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Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

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  • Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

    Obviously I am perhaps biased as I import and now offer these machines for sale...  and the Lusso is currently priced under $1500 (by just 5 cents ;-) ) but I think it is a great machine and worthy of a thread here on CoffeeSnobs.

    The Lusso club fits into the Pointy End category nicely: you can pull two shots simultaneously and froth milk at the same time (as much as you want)- and there is plenty of shiny stainless steel... Lastly it has to be the only dual group machine in this category and one of only a few in the domestic market- pump or lever- full stop.

    And to be fair the Lusso is my own chosen home machine: as a collector of coffee makers I am spoiled for choice when it comes to my daily cup (Faema Lambro, Atomics galore, La Pavoni, Gaggia America, Caravel, Brunella, Syphons, Presso, Faemina, etc) but the two group Lusso has founds its place as the ideal home machine for me in daily use.

    I have tested many lever machines: domestic and commercial. To date I have found the PV Lussos 44mm group design the easiest to use and the most consistently excellent- virtually idiot proof. It is very hard to make a bad shot. Machines like the La Pavoni or MicroCasa a Leva, etc. have very demanding 49mm manual lever group designs, with shallow filter baskets. In use these machine require close attention to detail to get the best results. The Lusso by comparison has small 44mm baskets which are deeper (or in the singles case have less holes) and hold approx. 7grms (single) or 14grms (double) and a spring driven lever (like all commercial lever machines). Somehow this design enables the machine to easily achieve very good brew pressures with a greater latitude of coffee grind/tamp. In practice this means very few if any sink shots. It also means a uniquely nuanced lever espresso shot...

    In terms of specs the Lusso couldnt be simpler: 3 liter manual fill boiler (with a sight glass), thermosyphon group heads, a pressurestat and p-gauge (set to 1.2 BAR)... there is a simple yet highly effective steam wand and a hot water wand. Thats about it. You just turn it on- let it heat up for around 10 minutes, bleed off the false pressure, run a little water through the groups to initially warm them- and you are ready to go.

    Once the machine is up to heat like this it can be left on all day: ready to pull a shot- or multiple shots- whenever you want- just walk right up. The design of the machine actually goes right back to the 1950s and is known as a club design. Club machines were intended for use in small bars, cafes, and Italian mens clubs, etc. Indeed with its relatively large boiler and dual groups the Lusso can still work well in these type of low level semi-commercial environments.

    In use it is very simple: the baskets can be tamped nearly to the very top- a medium to fine espresso grind works very well. I use a a double pull with the double basket- with a little maneuver at the start of the first pull that is called the fellini maneuver by lever espresso machine fanatics (apparently there is a scene in a Fellini movie where an Italian barista is seen doing this little half-pull pre-infusion).

    This is my standard method:

    a) Pull lever down and hold for 5 to 10 seconds allowing pre-infusion.
    b) Gently release the lever and allow to return just a little or until the first drop of espresso is seen. Quickly pull the lever down to the bottom and release- this is my fellini movement. The lever slowly returns to its upright position as the espresso pours out- if the grinds is right this takes around 15-20 seconds.
    c) Just before the lever reaches its rest point at the top- I quickly pull it all the way back down and release- for another 15-20 seconds of pour. Generally I remove the cup when the lever is at rest and let the last few drops of blonding espresso go into the drip tray.

    this photo is a fairly typical result- but by no means the best result- I often get a solid black and tan effect throughout the shot (I never do as well when I am trying to photograph the shot whilst I make it... :-/):








  • #2
    Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

    I dont believe there are many Lusso owners in Australia- and I havnt made a good video yet- so I will look to youtube to show some European and American Lusso home videos. The first one shows the frothing capacity of the Lusso nicely- and the latte art is better than I ever seem to be able to manage (however I think they over-extracted a touch with a triple pull... perhaps the excitement of the Bollywood soundtrack made them do that...):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQkdMi8UYTA

    This next shot looks pretty good (again a little room for improvement- but no doubt delicious)- and the soundtrack is also great:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ssmp1Virgd0

    this last one, what can I say:- he definately could have tamped a touch harder or gone a tad finer with the grind- and there is no soundtrack- but it gives you an idea of the scale of the machine and the mechanics of the spring lever group action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvMuA1JS7Hw

    Hopefully I will get around to making my own video soon- and showing them all how it really should be done... 8-) A video with both leavers blazing- and simultaneous frothing action!

    In the meantime if anyone is interested in these machines- and have any questions- please feel free to ask.



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    • #3
      Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

      Gday Jack,
      This is a lovely machine & I kicked myself for not showing the boss the single group you sold just before Christmas.   :-/ :-/

      The question that keeps coming to mind is what happens to porta filter sneeze with a lever machine? Without a 3 way valve?

      Upgraditise is starting to bite again. THANKS

      Thomas

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

        Thomas: I have one single group unit available- with a black body- PM me if interested.

        As to the PF sneeze: Yes- it can happen. If you let the PF rest for half a minute or so there is no problem- if you need to take it off quicker- you can do so slowly allowing the pressure to release as you go. I have only had one or two sneeze incidents...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

          What a gorgeous looking machine! Why are these not more popular?
          I cant say I have ever used a manual lever before but after watching the video links, it doesnt seem overly complicated.

          Im guessing not a lot can go wrong with these machines?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

            I agree- the cherry red model is a real looker. I am not sure why they are not so popular- years ago La Pavoni lever machines were about the only high end (brass, stainless steel and chrome) home espresso machine you could find... then all the E61 group head domestic machines took over the market.

            Pavoni manual lever machines are fantastic but can be tricky- so I think they really slipped out of the race over the last 10 years... Spring levers have remained popular in certain (knowledgeable) circles and I think there will be a resurgence in commercial spring lever machines over the coming years. I have heard that most Milan coffee roasters still use spring lever machines for their own tastings, and many cafes in Italy still have lever machines in action. I recently came across this great video- check out the speed of this Barista:


            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXJc2...layer_embedded

            The simplicity of the Lusso design means that these machines are very reliable- and the construction is very robust. the frame is all metal, the case is metal, and the group heads are solid chromed brass. With  less electronics and no pump there is less to go wrong.

            In fact I recently refurbished a 1970s Sama version of the club design and found it very easy. I totally disassembled it and replaced all seals and the heating element. I had the cabinet resprayed, and checked all the wiring... Like working on an old car. Without too much effort I had it operating like new again. The PV machine has a few additional safety features like the low water level cut out- but is otherwise identical to the vintage designs.

            The group head seals will need replacing after some years of use. This job is a little tricky but easily achieved by the adventurous home tinkerer. Other than that there is very little to go wrong.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

              Very nice...Its definitely got a certain x factor alright. Theres a romantic element that draws you to it.

              How would you say it handles get togethers ...where its not uncommon to meet a demand for 10-plus coffees at once (Does it overheat or run out of steam?).

              How serious of a HX challenger could the PV Lusso be for someone like me whos looking to upgrade to HX territory?

              George

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                There really is a romance to the manual process of working the levers... it also give the barista a different level of control over the process.

                I think this machine would work very well for entertaining and could easily handle 10+ shots in a row. You can work both levers simultaneously- and if you make singles and doubles you have 4 baskets to work with. You wont run out of steam- the boiler is 3 liters and rebounds very quickly- there is ample pressure to froth almost any amount of milk. The machine wont overheat either- assuming you work at a steady- and not frenetic pace. Recently I used my machine to cater a small event and made around 20 coffees over the course of an hour and a half. Worked like a charm and people were very impressed with the espresso.

                I am not sure how to compare it to a HX machine- and to be honest I have not had as much experience using the HX home machines as I would like. However from what I understand HX machines require a bit of flushing and tweaking to keep the heat where you want it- the Lusso is very stable in this regard and once the machine is up to temperature it stays there. If you made a lot of shots in a row very quickly the group heads may get a little hot- they will quickly cool back down if left alone- or you can use a damp cloth to cool them a little.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                  Originally posted by 5B475A5A4D465C4146494B474E4E4D4D280 link=1265525881/7#7 date=1265594083
                  I am not sure how to compare it to a HX machine
                  My HX would easily cope with 20 in an hour as Ive done 8 in around 15 minutes.

                  Since the last service by Di Bartoli I havent need cooling flushes and once up to temp it seems quite stable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                    Didnt mean to question your HX machine there.... I feel sure it is a superb machine. The PV lusso really is a very different beast- and the espresso produced by a lever machine is different than you would get from an e61 pump group.


                    But I bet you cant pull two shots simultaneously... ha ha. ;-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                      I have had a few emails today asking me about the difference between lever machine and pump driven espresso machines.

                      This is a hard thing to explain. Essentially both produce true espresso shots. One of the main differences is that the shot volume is determined by the group design of a lever machine. On a pump machine you can make it as long or short as you like. The modern espresso serve of 30mm actually evolved from the size of the shot made by the first Gaggia lever machines. This size became the espresso standard.

                      The major difference between the two methods is the temperature and pressure profile of the spring lever design. In these machine the group head acts as a heat exchange rapidly cooling the boiler water before and as the shot is made. This means there is a descending temperature profile throughout the shot. This is mirrored by the pressure of the shot which also decreases as the spring is released.

                      It is interesting to note that these are the exact characteristics that modern pump machines like the exclusive Slayer machine re-create.

                      A much better description of the unique characteristics and benefits of the spring lever group head has been give by Kees van der Western who makes the most amazing modern commercial lever machines:


                      "The lever group is a very old system, developed end of the 1940`s, to achieve the essential of espresso: forcing hot water with high pressure through the ground coffee. Despite it being old, despite the development of pumps to raise the necessary pressure, despite the development of flat line temperature machines, the lever is still widely recognized to deliver the creamiest crema, best buttery mouthfeel, highest amount of solids, oils and fats in the cup. What`s more, these desirable benefits are easy to achieve, the lever group is simple to operate and very forgiving."

                      http://www.keesvanderwesten.com/mirage-idrocompresso.html



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                        Originally posted by 6A766B6B7C776D7077787A767F7F7C7C190 link=1265525881/9#9 date=1265606371
                        Didnt mean to question your HX machine there
                        Originally posted by 6A766B6B7C776D7077787A767F7F7C7C190 link=1265525881/7#7 date=1265594083
                        I am not sure how to compare it to a HX machine- and to be honest I have not had as much experience using the HX home machines as I would like. However from what I understand HX machines require a bit of flushing and tweaking to keep the heat where you want it
                        No offence taken; I was merely comparing an HXs output for you and correcting your misunderstanding that all HXs need cooling flushes.
                        Theres nothing like facts instead of hearsay.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                          Im glad Sorrentina have bought the PV Lusso to our market, it slots nicely into your product line, Ive been an admirer for some time and read just about everything out there on it.
                          One question, can you tell me how much distance there is between the steam wand and the left hand edge of the machine.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                            the steam wand emerges from the front panel 6cm from the left edge. However on the dual lever machine it makes a left turn so that the nozzle itself is 3cm from the left edge. On the single lever machine the steam arm is straight so its 6cm everywhere.

                            As a side not the clearance under the portafilter is quite good and I think you can even get a mug under it...

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                            • #15
                              Re: Ponte Vecchio Lusso Club Spring Lever espresso machine

                              Bean thinking the Pav at home over Christmas was to small for entertaining the masses : But alas it will just have to do for a while longer. Nice add to your range Jack

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