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Manual lever recommendations?
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Discussions > Espresso > Lever Espresso > Manual lever...  
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,316
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
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Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Oct 28, 2013, 8:35am
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

MACHINES:

I'm not a lever guy myself and frankly don't have enough time with more than a couple of machines to say I know much about comparing them one to another.  But based on what I do know and on what people I respect are saying I'd narrow the choice down to the three which I'd feel confident about if purchasing a single group-lever as the primary machine for my own home.  All three are "hybrids" in the sense they employ a pump to keep the boiler continually filled, but all brew as spring levers.  From least to most expensive:
  1. Bezzerra Strega;
  2. Londinium I; and
  3. Quick Mill Achille.

All are far more versatile and usable than other single group levers which have been on the scene for awhile.  It's worth looking into all of them. Because of espresso machines are largely a collection of "components" sourced from common suppliers, assembled in a similar manner by workers paid similar wages, and because the market is so very competitive there are very few huge bang for the buck leaders.  The Strega is one of them. If price matters, FTW: Bezzerra Strega.  Here's why:
  • ~$2K.  Anything else which works as well is around $1,000 more;
  • Practical;
  • Easy to learn;
  • Easy to use;
  • "Pressure profiles" as well as any machine available;
  • Extremely versatile;
  • Excellent steaming (usually an issue with residential levers);
  • Been out for a few years now and established an excellent record for quality and reliability; and
  • All the advantages of a lever, while very nearly as practical and usable as a "straight pump."  

Remember that "plumbing in" is one of the most important things you can do to improve your espresso making in terms of in the cup quality and as an enjoyable activity.  If you can plumb in, do plumb in.  If you cannot, at least get a convertible machine.  

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER

A top quality grinder is super important with machines of this level.  Any shortcomings in the grinder will not only limit the ultimate quality of your shots, but your ability to do fine customization.  Short of buying used, there is no inexpensive grinder which can do justice to a top quality espresso machine such as any of those on the list.  If buying new, plan on spending $900 or more.  The best bang for the buck is probably the "Titan" quality Fiorenzato Doge conical.  

BDL
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Fri Nov 1, 2013, 11:26am
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Ok, I need some help.  Disregarding the voltage for a moment, I've tried just filling the reservoir with boiling water and plugging some shots.  I'm using an OE LIDO hand grinder, with the same grind that works well in the mypressi.  My shots are not pulling any crema, although the pressure to lower the handle seems hard enough and there is water in the portafilter when I remove it.  This doesn't sense - usually no crema means too course a grind, but since the pull is slow and firm, and there is water in the portafilter, I don't think I can go finer.  I may also be screwing up by not be leaving the handle up long enough?  I read the translated instruction on OE's site - it says to lift handle, wait 3-4 secs.  I noticed that the water flows through when lifting the handle, (I removed portafilter to watch) then the water is pressurized through the grounds as you lower it.  So - should I try a slightly courser grind, or reducing the amount of coffee?  My portafilter is a single basket.  I don't have a scale, but I have the original Caravel spoon - using 2 of these scoops per shot.  The machine is in pristine shape - no missing parts, everything original, so this is all user error.
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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 Sun Nov 3, 2013, 1:45pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Hi Cindy.

Allow me to go back to two previous issues first.

I don't use a step-up, and they're not necessary.
I put a little water in my Caravel with it plugged in and turned on. (This reduces temp drop when I add the hot water a few minutes later.) Meanwhile my water is heating in a kettle on the stove. When it reaches temp, I pour it in, and I'm right where I need to be in a matter of about three or four minutes.

By the way, the 220 Caravel plugged into 110 is enough to increase temp to boiling if you allow it.

(Just for kicks I've also put room temp water into the kettle, and it will heat it to temp, but this takes a long time. Something like 25 minutes.)

Re: the lid. Your fit describes my fit, and I have no problem with it. I press it down over the pin at the top, and it's easy to swivel.


Re: your bad shots.
I'm fortunate to have come to home espresso with substantial commercial experience in third wave, so I didn't have much of a learning curve. I know by techs/specs and by "sense" what makes a good shot and how to fix a bad one.

That said, you may just be facing a normal learning curve. If your water is at the proper temp, and your seals are good (and coming from Ceccarelli they should be), then your machine is not the problem. It's either in your beans (stale? not ideal origin/blend?) or your grind (too fine?), or your dose (over?) or your hand (the pull).

Too fine or too course could lead to no crema.

You could be over-filling the basket. Try for now not to go above the line inside the basket.

You could be over-extracting. How long does your shot take from the beginning of the pull until the end of the shot?

 
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Mon Nov 4, 2013, 8:21pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Thanks very much for the hints.  I've not yet gotten a plug converter to plug the Caravel in, so I've only tried by adding boiling water to the top.  I did figure out the lid, I wasn't pressing down while turning (very clever design).

Meanwhile, I think you're correct about over-dosing.  I have been pulling double shots in the Mypressi, and I got a single basket, so was probably over-optimistic about the portafilter.  What bothers me is that there didn't seem to be enough pressure to force through the grind, because water was pooling in the portafilter.  I will try adjusting the grind.

Some q:
  1. How long do you keep the handle up?  If I understand correctly, this allows water to flow from the reservoir - maybe I held it up too long and too much water flowed through?
  2. How long do you take to pull a single shot?  I was trying to go slowly, I will try a few shots at different speeds; I try to count to 28 seconds, although I know this depends on the grind
  3. The beans weren't freshly roasted, but still pulled crema using the Mypressi

I've reverted back to using the Mypressi, which is pretty idiot-proof.  I now understand the frustration of some posts here and the expense of trial & error, I just need to practice more - interestingly, when I recently traveled to the mainland with the Mypressi, everything that worked at home went haywire and I couldn't pull a decent shot.  Maybe it was the water, or the humidity - but it wasn't until I opened a fresh roast that things came together.  Was it you that recommended Vivace?  I loved that roast, and it saved the day on that trip.
Cindy
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Tue Nov 5, 2013, 8:48am
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Clive - Something is really wrong.  I tried again to use the Caravel this AM, and adjusted the grind to a courser grind, but water still pools in the portafilter and there is very little (if any) pressure when I pull the lever, so I can't be over-extracting.  This isn't a "bad shot" it's a "no shot" - all I get is weak wet coffee.  The same grind in my Mypressi produces a fast shot, but I still get crema, so I don't think I need to go even courser.  I also switched to using only one spoon scoop, which I do tamp fairly firmly into the portafilter.  Francesco sent me some gaskets - I presumed they were "extras" and I've asked him about this, but perhaps I needed to install them.  Anyway, I'm either doing something terribly incorrectly, or I've assembled the machine wrong because it's just not working at all.  Any guidance is much appreciated.  Cindy
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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 Nov 5, 2013, 2:46pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

clm Said:

I've not yet gotten a plug converter to plug the Caravel in, so I've only tried by adding boiling water to the top.

Posted November 4, 2013 link

Are you using a thermocouple or thermometer? If you're putting boiling water into it without pre-heating the boiler with boiling water (or near-boiling), your water might sink too low for good extraction. My thermocouple is in my office now, but I've tested it before, and the temp drops below the ideal range if you don't have it warmed already or maintained by being plugged in.

clm Said:

. . . over-dosing.  I have been pulling double shots in the Mypressi, and I got a single basket, so was probably over-optimistic about the portafilter.

Posted November 4, 2013 link

The single, for the Caravel, will take between 9.5 and 12 grams. 12 is the utmost upper end. Most shots I pull are ~11 grams. It depends on the blend and the roast and the grind and the tamp and the humidity.

clm Said:

. . . there didn't seem to be enough pressure to force through the grind

Posted November 4, 2013 link

I don't know what to tell you here. If the seals are good, it's hard to have a defective Caravel. Make sure you leave the bar raised long enough for the water to fall into the chamber. Perhaps 4 - 6 seconds. Sometimes it gurgles a little.

clm Said:

. . . because water was pooling in the portafilter.

Posted November 4, 2013 link

I've had excellent shots that left the puck a little pool-y and excellent shots that left the puck dry-ish. I've read similar experiences on Home-Barista. Long helpful thread there on Caravels.

clm Said:

I will try adjusting the grind.

Posted November 4, 2013 link

It's a balancing act of dose/grind.

clm Said:

How long do you keep the handle up?  If I understand correctly, this allows water to flow from the reservoir - maybe I held it up too long and too much water flowed through?

Posted November 4, 2013 link

You can't get too much water, because it just fills to the point that it's supposed to.

clm Said:

How long do you take to pull a single shot?  I was trying to go slowly, I will try a few shots at different speeds; I try to count to 28 seconds, although I know this depends on the grind

Posted November 4, 2013 link

There's a point where this becomes intuitive, but you can get good shots between 22 and 30 seconds. I've had an obscenely good shot of Liquid Amber that was 47 seconds. Video here. Password: Queen Anne

clm Said:

The beans weren't freshly roasted

Posted November 4, 2013 link

This is not helping!

clm Said:

but still pulled crema using the Mypressi

Posted November 4, 2013 link

It may have been faux crema, like a pressurized portafilter produces--or a Brikka.

clm Said:

I've reverted back to using the Mypressi, which is pretty idiot-proof.  I now understand the frustration of some posts here and the expense of trial & error, I just need to practice more - interestingly, when I recently traveled to the mainland with the Mypressi, everything that worked at home went haywire and I couldn't pull a decent shot.  Maybe it was the water, or the humidity - but it wasn't until I opened a fresh roast that things came together.  Was it you that recommended Vivace?  I loved that roast, and it saved the day on that trip.
Cindy

Posted November 4, 2013 link

It is exceedingly difficult to run into a dead end with a Caravel. One of the main reasons I got one is because I'm not mechanically inclined, and I'd consider them to be idiot-proof.

Your travels demonstrated the environmental variables. It may just the the different parameters between the Mypressi and the Caravel that are throwing you off.


clm Said:

Clive - Something is really wrong.  I tried again to use the Caravel this AM, and adjusted the grind to a courser grind, but water still pools in the portafilter and there is very little (if any) pressure when I pull the lever, so I can't be over-extracting.  This isn't a "bad shot" it's a "no shot" - all I get is weak wet coffee.  The same grind in my Mypressi produces a fast shot, but I still get crema, so I don't think I need to go even courser.  I also switched to using only one spoon scoop, which I do tamp fairly firmly into the portafilter.  Francesco sent me some gaskets - I presumed they were "extras" and I've asked him about this, but perhaps I needed to install them.  Anyway, I'm either doing something terribly incorrectly, or I've assembled the machine wrong because it's just not working at all.  Any guidance is much appreciated.  Cindy

Posted November 5, 2013 link

There are two gaskets inside the chamber (or, if you have a different generation, these are on the outer circumference of the piston). There is a little gasket in the bottom of the piston itself, and there is a gasket at the group head, immediately above where the portafilter locks in. It wouldn't be pleasant to have received it from the seller with a flawed gasket, but that's what it sounds like.

Have you taken it apart? Inspect the gaskets. Perhaps there are none or they are flawed. You may try installing/replacing one at a time to see which one is faulty. Save any extras without unnecessarily installing them. When the boiler is full, and you lower the bar, does it stop all water from flowing out--without the portafilter in place?

 
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 3:37pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Thanks for your perseverance.  Francesco also said to replace the gaskets, he said the long transit time (2 mos) may have dried them out.  So I gave it a shot and was able to get to the 2 gaskets that are mounted on the piston - they looked fine to me, and well lubricated.  I couldn't figure out how to remove the bottom gasket - I got the c-clip off, and a little screen fell out, but rather than risking tearing the gasket trying to get it out, I left it alone.  I want to test it again before I change them out.
Water does stop flowing when I lower the lever (with or w/o portafilter in place) - only a few drops fall through.  However, when the handle is lifted, water does not shut off - it will drain the reservoir completely unless lowered, so maybe I over-filled the machine, although I don't know why that would reduce pressure.  My first attempts had plenty of pressure, so I doubt the seals went bad overnight - I've no idea what I may have done wrong.  I'll try again.
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clm
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Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 9:40am
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Clive - The seals are ok, I was under-dosing and had no pressure.  I keep trying, with limited success.  I've tried reading the espresso guidelines on HB and tried to join to ask those folks, but they won't accept my email address.  I hope you might offer some other suggestions I could try.  I have 2 roasts, one RedBird in the freezer that's a few months old, and an Ethiopian Sidamo that I recently opened (also roasted about 2 months ago, but kept in the original bag).  I can purchase some fresh beans, but I think I need more experience with the dosing/grind first.  The Ethiopian either needs a courser grind, less tamp or less dosage because using the same grind as RedBird makes the shot at least 2 mins and very hard to pull.  But when I try to lower the grind just a notch, the shot still tastes bitter & no crema, even when pulling at 30 secs.  The RedBird seems easier to work with, but I get no crema, which is probably due to the freezer storage, stale beans.  Still, after reading about all the fabulous shots on HB from the Caravel, I'm envious - my shots are pretty dismal.  I'm ordering a plug adapter (currently, I'm heating up all the parts with boiling water, pouring them out and re-starting with fresh boiling water - a pain, but I think my temp is as close as I can get it), I've tried to research thermocouplers, but don't understand how these are used vs. thermometers, or which type to buy, I'm getting a scale and also a little timer.  Hopefully these, along with fresh roasted coffee will help, but the other variables - grind and dose have me bamboozled.  I wonder if my OE Lido is up to the task to generate some of the results others get with the Pharos.  I will also like to learn how to roast my own beans - do you have a setup you recommend to start with?

Are you looking for a Caravel?  I saw a post on WTB - there is one on ebay now.
clm
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SimonPatrice
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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 Mon Nov 11, 2013, 8:43pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

I would try some fresh beans as you're going to have a hard time pulling decent shots with stale coffee.  If you try to adjust dose/grind with months old coffee, you'll have to start over with your fresh beans anyway.  

When you adjust the grind, by how much do you adjust it?  From my experience, you have to make pretty small changes on the Lido.   When changing beans, I change my setting in a 1/16th of a turn window.  I wouldn't worry too much about timing the shot for now.  You can get really good shots on the Caravel that take much longer than usually recommended on a pump machine.  The scale, on the other hand should help.  

And don't worry, the Lido is definitely up to the task.  That's what I'm using now with great results.  Not to say that I won't get a Pharos when they get back in stock but you can definitely get some really good shots with the Lido.  Also, I wouldn't try to compare the settings you were using on the Twist with the ones you
need for the Caravel.  Just start with a fine enough grind to almost choke it and go back from there a tiny bit at a time.


Hope this helps!
Patrice
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clm
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Hawaii
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi
Grinder: OE LIdo
Drip: Hario, Aeropress
Posted Tue Nov 12, 2013, 9:51pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Thank you for the encouragement, Patrice - I'm anxious to have even some small success.  I just tried today to adjust less than a 1/4 turn on the lido - I don't know why I thought I had to hit on the screw marks since it's a round grinding mechanism.  The new grind setting did make a difference, so I can where this will be a fine-tuning adjustment.  Glad to know the lido will work for me and anxious to try again with fresh beans.  Cindy
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