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Manual lever recommendations?
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Discussions > Espresso > Lever Espresso > Manual lever...  
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 84
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Wed Aug 7, 2013, 10:58pm
Subject: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Is it risky to purchase a used La Pavoni?  I'm hooked - I got a Mypressi and really love my espresso now, I want to try out a lever machine and prefer to get a manual one.  I do see La Pavonis for sale for around $400, but I'm also interested in the Caravel, or antique espresso machines - anything made of brass or stainless.  I'd prefer not to have a huge transformer however.  I don't need to steam milk.  Any suggestions?
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Thu Aug 8, 2013, 1:55am
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Lever machines like La Pavonis are usually pretty sturdy.

Before the advent of pumps and the E61 brew group, lever machines used to be the only way of making espresso the way we understand it today. Even though there are still some commercial machines of that kind available, nowadays lever machines are more or less exclusively for home use. Making coffee with such an espresso machine is almost a work of art, because unless you have a spring lever machine, it takes a lot of practice to consistently get the brewing pressure right. Here are some typical characteristics of lever machines:

  • usually no waiting for frothing milk, because the boiler is on steaming temperature and pressure;
  • practically no parts subject to regular wear, because they have neither a pump nor a magnetic valve;
  • quiet operating, the grinder being the only thing really making noise;
  • interesting design (i.e. you have to like them);
  • not suitable for continuous use, because the brewgroup tends to overheat after a few shots unless you cool it externally.

This temperature instability is what can make it difficult to pull shots of consistent quality. Each espresso tends to taste (at least a little) differently, and after a few shots it might get burnt and bitter. Those who only brew a couple of shots each time they turn on the machine, who are willing to go through the pains of learning how to handle it, and who are looking for an eye-catcher will fare well with such an espresso machine.

Apart from La Pavonis, here are some lever machines you might want to take a look at:
La Zacconi Espresso Baby/Big Baby/Riviera
Elektra Microcasaaleva

 
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"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 84
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Sun Aug 11, 2013, 8:23pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Thanks for the post and advice.  It seems the 2 other machines you recommend aren't widely available in the US, although they both look very nice.  I'd prefer to get something that wouldn't require a transformer.  

Learning to manually pull a shot appeals to me, and I know the lever machines have a learning curve.  I keep finding posts of used machines that needed lots of spare parts that were difficult to find, and machines needing lots of maintenance.  Even though I could save 50% buying a used machine, I don't want a huge hassle of refurbishing one.  On the other hand, my budget isn't much more than $400, so used looks like my best option for now.  Even at $400 I'd be terribly disappointed to get something in poor repair.

I don't need to froth milk, and I only make 2 shots a day.  I also like the antique Caravel style espresso machines - but I think the gaskets on them, once worn, are impossible to replicate.

I've read the Faema are built to last.  Any other suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sun Aug 11, 2013, 10:36pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

clm Said:

It seems the 2 other machines you recommend aren't widely available in the US, (...)

Posted August 11, 2013 link

I can't say about the La Zacconis, but the Elektra should be available in the US.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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lifeandpeace
Senior Member
lifeandpeace
Joined: 9 Nov 2007
Posts: 745
Location: PBI

Espresso: Arrarex Caravel
Grinder: BUNN G1, Zassenhaus knee
Vac Pot: Cory / Hario / Silex
Drip: cloth, glass Hario V60;...
Roaster: RK Drum, WBP II
Posted Tue Aug 13, 2013, 4:00pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

clm Said:

Caravel

Posted August 11, 2013 link

I don't feel like writing a lot, but you can dig up the same enormous amount of material by a convinced army of Caravel users that I dug up. I did a lot of reading and reviewing of levers for a long time, and for my preferences (which look similar to yours), the Caravel is it. It's very easy to zero in your temp. I drop a thermocouple in the boiler. It's practically indestructible, and


clm Said:

but I think the gaskets on them, once worn, are impossible to replicate.

Posted August 11, 2013 link

Orphan Espresso has them. There are a couple basic types: one with gaskets on the piston, and one with gaskets on the inside of the piston chamber. I have the latter. I think my Caravel was made around 1969. I have no idea how old the gaskets were when I got it, but four years later, the gaskets are giving me no problem.

Finally, the Caravel is wired for 220V, but the element still gets hot and maintains boiler temp on 110V with a cheap, simple plug adapter.

 
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 84
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Wed Aug 14, 2013, 1:50pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Excellent!  Thank you for this reply.  I did look at OE but didn't see any currently for sale, I sent them a request.  I found this link on another post, but I'd pay shipping from Italy to order one (sold under brand name "Arrarex"?:

http://www.francescoceccarelli.eu/onsale_eng.htm

Does your Caravel have any other names or descriptions on it?  Did you get it from OE?
Thanks again, sorry to have you write back....cindy
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SimonPatrice
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Mar 2012
Posts: 54
Location: Montréal, Québec
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Caravel
Grinder: Peugeot, Armin Trosser, OE...
Drip: Melitta, press pot, eva...
Posted Wed Aug 14, 2013, 7:43pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

I have to second the Caravel recommendation.  I bought one a couple of months ago and couldn't be happier.  It is well built, simple to use and disassemble and can make excellent shots.  Don't be shy if you have any questions about it.
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 84
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Wed Aug 14, 2013, 8:26pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Where did you find yours?  I've been shopping around for one for a while, but the only place that had them (now sold) was the link to the Italian seller posted above.  I'd love to find one, especially since my mypressi stopped functioning.  Thanks for any suggestions....I'll also try e-bay, but please advise if you have any "before purchase" questions to ask about a used Caravel.
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SimonPatrice
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Mar 2012
Posts: 54
Location: Montréal, Québec
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Caravel
Grinder: Peugeot, Armin Trosser, OE...
Drip: Melitta, press pot, eva...
Posted Thu Aug 15, 2013, 6:10pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

clm Said:

Where did you find yours?  I've been shopping around for one for a while, but the only place that had them (now sold) was the link to the Italian seller posted above.  I'd love to find one, especially since my mypressi stopped functioning.  Thanks for any suggestions....I'll also try e-bay, but please advise if you have any "before purchase" questions to ask about a used Caravel.

Posted August 14, 2013 link

I bought it right here on the buy/sell forum from Alekk.  It was in pristine condition and am very happy with it.  You just have to be patient.  I know some others have bought theirs on e bay Italy but I wasn't sure I wanted to risk it.

As for "before purchase" especially if you're bidding on the auction site is to make sure the element is working and that every part is included as they are really hard to source (especially the portafilters).  You might want to know the size of the basket as well.
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lifeandpeace
Senior Member
lifeandpeace
Joined: 9 Nov 2007
Posts: 745
Location: PBI

Espresso: Arrarex Caravel
Grinder: BUNN G1, Zassenhaus knee
Vac Pot: Cory / Hario / Silex
Drip: cloth, glass Hario V60;...
Roaster: RK Drum, WBP II
Posted Sat Aug 17, 2013, 12:36pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

clm Said:

Excellent!  Thank you for this reply.  I did look at OE but didn't see any currently for sale, I sent them a request.  I found this link on another post, but I'd pay shipping from Italy to order one (sold under brand name "Arrarex"?:

http://www.francescoceccarelli.eu/onsale_eng.htm

Does your Caravel have any other names or descriptions on it?  Did you get it from OE?
Thanks again, sorry to have you write back....cindy

Posted August 14, 2013 link

When I mentioned OE, I was referring to the gaskets. OE has the machines for sale only sometimes. You'll see "Arrarex" and "VAM." Ebay Italy usually has a few. Even with shipping from Italy, I got an exceptionally good deal on mine.

 
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