farmroast Senior Member Joined: 13 Jul 2006 Posts: 1,417 Location: Amherst MA. Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Oly:Cremina,Maxi. MCAL... Grinder: Majors, Dienes Vac Pot: Hellem10 Drip: CCD, and more Roaster: 1kg. DreamRoast
Posted Thu Jan 5, 2012, 5:45pm Subject: Re: Why would I want a commercial lever machine?
Would you like to be able to do some profiling of a shot? The brand new Bezzera Strega is an interesting machine to consider. They just arrived in country and I've had one for 2 weeks. I haven't used commercial levers but have used many home and club levers. The Bezzera Strega has a commercial size group, is hx and has a 9bar pump that fills the boiler and adds adjustable pump pressure to the pre infusion before you activate the spring lever. Provides a lot of flexibility. Does a great job with difficult light roast SO shots. Available at 1st. line
Posted Thu Jan 5, 2012, 11:46pm Subject: Re: Why would I want a commercial lever machine?
If you want us to sell you on it you are probably already sold. I'll share what led me to get a lever machine and then what made me want to keep and probably never go "back" to a pump machine. I know the "going back" might sound offensive to some people but it's just my current feeling. (which could change)
I started looking into levers because they are spoken of as the final zen step in machines for whatever reasons. I like the idea of old school, simple, and quiet as well as good looking. The whole look of that great big lever hanging out there is very cool. My machine is a 1978 LaCimbali M20 Lever and it's very retro and appealing looking to me. The way you pull the lever down and wait for the pre-infusion in such a controlled way until you see those first drops come seeping out under low pressure as you think of the whole puck being saturated and getting ready to have the pressure applied slowly is a great part of making coffee. Then to release the lever and let the silent spring take over as the slow trickle starts out and gives way to a steady stream of red gold is very satisfying. I know that some of these things can happen with a pump machine (althought noisier) but I find it easier and more consistent with my Lever. My other machine was a Nuova Simonelli HX with a rotary pump and all adjustable variables but I rarely saw as nice a striped stream flow out of it. Again, I'm not saying it can'y and doesn't happen with pump machines I'm just saying it wasn't "as good" for me
That was what led me to look into a lever machine and I still love the looks, silence and way of pulling a shot, and this all contributes to my desire to continue on as a "lever head". But....the biggest reason we do this is to continue to learn to make better coffee. So did my "zen" lever experience help? Hugely. I was surprised how much difference it made. Again I know there are many variables that can bring about good or bad shots in all espresso machines and I had my other machines set to the what seemed the best temp and pressure and all that stuff. I roast my own and use a Vario grinder.
Any way, I thought my first shots looked better and tasted smoother than what I used to produce but wondered how much of that was linked to my enjoyment of the whole process. A few days later a friend who has shared a lot of coffee with me dropped by and I pulled him his normal double Americano. He knew about my new machine but I didn't say much about it. A few sips into his coffee he stopped and told me that he thought it was noticeably better and smoother than usual. A couple of days later another friend and coffee fan came by to see the new machine and see how the lever worked. I pulled him his regular which is a double shot small cappuccino with two ounces of coffee and two ounces of steamed milk and no sugar. He sipped it, paused, and took a few more sips. After another pause and sip he said that it was really, really good and then said it was probably the best coffee he had ever had in his life. (he has had coffee with me for several years) Another lady friend (who had worked as a barrista) came by, had her usual, and also said it was one of the best she had tasted.
This all kind of blew me away but what could I say? We do all that we do to try and experience the best coffee possible (which is subjective). I am using the same beans and varying my roasts as I always have but I find that I am having more and more straight up espressos and loving them. I also mix it up with cappuccinos but have gone from an 8 oz. cup to a 6 oz. and now a 4 oz. with the same double shot.
So there you have it. My opinion and experience. I now have a Cimbali M20, an Enrico spring lever, a VFA 2 group lever and an Astoria 2 group lever and have just bought a Micro Cimbali which isn't here yet. The two 2 group machines aren't up and running yet. Your question was "why a commercial lever machine". For me, once I went to a plumbed in machine it seemed to make the whole thing so much easier. The spring can be slowed down to give less pressure if desired so the control is almost a much and a non-spring machine
I hope you give it a try. If it's not for you you can sell, but if it is for you it could be a lot of fun.
aecletec Senior Member Joined: 10 Dec 2010 Posts: 194 Location: Australia Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Presso Grinder: Faema A6 Drip: Chemex
Posted Fri Jan 6, 2012, 4:33am Subject: Re: Why would I want a commercial lever machine?
All the reports from users of commercial levers I've read have said that overheating is not a problem. Reasons given include much larger groups which function as more effective heat sinks and better t/p stats etc.
ryandunlap Senior Member Joined: 15 Sep 2009 Posts: 104 Location: Syracuse, NY
Posted Fri Jan 6, 2012, 9:36am Subject: Re: Why would I want a commercial lever machine?
Very interesting. These are compelling reasons. I feel like I may have to buy one and see for myself.
So four questions:
(1) When I have 10 people over the house (which happens all too frequently in my world), will such a machine keep up with demand?
On that: I really enjoyed the "perceived value" (not sure if it was real), of previously having a PID'd, dual-boiler, Duetto II. I'm not against going back to HX, but the perception that it's taking the guess work out for me, is nice. As I mentioned elsewhere---for better or worse---the reality is, after my first two years in the craft, I tended to abandon exactness in favor of just enjoying whatever ended up in my cup. With that though, I "felt better about myself" knowing I had a PID'd, dual-boiler. It somehow allowed me to justify my carelessness. (If that makes any sense.)
(2) What models should I be considering? New and used. 2-3k is my ideal price range. (I'm not able to justify a 6k machine at this point in my hobby.) Nor do I want to wait months-and-months to have something custom built (though I *maybe* could be talked into it.)
(3) Is the paddle on the GS3 designed to simulate the pros of a lever?
(4) How's the resale value of these machines? Do they move? Would be nice knowing as I'll probably just buy one and see if my experience is the same as here!
Posted Fri Jan 6, 2012, 10:49am Subject: Re: Why would I want a commercial lever machine?
The devil's advocate reply got me going until I read the later post about just wanting to stir things up. From what I've read, the smaller machines might be less stable or difficult to keep consistent but a "commercial lever" is super stable and consistent.
I'll try and answer a few of you 4 questions.
(1) My single group Cimbali M20 keeps up with a small group (6 to 10) easily and doesn't seem to overheat. I did just buy a two group lever just to try it out and can see how it could speed things up a bit but usually I'm pretty busy while the pull is happening so I don't know how much faster it would be. The advantage of a two group machine is that one group could cool off a bit while you use the other one.
(2) Hmmm. New or used. It depends on what you like. I like used and if I could find and older, cooler one I would buy it. I don't think old or new would make much difference in any way. Basically there is not much to wear out. Mine was used and abused and filthy but it cleaned up well and with new seals in it, I don't see what could go wrong.
(3) I don't know
(4)So far I just buy but seeing how hard they are to find I think they would be easy to sell. Nice looking one on CoffeeGeek forum (Brugnetti Aurora two group HX lever machine)!
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