Quick warmup Excellent, sweet tasting espresso Plenty of dry steam It's a looker
Negative Product Points
All negatives are well knew and were considered before purchase: Can only pull 3 or 4 shots and then it's too hot Big, hot, exposed boiler that takes a moment to refill
I had an Expobar Pulser for two years and was very happy, but I always looked for another machine. I thought I would get something in the $2k - $3k range, but was waiting on our kitchen remodel. I then stumbled across Mark Prince's and Karl Schneider's detail reviews of the MicroCasa a Leva and started to make some inquiries. I discovered that the carrying case was an option and I thought that it would be great to take this machine on beach vacations. Well, I made an offer on this machine with carrying case and it was accepted. So, now I'm the proud owner.
I had expected to take a while to learn how to operate this Elektra, but I found it no harder or messier than my Pulser. Shot one was very drinkable. I find that the grind and tamp requirements are similar to the Pulser.
After exploring pulling singles vs. my normal double, I was shocked at how sweet and tasty the single shots are. I can more clearly identify the individual flavors of the coffee. Of note, the shots produce far less crema and do not have the thickness of the shots from the e61 hX machine. The doubles have a bit different taste: pleasant, thicker, a bit more crema, but still more "delicate" as compared to the hX machine. I do use doubles for cappas, as the extra tastiness of the singles gets lost in the milk.
On weekends, I may want a shot, and then want another in an hour. Well, after the first shot, I turn it off. Then, I turn it on before the next shot. It won't take as long to heat up and this is, of course, dependent on how long it was off. I've found that the machine is ready about 2 minutes after the boiler reaches full temperature.
The limitatiuons of this machine have no direct impact on my routine. That is, I don't entertain other espresso drinkers and I'm not expecting to walk up to a machine and instantly pull a shot, 24x7. In fact, with no need to flush and wait for the rebound, I've found this machine to be just as easy to operate as an hX machine. Accordingly, I've sold the Pulser.
To me, the Elektra MicroCasa a Leva is like a sportscar. Something that Porsche or BMW might make. You feel like you're a big part of the espresso making journey, but at the same time, you are delighted and thrilled over and over again by how well the equipment functions and how good it makes you look.
Great experience. Sold as a demo, but the machine was perfect. Inexpensive, quick shipping. A+.
Three Month Followup
Rock solid and original review stands as written.
One Year Followup
All my original review items stand as written. This is an awesome machine if you want to knock out several shots at a time. It's not for entertaining or a housefull of espresso lovers. In the morning, I fill it, turn it on, then know I have about 10 minutes until it's ready. I pull 2 singles for espressos every morning followed by a double that I use for a cappa. Singles are sweet and thin giving an entirely different taste that those from other machines I've used. I prefer this treatment for espresso, but, as always, YMMV. The doubles are not quite as good, but made a great cappa. This thing steams great and is easy to maintain. It stays cleaner than my old Expobar, and I find that it's as simple to get the correct grind as on the Expobar. I'm always confused when people say that this is a difficult machine on which to dial in a grind. If you can live with the known limitations of this machine, it will bring a smile to your face over and over again. Hats off to Elektra. This machine exactly meets its design intentions. Everything you need and nothing you don't, except for it's awesome appearance. Brilliant.