IM confused.

would you recommend one of these or are they as tricky to use as the reviews suggest.

I am starting a coffee stall and I am tempted by the low power option and by some reviews that suggest they produce a great shot. However Im frightened off by reviews that say you need to endlessly adjust each shot.

Any experience of these be gratefully received ...

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Watch some videos about them on youtube. It has a learning curve.

I have been using one for about two years in my mobile cafe.  I do tinker with the grind over the course of the day, but I wouldn't call it extreme.  Any good barista should be paying attention (and/or adjusting) grind over the course of a day.  I love my Astoria 2gr Lever and it is a nice conversation piece unlike those super automatics you see at Starbucks.  G'luck!

Hi Lottie,

I specialize in sale and service of Astoria's propane-powered lever machines. I use two of them in my own kitchen, and sold one this summer to a gentleman who is using it on the back of a Vespacar Ape three-wheel truck. The entire system is very compact and capable of running for many hours completely autonomously. Levers are not as difficult to use as you might think; in fact they give you more control over the brewing process for a better and unique cup of espresso. My customer's website is here:

macchinamobile dot com

If you let me know whereabouts you are located I can find someone in the dealer network who can help you decide. Good luck

We have used the rapallo 3 group in our cafes which are all pretty high volume in coffee sales. I personally love them, however we have converted most of our cafes to +4u units now. This is mainly due to the fact I am a coffee roaster and I love what I can do with the group specific water reservoir temperature controls... Rather than I no longer like the levers! For a cart business I think as latte911 said, it would be really worth looking at the gas options for the levers. The Astoria Gloria model has gas kits for sure.

From a personal point of view I think pulling shots on a lever machine produces great espresso. Good luck

Hello. My cousin had opened his mobile cafe a few months ago. He use the same machine too and it works fine.

I appreciate being apprehensive about Lever machines, but rather than having to endlessly adjust each shot, you get the advantage of being part of the process of each extraction.
It's like learning to play an instrument vs. learning how to turn on the radio by comparison to a pump-operated machine. If you asked a violinist why they go to the trouble of making that music, when they could just hit the button on the radio and get some music, that violinist is likely to be annoyed at the very least.

There's also the pressure profiling feature of a lever group. There is no static pressure applied to the grounds like there is in a pump machine. The pump machine gives a consistent 9 BAR of pressure while the group is running. The lever group applies a range of pressure to the grounds as the spring decompresses.

Though the benefit or even the relevance of pressure profiling is argued by some of the more respected coffee greats (David Schomer, Ernesto Illy), few can deny the differences in mouth-feel and complexity between pump and lever machines.

My personal machine is a commercial Lever group. I can't see someone returning to a solenoid group machine after using a lever group for a while. Mine is also a propane burning machine that requires no 110 or 220 voltage from my home to operate, but it does have 110v capability if I like. The propane system is very temperature stable. The boiler gauge just sits there at 1 BAR and does not move at all. It's much more stable than an electric machine with a pressurestat. The PS provides all or no wattage to the element, and operates between two atmospheres of pressure (the element comes on at one BAR on the guage, and shuts off at 1.2 BAR on the guage, for example), whereas the propane regulator is diaphragmatic, and increases the amount of propane going into the propane burner immediately as it senses a loss of pressure from the boiler when the steam valve opens, or when the boiler is refilled.
I've owned more than a dozen commercial machines in the last 15 or so years, and I've been most impressed with the propane burning lever machine.

Here's a demo of my machine:

lever machines are not tricky to use! they work differently than a pump machine, therefore the parameters and techniques are different too.

in one year of daily commercial operation with a vintage lever machine i counted maybe 10 wasted shots. even the very first shot in the morning was as great as the following shots.

you can read more about lever machines and their operation (in a commercial environment) on my blog

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