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Thread: Why so few levers in cafes?

  1. #1
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    Why so few levers in cafes?

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    There seems to be a general consensus that levers produce the best espresso, other things being equal.

    So why aren't levers more prevalent, at least in cafes that are trying to make great coffee?

    I don't buy the argument that they're too slow, if it's a 3 group then I can't see it being slower than the way most Lineas, PB80s, Synessos, etc are run. Note I say run, not what they're potential of in the hands of an efficient barista.

    Perhaps that's it, to run a 3 group lever at peak time you need a particularly skilled barista?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    I'm thinking that it's down to a team-training ethos. Admittedly I've never used a lever, but from what I've read it seems like there's some room for error in use.

    It's impossible to f-up flicking the switch on a semiauto.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    There seems to be a general consensus that levers produce the best espresso, other things being equal.

    So why aren't levers more prevalent, at least in cafes that are trying to make great coffee?

    I don't buy the argument that they're too slow, if it's a 3 group then I can't see it being slower than the way most Lineas, PB80s, Synessos, etc are run. Note I say run, not what they're potential of in the hands of an efficient barista.

    Perhaps that's it, to run a 3 group lever at peak time you need a particularly skilled barista?
    They are slower. If you for example had a 2 group regular machine- you'd want a 3 group lever due to no 3 way valve. They also require more effort. They do however place the return for the effort in the cup IMHO.
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  4. #4
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    It would be cool to go to a place that does have great machines, but most importantly, I would assume most general public only cares about able to have a nice cup of coffee at a reasonable price... unless it is one of those boutique coffee shops you might see come across....

    But could you imagine if you had a lever machine in your cafe, and your staff wasn't trained properly to use it... someone might be offended, take a picture of your cafe and complain on an internet forum about it...
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    Gills Diner in Melbourne have them .... I was surprised when I saw them.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Beanz.'s Avatar
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    Great question
    I was in Pompeii recently and every cafe I saw used levers
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Beanz.'s Avatar
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    Some great examples of levers that were used in cafes and a 1952 Faema Veloxtermo wall mounted lever used in homes, rail coaches and boats. Photos taken at the Mumac museum in Binasco
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    They do however place the return for the effort in the cup IMHO.
    Not wishing to sound sycophantic at all, but I asked the question partly because the shots I've had from Chris' lever machine at Talk Coffee have been truly exceptional, and I wish there was somewhere in the CBD that came close in quality.

    Cup of Truth is probably the one place that matches his quality, probably no coincidence that they absolutely give a damn about their coffee there.

    So my search for god shots in the Melb CBD continues...

  9. #9
    TC
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    Thank you so much for your kind words Jonathon...We try!

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    One of my locals has a Kees Van Der Western 3 group and a synesso 2 or 3 group. They only use the Kees after lunch when it's quieter and they have had time to dial in the grind, pull a few shots. They let me pull a shot on it once. Nice machine!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Beanz.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    the shots I've had from Chris' lever machine at Talk Coffee have been truly exceptional
    I must agree, great shots on Chris's machine.

    Maling Room in Canterbury also pull some nice shots on their lever machine but you need to ask them to use the lever when placing an order
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  12. #12
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Pity I haven't seen any cafe here in Perth that uses them

    Would love to be able to experience what the difference would be

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    Quote Originally Posted by okitoki View Post
    Pity I haven't seen any cafe here in Perth that uses them

    Would love to be able to experience what the difference would be
    Try Howard St in the CBD.
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    You also have to wait a bit for the pressure to release in the levers too dont you? So that could possibly slow you down if you had a big order of coffees.

    Looked at an Elektra lever today, almost bought it!!! Decided I should really sleep on it before spending 2k

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    Last Straw in Shepparton has a Rancilio - when asked about it, one of the owners told me, not only were the shots good but the repairs were simple in comparison!
    Worth remembering if your ever out in the sticks.

  16. #16
    Not a Shoe Jimmytheboot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    There seems to be a general consensus that levers produce the best espresso, other things being equal.
    Best is a strong word, they do a certain style well that most pump machines cant.

    I think of it like acoustic vs electric guitars, you can play the same music on both but it loses and gains something on each, and which sounds better will be a matter of listener preference.

    I cant remember the exact stat but its something like 95-97% of drinks served at cafes here have milk, so whatever taste benefit comes from a lever is not going to be recognised by the majority of customers. Even in Italy where drinking straight espresso is a lot more common levers are rare in the north, most of the big brands are based around milan so the local preference has a strong influence on the kind of machines being made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmytheboot View Post
    Best is a strong word,
    Yes that's a fair point, I was perhaps being a little contentious, although I suspect if you polled all active CSers, it might well be the consensus here.

    That said, none of the lever shots I've had in Melbourne, excluding Chris at Talk Coffee, have come close to what a good barista can get from a Kees van der Westen, those machines seem to pump out fantastic espresso.

  18. #18
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    The bottom line is the quality of the (green) beans, the level of the roast and the freshness of the roasted beans. There is absolutely NO machine (lever or pump) that will make great espresso from rubbish beans.

    I have tried a variety of pump and lever machines (both domestic levers and commercial). My personal preference is for the lever....(but if I am truthful to myself here) this preference is mainly due to partaking in the process of making a shot. It is extremely satisfying to do.

    I get amazing shots from my pump machine as well as levers.

    (I actually sampled a Mirage Idrocompresso shot from a café in Concord and it was absolute sh*te!
    Mind you, I would have loved to try one on this machine made with great beans and by someone who knew what he/she was doing.)

  19. #19
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    To my mind the only way to get any kind of meaningful comparisons between different type espresso machines is to use two identical type grinders of similar thoughput on the grinding plates for similar blend or blends, with the two machines to be compared side by side, and using the same bag/s of beans througb both set ups, adjust both set ups to get the best possible equivalent espresso out of each individual machine. Then do a direct one on one cupping comparison. Anything else probably wont / cant give a meaningful comparison, and you certainly cant rely on your memory.

    Assuming best possible consistent operator techniques, that will tell you what differences you might get from one machine to the other.

    And then you can throw all that out the window from any commercial perspective because most of our market drinks milks and if you can only find small differences between the espresso's, that will disappear when you drown them in milk......

    Why so few levers in cafes (here)? Because they went out with the ark and were replaced with modern pump driven models, in fact if you talk history (here), the espresso market in Australia back in the days when lever machines were the norm was miniscule. The market grew and followed the trend to modern design machines as the manufacturers released their modern range models and as we all know, the E61 was basically the birth of the modern pump driven machine back in the early 60's. That was a long time ago, and the internet is now making lever machines fashionable as in whats old is new etc.

    I would also comment that in terms of ease of operation in a commercial setting, a modern machine is probably easier to manage / deal with in our market where we do a lot of milk (so the moduis operandi of the operator is different) especially in busy places.

    Why arent accounting firms still using *adding machines* instead of calculators and pooders?

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    We have a small 'hole in the wall' operation doing around 30kg/week and we currently run a Mirage 2 Group. I just got a 2 group Idrocompresso which we will try out in the next few weeks so hopefully I can shed some insight into this discussion. Call me crazy but hopefully the extra effort required will be perceived and appreciated, the question will be if we can keep up with demand though.

  21. #21
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    Hole in which wall?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    Not wishing to sound sycophantic at all, but I asked the question partly because the shots I've had from Chris' lever machine at Talk Coffee have been truly exceptional, and I wish there was somewhere in the CBD that came close in quality.
    Oh agreed. Chris's coffees are as good as I've ever tried anywhere. Truly excellent. It's part machine, but more down to the beans and the man himself.

    What about Baby Brother Budan (is that the name) or Patricia? Both do great coffee; both in Melbourne cbd.

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    Brother buda budan. It's one of seven seeds stores.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gustopher View Post
    Brother buda budan. It's one of seven seeds stores.
    Yep, that's the one! Thanks

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gibberblot View Post
    Oh agreed. Chris's coffees are as good as I've ever tried anywhere. Truly excellent. It's part machine, but more down to the beans and the man himself.
    Thanks for the kind words gibberblot...

    Like many in this industry, I'm learning and have been for pretty much as long as I can remember!

    I think the mantra is to buy the best coffee you afford and then treat it with respect. It will then make you look good.

    It takes a whole heap more effort to make average greens or browns palatable. I have better things to do than attempt to transform average product

    Cheers

    Chris
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Like many in this industry, I'm learning and have been for pretty much as long as I can remember!
    Unfortunately Chris there are many out there half your age (sorry!) who reckon they've learnt all there is to know.

    Of course in that regard coffee is really no different to many things in life...Christ I'm sounding like an old fart!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    Unfortunately Chris there are many out there half your age (sorry!) who reckon they've learnt all there is to know.

    Of course in that regard coffee is really no different to many things in life...Christ I'm sounding like an old fart!
    Thanks Jonathon (from one older fart to an old fart...)

    As for the others who think they know everything- I choose not to drink their coffee.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    As for the others who think they know everything- I choose not to drink their coffee.
    I think Maling Room were referring to the same people as you in this tweet they just posted:

    @TheMalingRoom: Dear 3rd wave coffee, First get your basics right, then build your foundations and then worry about brewing ratios.
    Magic_Matt likes this.

  29. #29
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    Not too sure if anyone has mentioned this one yet, but if you let go of a lever without a portafilter and you're in the wrong place, you can get a fairly huge upper-cut. Mistakes happen during peak hour behind the machine and it would be a lot more dangerous mistake with a lever. I guess that can go under the skilled barista argument

    Michael

  30. #30
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    That's a very good point. In an HSE-centric environment there's no room for artistry over safety.



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