How it works and why choose a lever machine


During the Host fair we had the opportunity to admire a lot of super-technological equipment, settable through touch screens and smartphones.

A stop at the stand of Torrefazione Izzo, which produces its own espresso machines, allowed us to have a nice chat about the lever machines, machines that in the 1950s introduced espresso in Italy and in the world, still widespread today. Campania and apparently in great demand also abroad. This is our interview …

Gabriele: Izzo, a reference company for lever machines, can you tell us how this technology works?

Izzo: our company is very attentive to “tradition”, and tries to bring to the world a traditional quality system such as the lever machine, which is defined by the “coffee sages” as “the press” as it manages to produce a ‘360 ° extraction of the mixture, our lever machine is completely mechanical with a technological part that only serves to help its mechanics. However, we also produce automatic, semi-automatic and lever machines.

G: How much has technology changed compared to the lever machines that existed in the 1950s?

I: Let’s say that the system is always the same, our brewing group, which from the outside may seem simple, is actually made up of 38 different small elements, elements that over time have had an evolution that allows us today to have with these machines a top extraction that gives absolute importance to the operator and the cup he serves.

G: How does a lever machine technically work? In the automatic machine we have a pre-infusion, then the pump that pushes the water through the coffee panel at 9 bar comes into operation … I assume a lever machine works in a very different way, can you tell us a little?

I: Very different, that’s why I choose the lever machine! First of all, a lever machine loads water directly from the boiler so we are not talking about stagnant water and from each group there is a direct leakage to the coffee pod, this involves a completely different extraction compared to an automatic machine. or semi-automatic.

G: So basically when we pull the lever down we get water …

I: As I lower the lever, the infusion takes place with the entry of hot water inside the group at 128 ° ..

G: Wow, and this water comes into contact with the coffee, so a very high extraction temperature compared to classic machines.

I: Yes, for us the product must be cooked, not heated, so I lower the lever and I have a pre-brewing of 3/5 seconds, then I raise the lever and give 14 bars of pressure on the coffee with a pressure curve up to at 0bar, very different from the linear 9bar of automatic and semi-automatic machines, so I go to extract all the noble fats and the most volatile aromas

G: This therefore serves to extract less bitterness, that is, less bitterness is extracted in the final part of the extraction when usually the most unwanted notes are extracted.

I: Quite right

G: We know that cleaning a lever machine is very different from the traditional espresso machine …

I: The lever machine is self-cleaning as there is no water recall in the group at the end of the extraction and the passage of water is only at the outlet.

G: There is no solenoid valve that sucks …

I: So we don’t have to do the blind filter, in the evening we don’t have any downtime or an operator involved in cleaning but we just clean the filters and filter holders correctly. The machine never stops and in the morning we don’t need to throw away the first coffee, just lower the lever to bring the temperature in the boiler to the group.

G: For a good part of customers these machines have a certain charm, not only in southern Italy …

I: Let’s say there is a comeback, thanks also to a restyling that has slightly rounded off the squared shapes of the old lever machines, with a totally handmade and customizable machine. These machines are also in great demand on foreign markets.

G: So you export your products massively?

I: Yes, in Asia, in America …

G: Here at the fair we see in the other pavilions some “revolutionary” almost “science fiction” machines, you are very strong carriers of tradition …

I: As far as coffee is concerned, we try to keep the tradition, we take our cue from technology but, in my opinion, coffee is a product that must be worked and lived, to do this you need professionalism and passion. I cannot expect to make coffee by pressing a button, the operator must know how to brew espresso and must know coffee and its processing.

G: With respect to the possibility of adjusting the parameters, pre-brewing time, temperature change, temperature stability, a machine as it stands …

I: A machine like this has more stability, because I don’t have a double boiler and I don’t have a pre-infusion with an exchanger …

G: So in its simplicity lies perfection ..

I: This is what we try to convey to the final consumer, it is he who must choose the best way to prepare an espresso.

SOURCE: Il caffè espresso italiano