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Best Manual & Lever Espresso Machines 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

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Lattes, cappuccinos, and straight shots of espresso can be great ways to kick-start your day or perk up your afternoon. But buying them at coffee shops can be time-consuming and expensive. If you’re looking to save money and learn a new skill, a manual espresso machine can be an excellent investment. But how do you find your perfect espresso maker?

To help you shop, we tested and ranked the top five manual and lever espresso makers on the market. For each model, we’ve written an in-depth review, looking closely at features, ease of use and cleaning, value, and appearance so you can make an informed decision. Keep reading to find your new manual espresso maker!

A Quick Comparison of our Favorites for 2020

ModelPriceWeightEditor Rating
La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine
La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine(Best Overall)

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17 lbs
4.8/5
La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine
La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine

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14 lbs4.6/5
Rok Manual Espresso Maker
Rok Manual Espresso Maker(Best Value)

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7 lbs4.4/5
Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker
Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker

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5 lbs4.2/5
DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine

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9 lbs3.8/5

5 Best Manual & Lever Espresso Makers

1. La Pavoni PPG-16 Lever Manual Espresso Machine – Best Overall

La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine

The La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine is a simple lever-operated machine that delivers up to 16 two-ounce cups of espresso at one time. It has an internal thermostat that keeps your water the right temperature in the 38-ounce solid brass broiler. You won’t have to worry about getting a lukewarm cup of joe anymore.

This manual espresso machine features a double frothing system to manage the different frothing for different drinks. Your milk is frothed into a microfoam for your cappuccino that nearly doubles the amount of milk you actually used. For your latte, your milk is steamed to heat the milk with just a little foam.

The only problem we saw with this machine is that the temperature is sometimes inconsistent.

Pros
  • Lever-operated with rosewood handle
  • 38-ounce brass boiler
  • Internal thermostat
  • Steam pressure piston
  • Dual frothing for cappuccinos and lattes
Cons
  • Inconsistent temperature

2. La Pavoni Europiccola Lever Espresso Machine

La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine

The La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine makes almost any kind of coffee drink you could ever want. The lever allows you to customize your favorite choice to fit your tastes. It even includes an automatic milk foamer to give you just the right amount of froth for your drink.

This machine does it all, but because of that, it can be a little complicated to figure out all the different ways to use it. One thing you won’t have to worry about is finding your measuring spoons so you don’t end up with coffee strong enough to hold a spoon up. This machine comes with its own measuring spoon and two-cup filters.

One thing you may want to be aware of is the material of the base. The black enamel option tends to chip easily. You may want to look for the brass one instead.

Pros
  • Makes espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte, and other coffee drinks
  • Lever allows you to customize your espresso
  • Includes automatic milk foamer
  • Includes measuring spoon and filters
Cons
  • Made of cheap plastic
  • The black enamel base chips easily
  • Can be complicated to learn to use

3. Rok Manual Espresso Maker – Best Value

Rok Manual Espresso Maker

The Rok Manual Espresso Maker produces a good espresso after you master the needed technique. The unit itself is easy to use, but the most challenging part to get used to is the tamping pressure. Getting that right can be an art in itself.

The Rok features a single spout portafilter to hold your ground coffee beans. It does come with a removable double spout attachment for when you want to make more than one cup at a time. It also includes a measuring cup for your convenience.

This espresso maker is made out of poor quality plastic that breaks very easily. If you make espresso on a daily basis, we would recommend spending a little more to get a maker that can handle daily use.

Pros
  • Single spout portafilter
  • Double spout attachment
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Poor quality construction
  • Not for daily use
  • Technique is hard to master

4. Flair Manual Lever Press Espresso Maker

Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker

The Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker is nice because there are no electronic parts on it that can break. It also has a detachable brewing head that can be broken down for easy cleaning.

However, it takes a lot of time and effort to make your espresso, and then you don’t even get a full two-ounce shot. We averaged between one and 1 ½-ounce. You can’t make a second one very quickly to make up the difference, because the cylinder gets extremely hot and takes quite a while to cool down. By the time it is cool enough to refill, you may not have the time to make another.

Pros
  • No electronics to break down
  • Detachable brewing head
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • Takes too much time and effort
  • Cylinder gets very hot
  • Can’t get a full two-ounce shot

5. DeLonghi EC155M Manual Cappuccino & Espresso Machine

DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine

The DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine is self-priming, so it is always ready when you want to use it. The frother on this unit is very difficult to clean; however, it has a removable drip tray to counteract it. It would be nice if there was more of a balance and it was all easy to get apart to clean.

This is a really small machine. If you use tiny cups, you are good with this machine, but the average-sized cup is very difficult to get under the drip head.

Another thing we noticed is that the ready light has a tendency to turn off while you are using it. Though it doesn’t change the taste of the coffee at all, it does leave you wondering if the machine is still on.

Pros
  • Self-priming
  • Removable drip tray
Cons
  • Regular coffee cups don’t fit well
  • Very small
  • Ready light turns off
  • Frother is difficult to clean

Factors to Consider When Choosing

Manual vs. Automatic

Though they may be less expensive, manual espresso machines are the most difficult type to use. If you are new to making espresso, you may prefer a more automatic model. You will need time and patience to experiment with a manual machine to figure out how to get your perfect shot of espresso every time. Manual machines will teach you quite a bit about espresso, so if you have the patience and time, they may be more satisfying in the long run.

Other Considerations

When shopping for a manual espresso maker, here are a few things to consider:

  1. How easy is it to use?
  2. Does it come apart for easy cleaning?
  3. Does it produce consistent pressure and water temperature?

A final consideration is how much counter space you have, if you plan on keeping your espresso maker out. Fortunately, of all espresso machines, the manual ones typically have the smallest footprints.

Other types of espresso makers we’ve reviewed:

Conclusion

Choosing the best manual espresso machine can be a bit overwhelming, so let’s quickly review our top five picks. Our favorite model is the La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine, and the runner-up is the La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine. If you’re looking to save money, you may prefer the Rok Manual Espresso Maker, which offers great value.

We hope that after reading these reviews and buying tips, you’ll be able to figure out which manual espresso machine is best for you. Happy shopping!