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How Do Lever Coffee Machines Work Blog Image

How Do Lever Coffee Machines Work?

If you're a coffee enthusiast, you're probably no stranger to the delightful aroma and rich flavour of a perfectly brewed espresso. While automatic espresso machines have their place, there's something undeniably charming and rewarding about a manual lever espresso machine. These unique contraptions let you take control of the brewing process, resulting in a cup of liquid gold that's perfectly tailored to your taste buds.

In this article, we'll dive into the inner workings of manual lever espresso machines, exploring the mechanisms that make them tick and the magic behind their ability to pre-infuse. We'll also take a look at two iconic examples: the spring-loaded Elektra Micro Casa and the true lever-based Flair 58.


Mechanisms of Manual Lever Espresso Machines

At first glance, manual lever espresso machines might seem like relics from the past, but their elegant and simple mechanisms are nothing short of engineering marvels. When it comes to manual espresso machines with a lever, there are two fundamental mechanisms that help to produce that liquid gold - a true lever based machine and a spring based manual machine. Let's break down the key components that allow these machines to brew espresso like no other.


Lever Power

The heart and soul of a manual lever espresso machine is, undoubtedly, the lever itself. This lever serves as a powerful tool that allows you to control the entire brewing process. When you push down on the lever, it engages a piston or pump, depending on the machine's design.

Picture of the Internal structure of manual lever press espresso machine

In the case of true lever-based machines like the Flair 58 or La Pavoni Europiccola, you'll find a long, curved lever that resembles a seesaw. Applying force to the lever raises a piston within the machine, creating pressure to force hot water through the coffee grounds and into your waiting cup.


  • Precision Control: True lever machines offer precise control over the brewing process. Users can manually adjust the pressure applied to the coffee grounds, allowing for a tailored extraction.

  • Customisable Pre-Infusion: With a true lever, users have full control over pre-infusion, enabling them to experiment with different pre-infusion times and pressures to enhance flavour and aroma.

  • Artistic Experience: Operating a true lever espresso machine feels like a true artisan experience, as you are directly involved in the entire brewing process.

  • Consistency: Once mastered, true lever machines can produce consistent and repeatable results, making it easier to dial in the perfect espresso shot.


  • Learning Curve: Mastering the technique of using a true lever machine can be challenging, and it may take some time to achieve consistently excellent results.

  • Requires Skill: Achieving a perfect shot of espresso on a true lever machine often requires practice and skill, making it less beginner-friendly.


Spring-Loaded Mechanism

Now, let's talk about spring-loaded manual lever espresso machines, exemplified by the Elektra Micro Casa. These machines utilise a spring to generate the necessary pressure for brewing espresso. Instead of manually raising the lever as with a true lever-based machine, you simply pull down on the lever, compressing the spring. As the lever returns to its starting position, the spring releases its stored energy, forcing the hot water through the coffee grounds. This design offers a consistent level of pressure, making it easier to brew consistent shots of espresso.

Spring Based Lever manual machine internal



  • Ease of Use: Spring-loaded manual lever machines are more user-friendly and forgiving for beginners. They don't require as much technique and finesse to operate.

  • Consistency: Spring-loaded machines maintain a more consistent pressure throughout the brewing process, resulting in reliably good shots with less effort.

  • Less Intensive: The spring does much of the work, making it less physically demanding to pull shots, especially for those with limited strength.

  • Faster Learning Curve: Spring-loaded machines are generally easier to learn and are more forgiving to beginners, producing decent espresso shots sooner.


  1. Limited Control: While spring-loaded machines offer some control, they may not provide the same level of precision as true lever machines when it comes to pressure and pre-infusion adjustments.

  2. Less Artistic: For some coffee enthusiasts, the automatic spring-loaded mechanism can feel less engaging and less connected to the art of espresso making.

  3. Reduced Customisation: The level of customisation in terms of pressure and pre-infusion may be limited compared to true lever machines.



One of the key advantages of manual lever espresso machines is their ability to pre-infuse the coffee grounds. Pre-infusion is the process of saturating the coffee grounds with a small amount of water before applying full pressure. This initial wetting allows the coffee to bloom and release trapped gases, resulting in a more even extraction and richer flavours.

In spring-loaded machines like the Elektra Micro Casa, pre-infusion occurs as you pull down on the lever. As the lever descends, water is first released at a low pressure, gently wetting the coffee grounds. This pause allows the coffee to absorb water and expand, ensuring an even extraction when you apply full pressure by releasing the lever. True lever-based machines, such as the Flair Signature Pro 2 or the La Pavoni Professional, also offer pre-infusion, but the user has more control over the timing and intensity, enabling a more personalised approach to brewing.

La Pavoni internal picture of lever up and down



In a world filled with automatic coffee makers, manual lever espresso machines stand as a testament to the enduring charm of traditional coffee preparation. With their captivating mechanisms and the ability to pre-infuse, they provide an unparalleled coffee experience that goes beyond mere convenience.

Whether you opt for the spring-loaded elegance of the Elektra Micro Casa or the precision of the true lever-based Flair 58, one thing is certain: these machines invite you to become a coffee artist, crafting espresso shots that satisfy your deepest coffee cravings.

So, why not take a step back in time, embrace the joy of manual brewing, and savour the flavours of espresso that only a manual lever machine can provide? Your taste buds will thank you for it, one delicious shot at a time.


Manual Lever Espresso Machine Resources

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