Manual espresso machines (or lever espresso machines) do not use an electric pump to push the water through the coffee and instead require the person to manually push it through. Some machines will have an electric heater for the water. Most people who like manual espresso machines do it for the nostalgia. There is nothing wrong with that. It just makes it harder to be consistent with some of the finer points of coffee making. But, with enough practice, there is no reason you can’t learn how to make a great espresso.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you will be able to save a ton of money by buying this type of machine. These type of machines are made to look nice and will have a grade materials. Therefore, an inexpensive one may cost over $200 and some well over $1,000.
Manual espresso machines are lever operated, this means that there is no electric pump. The pressure needed for the steam to go through the coffee is obtained by pulling a lever. How much pressure you use will change the brewing process. So, it will require a lot of practice.
The choices for manual espresso machines is fairly limited. You essitially have two classic Italian companies, La Pavone and Elektra, or the new guys on the block, ROK.
Recommended Manual Espresso Machines
1. La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola
La Pavoni has been making machines for over 100 years and as are one of the premier manufactures in the world for espresso makers. This proud company produces some beautiful all-steel, chrome-plated quality machines and the La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola is not only the best manual espresso machine available, it is also a piece of artwork. This machine can make up to 8 cups and it includes a traditional steam wand for frothing milk. The La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola comes with an instructional video to help you quickly learn the machine.
2. Elektra Microcasa A Leva Espresso Machine
This has a beautiful Copper/ Brass dual tone design with wooden handles. The boiler is also made of brass. So, it provides excellent dry steam and is extremely durable. It uses a spring piston-operated grouphead. The piston is also made of brass. There is a pressure gauge to help you gauge the proper time to extract the espresso. It includes: water level sight glass, armor-plated heating element, boiler pressure relief valve safety, internal pressure regulator, and a built-in safety thermostat.
3. ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker
The new kid in town for manual espresso machines is the ROK Presso Espresso Maker. If you are looking for a manual espresso maker that is more affordable then the fancy yet expensive Italian ones, the ROK Presso is your best choice. The machine is attractive, functional, and can produce a nice flavorful cup of espresso. This machine is simple and uses two long, curved levers attached to a wishbone-shaped body. To use, you simply fill the hot-water chamber and put coffee into the portafilter. Then you press the liquid through the coffee by using the wands. Unit also includes a milk foamer where you fill it with milk and pump the plunger to froth the milk.