Lever espresso machine: what is it and how does it work?

Espresso coffee is a timelessly successful beverage appreciated all over the world and throughout history, it has been produced using a series of different machines.

Nowadays we have different options for enjoying a good coffee and to speed up production, there are now more and more fully automated models.

But, if you want to taste the flavour of tradition, nothing beats the results of a lever espresso machine.

This type of machine has in fact defined modern espresso coffee as we know it today, reaching quality levels never attained before until its launch.

But how exactly does a lever espresso machine work? Why are they said to be 'manual'? How much does a lever espresso machine cost?

Let's find out together in the article.

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What is a lever espresso machine

Introduced way back in 1947, the lever espresso machine represented a turning point for coffee production in bars around the world.

As the word itself indicates, a lever espresso machine is characterised first of all by the presence of a large lever.

In addition to being extremely iconic and recognisable in terms of design, this element naturally performs a fundamental function: it regulates the passage of water through the ground coffee.

Precisely for this reason, lever espresso machines are defined as manual machines: it is in fact the barista who personally controls the flow of water and therefore the resulting infusion.

Making coffee therefore becomes a sort of ritual, where the difference for the final result is precisely the specific skill of each barista.
It is no coincidence that the skill in managing the machine is handed down from barista to barista and from generation to generation, jealously guarding the secrets for a perfect movement of the lever and for the preparation of a first-class coffee.

The cost of a machine of this type can be influenced by several factors, such as the quality of the materials used and the attention to design for models made in Italy.

How does a lever espresso machine work?

But why, from a technical point of view, is lever management so important?

When it comes to lever espresso machines, the first thing to remember is that this type of machine is not equipped with an automated pump.

As a result, its operation is quite simple.

In fact, a resistor allows the water to be heated, which is generally ready for the next preparation phase within a maximum time of 15 minutes.

In any case, a pressure gauge allows you to constantly monitor the water pressure, and indicates when the optimal value has been reached.
In the most modern models, this element is replaced by a simple pair of LEDs (one red, the other green).

Now, it is the turn of the barista, who regulates the flow of water through the filter holder by the way they handle the lever. Naturally, they have previously filled the filter holder with ground coffee and distributed it evenly.

Et voilà:  the coffee is ready.

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