Do levers really take a finer grind?

Grinding for a lever. 

I often read people who suggest that when grinding for a lever machine the key is to grind especially fine and tamp lightly.  I agree that on any machine lever or not you can get away with grinding slightly finer than usual and tamping lighter, but the key is to tamp consistently so if you can fix the pressure with which you tamp at some number of pounds that is great and you can control flow and everything else with grind and dose etc.  so this may not be bad advice for a lever, but I do not think it is essential advice either.

There is another issue I have with this advice, which is that at least on my lever for a given tamp the lever uses a much, much coarser grind than a pump machine would use.  If you try to use the same grind that was set for my pump machine you will choke the lever or if you are strong enough (and foolish enough to think force is a great idea) you might even break it.

So for me at least the grind is definitely coarser.  Now I do tend to tamp at the same pressure no matter what machine I use, so perhaps if I tamped really lightly I could get the grind down to the same grind I use on my pump with a 30 pound tamp, and I will try it out, but if I want to start tamping lighter on the lever it would make equal sense to tamp lighter on the pump machine so it would still be a coarser grind.

I am going to try two things out soon that should be interesting.  First I am going to try out a friend’s Cremina and that will be interesting to see how it compares to a Pavoni (the Cremina is supposed to be the holy grail of levers) on grind and everything else for that matter) and second I will try super light tamps and or no tamps.  I expect the coffee will be about the same with the light tamps, but we will see!

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