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A manual espresso machine can be a great purchase if you’re serious about your shot. Here we take a close look at 5 outstanding models.
There are two kinds of people in the world:
The ones who only care about comfort and convenience and nothing else. They drive sensible Japanese cars, wear socks in their sandals, and swear by their super-automatic espresso machine. If that sounds like you, please stop reading this article. It won’t make much sense to you, anyway.
Then there are people like me – and hopefully – you. We strive for aesthetic and hedonic perfection. We like vintage watches and cars. Not because they’re cheap to buy second-hand but because we love the elegance and craft.
Suppose that sounds like you. No doubt you have considered getting a manual espresso machine. I won’t stop you, but I won’t sugarcoat the realities of this kind of coffee-making device.
|Image||Espresso Maker||Key Features||Portafilter Size|
|Flair 58||Standard 58mm portafilter, continual improvements since introduction, balance between vintage and modern appeal||58mm|
|La Pavoni Europiccola||Iconic Italian design, powerful steam wand, ability to pull high-quality espresso shots||51 mm|
|Cafelat Robot||Double lever design, oversized basket, portable and durable, no need for pre-heating||57 mm|
|Elektra Micro Casa Lever||Ornate Italian design, modern internal mechanisms for safety and longevity||49 mm|
|Cafflano Kompresso||Highly portable, entirely manual, affordable, capable of making high-quality espresso shots||47 mm|
The Flair 58 is quite a unique espresso maker. It’s a manual lever-style machine, a nod to traditional coffee brewing that strikes a chord with old-school enthusiasts. But don’t let its vintage charm fool you: The Flair 58 features an electronically heated brew head, a contemporary touch that keeps your brew at the optimal temperature, unlike other manual levers.
From its launch in 2021, the Flair 58 has seen significant improvements. The folks at Flair have taken the time to tweak and polish every part of this machine. The result? A top-tier lever machine that stands out in today’s coffee scene. It’s a testament to Flair’s dedication to perfecting their lineup, and it’s clear they’ve done their homework.
One of the most attractive features of the Flair 58 is the real 58mm portafilter. It’s a step up from their previous models, and it’s an attribute that baristas will appreciate. This portafilter size is standard in the industry, so you can use a wide range of accessories and baskets.
The Flair 58 combines the best of both worlds – the vintage appeal of manual lever brewing and the convenience of modern features.
is the epitome of Italian espresso-elegance. This is the coffee world’s version of a vintage Alfa Romeo cabriolet cruising on a beach promenade.
Luckily, this device is not only style, there is substance, too. La Pavoni is one of the oldest espresso companies in the world, and this is probably their most popular model.
When you learn your way around this machine, you’ll be able to pull some epic espresso shots. Or, since it also has a powerful steam wand, make a proper cappuccino.See more reviews
The Robot is made by Hong Kong-based brand Cafelat. The design is based on an old Italian model called Faema Baby, however, this modern version uses a more sturdy design and comes with a pressure gauge as well.
The Robot has a striking design and two levers instead of one, making it easier to press down.
I really like certain aspects of the Robot; especially the fact that it doesn’t have a big brew chamber. Instead it uses an oversized basket. This elegant solution means that you can get away with not pre-heating the Robot.
When you see the Robot in real life, you can really appreciate the effort that has gone into this product.
A non-electric espresso maker is also practical in many ways:
The downside to a machine like this is that you can’t use it for milk steaming. So this is more for dedicated espresso snobs.
Check out my full review here.
Here’s yet an Italian device that aims to give La Pavoni some fierce competition when it comes to ‘belle epoque’ espresso nostalgia.
The Elektra Micro Casa Leva looks stunning. Compared to the Europiccola some would say it’s a bit over the top. For starters, it’s adorned with a metal eagle!
But once you dig down below its bright exterior, you quickly realize that artisans make it at Elektra’s factory in Treviso, Italy. Even though the model closely resembles the coffee makers of the 1950s, there are modern utilitarian solutions on the inside, so safety and longevity should be no concern.See more reviews
This quirky fellow is probably the world’s most petite espresso maker. It is 100 percent manual – no electricity involved.
The Cafflano Kompresso has quickly won many fans in the specialty coffee community. You could call it the Aeropress of the home espresso makers.
The pros of this one are apparent: Cheap, portable, and cheerful. But don’t get fooled by that: The espresso shots can also be astonishing!
A bit of work is involved, but it’s worth it if you ask me. In my opinion, it’s one of the best espresso machines for the money.
Check out my full review if you’re still not convinced.See more reviews
Espresso is a complicated hobby. Not unlike golf. There’s a lot of jargon, dogmas, and the equipment is usually not cheap. But let’s face it, that’s also part of the appeal.
In the world of espresso, no device is more sophisticated and elegant than the lever espresso machine (aka ‘the manual’).
Before I said that there are three main categories of espresso makers out there. Well, actually I wasn’t 100 percent accurate.
In recent years, we have seen a new kind of home espresso maker emerge: The non-electric manual. Personally, I gravitate towards these devices just because they are so plain and rustic.
The manual non-electric share some similarities with traditional lever machines but also have some unique capabilities.
Because of their simple construction, they’re usually quite cheap. There are a bunch of cool models on the market but a briliant place to start is with the basic Flair Espresso Maker, which is one of the best espresso machines under $200.
Before, I compared manual espresso machines to vintage watches and cars. Maybe that’s not entirely fair, but for sure this kind of coffee maker needs some maintenance and care, too.
When investing in a lever machine, you’re implicitly saying yes, to potential headaches. These machines are mostly designed by Italian engineers from last century, meaning they’re beautiful but prone to issues.
That being said, you can avoid most trouble if you treat your device with care and buy from a reputable brand. That will also make it a lot easier to find spare parts, should you need it down the line.