The Elektra Micro Casa a Leva home espresso blog

The Elektra Micro Casa a leva is a beautiful home espresso machine. But is it capable of making great coffee? Follow my pursuit of ultimate espresso coffee as I learn to use this exciting machine.

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Location: Trondheim, Norway

Monday, March 28

Making espresso again!

I´m making espresso again! The grinder and the Micro Casa arrived on the same day, Friday before easter.

Unpacking of the Elektra espresso machine

It was hard to leave the city. At that time, I could easily have skipped going to the cabin with my family. But now I´m back, rested and extremely motivated for further investigation of my new lever machine.

Not small. Not big either. But it has style!

The Mazzer Mini without bean hopper mounted.

The Mazzer Mini is 100% good news. Firstly, I really like the dark red colour (relief!). It is heavy. It seems to be rock solid. I was surprised that it grinds so quietly; the Rancilio Rocky was a bit more noisy. The doser is very good and it leaves few grinds behind. I gave the Mazzer a first test with the la Valentina espresso machine that I know so well what is capable of. It wasn´t much trial and error before the grind was right –the first two shots went into the sink, but the third shot was a nice and steady 25 second pour (2 * 30 ml) with dark brown crema and no whitening. Just as good as the best shots I´ve ever made on that machine. The Mazzer seems to be a very good purchase!!

I´m using Ottolina Classica beans. I know that blend very well and I´m aware that when I´m learning to use a new machine, with some new principles and a lot of variables that I have little control of, it will be a good help to know the coffee blend. I have bought 4 kilos in bags with one-way-valve.

My kitchen. The Mazzer Mini in the background.

But what about the Elektra? Well, it would be naive to think that everything should be allright immediately. I admit that I was expecting better results the first shots than I actually got. The first shots were terrible –only traces of crema on a black surface and the coffee was pretty much undrinkable. But was I doing ANYTHING right at this point: No!

The tamping was difficult, mainly because the portafilter felt strangely small and toyish compared to a 58 mm standard size, and secondly because the spouts are positioned to the side instead of symmetrical around the handle of the portafilter. This is of course because the PF locks in differently (i.e. in a four o´clock position, and not pointing straight out in a six o´clock position). I´m getting more used to this already, after just a day, but at first I couldn´t tamp properly, which of course makes a good shot impossible.

In the beginning it can be a bit troublesome to lock in the PF, because the grouphead is so tight (because it is brand new) and the machine is sliding around a little. The grouphead will be less tight after short use, and I have already improved the technique of inserting the PF. I keep my left hand on the base of the machine, and I find this very steady and it is better than holding around the lever with the left hand. I felt terribly clumsy making my first shots…..

And then of course it is the new principle with the lever. The lever is lowered to load a spring and to fill a chamber with water, and then you wait for the preinfusion and the first few dribbles of coffee to appear at the spouts (after 8-10 seconds) and you then release the lever. And to introduce enough water to build a double shot, you have to lower the lever once again in the middle of the shot (after the lever has raised 2/3 ). I stressed too much doing this, I wasn´t very gentle. More practise is required!

After making 2-3 shots the machine overheats. As a consequence, I make coffee every 3-4 hours, and I do a lot of thinking in between. Which improvements can be made? How fast should the lever raise? 25 s? 30 s? 15 s? It is an obsession to get to my first drinkable espresso!

I made one clever decision, and that was to start making double ristrettos, skipping the second introduction of water in the middle of the shot. I can come back to that later. It´s better to concentrate about all the other factors first.

And my first double ristretto was quiet nice :-) It took the lever 28 s to raise. The crema looked fine and dark brown (but not more than 3-4 mm thick). And the taste? Nice….but as expected it is quiet different from the taste from a vibratory pump machine. I would describe that first tolerable shot as: Pleasant, but lacking something. Maybe it is just habit from my taste buds.

The rest is good news: I´ve got the nicest looking machine I can think of. Rumours are spreading among my friends who still haven´t been here, and they are all coming for coffee and for a look at the machine. When it comes to my skill, I´m definitely not THERE yet. But it looks promising thanks only to that last double ristretto….

I'm back in business. And that shows when looking at the dishwash.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats! looking good. Can't wait to stop by your place for espressi when you move to Oslo, hehe.

Thomas.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Audun said...

You're invited! But I won't be in Oslo before, let's say...august?

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doh! ;)

Thomas.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just stumbled onto your blog... I'm from NY... WOW YOU'RE INTO YOUR ESPRESSO!!!!!!! Impressed really.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Audun said...

Thanks!

6:27 PM  

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