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Thread: LaPavoni Frustration

  1. #1
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    LaPavoni Frustration

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    HI
    I bought a La Pavoni Europiccola machine two weeks ago. I am enjoying the steep learning curve. However need advice. I have been pulling very bitter shots.

    Grind with fresh beans directly into the basket. Use a skewer to break any lumps before tamping. Tamp (have tried various levels of heavy to light tamping)
    Let off steam (10 sec), run some water through the head (1 shot).
    Then slow lift, wait 10 sec, steady pull all the way down.

    But the shots are usually bitter. I changed the grind to more course, (and no creama), it didnt really change the bitterness. Then I adjusted back to slightly finer grind and turned off the power to disapate some heat before pulling the shot - it seems to have reduced a lot of the bitterness.

    So I am thinking maybe the factory heat setting is a little high?

    I would appreciate any tips or advice from a La Pavoni user *:)


  2. #2
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Hi leveraction and welcome to CS.

    I dont own one myself.... but was seriously considering the purchase - until I did some internet browsing!

    The following is a recollection of the "facts" I found.... so I wont guarantee they are 100%

    The machine uses a pressurestat rather than a thermostat.... the boiler is always under pressure so it can texture milk instantly.... and force the water into the PF when you raise the lever.

    As the boiler is under pressure the water it contains if far too hot to brew coffee.... it will burn it - giving a *bitter taste.

    The machine relies on the group to be cooler than the water.... and hence when you raise the lever... and pressure forces the water into the group from the boiler.... it is cooled to *the correct temperature for extraction.

    From memory you want to extract as soon as the light goes off.... and that way the water will be cooled correctly....

    Dont extract more that two shots without letting the machine cool down..... dont allow the normal 30 - 45 minutes heat up from cold (wait just long enough for the light to go off).... and dont allow it to remain on between shots..... the PF will overheat..... bitter coffee!

    As I said, the above is from memory - do a Google search and you will find all this info first hand.

    I decided - although I loved the look of the machine - this all sounded too hard!

    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Thanks Java
    It really is an entirely different experience from my previous experiences with semi-autos.

    From looking at some of the write ups, I think I will have to put some science into measuring and regulating everything. While adjusting how I hold my tounge. This is an unforgiving machine, but hopefully when I get it right, it seems to be one of the most satisfying.

  4. #4
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Is this the model with 2 switches? If so, let it warm up on the low setting, it should take 15 mins. Your technique sounds fine, but if you are using the double basket for a single shot, which I would recommend, make sure you dont dose too high - you want to allow for puck expansion. Once you are ready to pull your shot make sure you pull the lever down in 25 secs. If you are getting 30ml in 25sec then your grind is right. If you are having to lean into the pull with your body weight then your dose is too high/grind is too fine.

    Once your espresso is made than turn the machine to high to allow boiler to heat up for steam, should take 1 or 2 mins from here.

  5. #5
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Yep, and it was that total difference (especially the difficulty in getting multiple shots in a row of excellent quality) which put me off.

    I rarely make only a couple of shots at a time..... (hence the twin group commercial ::)) and having to switch it on... wait (only a few minutes admittedly) for it to be up to temp etc.... etc... didnt really suit my style of coffee making!

    However it does look fantastic and once mastered apparently makes excellent espressos..... once you have mastered its rather unique operation that is!..... (to me it is counter intuitive to have a short warm up.... not to flush to ensure the group is up to temperature etc)..... but once that is overcome you should be right.

  6. #6
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Thanks Pioneer
    Its the newer model with the green light that switches off when it gets to temp. I am using the dbl basket for single shots. I think it is a combination of timing/temp and correct basket fill. My latest attempts were to leave out the warming up of the group to avoid overheating the pour - unfortunately this made the shot sour. I also tried limiting the basket fill (usually I overfill and tamp) which also changed the result

    I think I will have to buy some sacrificial beans and just suffer through a few days of serious coffee overdose to get the mix right while few tools to ensure consistency - digital kitchen scales, digital thermometer wouldnt go amiss.

    Java - I think a twin group would take up my entire kitchen and probably replace the coffee table too! yes, Im envious 8-)

  7. #7
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Thanks
    As an update I have finally cracked it! ;D

    Its a warm and fuzzy feeling of elation to pull a perfect shot.
    However my experience with a lever could be likened to a mad scientist rather than a barista. EVERYTHING! has to be finely adjusted twisted, reviewed, tuned and then started from scratch again. :o

    I smirked while reading the extremes that La Pavoni afficiandos were going to on the web - now I can confidently say I have succumbed to all the idiosynchrisies (except mixing distilled water with 30% mineral water - thats seriously OCD)

  8. #8
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    Re: LaPavoni Frustration

    Congratulations!

    As you have no doubt discovered.... it is different to the general run of machines - that is for sure!

    Re the mixing distilled water with mineral water..... nope not OCD by any means!

    The best taste in the espresso occurs where there is a level of hardness in the water.... Too much and you will scale up the boiler.... too little and the taste suffers...

    Now distilled water has..... err.... no minerals and zero water hardness (no secret there)..... and mineral water has a consistent level of minerals - much higher than required for the best taste in the espressos.... so a "blend" of the two makes perfect sense (if you have a tank/water reservoir which you can fill). Tap water varies from almost the right level (in Melbourne) to having almost rocks in it (here in Perth) The hardness also varies with the time of year..... so, being so variable, is not an ideal source....

    Using the "blend" would be rather impractical in my case - so I use a commercial water softener to reduce the hardness.....

    If you dont want to make the suggested "blend" then a Brita jug will reduce the water hardness and prevent scaling of the machine (just make sure you change the element regularly!)



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