Elektra MicroCasa A Leva Espresso Machine Review
Even though the cost of this manual espresso machine is somewhat daunting, when you do the math regarding the amount you spend at your local Starbucks or other coffee shop, the amount spent total per year truly very quickly adds up to the cost of even this espresso machine, so don't rule it out just yet!
Let's say you go to your local espresso stand 5 times per day and spend $5 per beverage...
...That has you at a grand total of $25 weekly, which multiplies out to $100 monthly...
...Multiply that $100 monthly x 12 months, and you reach a grand total of $1,200 PER YEAR spent on espresso! And that's without even taking into consideration the obligatory tip you probably pay your local barista. It also doesn't take into consideration espresso beverages that reach a total of greater than $5. Both the tip and those of you who generally fork out more than $5 per beverage changes that grand total of $1,200 into significantly more!
If you are interested in a very beautiful and elegant-looking manual (lever) home espresso machine that performs excellently and makes absolutely great espresso (once you have had some practice using it), the Elektra MicroCasa A Leva espresso machine could be the perfect choice for you.
The Elektra MicroCasa is a genuine Italian-made espresso maker, which places it into the category of being among the most authentic and high quality home espresso machines available.
Here is a quick-reference table that shows the answers to many common questions that people have about this machine.
Elektra MicroCasa Features
|Machine Type||Manual espresso machine|
|Spring or Straight Piston?||Spring-piston - this means that a spring, rather than the machine user, pushes the water down through the ground coffee.|
|Noise Level||Very quiet|
|Machine Exterior||Gorgeous chrome and brass exterior with a large brass eagle on the dome. Each of these machines is carefully handcrafted.|
|Expected Life Length||10 - 15+ years or more|
|Espresso Quality||This machine brews some of the best espresso that can be made.|
|Type of Coffee Used||Pre-ground coffee must be used. This can include store-bought coffee or coffee beans you have ground yourself.|
|Milk Frothing Capability||A steam wand attached to the right-hand side of this espresso machine allows for milk frothing without the need for a separate milk frothing appliance. Although frothing takes slightly longer than expected, this machine creates the silky smooth micro-froth that is essential for doing latte art.|
|Required Assembly||Machine arrives completely assembled, other than needing to attach the steamer wand to the machine.|
|Bar-Pump Pressure||This machine has a vibratory pump that provides a bar-pump pressure of 15.|
|Ease of Use||More difficult than automatic espresso machines. This machine is classed into the manual espresso machine category. For a beginner, there is a definite learning curve required in learning to use this machine, as with any manual espresso machine. Once using it has been mastered, it is fairly easy to use.|
|Water Reservoir Capacity||Approximately 67.5 ounces|
|Grinder Included?||No, there is no coffee bean grinder included. If you prefer freshly ground coffee beans to pre-ground coffee, a separate coffee bean grinder will need to be used.|
|Heat-Up Time||Approximately 15 minutes|
|Portafilter Size||49 mm|
|Accessories Included||· Two filter baskets (1 cup and 2 cups) that are 49 mm in diameter
· Dual-spout 49 mm portafilter with Bakelite handles.
· Plastic tamper
· Plastic scoop for coffee
· User manual
|Machine Dimensions||22 inches (height) x 10 inches (width) x 10 inches (depth)|
|Machine Weight||Approximately 24 pounds|
|Daily Maintenance Required||Daily maintenance needed includes only a couple of things...wiping up spilled water and/or grounds after brewing is complete, and a quick rinse of the portafilter after the brewing process.|
|Occasional Maintenance Required||Most manual espresso machines, like this one, use gaskets. These gaskets should be replaced every one to two years to maintain optimal performance of the machine.
Another thing that will need to occasionally be done is cleaning and lubricating the piston group. This is easily done on the Elektra MicroCasa a Leva by unscrewing two bolts on the top of the piston group and sliding the piston group out.
|Warranty||1 year for parts and labor|
If it is a genuine Italian-made espresso maker you are considering, the Elektra Microcasa would fit right into that bill.
Italian-made espresso machines are highly regarded as being the most authentic and high quality home espresso machines available.
The built-in thermostat prevents a “meltdown” if the machine is inadvertently operated with no water in the boiler.
Additionally, this machine has an internal pressure regulator, for automatic temperature regulation.
Other features include:
- A durable brass boiler that emits extraordinarily dry steam for creating perfect micro foam each and every time.
- A very quiet noise level so those snoozing later than you in the morning won’t be disturbed by your early morning espresso making.
- A spring-operated lever, which allows for consistent pump pressure at each point of the lever, from one pull to the next.
- An absolutely stunning and gorgeous chrome finish, in addition to wooden handles and a large brass eagle situated on the dome.
- The water level in the boiler of this machine is always visible, thanks to the water level sight glass.
For now, read on to discover the features that truly put this machine at the top of its class.
- This machine is praised for its incredibly low noise level.
- Built-in thermostat prevents the heating element from being damaged if the machine is accidentally run without having water in it.
- Internal pressure regulator, for exceptional regulation of water temperature.
- An incredibly durable home espresso machine that is built to last many years.
Elektra Micro Casa A Leva Pros and Cons
|Very low noise level compared to most espresso machines.||As with all manual/lever home espresso machines, some learning and practice are required before you will be able to make your desired espresso with it.|
|Easier to use than many other lever espresso machines.||Some machine maintenance is required, which includes periodically replacing the gaskets and lubricating the moving parts of the piston group.|
|Absolutely gorgeous design and shiny chrome appearance.||Because the boiler on this machine is exposed on the outside of the machine, possible burns can occur due to high temperature. Caution must be used, particularly around small children.|
How to Use the Elektra MicroCasa Espresso Machine
Here is a video that shows you how to draw a shot from this manual espresso machine. This video covers steps required assuming that the water heat-up time of approximately 15 minutes is already completed.
Info. Regarding Use of Pods, Grounds, or Both
This machine uses ground coffee only, and does not use E.S.E. pods/capsules.
Although you could use pre-ground coffee, it is highly recommended that you get your hands on a separate coffee bean grinder and grind the beans you will be using just before brewing.
This machine does not grind coffee beans, and it does not have a grinder included.
Ease of Use
Because this machine is classified as a manual (more commonly called a lever) espresso machine, some knowledge of making espresso is either already required or needs to be learned in order for someone to be successful at using one and making optimal espresso.
Most new users of manual espresso machines normally have to get quite a number of practice brew cycles under their belts before they will successfully be able to make espresso in a manual (lever) espresso machine.
There are two key factors to successfully making espresso with a lever espresso machine which, although sometimes difficult to learn can be learned, and include the following:
- Learning how to correctly grind the coffee beans.
Manual espresso machines are very temperamental when it comes to requiring the correct grind coarseness to be able to extract good espresso. If you don’t grind the beans fine enough, you end up with something weak that you could call “tea espresso” (very weak espresso that has no flavor). However, if you grind the beans too finely, the water cannot run through and extract the espresso flavor, leaving you with nothing in your cup.
- Learning how to correctly “tamp” (compress) the ground coffee in the portafilter.
This is the other key step to successful espresso brewing in a lever espresso maker. Even if you have discovered the correct grind coarseness, keep in mind that tamping (compressing) the grounds too tightly in the portafilter will result in a big nothing that ends up in your cup, while tamping too loosely will result in that good ol’ “tea espresso” (weak, light-colored espresso) that we mentioned above. Learning the correct compression of the coffee in the portafilter is the other key “ingredient of knowledge” that needs to be learned.
The above are the two key factors that definitely need to be mastered. However, keep in mind that those “in the know” regarding espresso making have commented that this machine is incredibly easy to use compared to some of the other manual/lever home espresso machines available.
If you are new to making espresso with a manual (lever) machine but want to learn, this machine would be a good one to consider.
If you do not know what using a manual espresso machine entails, as far as the working parts and the actual use of one, but want to learn more you can find more detailed information here.
Conclusion/Summary About Ease of Use
- If you are someone who loves to fiddle and experiment with a new “somethingorother” and does not easily give up until you have learned exactly how to work it correctly,AND you are someone who has never used a manual/lever home espresso machine before, this Elektra espresso machine would probably be a great choice for you.
- If you are, however, someone who just wants to be able to make your espresso with your new machine virtually right out of the box,and don’t really want to take some time to learn what basically boils down to being an entire new skill, you probably would do much better with a super-auto, or at the very least, semi-automatic espresso machine.
- Thirdly, if you have previously used a lever espresso machine and are just looking to either replace the one you have or obtain your first home machine,this Elektra home espresso machine would be a great choice for you. Many customers who have used lever machines before and have tried this one have praised the ease of use this one offers as compared to others that are available.
The two primary factors a beginner will have difficulty with are grinding the coffee beans to the correct coarseness/fineness, and the amount of tamping (compression) is required of the ground coffee beans into a portafilter.
Some (probably lots) of practice is more than likely going to be required, which will involve trying different coarseness of grinds, and different amounts of tamping (compressing) the grounds before a good end result will be achieved.
First Use of Machine
The manufacturer of this machine does not provide truly clear-cut instructions for the first use of this machine.
It is definitely a great idea to run a first-time-use “flush” just to clean out any debris that may have ended up inside the machine during production and/or shipping.
Prior to first use, it’s also a good idea to wipe down the outside of the machine, rinse and dry the portafilter, fill the boiler with water, then heat the water and run a cycle with plain water.
Necessary Standard Maintenance Info.
With the Elektra MicroCasa a Leva, there is not a ton of daily maintenance that needs to be done, other than that which would be done with any espresso machine, even super-automatics.
Daily clean-up/maintenance includes wiping up any splashes, drips, and spilled grounds, a quick empty of the drip tray at least after every couple uses, and a wipe-down of the outside of the machine to keep that beautiful chrome exterior sparkling clean. In addition, a quick rinse of the portafilter after each use will be the only other task required.
Most, if not all, lever espresso machines have gaskets that need to occasionally be replaced with new ones. This machine falls into that category, and you should plan on doing a gasket replacement about every one to two years, just to keep the machine running optimally. This is something that you can do yourself at home with the available gasket kits on the market, and should only need to be done, again, once every year or two.
Piston Group Maintenance
The piston group needs cleaning and lubrication periodically. This is done much more easily on this Elektra machine than most others, and requires simply unscrewing two bolts at the top of the piston group, which allows the piston group assembly to slide out, followed by a good cleaning every now and then. Piston group maintenance also requires the moving parts of this device to be lubricated with silicon grease.
Spring Lever or Direct Lever?
This machine has a spring-assisted lever, which makes “pushing” the water through the ground coffee beans somewhat easier than with a direct-lever machine.
The spring-piston feature does help to provide you with consistent pump pressure with every “pull” of espresso.
Although having a spring-assisted lever means that some of the work is done for you, some knowledge of making espresso is still required.
In addition, although the spring does help with some of the work, the power of the spring requires some people to use both hands for bringing the lever down. The spring has also been known to raise up very quickly after being lowered, and some caution must be used regarding this.
Material Housing (Outside Casing) Information
This machine is finished in all chrome on the outside.
It also features “Bakelite” handles, which are made of very high-heat-resistant plastic.
Drip Tray Information
The drip tray on this machine needs to be emptied fairly frequently. It is smaller than the ones that many espresso machines have, and thus fills up much more quickly than them.
The tamper needed for this machine is 49 mm.
Milk Frothing Info.
Because the Elektra MicroCasa a Leva S1C produces what is called “dry steam,” this machine allows you to create incredibly wonderful micro-foam.
The milk frothing wand has three holes at the end, which allows for very simple “swirling” of milk that is required to successfully produce great milk froth suitable for things such as latte art. If you are not sure how milk frothers work, here is a great place to check out additional information regarding that topic.
Steam Pressure Information
This machine provides optimum extraction of flavor, starting at 8 bars of pressure that slowly and steadily decrease, for optimal extraction of espresso flavor.
Boiler Pressure Gauge Information
This machine does come with a pressure gauge. Although not an absolutely necessary component to have on a home lever espresso machine, it most definitely is a handy feature to be able to use if desired.
Boiler Capacity Information
This machine has a 67-ounce (2.0 liters) water capacity. In addition, this machine does have a water level indicator, to let you know when water is running low prior to it all being used.
This is one of the larger boilers among lever espresso machines, and will allow you to brew up approximately eight to nine double shots of espresso, although a few less than that if you plan on steaming milk also.
One very important thing to note about this machine: A lot of these “fancy” lever espresso machines have what we call an “exposed boiler,” meaning that the part of the machine that holds up and heats the water is exposed, with no box cover like you see with many of the semi-auto and super-auto home espresso makers. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that much caution be used with these types of machines that have exposed boilers, as they do become incredibly hot on the outside, and burns can result.
The sturdy brass boiler in this machine is notorious for giving this machine the capability of producing amazingly dry steam, which allows for much easier creation of micro-foam.
The remainder of the machine is polished chrome.
The heating element in the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva heats up water to brew-ready temperature in approximately 15 minutes.
This machine measures 18 inches high to the top of the machine itself, and when the lever is in the “up” position, the total height of the machine is 19 inches. Other measurements include 10 inches wide and 10 inches deep. This means that it won’t take up a ton of counter space. The round base has a diameter of 10″.
You do need to be aware, however, of how much space is available between the bottom of your cupboards. If there is only the standard 18″ of space available between the counter top and your cupboards, this will be a problem unless you have some available counter top space that has no cupboards above it.
This machine requires 800 watts of power to operate.