Pulling On The LEVA – La Marzocco’s Ode to the Past

The Leva truly is a piece of art...

the hundreds of photos I've seen since its announcement really don't do it justice. My initial thoughts when I first saw it in person where that of intrigue and an excitement. The Leva marries together a very raw, visceral look, with also a very classic beautiful simplicity that La Marzocco is known for. Upon closer inspection the attention to detail really begin to present themselves. Each panel, piston, and rod have not only an aesthetic purpose, but also a mechanical one. Unlike most modern espresso machines the pressure to brew your espresso is created by a group of pistons, as opposed to a rotary vein pump. This means its as quiet as a church mouse, a church mouse that's been turned into an espresso brewing Transformer.

Overall I spent a total of three hours investigating, dialing in, and using the Leva, and as of this point I see this machine as two things. One, its a piece of art, dare I say a novelty. It's also been over engineered in some places, and under in others. I saw this with the utmost respect towards La Marzocco and the talented team who built and developed the Leva, but it doesn't appear to be an espresso machine intended for busy cafes.

For one I noticed the main joint for the levers are encased in plastic.  Generally this would be fine, but this component is stressed on every shot.  This translated into small hairline-like fractures.  They aren't major, and don't appear to hinder the function, and are not very noticeable so they also don't effect the aesthetics, but it just seems like an engineering oversight.

The other issue I noticed in using the machine is the lack of space between the group head and the drain tray.  It appears that La Marzocco anticipated this and created a way to drop the tray a couple inches.  This create an awkward space where you can see all the plumbing and lines entering the machine, and this just doesn't look all that great.

The other issue created by the drain tray height is steaming milk.  Even though the steam wands spin in 360 degrees the bend in the wand is so sharp that it's a little awkward to steam.  Even more awkward, is moving the pitcher away from the wand.   To do so you either have to move the wand up after steaming, or you have to tip your pitcher down to slip it out from underneath.  This is of course if you want to steam in front of the machine, and not off to the side.

In the end, I wouldn't put the Leva in a busy cafe, but it would be a great show piece for a slow bar.  It really is a beautiful sight to behold, and its so much of an experience to use.  If you have the opportunity to pull a shot, or even just take a look at one in person I'd high recommend doing so.


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