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There is something really cool and special about hand lever espresso machines. They look great and it makes your espresso even more personal. But how much can you expect to pay for a lever espresso machine?
A simple entry level espresso lever machine can be bought for around $200. These entry level presses don’t have a built in boiler or steam wand. To get a lever espresso machine with built in boiler, steam wand and beautiful designs expect to pay at least $900 up to $2000+
Let’s take a look at the prices of these awesome machines and what you can expect for your money.
Lever Espresso Machines Prices
Below you can see a price list of the most popular lever espresso machines. These are the prices at time of writing and are subject to change.
|Flair||PRO 2 + Attachments||325|
Manual espresso machines are available in a very wide range of prices. Prices of lever espresso machines range from $125 to over $2000. The average price of a manual espresso press is $862. However the average doesn’t really tell you the whole story. Because there is such a wide range of prices, the average is pretty meaningless.
So let’s take a look at the different price ranges and what to expect.
What Kind Of Lever Espresso Machine Can You Expect For Your Money?
So there are a few distinct price ranges you can find lever espresso machines in. Below we’ll look at the different price ranges. The price ranges are not a direct reflection on the quality. Most lever espresso machines are high quality pieces of equipment although of course there are differences in features, material use and build.
Entry level: $125 – $325
Entry level manual espresso presses cost anywhere from $125 to $300. In this category you have the choice between all the different Flair models or the ROK manual press. These presses are very simple but solid.
While they have a design style that’s cool in their own right, these machines don’t have the gorgeos stainless steel construction that the more expensive options do. This isn’t necessarily a downside and it really depends on what you’re looking for if these machines suit your taste.
One other big difference is that these machines are just an espresso press. There is no boiler or anything else. You’ll need a separate kettle to boil the water. Also, because there is no boiler, there is no steam wand. So to make cappuccino or other espresso based drinks, you’ll either need a different machine or a separate milk steamer.
Because the Flairs are affordable, these machines are also more attractive for people who are just getting started brewing their own espresso. That’s why some of these come with pressurized portafilters and things like that that are more beginner friendly. The good thing is that they are at the same time quite modular. So you can change the portafilters, add pressure gauges, etc.
Mid-range: $600 – $1200
As you can see in the price list above, there is nothing in the $325 to $600 range. So if you want to take a step up from the entry level models, the mid-range starts at about $600. And even then there is only one choice at that price range. The models from La Pavoni are about $900 to $1200.
It doesn’t feel quite right to call the La Pavoni models mid-range because they are such beautiful and very well built lever machines. However, we’re just looking at price here and they are about in the middle of the price range as you can see in the list above.
Besides the outstanding build quality and classic good looks, on very big difference compared to the entry level models is that these machines have a built in boiler. This means no separate kettle and also a built in steam wand to make cappuccino or other milk drinks.
If you doubt the quality of the La Pavoni models, just take a look at second hand prices. They don’t lose a lot of their value even over decades and that should tell you a lot. These are the go to manual espresso machines. If you like the looks, you really can’t go wrong getting one of these.
High end: $1200+
At the high end, the machines you get are at another level of craftsmanship and build quality. The Elektra Microcasa and Bezzera Strega are two quite different looking machines but both are absolutely gorgeous in their own way.
The Elektra is a handcrafted piece of art that can be used to make espresso. It’s beautiful although it’s style won’t be everyone’s taste or look good in every kitchen. The eagle on top might be a bit much for some people. There are a few different models of the Elektra with different names but the biggest difference is the use of materials so they look a bit different.
The Bezzera Strega is a machine that is mostly an automatic espresso machine except for the actual pressing. Except for the lever, it looks similar. It’s also very pretty with a lot of attention to detail and has a few tricks up its sleeve to make better espresso easier.
Does a more expensive lever machine make better espresso?
Do you need the most expensive press to make the best espresso? Not necessarily but they do make it a bit easier. Brewing espresso has so many variables that the machine you use is only one of them.
The more expensive machines offer built in boilers which makes getting everything up to the correct temperature a bit easier. Most of the lever machines, including the entry level ones, have the option to add different portafilters and pressure gauges so they allow you to get more control and customize your espresso to your needs.
Besides the built in boiler, you get better material use, better craftsmanship, longer lasting and arguably better looking lever machines. However, the entry level ones are by no means bad and are perfectly usable and durable.
Spending about $1000 will get you a very nice lever machine with built in boiler that will last for decades and then still be worth almost the same on the second hand market. If you’ve got the money, this is the best, most versatile choice.
Recommended Espresso Equipment
Besides an espresso machine, there are a few other tools that can make your espresso better. Here are my favorites:
- Espresso Machine: The Breville Barista Express (Amazon) is the sweet spot in price and quality for most casual home baristas. It comes with a built in grinder and most tools you need to brew espresso.
- Tamper: A nice tamper helps you tamp your grounds in the filter for the best result. Any correctly sized tamper can do the job but a nice heavy one just feels so much better in your hand than a plastic model. This Luxhaus one (Amazon) has a nice trick up it’s sleeve to make tamping very consistent.
- Beans: Good espresso starts with good beans. Using fresh beans is a big improvement over pre-ground coffee.
- Scales: Getting consistently good espresso means you have to know how much grounds is going into the machine and how much is coming out and how long this takes. A coffee scale is going to make your espresso much more consistent and also makes adjustments a lot easier. The Apexstone coffee scale (Amazon) is cheap and doesn’t look too sleek but is just as accurate as more expensive scales. The TimeMore scales (Amazon) look and feel a lot nicer but cost a bit more.
- Grinder: To make the best of your fresh beans, a good grinder is necessary. Espresso requires a good grinder to get the best results. The Baratza Sette 30 (Amazon) is a good espresso grinder that can also be used for other brewing methods and while not cheap, is good value for money. If you prefer hand grinders, the 1ZPresso JX-PRO is one of the best options (Amazon)
- Distribution tool: After grinding you can get some clumps in the coffee grounds. Those clumps should be broken up so the water can extract all the coffee grounds equally. Distribution tools are very simple things but this one (Amazon) is beautifully made and will look good in your kitchen.