What an amazing piece of machinery. That's what I think of the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva, even three months after first receiving the machine.
It's beautiful, it's functional, and it's unique. It produces a superior cup of espresso, if you work hard enough at it. What more could you ask for?
A lot, of course. Not everyone wants to put in the kind of time and effort a piston machine absolutely demands of its users. Why bother with this old style technology when state of the art automatics can produce an equally superior shot? Why bother when, in today's technologically advanced world, you can buy a super-auto that can produce an okay shot of espresso without even you thinking about it?
You don't buy a lever machine, or this Micro Casa a Leva if you want life to be easy.
You buy this machine if you have an intense love for espresso, appreciate complete hands-on experience, and are willing to put up with a very, very long learning curve that may require you to re-learn some things you thought you knew about espresso.
And you buy this machine if you want a functional piece of art that is capable of greatness.
I love these aspects of espresso. To me, it isn't just a drink - it's a journey. And a machine like the Micro Casa a Leva is one helluva way to take that journey.
I hesitated in giving this machine a rating; Clinical ratings would diminish a few things - yes, you get more repeatable results from espresso machines costing $400 less. And yes, some grunt work with this machine makes it less of a joy to operate (for some) than other machines.
But I do have a recommendation. If you are a person who loves the journey of espresso as much as you love the drink itself, this is a machine that must be considered. It will frustrate you and it will intimidate you. But get in tune with it, and the Elektra Micro Casa will sing for you.
CoffeeGeek would like to thank Dr. Fregnan and Elektra SRL (website) for providing us this machine and giving us the opportunity to test and evaluate it. What a ride.
The Micro Casa a Leva is available from 1st in Coffee for $939 (as of July 2005), It is a serious investment for that special type of CoffeeGeek. We highly recommend it.
No hamsters were harmed during this product evaluation.
The Final Word
Espresso, hands on, at its finest. I've turned out shots better than I've gotten from a La Marzocco. Only the high learning curve, and the overheat issues prevent a "10".