle tomorrow to judge at the Golden Bean awards.

    I could bring one with me for you!!

    Cheers

    antony
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  28. #28
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    Owned a La Pavoni Professional myself. Selling it now because I'm downsizing my coffee gear. I do love it but it is quite a bit involved to pull a shot. There's a bit of a ritual with this machine unlike your other run-of-the-mill coffee machines where it's almost set and forget. For example, you can't let it run too long or it will overheat. There are also many variables that you're working with when pulling a shot -- more than say an E61 espresso machine (i.e. dosage amount, grind setting, tamp pressure, temperature of the brewhead, pressure on the lever, freshness of the beans, preinfusion period, etc). All the nuances aside, the shots you pull (once you learn how to pull a good one) are absolutely brilliant. You do need quite decent coffee beans though (i.e. not old) or the shot just lunges out.

    I do believe I read somewhere that the spring-lever machine is not quite a full manual lever machine where you could pressure-profile etc. It's all in the spring once you cock it. There's more repeatability with the spring-lever systems. Also, with that said, there are more restrictions. The La Pavoni on the other hand is a full manual lever so you could vary the pressure etc. However, the pressure you apply is somewhat based on feel alone. I don't think there's quite a way to measure the pressure being applied. The repeatability comes down to your ritual and how tight you control your shot-pulling process.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by benspawn View Post
    I do believe I read somewhere that the spring-lever machine is not quite a full manual lever machine where you could pressure-profile etc....
    Not so. You are free to hold the lever back to slow a shot or give it a push to to speed things up. Spring lever machines are the original pressure profilers as the spring creates a declining pressure profile (towards end of shot).

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Not so. You are free to hold the lever back to slow a shot or give it a push to to speed things up. Spring lever machines are the original pressure profilers as the spring creates a declining pressure profile (towards end of shot).
    Ah, my mistake then, was not aware of that.

    Do you know if there are any of these lever machines out there where you have some sort of a measurement readout for brewhead pressure?

  31. #31
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    I ended up with a La Pavoni from Casa Espresso and a Lido E grinder from Talk Coffee. Both of these business owners really helped me out price wise, and with advice. I have not yet mastered the coffee shot, however, even the worse shot I am not disappointed with. I enjoy everything I have been able to make.

    There is a bit of ritual involved in pulling a shot, but its not a difficult process or takes up a lot of time. I believe even with a semi-automatic or automatic machine there still is a level of cleaning involved, in which takes up most of my time with the La Pavoni. The time taken to grind 14g of coffee beans in the Lido E is all but of 20sec, with not a great effort required. Prior to using the Lido, I was lent a hario (I think its called) hand grinder and that did take some time to grind one shot. With the Lido it is quick and relatively easy, and the shot has a richer deeper taste.

    I would like to thank both Antony and Chris for their help.

    I have no regrets.
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    Edited due to resolution
    Last edited by Etheral; 23rd November 2015 at 05:02 PM.

  33. #33
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    Hi Etheral,

    I know Antony pretty well and am sure he'll be mortified at the omission. I'd think there's a plausible explanation and I know he's been overseas for a week or two and arrived home just this morning...

    I can only suggest that as per usual, a further attempt at a phone conversation might be best. Did you leave voicemail?

    Negative comments stay around for a long time and can taint opinions in the 8 sec. snapshots that people seem to spend on internet pages...

  34. #34
    Site Sponsor Casa Espresso's Avatar
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    Hi Etheral,

    I have been overseas and just returned back this morning. I am sure yours is one of the many international calls/messages I missed.

    absolutely our error not putting the tamper in with the filter, it was originally on back order from Italy.

    I will contact you directly to get it to you ASAP

    regards

    Antony
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  35. #35
    Senior Member 3rutu5's Avatar
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    Yeah loving mine and don't know what people were saying about burning coffee after 2-3 coffees due to overheating..I pulled 8 shots (3 milk drinks included) and not an issue or refill. But in saying that I have a Ponte Vecchio export and not the LP.

  36. #36
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    I have owned a profesional for about 5 years and really like it . Regards the over heating , all I do is run the porta filter under the cold tap to cool it down then I am good to go again . I don't see why they are harder to operate than auto machines , unless it is too much trouble to raise and pull down the lever every thing else is the same .



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