So after nearly a week with the leva, and running it side by side with the Lelit Bianca here are a few of my initial thoughts.
Ill compare it to some of the machines I’ve had in the past, which is only natural and this will draw comparison to the londinium machines I’ve owned.
So where do these comparisons begin, there both lever machines, have drip trays and look beautiful, the londinium hides its tech away opting for wifi and app connection, while the leva has the pid controls front and centre. Both take up the same sort of space on the counter, and come highly polished to a mirror finish.
My history of machines, coming through the ranks with sage, then to hx machines followed by a stint with Acs in the minima dual boiler, till I got my first londinium L1, that stayed with me for a while till I wanted to play with pressures and profiling and a crem dual boiler replaced it, after issues with the crem, a londinium lr24 graced my work top, again for only a short while, I will highlight this further along. My final machine was the Lelit Bianca, a fantastic small footprint dual boiler machine, who’s graces I can not sing enough, a true plug in and forget machine, rotary pump too.
Which leads nicely into the next part of the discussion, I’m know for being quite sound sensitive, which was the appeal of the londinium L1 after a less than quiet experience with the Minima’s vibration pump.
While the L1 was a vibe pump, this only filled the boiler for 5 seconds or so, the jump to the lr24 brought about a near silent rotary pump, again an improvement over the previous LR model, the Leva uses what’s know as a gear pump, fast enough to react but more noisy, especially compared to the silent plumb in of a compressa or the rotary of the Bianca and Lr24. what I will say is you need to personally hear these machines as video clips distort their sounds.
Spring time, Acs went for a 54mm group designed after the la san marco and a dual spring, where londinium use a single spring in a 58mm, I forget the make, pulling down on the acs reminds me of the londinium and while there is a need for extra force, its not a notable thing, were both machines would need to be side by side to tell, The double spring peaks about 10.5bar, and by the end of the shot the cup is removed at around 7bar, that’s for a medium roast (2bar infusion) this quite often gives around 35g in the cup, I often pulled shorter shots on the L1 using scales as it suited that machine, the lr24 you could pull longer ratios.
Infusion, the L1 was boiler pressure as it’s a hx thermo siphon design, 1.2bar, the leva, Bianca, Lr24 all have adjustable pre infusion. The Bianca in way of the paddle, The Leva via a turn screw in a stat (5bar) this needs the lid removing, 4 screws, and the Lr24 (6bar) via app once you have done the initial side panel off wifi reset, a feature I’m hoping has changed since I had my machine.
Fit and finish, The Bianca is a very well made machine, plug in and forget machine, the two levers not as much, Both have what id class as quirks, quirks id rather not have on either baring in mind these are £3000 machines.
The acs, side panels are a thinner gauge steel to what is used on the front face, but this is thousands of a mm difference, very nit picky, im not a fan of the side door water fill, it takes away from the experience of using the machine, and what takes away from what other wise is a very sturdy built machine, had it been a fixed side panel and top fill id put the build quality on par with the londinium.
The londinium, classic design and model that visually hasn’t really changed much over the years, bar embossed logos and gauges.
Gauges, the Acs uses a group mounted gauge that gives a live picture of what is happening in the brew chamber, clever feature is pulling the shot at a certain pressure results in very similar weights in the cup, the Lr24 has a gauge mounted to the body which shows boiler pressure for steaming, both machines have high volumes of steam, the Bianca uses the group gauge for shot manipulation, and also has a gauge on the body showing steam and pump pressure,
Temp stability, The Bianca has solid temp control, you can alter to suit what you drink by use of the small llc control panel, along with a whole host options, including on/of times with the pump, the Leva also allows for temp control but goes one step further by allowing to create steady, rising or falling temp profiles, a feature I’ve not yet explored, Finally the Londinium L1, Lr24 were a preset temperature, Heat up times were around 20mins for the Bianca and leva and the londinium a little longer at about the 40 minute mark, just leaving the machines to do their thing.
Niggles and issues.
Londinium, the L1 was an old machine so I wont compare that, The Lr24 was new, and sadly I did have issues with it, the lever was assembled too tight which lead to a grove being worn into the brass, on the outside , credit to londinium they offered to send one out immediately, they use a front panel drain valve, or did, this used to drip on the drip tray rather than in, and puddle, the drip tray welds were visible after polishing, again very nit picky.
Acs Leva, this too had the lever assembled to tight which has lead to marking, on the inside of the lever this time. And bar the above mentioned door, that’s it
Bianca, none. A really well built and thought out machine.
In the cup, This for me is the most important part about my whole upgrade experience, , while using the machine is part of it, which is why I moved back to a levers , you need to be producing good espresso drinks.
The old L1 worked very well for darker coffee, I struggled with med to light. The Lr24 again I struggled to tame acidity in the cup and would often make an Americano drinks with the neat espresso, again milk drinks were perfect. Lelits Bianca gave me more scope for temp control and flow manipulation which meant very few shots met the sink, eventually I set upon a lever paddle profile, 9bar peak tailing off to 4bar, Acs leva using a steady temp profile, and its 54mm group I’ve found that I’m pulling the sweetest espresso I have done, and in a week I’m a convert to neat espresso, on beans id largely not like with the above mentioned machines, so that alone to me makes the upgrade path worth it, I do often wonder if id of spent more time the Lr24 would it still be on the counter, but for the moment I feel that I have the best of both worlds the tradition of a lever mixed with the modern technology of espresso.