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Yesterday I said goodbye to my Londinium R. Sad day? Possibly, possibly not, but if you're thinking of buying one or already have one, it may (may!) be a semi-interesting read. Here I intend to give an honest, non-biased review from MY perspective as a high-end home user.

 

Short Version

If you stumbled upon this thread and either haven't got the time, can't be bothered or aren't really interested, the short version is this: The Londinium R is an EXCELLENT lever machine, undoubtedly the best you can get, however, I didn't find it to be the easiest machine to use or live with, it has its quirks and although will certainly produce excellent espresso, relies on a great deal of care, consistency and patience from the user (and a good grinder!) to get the excellent shots the Londinium is famed for!

 

Why did I buy a Londinium R?

For a bit of background, and why I chose the Londinium (Lever) please see this thread. I want to try and avoid repeating what I've already posted!

 

https://coffeeforums.co.uk/showthread.php?37447-The-Facts-from-the-Fiction-(Types-of-Espresso-Machine)&p=488193#post488193

 

Initial Impressions

When I first opened the box back in May last year and built the thing, I was very impressed at what is a beautifully elegant machine. I fired it up, and spent the evening pulling some TERRIBLE shots. What could go wrong probably did! Anyway, it took a bit of experimentation, and some huge technique changes (for the better of course) to realise that on the LR, especially with VST baskets, the grind, distribution and tamp weight is crucial to getting a good shot. Once I'd spent a few days experimenting, and once I'd 'got it', the shots then got better, until they were very nice indeed.

 

At this point (having owned the LR a week or so) I was hugely impressed with the output and very much enjoyed using it.

 

This was not the time to write an impartial review!

 

I Stuck with it, gave it a few more months, used it, drank coffee, thought about it and enjoyed it. Once the 'new gadget [rose tinted] owners goggles' had gone I decided to put 'pen to paper' with my thoughts on it! Here goes...

 

What did I like about it?

Taste of the espresso (10/10) -When the shots came out well, the flavour and taste of the espresso was stunning. Much better than anything you will get from most commercial coffee shops (especially the ghastly chains). However, getting these super shots required regular use and perfect grind and distribution.

 

Simplicity (8.5/10) -No settings (apart from the pre-infusion pressure) to worry about. I like a coffee machine to make good coffee without lots of settings and constant messing about, and the LR was pretty much there. A pressure profiling machine (like the Vesuvius) would NOT be for me!

 

Build Quality/Reliability (10/10) -In the 9 months I owned it, it didn't give me a single reliability issue at all. Not one! Also it looks and feels like an exceptionally well built piece of equipment, and the insides are a work of art!

 

Looks -As previously stated the LR is an elegant machine. It's fairly big (for the home) but the polished finish looks great (although mine usually had a towel over it for protection). No problems here. Not going to give this a score out of 10 as it is entirely subjective and doesn't really warrant one!

 

What didn't I like about it?

Warm up time -It takes a GOOD hour to warm up fully before good shots can be pulled. I used to test if it was fully warmed up by checking the end of the lever nearest the handle. If this was warm, generally I was good to go.

 

Joysticks -For the steam and water, personally I prefer valves with knobs that turn rather than the joysticks. I find I have more control over the steam and hot water pressure as it leaves the machine. The ones fitted to the LR are not bad, just not MY preference. I PERSONALLY much prefer valves.

 

Pressurestat -A PID would have been better IMHO, simply because the constant (loud) clicking of the pressurestat annoyed me. It annoyed me from the first day to the last.

 

 

Further Discussion on the things I didn't like.

 

Right, I'm very well aware there are some HUGE LR fans on here, and some have probably vented some steam from their nose and ears when reading the dislikes. However, let me explain.

 

I'm trying to make this review as impartial as possible, and give a BALANCED view of MY EXPERIENCE of the LR and how it was FOR ME. What works or doesn't work for ME personally, might be completely different for you or the next person, but please bear in mind it is purely my thoughts and feelings about it, not anyone elses.

 

Warm up Time

As stated, and is fairly common knowledge, the LR takes a good hour or so to warm up fully, dependent on ambient conditions. I was not prepared to turn it on every morning on the 'off chance' that I may feel like a coffee at some point, and certainly wasn't prepared to leave it on overnight on the 'off chance' I got called to work. I also wasn't keen on leaving it on when I wasn't in the house, although on the occasions I did it was absolutely fine. This said, once it had been turned on it stayed on until the end of the day, as there is no sense in turning it on and off.

 

This meant for me quite often I didn't have time to wait for it to warm up (as I work on call, and get 1 hour to get to work from getting said call) and secondly a lot of times when I wanted to use it (mainly for friends who turn up unannounced or at very short notice), it would be turned off and waiting 1 hour for it to warm up simply wasn't convenient. In both of these situations I resorted to a V60 pour over and the LR didn't get used.

 

As time went on, especially after the novelty had worn off, turning the LR on and warming it up to then make 1 or 2 espressos, seemed a bit pointless. Again, unless I had a reason to make more than 1 or 2 drinks, I'd resort to using the V60. I am someone who REALLY enjoys a good espresso, but certainly don't chain drink coffee all day like some. I like to go for quality over quantity!

 

So the last month, the machine was turned on maybe 3 or 4 times, and MAYBE in that time was used to make 12 espressos (around 250g of coffee or 1 bag, allowing for dialling it in). I'd thought a lot about it, and although I loved the machine, with this amount of use it wasn't getting it was just wasted with me, so after much deliberation I came to the conclusion that it would be much better going to a home where it got the use it deserved.

 

Joysticks

Personal preference.

 

When I was looking at getting a high end espresso machine, people raved about the joysticks (as opposed to turn-valves). Personally they're not for me. I would choose turn valves over joysticks every time as I feel I get more control over what I'm doing, and can more easily have them half open rather than all-or-nothing.

 

This, however, was not the primary reason for selling the LR, as they can be changed, and if this was the ONLY dislike, I would have installed turn valves for sure.

 

Regular and Frequent Use

In the 'pros' section, I mentioned that to get the best out of this machine, you need to use it regularly and frequently.

 

I found, in the last 9 months if I used the machine every day, all that would be required as the beans and ambient conditions (temperature, humidity etc) changed would be a very small tweak to either the grind or tamp weight, which usually entailed tightening up the grind slightly as the beans aged, depending on the beans, and tamping slightly harder. This meant that most shots were very good and even the first one of the day was perfectly drinkable if it wasn't always perfect.

 

However, if the machine was not used every day, I would find that there would be a much bigger change in the beans and conditions, which would essentially necessitate dialling in the shot again from scratch before getting quality coffee. Using the 'last known good settings' after a week of the machine and beans being stood, didn't usually work! This meant a bit much messing about and a lot of wasted coffee.

 

This infrequent use, as mentioned above, ultimately came down to the warm up time from cold.

 

Conclusion

If you're reading this conclusion, you've either skipped straight to it, or managed to stay awake long enough to read the whole review (if you didn't, you need more coffee!!).

 

So to sum up, the Londinium R is a SUPERB machine, and Reiss has done an excellent job developing something quite unique to the market, that works well, is well built and produces stunning coffee. However, at the moment it is not the machine that works best for me, and I would much prefer a machine with a quicker warm up time, that would get more use than the LR got.

 

If anyone has any questions I'll answer as best I can!!


Chemex <==> V60 <==> Aeropress <==> Mazzer Mini E

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I'm interested in what you are replacing it with. As someone who can only dream of LRs it's fascinating to hear an honest review of the good and less good points.


Did someone say coffee?

:Gaggia Classic--> Nuova Simonelli Oscar--> fracino Cherub:Mazzer SuperJolly:Hario V60+aeropress+french press:

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I think the switch to a lever, and a good lever at that can be intimidating at first. This is because the shot routine is so different. Once you have conquered it though, the lever becomes part of you and you find yourself not even having to think as you make small adjustments. So, in a way, it is a more encompassing experience as with a pump machine, once the switch is flicked, the pump takes over and you can switch off. there is no way around the warm up time other than pulling water through which I used to do and when you are plumbed in is not not a problem. In the age in which we live the need for a fast warm up is now a genuine need and there are a few machines out there that offer this. this was also a major factor in me changing my L1

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You can shorten the warm up time considerably by pulling a few short flushes - brings the group up to temp really quickly - under ten minutes.


Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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Steam joystick is one thing that annoys me - it's clunky and sticky. Removed the assembly and greased it, rotated the ball joint to try and find the orientation that is the smoothest but it's still not great.


Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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Such a shame that you did not get on with it, like Patrick has said the warm up time is improved massively if you do a few short pulls once the boiler is up to temp. Levers are a live them or leave them kind of thing and getting to know the idiocincracies is part of the pleasure/pain. I am surprised that you didn’t ask more questions of how to get the best out of it and admire that you have written your thoughts down, however you could have got so much more out of that machine, let’s hope the new owner has more success.


AKA Toffee chips

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As someone bitten by the Londinium bug but yet to pull the trigger, this is an excellent and valuable post. Really quality post that deserves my thanks. You haven't necessarily changed my mind, but this is quality information and valuable opinion that you just don't see very often, even in quality balanced reviews. I may well come up with some questions. I wish I'd known it was up for sale, as I would have been in line, but I'm guessing you had not much trouble in realising your asset! Will be very interesting to hear what you're going for next.

 

If any Londinium owners could contribute their views on their machine, or perhaps alternative views on those in this post - it's all subjective - it would be great to hear them.

 

Thanks again for such an excellent post - you needn't have bothered obviously, but it's a great contribution to the forum (IMHO!)


Vesuvius | Niche grinder | Mazzer Super Jolly | This week I shall mostly be drinking ... Foundry - Rio Magdalena, Colombia

P1: 2 [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]0s ('lever profile')

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Londinium is an easy machine to live with. Switch it on - it's happy ticking over all day ready for use and temp stable. Addition of the rotary pump is a great move by Reiss. Much quieter and the increased pre-infusion pressure is a God send for lighter roasts.

 

Been said before but worth repeating - levers are very tactile and provide useful feedback, e.g. bite point.


Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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Londinium is an easy machine to live with. Switch it on - it's happy ticking over all day ready for use and temp stable.

If I was at home (or work -wherever the machine was located) all day I would have done exactly this, and would have kept the machine no doubt! However, when I'm in and out, I generally don't like leaving high power, high heat electrical devices turned on and unattended.

 

Addition of the rotary pump is a great move by Reiss. Much quieter ...

 

I don't agree. I had the pleasure of being introduced to an L1 by a very kind member on here, and the actual amplitude from the two machines I didn't think is any different, just the volumetric pump produces a DIFFERENT noise to the vibe pump, but I didn't think it was any quieter.

 

Been said before but worth repeating - levers are very tactile and provide useful feedback, e.g. bite point.

 

I don't ever remember relating a particularly good or bad shot to the bite point of the lever. The only exception being when I got a gusher, but I didn't need lever feedback to tell me it was an awful shot!


Chemex <==> V60 <==> Aeropress <==> Mazzer Mini E

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Anyone who went to the rave day and listened to the pumps side by side would disagree with tour noise statement, perhaps your memory of the l1 vibe pump is a little cloudy. The new pump is also a hell of a lot quicker and on for less time.

 

I agree that both positive and negative aspects of any machine should be portrayed, however let’s back it up with some decibels

Edited by coffeechap

AKA Toffee chips

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I have to second what Coffeechap says about being a lot quieter , being fortunate to have a play with both variants on the Saturday before the rave day and when the place was empty , the LR’s pump noise is not just a little but it’s drastically a lot quieter .

Having lived with the previous incarnation for a few years and hearing the pump kick in almost every morning it was the first thing I noticed .

 

great post by the way .


¿ ǝsǝɥʇ pɐǝɹ ǝuoʎuɐ sǝop

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The vibe pump noise didn't bother me much as it was only when in use, but I did find the pstat clicking got on my nerves

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If any Londinium owners could contribute their views on their machine, or perhaps alternative views on those in this post - it's all subjective - it would be great to hear them.)

 

I've been meaning to give some feedback on quite a few points that just don't seem to be mentioned on the many reviews/comments that I've read. Not LR specific, I've had the L1 for nearly a year now. I'll bullet point it as I've a babe in arms so best to keep it brief

 

  • Clean. So clean. Not the shots, the actual machine. With water only flowing one way, it needs nowhere near as much cleaning as my two previous pump machines. This alone makes me confident I won't go back to a pump.
  • Grinders- it will polish a turd nicely, I.e. make the best of whatever grinder you have as it's a very forgiving machine. But getting the grinder that suits you is still way more important than the machine. I sold my LM volcano conical grinder before getting the L1, have since found that flat burr grinders just aren't coming up to snuff since,in spite of the L1. Even going from basic hx pump machine to the L1 was a minor improvement compared to the difference a grinder makes.
  • Joysticks. I'd agree with the OPs comments, but that's pure personal preference, I thought I'd prefer them but hands on experience proved otherwise.
  • Shot routine/prep. You have to wait a little while for the end of the shot and drips to stop, it is a little frustrating if in a hurry making multiple drinks or just wanting to clean up and switch off, and took me a little while to get used to. It's the flipside to cleanliness!
  • Tank and drip tray. Can't wait to plumb in to stop pump noise, but renting so can't really do it. Tank good size though, drip tray very generous though, to the point where I can't imagine bothering to plumb out.

 

Pleased with the machine, but need to sort another decent conical grinder which will make more difference for my tastes.

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I've been meaning to give some feedback on quite a few points that just don't seem to be mentioned on the many reviews/comments that I've read. Not LR specific, I've had the L1 for nearly a year now. I'll bullet point it as I've a babe in arms so best to keep it brief

 

  • Clean. So clean. Not the shots, the actual machine. With water only flowing one way, it needs nowhere near as much cleaning as my two previous pump machines. This alone makes me confident I won't go back to a pump.
  • Grinders- it will polish a turd nicely, I.e. make the best of whatever grinder you have as it's a very forgiving machine. But getting the grinder that suits you is still way more important than the machine. I sold my LM volcano conical grinder before getting the L1, have since found that flat burr grinders just aren't coming up to snuff since,in spite of the L1. Even going from basic hx pump machine to the L1 was a minor improvement compared to the difference a grinder makes.
  • Joysticks. I'd agree with the OPs comments, but that's pure personal preference, I thought I'd prefer them but hands on experience proved otherwise.
  • Shot routine/prep. You have to wait a little while for the end of the shot and drips to stop, it is a little frustrating if in a hurry making multiple drinks or just wanting to clean up and switch off, and took me a little while to get used to. It's the flipside to cleanliness!
  • Tank and drip tray. Can't wait to plumb in to stop pump noise, but renting so can't really do it. Tank good size though, drip tray very generous though, to the point where I can't imagine bothering to plumb out.

 

Pleased with the machine, but need to sort another decent conical grinder which will make more difference for my tastes.

 

Thanks for this - all good useful pointers. Out of interest, which conical grinders are in your sights? (I can wait until the baby's asleep - I've been there fairly recently!)


Vesuvius | Niche grinder | Mazzer Super Jolly | This week I shall mostly be drinking ... Foundry - Rio Magdalena, Colombia

P1: 2 [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] ('lever profile')

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The Monolith of course :)


SAGE IS NOT A UPGRADE

 

 

:)

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Waiting on the niche grinder, budget didn't stretch much beyond their offer!

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It took me a year to really fall in love with my L1. You have to appreciate its extreme simplicity for what it does compared to none lever machines. The solid chassis, not just a box of bits. The fact that not having a 3 way valve means very little cleaning is necessary. It needs so little routine maintenance. I've had my current seals in for 3 years, and their still fine, I grease it about once every 6 months. I know that if I take the side panels off, it will be pristine inside. Having no holes in the case means no dust. Most machines when they get to about 4-5 years old you start to think about replacing them, but an L1? why bother? Except for the rather annoying fact that I suspect that I would enjoy an LR even more.

Edited by NickR

Londinium 1, Pharos, Ceado e37s, Gene Cafe, Aerobie

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Op, thanks for this write up as well as the thread about what led you to purchase this machine. It has helped me in my research quite a bit.

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This is an interesting review. I’ve had mine for 9 months now and probably use it less than most users due to work/life. The toggles for water and steam are definitely less smooth than I’d like but I have to say the steam toggle is something I really like so I guess it’s horses for courses. Having it set on a WiFi switch means I can knock it on if out and the machine is ready when home but at a push. Can be ready in 15-20 mins as stated earlier. I can’t imagine changing it but it took 2-3 yrs of procrastination to get it in the first place. I’ve had no real probs bar the occasional light that has dropped lighting for a day and then decided to come back on without any tinkering. I guess the main problem with it is the size for the average kitchen due to the lever height but thankfully I could put mine away from units. My biggest problem is shot prep which is due to my skill rather than the machine and when I’ve got it sorted the shots have been fantastic. As someone else said what else could you want and then factor in the longevity and simplicity of the machine should mean it could outlive most of us with a few replacement parts.


Londinium R, Hg-one, button tamper, vst,ims,V60,siphon,aeropress...and still no idea

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For OP,

 

Would using a timer /plug have helped with the issue around warm-up times?

I'm using a rancilio silvia at the moment which would suffer from heat issues ut i have been using a plug/timer so that the machine is on around 90 minutes before I need it (and a PID is installed too).

 

Reiss I think suggests that the LR can be left on praactically all day as long as you know you've got water in the tank.

 

I am very soon (this month when I rustle up the self-momentum) going to be buying an LR.

I think the new Niche zero I've just got, will help with even better shots.

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Such a shame that you did not get on with it, like Patrick has said the warm up time is improved massively if you do a few short pulls once the boiler is up to temp. Levers are a live them or leave them kind of thing and getting to know the idiocincracies is part of the pleasure/pain. I am surprised that you didn’t ask more questions of how to get the best out of it and admire that you have written your thoughts down, however you could have got so much more out of that machine, let’s hope the new owner has more success.

@coffeechap - how long realsitically does an LR boiler come up to temp?


Sage Duo Temp Pro and Mazzer Super Jolly (Doserless Mod) | Espresso Addict!

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@coffeechap - how long realsitically does an LR boiler come up to temp?

 

I haven’t really timed mine but I would say under an hour. I am happy to switch on and leave on all day, personally. If I KNOW I won’t be using it, if I am going out for the day, then I switch it off.


2019 L-R with hand turned Thuya burr handles and toggles / 1998 La Pavoni / Monolith Titan Flat & Conical, MAX Flat on order  / HG-1 / Kalita wave / Stag kettle / OCD / Joey Skateboard Handle Pullman Big Step & matching stirrer / Wenge Handle Lev Tamp / Push Tamper / Puqpress / 15g & 18g vst / IMS 35μM / LDT / Barista Gear Titanium 12oz pitchers / LW Bean Cellars & Caddy / Decent thermometer / Acme Evo 150ml cups / Espazzola / Hottop / embroidered by me bar towels / in the cellars: Steampunk, North Star, Foundry, The Barn, HasBean, Coffee Compass / 6 gorgeous guineas / a dog / a very lovely husband 

 

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I haven’t really timed mine but I would say under an hour. I am happy to switch on and leave on all day, personally. If I KNOW I won’t be using it, if I am going out for the day, then I switch it off.

@MildredM presumably you use a Wemo type timer plug?


Sage Duo Temp Pro and Mazzer Super Jolly (Doserless Mod) | Espresso Addict!

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@MildredM presumably you use a Wemo type timer plug?

 

Not at present (we wanted it for something else and haven’t bothered getting another one).


2019 L-R with hand turned Thuya burr handles and toggles / 1998 La Pavoni / Monolith Titan Flat & Conical, MAX Flat on order  / HG-1 / Kalita wave / Stag kettle / OCD / Joey Skateboard Handle Pullman Big Step & matching stirrer / Wenge Handle Lev Tamp / Push Tamper / Puqpress / 15g & 18g vst / IMS 35μM / LDT / Barista Gear Titanium 12oz pitchers / LW Bean Cellars & Caddy / Decent thermometer / Acme Evo 150ml cups / Espazzola / Hottop / embroidered by me bar towels / in the cellars: Steampunk, North Star, Foundry, The Barn, HasBean, Coffee Compass / 6 gorgeous guineas / a dog / a very lovely husband 

 

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The boiler comes up to temp in 5 minutes! The group takes a lot longer, if just switch on and nothing else done the group is stable at around 40 mins. You can get it up to temp slightly quicker with some careful flushes but it is not fast heat up time due to its design


AKA Toffee chips

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