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Head vs Heart or (HX vs Lever)

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  • Head vs Heart or (HX vs Lever)

    I am considering an upgrade from from using my otto (little guy). The obvious choice would be a HX machine and am leaning heavily toward a Rocket Apartmento. However, I keep getting drawn towards a lever machine (I don't have the space for a large plumbed in lever). I would love an Olympia Cremina and although I would struggle to justify a new one, second hand they seem relatively affordable. A Strega comes to mind as a possible compromise but I am concerned that it would end up being something that is trying to cover too many bases without being as satisfying as either one of the other options. A secondary consideration is that I would like my wife and daughter to be comfortable using whatever machine we end up choosing. Currently they both find the otto a bit fiddly, perhaps a lever would present a similar problem?
    Roughly we would have 6-8 coffees a day between us, around 50% milk based. We have a Lido2 grinder but may get a motorised grinder as well.
    Some of this has been covered in previous threads but I would love to hear from anyone who has considered both a HX and a Lever. What influenced your decision? Are you happy with your decision?

  • #2
    It's a dilemma Dan.

    When we first bought the Bezzera I taught my wife to use it, yep she became proficient very quickly, a few days later I found her making a cup of instant on inquiry she informed me that although the coffee from the machine was far better than instant she found the process too much stuffing around, still drinks instant 7 years later, unless I offer a cappuccino, the hand goes up pretty quick then.

    What I'm trying to say is the simpler the better, if they find the Otto a bit fiddly they will probably find the same with a lever machine.

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    • #3
      I find it difficult to see the attraction of a lever machine. It seems a retro fad to me. Tell me what is the attraction? A technical challenge?

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      • #4
        It's a 100 year old fad.

        Here's what I like:
        *real time control over the pour / flow.
        *Very quiet
        *you can "feel everything" about the shot. You are connected to it.
        *lovely sweet shots.

        *i admit to finding them (mostly) very easy on the eye.

        It is a bit of a technical challenge. I suppose you could say that. I'd put it another way though. Using a lever makes you pay careful attention to your shots, so you learn a lot about making coffee when you use one. Perhaps I found this more with my Pavoni than with my current machine, but I've learnt that its worth paying good attention. The dividends are in the cup!

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        • #5
          ^ What's the attraction you ask? Clearly hasn't used one. It's simple on the inside. And it's what many of the advanced pressure profiling machines are aspiring to. It's more forgiving than a pump machine and the percentage of getting it right is much higher. Not to mention the magical silent moment with the sound of espresso dripping - none of the pump noise in the background. Many claims the shots are smoother and flavors more distinctive - I don't know, I just know they make damn fantastic shots, even compared to my DB Minore with plenty more electronics (which will go soon)!

          Using a lever is just like enjoying a nice lift in a limousine - smooth and quiet to your destination. Using a pump? Meh, like a bumpy bus ride with the noise and unexpected road bumps. You don't know what you are missing until you've tried better. May be it's a *slight* exaggeration but it does feel that way to me!

          How can you question a beauty like this?

          Click image for larger version

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          I wish but that's not my machine of course...just some random lever image off the internet

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          • #6
            I'd be interested to know if there's anyone who's got the hang of a lever and thought "I'm going back to the pump."

            I'm a belever.

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            • #7
              Sorry for the hijacking Dan.

              Using a lever is more of a "knack" than fiddly. Once you've got the hang of it, I can't think why it'd be more fiddly than a hx, (or an Otto -which I've never used) for that matter.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by shortblackman View Post
                I'd be interested to know if there's anyone who's got the hang of a lever and thought "I'm going back to the pump."

                I'm a belever.
                Morning SBM, as you know I have a Bezzera HX as well as the LaPavoni.

                Use the HX at home and the Pav when we travel, the Pav produces good espresso, however it certainly is a lot more stuffing around, the fact that I'm forced to use a hand grinder with it doesn't help.

                Must admit it's always nice to get home and switch on the Bezzera, if forced to make a choice would keep the Bezzera.

                The Pav produces excellent shots, the Bezzera does it all and is a pleasure to use, of course there is a big price difference between the two.

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                • #9
                  You could do a cardio workout around the lever, put it to music, sell the CS Lever it to Beaver DVD.

                  or

                  50 Ways to Love your Lever...

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                  • #10
                    Something that doesn't get mentioned that often is a lever is super easy to clean. No backflush mess. I pop the screen off every month for a quick wipe inside. Not much to clean when I do. Just a thin smear of coffee oils.
                    Only shortcoming I can think of is the force required to pull the lever. I don't think about it much these days but at the start it did feel like an effort.

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                    • #11
                      The cleaning is a definite plus. More importantly, shot consistency and quality. Never going back!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wattgn View Post
                        I find it difficult to see the attraction of a lever machine. It seems a retro fad to me. Tell me what is the attraction? A technical challenge?
                        G'day wattgn, I guess for me the attraction is that everyday I work with noisy, complicated machinery and a lever seems like a quiet, functional and elegant way to create a good espresso.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DanC View Post
                          G'day wattgn, I guess for me the attraction is that everyday I work with noisy, complicated machinery and a lever seems like a quiet, functional and elegant way to create a good espresso.
                          With a quiet hand grinder...

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                          • #14
                            i just went through this decision process. TLDR: I have a new Strega on my bench.

                            I am upgrading from a Breville Dual Boiler. We wanted to get something with a bit more quality and power. This fit the bill.

                            It felt like a good upgrade while being a machine that I thought could last us a decade or more. I wanted to try and get something that we could learn and evolve with; while giving us something with a learning curve that we could master. I loved my dual boiler, but at the end of the day, it was a learning machine for us. I mean, if you're reading this post, you're probably an enthusiast and the learning curve should be a positive, not a negative.

                            So far, I've pulled ~10 shots. It was about the 5th or 6th one that I thought was good; today's were very good. Already better than the Breville and I haven't got everything dialed in. However, it's nowhere near as convenient as the Breville; I could just tap the button and go about my business. Now, it takes a bit more time. I'm sure I'll get faster, but this isn't a machine built around convenience.

                            I don't think you can go wrong either way, but I think the Strega suited my desire to learn more about coffee and participate more in the crafting side of things. And wow, is it a kitchen statement! It's so pretty!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wattgn View Post
                              With a quiet hand grinder...
                              Yeah, If I decided to go with a lever I would probably stick with the Lido2

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