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What Is a Lever Espresso Machine and Which is Best to Buy?

Lever Espresso Machines

What Is a Lever Espresso Machine?

A lever espresso machine is as manual as an espresso machine gets. They give you control over everything, from pre-fusion time between the beans with water, to pulling the water and extracting the shot. While a lever espresso machine can help you extract quite an excellent shot of espresso, it’s not for beginners. But if you’re a beginner who is feeling adventurous, get ready for some training time before you can pull a perfect shot.

How Does a Lever Espresso Machine Work?

Like any other espresso machine, a lever espresso machine has a water reservoir, a boiler/heater, a portafilter and a pressure gauge that allows you to monitor the pressure (some models don’t have this gauge feature).

How the pressure is released and water is forced through the coffee ground is where a lever espresso machine gets its name. These machines have a lever that you apply pressure to manually to start forcing the water through the coffee ground and extracting a shot. You get total control over the time of the shot and the pressure used to release it. So how you control the lever and apply pressure controls the taste of your shot, for sure.

But are they really that hard to use? Truth is, no, it’s not that hard. After all, you’re only pressing on a lever here. What’s hard though, or not exactly hard, but takes some time to test and figure out, is two things:

  • How to get the perfect grind size that will get you the perfect shot.
  • How to tamp the coffee ground perfectly so it doesn’t create a mess.

It’s no secret that a good grind is the start of every great cup of coffee. So make sure you invest in a good burr grinder. The grind fineness is crucial to the perfect shot of espresso. If the ground is too fine, it will be hard to force the water through it. And if it’s too coarse, or just not fine enough, the water will go through so quickly and it will result in a bad (most likely sour) shot.

Once you get the hang of these details, you’ll be able to pull the perfect shot of espresso.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Lever Espresso Machine:


  • They’re beautifully designed. Lever espresso machines simply look stunning. The quality is superior and many of them are still made in the same traditional way.
  • With a lever espresso machine, you’re in control of your shot.
  • The learning curve and experience that comes with a lever espresso machine is very enjoyable for anyone who likes tinkering and experimenting.


  • It can take sometime to get it right. If you don’t have the patience, a lever espresso machine is probably not for you.
  • They’re expensive. But you really get what you pay for, the quality of a lever espresso makers is very high.

Which Lever Espresso Machines Are Best To Buy?

From our research, we found that La Pavoni provides some of the best build and performing lever espresso machines. These machines cost quite a bit, but they are built to last. La Pavoni machines are all Italian made, so you know they’ve created these machines for some serious coffee making, and their quality is simply of the highest out there.

La Pavoni Lever Espresso Machines:

La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine:

La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine

  • Fully steel constructed. Makes it strong, more durable and easy to wipe clean. Some plastic parts.
  • 8 Cup capacity.
  • Built-in steam wand to milk frothing, allows you to easily create all sorts of gourmet coffee drinks.
  • Includes: tamper, screen, screen holder, measuring ladle, and cappuccino attachment

You’ll find many mixed reviews about this machine, or possibly any lever espresso machine, and how frustrating it can be. That is true, as we previously mentioned. The machine will require you to do some training before you can pull the perfect shot. But quality wise, it is top of the line, indeed!

Click here to read the customer reviews on the La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola.

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Also available from 1stInCoffee.com

Watch this video to see the process in which this machine works:

La Pavoni Stradavari Espresso Machine:

La Pavoni Stradavari Espresso Machines

  • 8 Cup capacity, also available as a 16-cup.
  • Nickel plated brass boiler, 20 ounce capacity.
  • Full steel construction, with some plastic parts.
  • Dual frothing system, which means no wait time between espresso extracting and milk frothing.
  • Internal thermostat.
  • Built-in steam wand.

Click here to read the customer reviews of the La Pavoni Stradavari.

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Also available from 1stInCoffee.com

La Pavoni PC-16 Professional Espresso Machine:

La Pavoni PC-16 Professional Espresso Machine

  • 16 cup capacity.
  • Full steel construction with some plastic parts.
  • External steam/pressure gauge.
  • Built-in steam wand.
  • Nickel plated non-corrosive brass boiler.
  • 38oz boiler capacity.
  • Dual frothing system.
  • Internal thermostat.

Click here to read the customer reviews of the La Pavoni PC-16

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Another Lever Espresso Machine Brand To Consider:

Elektra S1CO Microcasa Lever Espresso Machine:

Elektra is another great manufacturer of lever espresso machines. The machine is made in Italy and has an beautiful design that combines brass and chrome.


  • Beautiful retro design with chrome and brass finish.
  • 1.8 liter brass boiler.
  • Spring piston lever operation.
  • Steam pressure gauge.
  • Water level indicator.
  • Sturdy 10″ wide base.
  • Made in Italy.

Click here to learn more about this Elektra lever espresso machine and buy it.