Today, getting a cup of coffee is a lot more complicated than in the past. It used to be that your only real choice was between black or with cream and/or sugar. Nowadays, you have multiple choices: regular, espresso, latte, hot, or iced.
These specialty coffees can cost a pretty penny. If you decide that you would rather purchase your own machine to save some money, your choices can be just as daunting as choosing what kind of coffee you would like. We have reviewed many different manual espresso machines to compile an in-depth look at our five favorite models.
|La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine|
|La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine||14 lbs||4.6/5|
|Rok Manual Espresso Maker|
(Best for the Money)
|Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker||5 lbs||4.2/5|
|DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine||9 lbs||3.8/5|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Manual espresso machines are the most difficult type to use. If you are new to making espresso, we recommend that you get an electric one of some sort until you get a handle on how to make espresso properly. 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 require a high amount of skill to master. They are used by the most devoted espresso enthusiasts.
There isn’t really a whole lot that you need to consider when shopping for a manual espresso maker. A couple of things to look for are:
1. How easy is it to use?
2. Does it come apart for easy cleaning?
The only other consideration is how much counter space you have, if you plan on keeping it out. That isn’t much of an issue with manual machines, though. Of all espresso machines, the manual ones have the smallest footprint.
Other types of espresso makers we’ve reviewed:
Choosing the best manual espresso machine for you can be a bit overwhelming. You may want to stop somewhere for a quick espresso shot before you go shopping, just to get an extra mental boost. Before you go out, though, let’s quickly review our top five picks:
1. La Pavoni PPG-16 Professional 16-Cup Espresso Machine – Top Pick
2. La Pavoni Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Espresso Machine – The Runner-Up
3. Rok Manual Espresso Maker – Best for the Money
4. Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker
5. DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
We hope that after reading these reviews and our guide, you will now be able to figure out which lever espresso machine is best for you.
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