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Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
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victoriacoffees
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victoriacoffees
Joined: 18 Feb 2009
Posts: 46
Location: Victoria
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Izzo Pompei
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Posted Fri Jan 31, 2014, 2:27pm
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

coffeegrindin Said:

As far as boiler temp gauges, I'm trying to keep it old school so will not be going with any digital readouts. Didn't realize it wasnt common. Are vintage boiler temp sensors adequate in the older machines? How do you check Temp coming through the group head? Pull a shot of water into a cup with a thermometer in it?

Sorry if these are stupid questions, but as I said I'm a Grom

Posted January 31, 2014 link

The vintage boiler temp gages should be just fine as long as the gage is in good shape. They merely read internal pressure much like a tire gage.

As for checking the water temp, a good thermometer will work just fine. Just keep in mind some are more accurate than others.

Wether you go manual piston or spring lever, it's all about the process of creating a great cup of coffee at home.

 
-John
www.victoriacoffees.com
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roastaroma
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roastaroma
Joined: 21 Nov 2007
Posts: 438
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: PV Lusso, Bacchi
Grinder: Rocky Doserless
Roaster: Blue Bottle Coffee
Posted Fri Jan 31, 2014, 2:51pm
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

Ciao Gavin,

It is possible to correlate boiler pressure to water temperature, as is shown here

Spring levers do give an advantage in the "simultaneous steaming" dept.: once you release the lever, the espresso drools out, and your hands are free at once to handle the steam wand and pitcher. As I like to get the milk & coffee together with the shortest lag time, this definitely helps.  

The remarkable thing about levers is that even with one boiler feeding both the brew head and the steam wand, you can adjust the pressurestat (usually by fractions of a turn) to give you a proper brew temp and sufficient steam at the same time.

Re overheating from pulling shots, this is not an issue with levers with thermosyphon heads like the PV Lusso. I've had mine for a few years and am quite satisfied with both temp stability and steam quality, not to mention ease of use.

The only downside with small home levers is the shot volume. As an engineer, think of engine cylinders, bore & stroke, etc. All other things being equal, you get a smaller shot volume per pull with a 49mm than a 58mm (standard commercial portafilter). You can compensate by pulling a second time, but it gets problematic, as raising the piston again can mess with the puck.

Buona Fortuna,
Wayne

 
"Non la macchina, la mano."
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coffeegrindin
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coffeegrindin
Joined: 30 Jan 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sat Feb 1, 2014, 5:28am
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

You guys rock!

Thanks so much for your feedback. I don't fully agree with steam table though. I guess it's good for your initial pull but once you reduce the volume of water in the boiler the table becomes irrelevant.

PV=nRT

If the pressure is to remain constant and the Volume of water goes down, the temp will increase after every pull to satisfy the ideal gas law. However, to keep the temp constant in the boiler, pressure will have to be allowed to go up...

So I guess what I'm asking is what's most important for pulling a shot? Is the temp across the group head top priority, or the pressure of the boiler? Does the coffee come into contact with pressurized water or is the boiler only utilized for heating the water?

Thanks!
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flathead1
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Joined: 23 Jul 2005
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Location: Mississippi Coast
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Espresso: Anita, La Pavoni pro, 67...
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Posted Sat Feb 1, 2014, 6:08am
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

Looking at what you have said I am surprised no one has recommended a Ponte Vecchio machine. They are spring levers and the Lusso's  are syphon so they don't over heat. 1ST line carries them and are in New Jersey, which is good for you because they won't ship the Lusso, you have to pick it up at their store. Of course you still need a good grinder.
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coffeegrindin
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coffeegrindin
Joined: 30 Jan 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 7:23am
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

Thanks once again for all of your input! I think i have my mind made up. Although the Lusso/Export were recommended to me, i'm set on either the La Pavoni Romantica or the Micro Casa. I love their retro style and read a few underwhelming articles on the Lusso.

As far as grinders i'm going to take crazy4espresso's advice and nab an Orphan Pharos.

Besides Scouring EBAY, does anyone recommend a site that sells vintage, or refurbishable MCAL's or Romantica's. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and fix one up, just not looking to drop $1,300 on my first machine (besides, it's always a great feeling to reap what you sow).

Muchas Gracias!

coffeegrindin: Romantica Pro.JPG
(Click for larger image)
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Prof
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Prof
Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 712
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: PV Lusso
Grinder: Pharos 696
Drip: Aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Wed Feb 5, 2014, 4:12pm
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

coffeegrindin Said:

Thanks once again for all of your input! I think i have my mind made up. Although the Lusso/Export were recommended to me, i'm set on either the La Pavoni Romantica or the Micro Casa. I love their retro style and read a few underwhelming articles on the Lusso.

...

Muchas Gracias!

Posted February 4, 2014 link

You should read more Lusso reviews.  I've had mine for a year.  It is rock solid steady and consistent.  It has no tendency to tip over like the tower levers.  There is no overheating problem, the tank is large, the QC is good.  The only downside is the smaller amount of espresso you get from each pull, although using the small baskets with 7-8g of coffee only one pull is needed, and that is the usual size I use.

The MCAL is a really nice machine as well.  I don't think it yields more coffee per pull than the Lusso.

The Pharos is a really sweet grinder, you'll love it.

 
LMWDP # 010
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Wed Feb 5, 2014, 4:32pm
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

Prof Said:

You should read more Lusso reviews.  I've had mine for a year.  It is rock solid steady and consistent.  It has no tendency to tip over like the tower levers.  There is no overheating problem, the tank is large, the QC is good.  The only downside is the smaller amount of espresso you get from each pull, although using the small baskets with 7-8g of coffee only one pull is needed, and that is the usual size I use.

The MCAL is a really nice machine as well.  I don't think it yields more coffee per pull than the Lusso.

The Pharos is a really sweet grinder, you'll love it.

Posted February 5, 2014 link

+1  I didn't want to say anything first as I don't have any experience with a Lusso, but I think that their owners generally love them.  From the reviews I've read they are more loved than the La Pavoni and MCALs out there for what goes into the cup and purportedly a bit easier to use.  (Of course if looks are very important you might have preferences for other machines.)  I was hoping more Lusso owners would chip in here with opinions.

Still, any of the good lever machines will give you some great espresso to enjoy!
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SpaceTime
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Joined: 9 Dec 2013
Posts: 271
Location: Virgo Cluster
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
Grinder: HG One, Pharos, LIDO
Drip: Freiling 33 & 44oz FP,...
Posted Sat Feb 8, 2014, 9:52am
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

coffeegrindin Said:

As far as grinders i'm going to take crazy4espresso's advice and nab an Orphan Pharos.

Posted February 4, 2014 link

I also rec'd the Pharos - I have owned mine for a year.  Not sure if you already ordered - but realize the Pharos makes a great grinder for espresso on a budget, and it does a good job for "cheap" hand grinder - relatively speaking of course, to some $250 is still a lot of money!  But there is a reason folks are typically looking for another grinder to complement it in the short or medium term.   The Pharos is definitely not for everyone.

First, realize grind removal is anything but convenient.  Unless you spend $300 more on the "Voodoo Daddy mods" to the Pharos, getting the grinds out can get old fast for many folks.  I have to use a rubber mallet.  Thwack, Thwack... did I get it all?  Thwack Thwack.  Oh, and forget about the "get the grinds in the portafilter as soon as possible for the best shot" rule of thumb with the Pharos as a result.

Second, though the constituent parts the grinder comes with are sturdy (frame) some parts are plastic.  The grinder most probably will require you to make some tweaks as the initial assembly from the "factory" is not done with much tolerance checking.  For instance - those six gray posts - the top three on mine varied in length by as much as 1/32nd of an inch.  Doesn't sound like much - but you are an engineer - this wreaked HAVOC on alignment, and needed to be fixed.  I got out my presicion caliper, made a flat sanding block, and went to town to make the posts the same length.

Same with the bottom posts - and to make matters worse - the large black cylinder assembly on the bottom was bigger than ALL the posts.  This took near an hour of careful sanding to get everything back to lined up to the same length.

For the first few months with the grinder, and before I made the changes mentioned above, I would often wonder why it would not hold alignment, was constantly having issues with the burrs rubbing unevenly.  For most when this happens, they get the VOodoo Daddy mods and the problem is addressed (with some of the same factors I spell out above - only with higher quality parts to hold alignment).  It took me a while to figure out everything that needed tweaking, fixing, re-dimensioning to get the grinder working satisfactorily.  But even with the mods, you still have to learn the physics behind the grinder to maintain this delicate balance.  You will have to realign it at some point.

Now, after all that, I am searching for my next grinder - just like many Pharos owners.  I plan on keeping the Pharos, it is like one of those oddities you keep around that does the job.  But when I have one or two friends over, it is just not ideal and I want more throughput.  Plus, after the honeymoon is over, early mornings met with thwack, thwack, thwack just plain get old.

Just wanted to make sure you heard the pro / con - the net is great for the pros on items, it is typically tougher to find the cons.

The Pharos can make a great grind - but if you are expecting it to come that way without some adjustment, maybe even some re-dimensioning of the parts or a modification - then you might be disappointed.  

The designer of the grinder even states the platform is delivered to the user as an open book, with encouragement to modify, tweak, etc.  There is a reason for that - in my case, it was redimensioning to acceptable tolerances of the parts so it would hold alignment and work well.

Cheers and good luck.
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tek
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Joined: 27 Feb 2010
Posts: 182
Location: WA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Changes daily
Grinder: Kafa-Tek Monolith
Posted Sat Feb 8, 2014, 2:32pm
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

As far as hand grinders are concerned I would recommend getting Rosco Mini. Its really a last hand grinder you will ever need. There is no fiddling with it and aligning it and buying upgrades etc. like you have to with Pharos. I am comfortable saying that Rosco Mini is by far the best built hand grinder in the world. There is nothing that is built better than it. And it works great for espresso, I use one all the time with my Cremina. Fantastic hand grinder.

 
www.10000shots.com
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Prof
Senior Member
Prof
Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 712
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: PV Lusso
Grinder: Pharos 696
Drip: Aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Sun Feb 9, 2014, 8:26am
Subject: Re: Spring Lever & Manual Grinders | Recommendations
 

SpaceTime Said:

I also rec'd the Pharos - I have owned mine for a year.  Not sure if you already ordered - but realize the Pharos makes a great grinder for espresso on a budget, and it does a good job for "cheap" hand grinder - relatively speaking of course, to some $250 is still a lot of money!  But there is a reason folks are typically looking for another grinder to complement it in the short or medium term.   The Pharos is definitely not for everyone.

First, realize grind removal is anything but convenient.  Unless you spend $300 more on the "Voodoo Daddy mods" to the Pharos, getting the grinds out can get old fast for many folks.  I have to use a rubber mallet.  Thwack, Thwack... did I get it all?  Thwack Thwack.  Oh, and forget about the "get the grinds in the portafilter as soon as possible for the best shot" rule of thumb with the Pharos as a result.

Second, though the constituent parts the grinder comes with are sturdy (frame) some parts are plastic.  The grinder most probably will require you to make some tweaks as the initial assembly from the "factory" is not done with much tolerance checking.  For instance - those six gray posts - the top three on mine varied in length by as much as 1/32nd of an inch.  Doesn't sound like much - but you are an engineer - this wreaked HAVOC on alignment, and needed to be fixed.  I got out my presicion caliper, made a flat sanding block, and went to town to make the posts the same length.

Same with the bottom posts - and to make matters worse - the large black cylinder assembly on the bottom was bigger than ALL the posts.  This took near an hour of careful sanding to get everything back to lined up to the same length.

For the first few months with the grinder, and before I made the changes mentioned above, I would often wonder why it would not hold alignment, was constantly having issues with the burrs rubbing unevenly.  For most when this happens, they get the VOodoo Daddy mods and the problem is addressed (with some of the same factors I spell out above - only with higher quality parts to hold alignment).  It took me a while to figure out everything that needed tweaking, fixing, re-dimensioning to get the grinder working satisfactorily.  But even with the mods, you still have to learn the physics behind the grinder to maintain this delicate balance.  You will have to realign it at some point.

Now, after all that, I am searching for my next grinder - just like many Pharos owners.  I plan on keeping the Pharos, it is like one of those oddities you keep around that does the job.  But when I have one or two friends over, it is just not ideal and I want more throughput.  Plus, after the honeymoon is over, early mornings met with thwack, thwack, thwack just plain get old.

Just wanted to make sure you heard the pro / con - the net is great for the pros on items, it is typically tougher to find the cons.

The Pharos can make a great grind - but if you are expecting it to come that way without some adjustment, maybe even some re-dimensioning of the parts or a modification - then you might be disappointed.  

The designer of the grinder even states the platform is delivered to the user as an open book, with encouragement to modify, tweak, etc.  There is a reason for that - in my case, it was redimensioning to acceptable tolerances of the parts so it would hold alignment and work well.

Cheers and good luck.

Posted February 8, 2014 link

I too have had a Pharos for about a year, #696, and have kept it unmodded.  I've had to align the burrs once.  Using a rubber mallet to remove grinds is not good for alignment.  What works well for me is the method of using a small atomizer (spray bottle with very fine mist) of water before putting the beans in the hopper.  Then all that is needed is a tap on the sides to remove all the grinds.  It works very well.  

There is nothing in that price range, imho, that does as well.  Yes, there are cons with the pros, but my experience has not been anything like that of tek.  

If I thought I needed to VoodooDaddy the Pharos (68mm burrs), I would probably get the Chinese made HG1 (83mm).  I will admit that the Rosco Mini looks interesting, but 38mm burrs and $450 seems pricey.  

OE has announced a new version of the Lido that the OP might be more interested in right now.

 
LMWDP # 010
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