I HAVE OWNED AND OPERATED VINTAGE LEVER MACHINES FOR 20 YEARS + AND AM NOW CONSIDERING EITHER A NEW 2 GROUP RANCILIO LEVER ..WITH NO HEAT EXCHANGER .. OR A ARDUINO ATHENA 2 GROUP LEVER..WHICH I HAVE HEARD HAS RELIABILITY ISSUES ...I DO HIGH VOLUME DAILY .... AM WORDS OF WISDOM ?

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go with the athena. It has a heat exchange! giving you better temp. stability, wich means consistant shots. You`ve been working on leavers for twenty years, some advice please. Iv got an athena but have noticed that the group head doesn`t have a dump valve. This makes me nervous to use a blind filter basket to clean the group head. Is it ok to use a blind filter basket to backflush the group head? or is it going to explode in my face.
what sort of volume do you do ? I know shops who are constantly replacing seals..and gaskets ..but I hear the last year they have upgraded the guts of the athena..I remove the filter on my lever machines once or twice daily ..when busy and put in a clean spare filter ..I clean both filters at the end of the day


Dirk Maritz said:
go with the athena. It has a heat exchange! giving you better temp. stability, wich means consistant shots. You`ve been working on leavers for twenty years, some advice please. Iv got an athena but have noticed that the group head doesn`t have a dump valve. This makes me nervous to use a blind filter basket to clean the group head. Is it ok to use a blind filter basket to backflush the group head? or is it going to explode in my face.

Don't try to backflush a lever.

The blind filter is used to clean the exhaust path on a three-way brew valve, this is backflushing. As there is no three way valve on a lever, there is no path to clean. And will make a mess.
Oh, and glad that you found your caps lock, Terry.
is that a joke ?
Yes, it was a joke. There is no need to "shout".


terry paton said:
is that a joke ?
Kees Van Der Westen makes an awesome lever machine. If cost is no object that's your machine.

I don't have any experience with the Rancilio units, so I cannot offer any insight. I do, however, have a couple of the Athenas out in the field and they have been trouble free. Change the gaskets and screens every few months and that is it. I've yet to send a tech on a call for one. We also have an Athena in our tasting room. I love it. It uses the boiler plate CMA lever group, as many machines do, because the technology is public domain now. The only person I know pushing lever technology forward is Kees. (Not that there aren't others, I just don't know of them.)

If you get the Athena you also get the first class/first rate support of the guys at Nuova Simonelli. I can't comment on Rancillio but Brady is a Rancillio man. And you can't get a better recommendation than that. You might have to flip a coin.
Sorry Mike, but not much experience with any of these lever machines. Sadly there aren't many to be found in the wild around these parts. I've been impressed with the build quality of the semi-auto and auto Rancilios I've worked with recently though, and if the lever machine quality is similar than I believe they'd be fine.

Terry, as one that's used vintage lever machines for a while, how big of a deal do you feel that the lack of heat exchanger is? This is something that I've often wondered about and lack the firsthand experience to really know. I kinda expect that the hX models would make better espresso, since the water temp can be more in the range that your average American espresso prefers, but surely there are ways to compensate for ripping hot water in non-hX models? Looking forward to your thoughts on this.

BTW, the caps lock comment was not a joke. I and many others find all-caps postings to be more difficult to read and I was happy to see that your followup comments were not done this way. Thanks!

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