There’s a huge amount of manual espresso makers on the market today.
So what’s unique about the Leverpresso Pro? In this review, we’ll closely examine this exciting gadget and compare it to the market leaders from Flair and Cafelat.
Just a quick heads-up before we dive into the review; I did receive a test unit from HUGH for free, but no money has exchanged hands, and the company has not had any influence during my review process.
About the brand
HUGH is the name of the South Korean brand behind Leverpresso. It was founded by Hyunsoo Kim in 2016.
I’m not sure why the brand is called HUGH, but it has a quirky and approachable ring to it. I somehow get a subconscious association to a noble, espresso-making butler.
(Perhaps more brands should just steal a British-sounding first name? 🤷♂️)
Besides portable espresso makers, HUGH also produces espresso accessories and a cold brew gadget called Pebble.
However, it seems portable espresso is the brand’s heart and soul.
The Pro version of the Leverpresso was the logical next step after producing several different iterations of the basic model, which is similar in principle but constructed mostly out of plastic.
A Kickstarter campaign was launched in October 2021 to finance the production. It was overwhelmingly successful, reaching 100% funding in just 5 hours.
Leverpresso Pro Review: First Impression
The Leverpresso Pro comes in black minimalist packaging. It’s striking and almost looks like an oversized eau de toilette box from a modern fashion house.
The brewer itself is quite compact, and a travel case is included. This device is clearly meant to be taken on the road.
The body is made of solid stainless steel and feels sturdy in hand. It doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap. It’s built to last.
My review unit came in white, and it looks quite attractive. There’s also a black version available, which has more of a menacing look.
Manual espresso maker Weight Comparison
- Cafflano Kompresso: 168 g
- Picopresso: 532 g (incl. case and accessories)
- Leverpresso Pro: 998 g (without stand & premium accessories)
Leverpresso Pro WITH stand: 1.4 kg
- Cafelat Robot: 2.4 kg
- Flair Pro 2: 3.18 kg
- Flair 58: 3.6 kg
You’ll immediately notice that the arms have a nice polish and curve.
I was lucky also to receive HUGH’s premium accessories; the combined tamper/leveler and their heavy-duty funnel. I also got the dedicated stand.
All these accessories are add-ons that can be bought separately. However, if you buy them all together, you’ll save quite a bit of cash.
I recommend you opt for the big package immediately since it will dramatically improve the user experience.
The 51 mm IMS basket that is designed specifically for Leverpresso Pro is, however included in the standard package.
Review and daily use
I suggest you check out my youtube video for a full review of how the Leverpresso Pro works.
If you’re familiar with manual espresso machines, there shouldn’t be any major surprises here. You get the idea if you imagine the main principles of the Cafelat Robot and Flair Pro 2 combined into a single product.
- Portable: The Leverpresso Pro is quite portable when you leave the stand and premium accessories at home. It weighs under 1 kg (995 grams, to be precise) and folds nicely into the travel case. Of course, it has a few rivals in the Picopresso and Cafflano Kompresso that are even smaller, but overall the Leverpresso should still be considered a highly portable espresso maker.
- Ergonomically designed: In daily use, I think it’s quite pleasurable to brew espresso with. The walnut cracker design makes it easy to apply pressure by relying on body weight. The arms are curved nicely, meaning they don’t dig into your hands. Also, the pressure gauge is in a sensible position on top of the device, making it easy to see while you apply pressure. In my opinion, this is a better design than what you have on the Cafelat Robot.
- Consistent: In my testing period, the Leverpresso Pro has been incredibly consistent after I learned how to use it. The combination of having two levers and a professional basket, such as the 51 mm version from IMS, just makes it easy to get repeatable results.
- The stand is a necessary evil: The stand is both good and bad. To get the most enjoyable experience, you need to use it. If you want to use a scale, you can’t brew into the plastic travel cup since that would break the scale. However, the stand is too expensive and doesn’t allow many common espresso scales to be used. For instance, the Timemore Black Mirror Nano and Acaia Lunar are too big. However, the stand does accommodate the popular Weightman scale and the Acaia Pyxis. I would like to see a redesigned stand, which could be included in the price.
(UPDATE 2023: Hugh now offers a new and better stand that allows more scales to fit under the Leverpresso)
- Preheating: The body of the Leverpresso Pro is made of solid steel so it does require preheating. One time is enough for dark roasts, but you need at least two, and preferably three times, if you want to pull lighter roasts.
- Price: The Leverpresso Pro is not cheap. Especially, if you also want to get the stand and premium accessories (funnel and tamper). All included, it’s actually getting quite close to the Cafelat Robot.
Robot & Flair vs Leverpresso Pro
We also have to compare to some of the big names in the manual espresso maker industry.
In my opinion, the Leverpresso Pro rivals these well-established brands in terms of build quality in design.
If we’re just talking about the basket and accessories, I would say that the Leverpresso ones are superior to the offerings from Flair and Cafelat.
However, when it comes to daily use and UX, the Flair and the Robot each have a little advantage since their stand give you a bit more flexibility in terms of cups and scales that can fit.
Also, when it comes to workflow and preheating models such as the Robot and Flair 58 win an easy K.O. victory since preheating is not much of a concern. With those devices, it’s also easier to make back-to-back shots since they have “traditional” portafilters with handles. This means you don’t have to worry about getting burnt by residual heat. Instead, you can just knock out the puck and get ready for the next shot.
With the Leverpresso Pro, you have to unscrew the basket holder from a piping-hot body, which is a bit more cumbersome.
However, if we compare the Leverpresso Pro to the Flair Pro 2, I think it’s a closer battle where the Leverpresso Pro wins on points.
Preheating is easier on the Leverpresso since you can just pour in the water and let it sit while you prep your basket; you don’t need a preheat cap.
Also, there are fewer parts to clean and take care of after the shot is pulled. It’s a smoother workflow and overall the Leverpresso is more consistent to use.
The Leverpresso Pro has an appealing and friendly interface that makes brewing espresso enjoyable.
In many ways, it’s a successful product that most coffee lovers would enjoy. You can exert high and predictable pressure on a top-notch IMS basket; that’s a recipe for world-class espresso.
However, the Leverpresso Pro faces fierce competition at all price levels.
There are cheaper and lighter travel espresso makers on the market today, such as the Picopresso.
And as a daily driver, you could also get a Cafelat Robot for a similar price.
If Leverpresso Pro had been introduced three to five years ago, it could easily have been the top choice among home espresso aficionados. It certainly has what it takes.
Nowadays, however, there’s a actual risk that it will get lost in the crowded ocean of espresso gadgets. And that would be a shame.