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  • What are my lever options..

    Seriously thinking of buying a bez Strega but wanted to know if there are any other option around this quality level? If someone can convince me a elektra mcl is just as good or better then that would be another option I guess

  • #2
    I am a lever guy and have never used a Strega, but have used the Pavoni's, MCal's and Cremina. Personally, if could own another lever (on top of those I currently have) I'd go with the Strega. I can't imagine that it wouldn't be way better than any of the domestic spring levers such as the MCal and Ponte Vecchio Lusso and Export. It is a bit of a game changing machine, a domestic (or better prosumer) machine with a commercial lever group and commercial lever springs. This just must transfer into superior shot making capabilities and superior shots.
    Of the others, the Cremina is the king of domestic, small-sized lever machines for any number of reasons that have been well-documented on this and other forums. But it is extremely expensive new, and hard to find second hand. They cost around $1000 more than a new Strega, a price differential many out there are not prepared to pay, especially since the Strega is more versatile machine in terms of what it can do (eg churn out far more consecutive, high quality shots).

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    • #3
      The Strega is probably the best option at the moment. Londinium 1 is about be released in the UK, which uses a commercial sized lever group on a domestic size boiler, like the Strega. The benefit I think of the Strega, Bosco and Londinium (and the Quickmill Achille which I'm not sure is available in Australia) is that you can pull a double shot from a single pull on the lever, whereas with the smaller machines with smaller size groups (Ponte Vecchio Lusso, Cremina, Micro Casa a Leva) is that to get 60mls you have to take a second pull on the lever, which means the flow of water through the puck is interrupted and the pressure profile is not a smooth arc.

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      • #4
        What are my lever options..

        First of all, decide on how much space you are willing to dedicate to your lever machine. This is the most important aspect. Once that is worked out, you have to decide whether or not you will plumb it in. This will narrow down your choices.
        If you want a proper lever, and all the benefits (flavour wise, ease of use, etc) that go with it, then look for one with a commercial lever group.
        As to choices:

        Londinium 1.
        Same lever group as the Bosco, and available with a water tank. Can be plumbed in. Can be customised and is available direct from the manufacturer. 58mm group head so you can use triple baskets. Very well priced.

        Bosco.
        Hand made in Italy, available from CRA, a site sponsor. Full service and backup in Australia by a reputable company. Needs to be plumbed in. Large footprint. No pump and magnificently quiet. Delightfully simple build, will last for ever, and can produce shot after consistent shot. Can be customised, check out their website. Full size commercial machine. Personal bias, as I own one.

        Strega.
        58mm group head, can be plumbed in, or comes with a water tank. Lot of reviews both here and on HB. I will leave it to owners to comment.

        Quickmill Achilles.
        Sold by Coffee Italia in the UK, you may be able to buy locally from their Australian branch, or direct. 58mm group. Water tank and rotary pump. Uses the same lever group as the Bosco.

        Izzo.
        Commercial machine. Uses smaller group head than a 58mm. Triple baskets not available (that I know of). Has to be plumbed in. There is a thread here on CS about this machine. Not sure about availability from Australian importers.

        There are others, some of the Italian manufacturers still have a lever group in their catalogues. Lever machines are easy to maintain, so it is one product that can be self imported (with all the relevant risks).

        Restored Beauties.
        There are a number of old lever machines that have been restored, and come up for sale from time to time. They have to be plumbed in. As to price, they cost whatever you are willing to pay.

        Lever machines are simple, few parts to go wrong, and are easily serviced. They are quiet and very easy to use. They are forgiving, and easy to master. As long as you understand the fundamentals and mechanics of how to produce a good espresso, you will not go wrong. I prefer the ones with a 58mm group head, as I can use a triple basket to produce thick bodied espressos, which I prefer.

        Before you buy, go and have play with a lever. Take your favourite coffee with you and compare the result from it, to what you are used to getting at home (or cafe).

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        • #5
          Izzo uses the La San Marco group and hence there are bottomless PF & triple baskets etc available. I got my bottomless from CoffeeParts

          TalkCoffee imports the full stainless ones.

          I think the Londinium looks interesting because of the price they where planning to pitch it at but it's yet to pass initial field trials

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          • #6
            In so far as the market is concerned at this point the machine doesnt even exist, yet people are talking about it, talking it up and even recommending it as a possible contender.....Right now I'd call that an extremely effective (and very well calculated) marketing campaign, but not a coffee machine.

            For the rest of it there are any number of commercial lever machines available through whatever channels, if a commercial is for whatever reason, wanted by the OP. These forums build manufacturer names into icons, where anyone that is lucky enough to have their name bandied around builds market recognition and "cred" just for getting their name out there. That doesnt mean recognized manufacturer names in these effectively "retail" end forums are any "better" than manufacturers that are conversely only active in the commercial business side of the market and have never been heard of tin these forums......

            Lever machines are for whatever reason, still favoured in the southern part of Italy and are very very common from around the Naples area and down to the bottom of the boot and into Sicily. Therefore there are a number of manufacturers that make them in addition to the more modern designs. They may not be all that commonly available here, where the market has developed along the lines of northern italian espresso style and equipment nevertheless, they are not as "special" as people seem to think ie they are simply another type of equipment that is available, for those that might want them, and god forbid, they are just another type of coffee machine.

            A lot of hoo haa surrounds these subjects, especially as people spend an endless amount of time discussing the nth degree of academic espresso quality, when for the most part the market is drinking milk coffees where this nth degree of academia is frittered away in the milk, and while three quarters of the public either dont have a grinder or have one that destroys the grinds before they are turned into coffee or gets anywhere near a so called "pre infusion" or "pressure" profile". Most people dont understand how to properly use coffee equipment and cant adjust a grinder, but they are all fired up about things like "pressure profiling" when looking to purchase.......

            My advice would be to decide on a budget, and then purchase a machine of the type you would like to have, at slightly above your budgeted figure. Buy the biggest capacity machine you can get for the money because that is where you should get a better quality coffee OR, one that is easier to produce due to machine ergonomics.

            The rest I am afraid is smoke and mirrors and is in fact....up to the equipment operator. You could give a ferrari to a 17 year old, but that doesnt mean you will get a great drive.

            Hope that helps.

            Attilio
            very first CS site sponsor.
            Last edited by Fresh_Coffee; 30 September 2012, 12:26 PM.

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            • #7
              Quite a lot of levers available these days as per the above.

              ** Really important you consider the bench real estate of the commercial sized levers if your considering going down that path, they are both wide and deep!

              I wouldn't touch Cafe Italia with a barge pole if you want ANY backup service later.

              Microcimbali and Elektra MC have really lost there place in terms of $ for quality. Ignoring some of the fan boy stuff elsewhere about the Cremina bottom line is it is overpriced.

              Currently the best by a chunk for a home lever is the Strega and the Londinium will follow. There was a rumour circulating the industry a while back about an Izzo equivalent in a domestically friendly shell but as yet no signs of it.

              Currently have the Fioranzato 1grp Lever on the bench and the Pavoni packed in the camping kit. 3 grp Izzo in mothballs and the 2 grp Izzo LPG powered one having it's home designed. Beware they can be addictive

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              • #8
                Thanks for annunciating directly some of my own thoughts BF. Some of these things are offensively overpriced when compared to what they actually do. And the internet "cred" & "iconism" that has been built up around some of them allows that kind of cynical market pricing to exist. And that's the information overload highway shooting itself in the foot.

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                • #9
                  There was a rumour circulating the industry a while back about an Izzo equivalent.
                  There is a new lever due in the next 12 months, but not from Gruppo Izzo which has no plans for anything smaller at present.

                  Confirming that we continue to import the Izzo Pompeii.

                  Chris

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                  • #10
                    Ok, Let's tidy this up a bit.
                    OP was after his options.

                    Currently available:

                    Small Levers.
                    Cremina, and all the others.

                    "Domestic size" Levers.
                    With a full commercial sized lever group. (OP was considering a Strega)
                    -Strega (Readily available-lots of reviews)
                    -Quickmill Achilles
                    -Londinium (prototype stage)
                    -Mystery lever from TC (not sure if it fits in this category, or the one below due to lack of info). 12 months away. Destined to be a "category killer".

                    Commercial Levers.
                    -Multitude of manufacturers. If this is what the OP is looking for, then I am sure we can come up with a detailed list of brand names and their offerings.

                    To make a decision, budget, plumbing and bench real estate must be revealed.

                    Which machine makes the better espresso? Who knows, and to be honest, who cares. It all boils down to personal preferences in the end, and what is readily available. They are all coffee machines and capable of producing the goods; and as per my original statement:
                    "As long as you understand the fundamentals and mechanics of how to produce a good espresso, you will not go wrong."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      One more domestic sized lever ( commercial group, 58mm PF, reputable manufacturer, sensible price, ..etc etc)
                      ..that repeatedly gets overlooked is the Fracino "Retro"..
                      Ironically , made by the same company that assembles the L1 !



                      on a side note...
                      ..am i correct in thinking that the Strega can ( if necessary) be use as a conventional "pump" m/c,.... by simply not using the lever ???

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                      • #12
                        I have to agree with a lot of what has already been written. One thing to note about commercial levers is that they are big machines. They take up a lot of bench space and you need a few people to move them around unless you are particularly strong... Also just pulling the lever itself is not something everyone would feel comfortable with.... having said that they produce a superlative shot... larger and more full bodied than what a smaller grouped domestic can achieve. Again: having said that- the domestic levers can also produce a superlative shot- smaller but different than a commercial lever one... Both have their advantages and disadvantages and I would not say one is definitively better than the other... they are just different.

                        And finally: there is a new lever on the Australian market- the Quick Mill Achille 0996. I have actually imported a number of these machines to Australia and am currently testing one out. So far I am loving the shots- it is easy to use and a lot of fun. Runs superbly, can be left on all day- just walk up and pull a shot. The machine comes with a tank and rotary pump- but is also fitted with a plumbed line- so can be set up either way straight out of the box. These machines are really built to the standard of a commercial machine and would be well suited to commercial use I think...

                        If anyone is interested in one of these machines please send us an email - or a PM through CS.

                        More information and photos to come with a micro-review.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by blend52 View Post
                          on a side note...
                          ..am i correct in thinking that the Strega can ( if necessary) be use as a conventional "pump" m/c,.... by simply not using the lever ???
                          NO. The pump is used for the preinfusion stage to put the water through the HX and not for the shot at all. If you like it sort of replaces a reduced mains pressure feed would do for some of the commercial HX levers (Rancilio Z9 I have). It also refills the boiler as I understand the plumbing.

                          Levers with dipper type heads simply use the boiler pressure to feed the piston before the shot. And in these cases the pump if fitted just fills the boiler against the pressure. Or if plumbed then reduced mains works too.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by beanflying View Post
                            NO. The pump is used for the preinfusion stage to put the water through the HX and not for the shot at all. If you like it sort of replaces a reduced mains pressure feed would do for some of the commercial HX levers (Rancilio Z9 I have). It also refills the boiler as I understand the plumbing.
                            From what Ive read on other forums and seen in videos the pump/opv will supply 9 bar to the puck if you hold the lever down long enough, so it could be used for the shot.

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                            • #15
                              here are two picture of the new Achille 0996 in action at home in Italy

                              - on this machine the pump only tops up the 4.5 liter boiler (from a 3 liter tank)- via a rotary pump. The machine comes with a switch on the base to change over to plumbed operation.
                              Attached Files

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