Today we’ve got the Bezzera Strega. It’s a lever machine, but there’s a lot more to it than that — a vibration pump as well. By manipulating the pump and the lever it’s possible to get into some serious pressure profiling during an extraction. In a review, Home-Barista.com likens pulling shots on the Strega to playing a fine musical instrument. And they rated it four and a half stars out of five, noting it’s world beating taste on lighter roasts. The combination of a pump and lever may be a turn-off for lever purists. But manipulating the pump and lever gives the control needed to make master class level espresso.
So the basics. Strega is the Italian word for witch, as in a witch that rides a broom. It has a 2 liter heat exchange copper boiler, the group is heated, it has a 4 liter water reservoir, or the machine can be plumbed and direct connected to a household water supply. With the heat exchange boiler you can brew and steam at the same time. With the large boiler there’s loads of steam power coming thru a commercial 4 hole tip. Only takes about 10 seconds to froth for a single cappuccino. And you’ve got 45 seconds of steam before recovery. Plenty of time to froth for 2 large lattes.
When using the Strega, you’ll want to overdose a bit or grind a little finer. To get started it’s like any heat exchange machine. Pull the lever down to flush out overheated water. Be careful bringing it back up. If you let go it will snap back quickly with a lot of force. Lock in your portafilter, pull the lever down, and the vibration pump fills the heated group. As the sound of the pump changes, it’s starting to build pressure up. Now you can let that continue up to 9 bars or stop the pump at any time by raising the lever slightly.
So with the pump you can control the pressure of pre-infusion. If you let the pump continue, it can start the extraction. When you raise the lever a bit, the pump stops. If you hold it in place, pre-infusion continues. Or let it go and the force of the spring takes over the extraction. From there you can just let the lever go. Or you can hold it back at anytime to decrease the pressure. It’s the interplay of the pump, pre-infusion, and pressure adjustment during an extraction that allows you to really finesse a shot in ways that you can’t on a pump machine. Home-Barista.com really notes the Strega’s ability to get the best out of the world’s finest coffees.
Around the outside of the machine, the all-stainless case has the craftsmanship typical to Bezzera machines. All edges are fully wrapped and smooth. It has lever operated valves. The hot water side is momentary only, while the steam is momentary when pushed down or locks on when pushed up.
A few notes on this machine. First, be careful with that lever. With no coffee loaded, it snaps up quickly and could hurt anything in its way. Second, it takes a little longer to pull shots on this machine so it’s not recommended for high volume applications.
And with that lever, location is important. You’ll want lots of clearance above the machine.
So overall the Strega puts a twist on traditional levers by adding a pump to the mix. Lever purists may scoff at the pump but we think it's a nice addition. In the right hands, it adds another dimension of control to espresso extractions.
That the Bezzera Strega. It’s available now at Whole Latte Love. Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest on everything coffee.