5 Beautiful Copper Espresso Machines That Make Excellent Espresso
Home espresso machines are fun to use and can make delicious coffee (with experienced hands). Copper machines only further enhance the experience, with a captivating aesthetic that recollects espresso’s early days and complements a well- pulled shot’s inherent beauty. If you appreciate the look of copper and the taste of espresso, one of these five copper espresso machines may be a perfect addition to your home coffee bar.
In This Guide:
Elektra Micro Casa a Leva
The Elektra Micro Casa a Leva is similar to the La Pavoni models in many ways. The first La Pavoni home espresso machines may have even taken inspiration from the Elektra models, which were available first.
The exterior design of the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva is much like a toned-down La Pavoni. The machine has an eagle and wood handles, but few other flourishes. The machine’s straightforward angles might suggest a focus on performance rather than prettiness, if it weren’t for the copper and brass finishes that cover all visible metals. The finishes give this machine just the right amount of style, and a cohesiveness that some other models (e.g. the La Pavoni Esperto) lack.
- Belle Epoque Lever Espresso Coffee Home Machine
- The copper and brass parts are coated with shellack and might peel off unevenly over the years, the chrome version does not have this problem
Pulling Shots With a Spring Lever
Although the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva is technically a lever espresso machine, its lever has a spring that assists with pulling shots. Load the portafilter, pull up on the lever, preinfuse, and pull down — an internal spring will release and generate the pressure that’s used to brew the coffee.
Spring-generated pressure is both a plus and a minus. The pressure is always consistent, so you don’t have to worry about variances that affect extraction. Without actual control of the pressure, however, you don’t have complete control over all variables.
The lever in this style machine is thus a nod to the earliest machines, but it doesn’t completely brew like those first ones. Whether consistency or control is more important depends on your personal preferences.
Steaming Milk Manually
Only a manual steam wand is equipped on the Elektra Micro Casa a Levea, and not La Pavoni’s innovative frothing system. The standard wand is three-holed (as is La Pavoni’s manual steam wand). While you can find four-holed wands, finding one that matches the brass finish will be challenging.
Turning on Automatically
Unlike the La Pavoni models, Elektra has equipped its Micro Casa a Leva with a vacuum breaker that releases pressure when the machine warms up.
Without a vacuum breaker, false pressure will build up as lever-style espresso machines initially warm. The false pressure can be easily bled off by opening and closing the steam wand, but it requires you to be present as the machine prepares.
The vacuum breaker eliminates the need to be present during initial warm-up. You could theoretically connect the Elektra lever machine to an appliance timer, and set the timer so that the machine was ready when you first woke up. (Just be sure to fill the boiler each evening.)
Other features largely mimic those of the La Pavoni Professional. There is no need for a grouphead pressure gauge since pressure isn’t manually applied, but a temperature reading on the grouphead would be nice. The boiler is also bare.
The shellac used to protect the copper and brass finishes on Elektra models may not be as durable as the protective coating that La Pavoni uses. Elektra itself notes that these machines may chip and/or tarnish with continued use.
As is true with all spring-loaded lever espresso machines, the lever can snap down violently if it’s pulled when no portafilter is loaded into the grouphead.
Some people also find the steam wand to be at an odd angle, although left-handed baristas may prefer it.
Recommendation: Home baristas who appreciate vintage machines but want consistently good shots should consider the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva.
Elektra Micro Casa Semiautomatic
The Elektra Micro Casa semiautomatic is essentially the Micro Casa a Leva without a lever. The semiautomatic looks much like its levered counterpart, and most of its features are the same.
Semi-Automatic Control of Water
The semi-automatic model from Elektra replaces a lever with an automatic system that controls the water. While yous till must grind, dose and tamp the coffee, the machine manages the water temperature and pressure. Once the shot starts pulling, you only control how much water is used.
Many home and professional baristas like the semi-automatic experience, as it still affords significant control over the espresso but keeps pressure — one of the hardest variables to control — consistent.
(The boiler must still be manually filled and monitored as beverages are made.)
The drip tray on the Elektra Micro Casa Semiautomatic is somewhat small. The tray’s depth might not be too different from other models’ trays (and is the same as the Casa a Leva’s). Its shallowness is more noticeable on this model because a little water is automatically released after pulling each shot. After a few shots, the tray must be emptied.
Other features are virtually identical to the Casa a Leva. Milk is steamed manually, an appliance timer can be theoretically set up, and the shellac can wear with time.
Recommendation: The Elektra Micro Casa Semiautomatic is well-suited for home baristas who like vintage copper style with modern semiautomatic performance.
Rocket Appartamento Black with Copper
The Rocket Appartamento Black with Copper is a modern-looking espresso machine that resembles what are found in most cafes. The machine’s small footprint makes it perfect for apartments, though.
A chrome front and black encasement create a striking look that matches stainless steel and black appliances well. Each side features a grid of 12 copper dots for some flair. The look is put-together, striking and suitable for any updated kitchen.
Pulling Shots on a Modern Machine
Pulling shots on the Rocket Appartamento is a lot like using the Elektra Micro Casa Semiautomatic. Grind, dose, tamp and load the coffee. Then, press a button to control how much water is used during extraction. The machine takes care of managing water temperature and pressure.
You lose control over preinfusion with the semiautomatic setup, but Rocket has a proprietary system that manages preinfusion well. A combination working piston and static chamber are claimed to wet grounds better than comparable semiautomatic machines do.
Steam Milk or Pour Hot Water
Of particular interest to americano fans, the Rocket Appartamento is uniquely equipped with both a steam wand and a hot water spout. The hot water spout is handy if you prefer to drink americanos, or when someone in the group prefers tea over espresso.
Unknown Boiler Pressure
Unlike the other copper espresso machines listed, the Rocket Appartamento is the only one that doesn’t have a boiler pressure gauge.
Not knowing the boiler pressure isn’t an issue if you’re only making one or two drinks. When making multiple beverages, however, the boiler might lose some pressure — in which case steaming and pulling wouldn’t function properly.
Other machines will likewise lose pressure when making multiple beverages. The boiler pressure gauge allows you to monitor this issue, however, and you can wait until sufficient pressure is built back up. With the Appartmento, when and how long to wait is a guessing game.
Being the most modern copper espresso maker listed, the Rocket Appartamento also has the most complex inner design. The machine both has more moving parts, and those parts are more complicated than what’s found on the La Pavonis and Elektras.
Don’t expect to work on the Appartmento yourself, unless you undertake other major mechanical projects. The machine will eventually require service, and you’ll likely need to hire the service out.
The copper dots are only visible on the sides of the Rocket Appartamento, which means they won’t be seen if the machine is directly next to something else. If the machine will be placed next to a wall or something on the counter, there may be little reason to get this model specifically for the copper accents. Hiding the copper sides is a particular problem if the machine will be used in a small apartment kitchen,
Recommendation: The Rocket Appartmento is perfect for home baristas who want a modern espresso machine with copper flourish, and have the space to set up the machine with nothing immediately next to it.
La Pavoni Professional Copper & Brass Espresso Machine (PB-16)
This product can be hard to find in stock. Try checking the following retailers:
The La Pavoni Professional Copper & Brass is a striking lever espresso machine. The look is probably officially classified as art deco, but steampunk with a flair of saxophone is probably more accurate. A brass boiler is surrounded by copper elements, several of which feature complementary wood handles (i.e. for the lever, portafilter and boiler cap).
- 38oz. boiler capacity
- Makes one or two cups at a time
- Dual frothing
- Mounted pressure gauge
- Piston operated
Pulling Shots With a Manual Lever
The lever on this machine isn’t spring-loaded, which means that you manually apply the force to pull the espresso shot. Raise the lever up to load the piston with water, wait a short while to preinfuse, and bring the lever down to actually pull the shot. You don’t have to worry about strength because the lever provides sufficient leverage.
With this type of lever, you have complete control over virtually every aspect of brewing. In particular, the lever provides unparalleled control over preinfusion and pressure profiling. Manual lever machines are the only style that lets you truly “pull” espresso shots.
Having this much control over pulling shots comes with trade-offs. Be prepared to spend time (possibly months) practicing your technique before you can consistently produce delicious shots. Also, you’ll have to be directly involved in every shot that’s pulled.
Preventing Overheating When Pulling Multiple Shots
A common problem of all these machines is that the grouphead can overheat when you make multiple beverages in a row. An easy way to counter this is to keep your portafilter in a large mug of ice water when preparing shots. The cold portafilter will maintain a cooler brewing temperature when pulling each espresso.
Steaming or Frothing Milk
A unique feature, La Pavoni offers two milk wands. One is a traditional steam wand that’s used for manually steaming milk, and the other is an automatic frothing system. The frothing system draws milk up through a tube, froths it internally within the system, and then pours milk into the cup. Manual steaming is necessary if you want to do latte art, but the auto frothing provides convenience and consistency for the unpracticed.
Of course, both the steam wand and auto frother must be flushed after using. Don’t forget to put a cup under the frothing system when you run water through the tubing!
Servicing an Almost All-Manual Machine
Almost every element of a manual lever espresso machine is based on Newtonian physics. If you understand heat, pressure, temperature, levers and valves, you have virtually all of the knowledge necessary to work on this machine.
And, you should be prepared to work on the machine if you use it regularly. Components will have to be descaled, moving parts will have to be relubricated, and seals will eventually need to be replaced. Thankfully, the simplicity makes this machine easy to service.
(The power switch and heating element are the two electrical components, but still easy to service.)
The La Pavoni PB-16 Copper & Brass comes with 9 and 13 gram baskets, which are roughly consistent with the single and double dosage for Italian espresso. Bottomless portafilters that accommodate larger baskets can be purchased from third parties, but these usually are stainless steel and not copper.
La Pavoni home espresso machines have a bare boiler, which becomes quite hot. You can easily sustain minor burns if you accidentally touch the boiler, and little kids could suffer worse burns should they grab the boiler when it’s on. This is a potential issue that’s common to both La Pavoni and Elektra models.
The copper and brass are protected by a durable jewelry finish, which effectively prevents chipping and peeling of the exterior finishes.
Recommendation: The La Pavoni PB-16 Copper & Brass espresso machine is ideal for the home barista who wants a fully hands-on experience and doesn’t mind doing a little maintenance. It’ll also be a guaranteed conversation starter, and thus should be prominently displayed.
La Pavoni ESPED-16 Esperto “Edotto” Espresso Machine
- Larger 38 ounce boilers with mounted pressure gauge
- Include 2 frothing systems, machined rosewood handles, steam knob and mounted eagle cap, bottomless portafilter in addition to the standard double portafilter, contrasting red base cover and competition coffee baskets and screens
- Brewing pressure profiling, Group Temperature indicator
- Shower “Competizione” with photo engraved membrane
- Fascino Filter Holder allows to obtain creamy espresso coffees
The La Pavoni ESPED-16 Esperto “Edotto” Espresso Machine shares much of its look and its function with the more entry- level La Pavoni Professional. Enhancements in both areas add to the form and the function, though.
Eclectic Handles Enhance the Design
The La Pavoni Esperto is the most eclectic machine on this list. The foundation of a lever machine is embellished with an eagle topper, beveled wood handles and three metals (copper, brass, chrome) for a look that somehow is simultaneously discombobulated and put together. Think of what a mad inventor’s espresso machine might look like — both in its apparent chaos and its genius beauty.
Upgrades From the La Pavoni Professional
This higher-end La Pavoni espresso machine features many of the same features as the La Pavoni Professional. The same manual lever operation, overheating management, steaming/frothing option and maintenance items all apply.
Several improvements that theoretically improve function have been made to the La Pavonie Esperto, however. Compared with the La Pavoni Professional, this higher-end machine has:
Grouphead temperature indicator Grouphead pressure indicator
9, 16 and 20 gram competition baskets Competition screens
The additions to the grouphead are the most notable improvements, as they make it possible to maintain a consistent temperature and repeatedly apply the same pressure profile. The larger baskets are nice when pulling doubles, but the baskets themselves aren’t copper. They’re chrome, and chrome baskets in these sizes are readily available.
The Esperto espresso machine still has La Pavoni’s bare boiler that can cause burns. On the copper and chrome parts, a durable jewelry finish is applied.
Recommendation: Home baristas that want to quantitatively track their shots metrics should upgrade from the La Pavoni Professional to the La Pavoni ESPED-16 Esperto “Edotto.” Both machines are hands-on, but this one’s additional metrics provide greater precision.
Scott M. Brodie has over 20 years of professional experience working in coffee shops and writing about coffee (including selling superautomatic machines). When not writing, he can usually be found roasting a new African single origin or composing a fictional work.