Top 5 Manual and Lever Espresso Machines for Coffee Enthusiasts at Home

10 min read FEB 04, 2024

A manual espresso machine may be the perfect addition to your coffee-making arsenal if you're a true lover. In this article, we'll dive into the details of 5 remarkable models that are sure to catch your eye.

There are generally two types of individuals in this world:

First, those who prioritize comfort and convenience above all else. They value reliability in their Japanese vehicles, opt for practicality with socks in their sandals, and wouldn't dream of starting their day without the ease of their super-automatic espresso machine. This article may not align with your tastes if this resonates with you.

On the other hand, we have people like me and, hopefully, you. We are the ones who seek out beauty and pleasure in the things we surround ourselves with. We have an affinity for vintage watches and classic cars. The allure isn't about the cost-effectiveness of buying second-hand; rather, we appreciate the timeless elegance and craftsmanship inherent in these items.

If this describes you, a manual espresso machine has likely crossed your mind. I won't dissuade you from this pursuit, but it's only fair to present a clear and unvarnished view of what owning and operating this kind of coffee-making equipment entails.


Presenting the Flair 58, a distinctive espresso machine that beautifully merges tradition with modernity. At first glance, this manual lever-style machine captures the essence of classical coffee preparation, appealing to purists who appreciate a touch of nostalgia. However, don't be misled by its retro allure; The Flair 58 is packed with advanced features that enhance your brewing experience. One such feature is the innovative electronically heated brew head. This modern adaptation ensures your brew temperature remains consistently ideal, a feature that sets it apart from other manual espresso makers.

Since its initial release in 2021, the Flair 58 has undergone substantial enhancements. The dedicated team at Flair has meticulously refined every aspect of this machine, resulting in an exceptional lever espresso maker that resonates with today's coffee connoisseurs. This commitment to continuous improvement is a testament to Flair's unwavering pursuit of excellence in its product line.

One standout feature of the Flair 58 is its authentic 58mm portafilter - a commendable upgrade from previous models. Seasoned baristas will highly appreciate this industry standard size, as it allows compatibility with various accessories and baskets.

The Flair 58 embodies a harmonious blend of old-world charm and contemporary conveniences. This unique combination makes it an appealing choice for those who appreciate high-quality manual brewing yet also value the advantages of modern coffee-making technology.


When it comes to the La Pavoni EPC 8 Europiccola it offers more than an espresso machine.

Imagine La Pavoni as a representation of sophistication for your coffee journey. Picture the elegance of an Alfa Romeo convertible, its sleek design gracefully gliding along a sun kissed beach promenade. That's the kind of aesthetic that La Pavoni brings to your coffee experience.

However, don't mistake its style for lacking substance. La Pavoni is not about appearances; it embodies rooted tradition and exceptional quality that has withstood the test of time. As one of the most respected espresso machine manufacturers in the world La Pavoni has redefined coffee culture for generations. The EPC 8 Europiccola stands as one of their models and rightfully so.

Getting acquainted with this machine is akin to learning a language. Once you become proficient, in operating it the possibilities become endless.

The La Pavoni Europiccola is a coffee machine that goes beyond making espresso shots. It has the ability to capture the essence of the coffee beans and create a rich and creamy cappuccino by frothing milk with its powerful steam wand. With this machine your daily coffee routine can be transformed into an experience.



Lets talk about another espresso machine called the Cafelat Robot. This machine is an interpretation of Italian design brought to you by the brand Cafelat based in Hong Kong. Inspired by the Faema Baby it maintains that feel while being robust thanks to the addition of a pressure gauge.

What sets the Cafelat Robot apart is its eye-catching design and innovative two lever system, which simplifies and streamlines the pressing process.

One feature of this machine that truly amazed us is its compact brew chamber. Unlike machines it uses an oversized basket instead of a large brew chamber resulting in unique brewing capabilities.
This clever design approach allows users to skip the step of preheating the machine while still ensuring high quality espresso.

When closely examining the Robot one can truly appreciate the thoughtfulness and dedication that went into its creation.

Non electric espresso machines, like the Robot offers many advantages;

  • Their compact size ensures they take up minimal counter space.
  • They are highly portable, ideal for espresso enthusiasts on the move.
  • No descaling is necessary in areas with water, which is excellent news for coffee aficionados.
  • Their lack of components contributes to their lifespan.

However it's important to note that devices like the Robot do not have milk steaming capabilities making them a better fit, for those who prioritize espresso flavor.



The Elektra Micro Casa Lever is another exquisitely crafted Italian masterpiece that has stepped into the arena to challenge La Pavoni's dominance in vintage espresso machine charm.

The design of the Elektra Micro Casa Lever is truly eye-catching. When compared with the Europiccola, some might suggest it's a touch more flamboyant. One example of this is the ornamental metal eagle that adorns it!

However, once you peel back the layers of its vibrant exterior, you'll swiftly appreciate the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into each unit at Elektra’s factory in Treviso, Italy.

While this model may be reminiscent of the coffee machines gracing kitchens in the 1950s, it's important not to overlook the modern, utilitarian features packed within. These advancements ensure that users can rely on the product's safety and longevity without any hesitation.


Hailed as perhaps the most compact espresso maker on the planet, the Cafflano Kompresso is a charmingly unique and fully manual coffee gadget – no need for electricity here!

The Cafflano Kompresso has made quite a splash within the realm of specialty coffee lovers. Its stature in the home espresso market could be likened to that of the Aeropress - compact, innovative, and loved by many.

The benefits of this tiny device are immediately clear: it's cost-effective, highly portable, and exudes a playful vibe. Yet, don't be misled by its cheerful exterior — this espresso maker can pull off some seriously impressive shots of espresso!

Sure, it requires a bit of elbow grease, but in my view, the payoff is more than worth the effort. When it comes to value for money, the Cafflano Kompresso comfortably holds its own as one of the top contenders among home espresso machines.


Much like the nuanced world of golf, espresso brewing can be an intricate and rewarding hobby. It's laden with specialized terminology and unwritten rules and follows a certain prestige - quite frankly, these details add to its unique allure.

Regarding espresso, the lever espresso machine, affectionately known as 'the manual,' stands at the pinnacle of sophistication and elegance. The manual isn't just a machine; it's a testament to the artistry and tradition of espresso making itself. Each pull of the lever is a step in a dance that's been perfected over generations, providing a hands-on experience that truly sets it apart. It's more than just brewing - it's the epitome of the coffee lover's journey, combining technique, knowledge, and passion in one elegant tool.


Navigating the world of espresso machines can initially seem overwhelming, but understanding the basics can significantly simplify your decision. Typically, espresso machines fall into three primary categories:

Fully Automatic Espresso Machines: At first glance, this type may resemble an oversized bin in a neutral grey shade, but don't let its simple exterior deceive you. The primary advantage of a fully automatic espresso machine lies in its incredible ease of use. You can have a cappuccino ready to savor with just a single button press. However, it's important to note that while its simplicity is a boon for convenience lovers, the resulting coffee may not satisfy the palate of a gourmet coffee enthusiast.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines: These are among the most popular options on the market today. Semi-automatic machines feature a mechanical pump that exerts the required 9 bars of pressure onto the portafilter. While they take care of the pressure aspect, they still require a hands-on approach to grinding the coffee, tamping it down, and steaming the milk. This type provides a lovely balance between manual operation and automated convenience.

Manual (Lever) Espresso Machines: If you're a true coffee aficionado who wishes to have total control over the brewing process, then a manual lever machine is the one for you. Instead of a mechanical pump, these machines require the use of a lever to force water through the coffee grounds. This design offers a variety of options for customizing the extraction process, enabling you to fine-tune your espresso to your exact preferences.

Each type of machine has unique characteristics and benefits, meaning the best choice largely depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and coffee brewing skills.


There is a plethora of variety in the world of espresso makers, but I previously mentioned there were just three primary types. Upon reflection, I realized that was not entirely accurate.

A novel variant of home espresso makers has made its entrance in recent years: The Manual Non-Electric Espresso Maker. Personally, I am drawn towards these machines due to their simplistic charm and rustic appeal.

Manual non-electric espresso makers have certain traits in common with traditional lever machines but also boast unique capabilities.

As the name suggests, these machines are not electric, so you will need to heat water separately, often using an electric kettle. A distinct difference is the absence of a boiler, which means there's no steam wand. So, if you fancy frothy lattes, you might need to invest in a separate device.

Another compelling feature of these machines is their size. They are generally compact and easily transportable. If you're a fan of savoring espresso while on the move, this is indeed an appealing attribute!

Budget-wise, these machines are typically quite affordable due to their simple construction. There are several impressive models available in the market. The Flair Espresso Maker is a great choice for beginners, offering excellent value for money as one of the best espresso machines under $200.


Equating manual espresso machines to classic timepieces or antique automobiles may seem excessive, but the comparison carries some weight, especially when you consider the maintenance and care these machines require.

When you purchase a lever-operated espresso machine, you're embracing potential challenges. The charm of these machines is often matched by their intricacies, given that most of them are creations of Italian engineering from the last century, resulting in breathtaking aesthetics but also susceptibility to complications.

However, don't let this deter you. You can circumvent most issues with meticulous care and by choosing a well-established brand. Furthermore, reputed brands often have better support and a more abundant supply of spare parts, thereby ensuring longevity for your espresso machine. So, while the journey might require some effort, the reward of a perfect cup of coffee could be worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I clean my espresso machine?

It is recommended to clean your espresso machine after each use to ensure flavor. Regular cleaning helps prevent the buildup of coffee oils and residues.

How durable are machines?

With maintenance these machines can last for years.Their durability is one of the reasons why coffee enthusiasts prefer espresso machines instead of automatic ones.

Are espresso machines hard to operate?

Although manual machines require effort compared to their counterparts they aren't necessarily challenging to use. It just takes time and practice to get accustomed to the process.

Can I brew types of coffee using an espresso machine?

Absolutely! One great advantage of espresso machines is their versatility. You can adjust the pressure and timing to create a variety of coffee options, such as cappuccinos and lattes.

Which manual espresso machine is best for beginners?

For beginners it's recommended to start with a user versatile model. Machines, like the La Pavoni EPC 8 Europiccola or ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker are choices. They offer adjustability for experimentation while still providing an intuitive process that new baristas will appreciate.

What price range should I consider for an espresso machine?

The cost of a quality espresso machine can vary significantly.You can discover entry level models that start at $200 whereas high end models can exceed $1000. It's important to consider your budget, in relation, to how you're willing to invest in enhancing your coffee experience. Remember, a quality machine is a long term investment!

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Medium Roast.

Drop a Comment

All comments are moderated before being published