I recently moved out and after a lot of research i decided my coffee skills were up to using a manual lever machine (worked as a barista part time since i was 15), so thats what i bought :)
heres a picture of one i found on the net identical to mine, ill post photos of mine later
Does anyone else have a la pavoni lever machine??
ive made about 50 shots so far and im starting to get a reasonably thick crema.
do you other users out there make your grind course enough so that you can tamp hard and still have coffee come through (sticking to 30s total time) or do you grind finer and do a lighter tamp??? ive tried both so far and still experimenting. without owning one its hard to imagine how tricky it is to get a really good shot.
Any tips from anyone out there whos used a manual lever machine (ie, without any kind of pump) would be much appreciated :)
I plan on modifying the machine to include the pressure gauge from the pro model, and to put a single hole steam wand tip on it (the standard tip makes it impossible to microfoam).
and heres my grinder:
Looks like hardwork. I reckon I could have heaps of fun with one. Especially with a pressure gauge. How are you thinking of fitting it? :) Was this style of direct lever ever used on commercial machines? Or did they always have the spring loaded kind?
How have you dialed in the grinder? Just playing around? Could it be worth taking it to work getting the grind close on your favorite beans that way?
In theory if you use the same setting at home with the same beans, same dose and same pull time then you would also be brewing at the same pressure.
I have a Pavoni PRH that Ive just got all my kit for and have been using for about two weeks or so. *I have no useful information to offer, but you may want to check out this thread: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1241086698
Originally Posted by 0D15101005143F0D010E5657600 link=1251710399/2#2 date=1251728461
The pressure gauge wont be reading the pressure in the group head, it will only read the boiler pressure to make sure its at the right pressure and hence the right temperature. there is a place on the machine where the professional model has a gauge fitted, so i will just use that place. its as easy as undoing a bolt and screwing in a gauge instead. I have no idea if these manual lever piston type machines were used commercially. I would assume they were though, before a strong enough pump was invented.
With the grinder i guess set it on 7.2 (on my grinder). it was too course, no crema and came out too easily. then set it on 8 and nothing came out at all. then played around the 7.5 mark until it was perfect. im lucky that my grinder has infinite micrometrical adjustment, something you definitely need to use this machine to its full potential. i used about half a kilo of lavazza i got given as a freebee to calibrate the grinder, and acheived the results in my video above. ive now switched to caffe di gabriel vivace blend and the crema has just gone crazy. in fact its all crema when i first pull the shot until it settles out. im uploading a video of it now. i think im nearing the machines potential.
definitely happier than i thought i would be after buying this machine :)
Heres a picture of the results im getting now. sorry about the crappy shot glass, its the only one ive got atm thats wide enough to catch the coffee from the double spout handle.
Hows she taste ?? :)
very nice, smooth and full taste (sorry i dont know all the terms, i just like coffee)Originally Posted by 3720213F2A2B20747774450 link=1251710399/6#6 date=1251770832
im a big fan of the caffe di gabriel beans
If you never split the pour into two glasses, just screw off the double spout and put it in a drawer. :)
good idea i didnt think of that. just tried to unscrew it but its on very tight. ill have to use some monkey grips or something.Originally Posted by 76435456665E435C505D55310 link=1251710399/8#8 date=1251794523
Ive done this on two machines now.
The first took a bench vise and LOTS of grunt--so much so that I was afraid Id break the handle off.
The second was on just over finger-tight. :)
Well, I have been trying, on and off, the past few weeks to learn how to use my La Pavoni, two switch lever machine (1990). I now have quite a fine grind and not tamp hard. Then I slowly pull a cup full of hot water to heat up the piston and surrounding metal. Then put in the portafilter, raise the lever and wait 10 seconds. Then slowly pull down. I often then raise the lever and pull another shot. Oh, I forgot to mention I bleed off the excess pressure. But when I warm up the metal, the water comes out real fast, so I have to do it very gradually. Also, when I lift the lever up, it pushes down a little, so if I left it it would push itself down from the pressure from the boiler.
What I get is a quite bitter dark coffee, that has no crema. If I get any crema at all it is very dark. I find the coffee is not as hot as I would expect it to be and I have tried to pour more hot water through the group before making the coffee, to increase the heat. But I then suspect that the water is too hot.
I have been using freshly roasted beans and grinding on a manual machine. The grind appears to be reasonably consistent grind size. Any ideas as to where I should go next?
Okay, where to start?
You should be grinding very fine, tamping hard, pulling against very hard pressure and getting a beautiful "dripping honey" with amazing crema that tastes much better than the average cafe espresso.
In order to achieve this,
1. you need to warm the boiler over a time period that lets the group head heat up sufficiently (but not too hot) by itself. The group is after all bolted to the boiler so it will heat up with no need to pull water through first. Play with this time until you get it right. I would recommend against pulling water through the head prior to pulling your shot. Part of how this machine works is that the group head needs to work as a heat sink to take off some of the heat of the boiling water in the boiler as it comes through to the puck. As a starting guide, begin the heating with both switches on, turn back to one switch as you hear it nearing boiling and then wait for pressure gauge to begin releasing steam (many minutes later) and you should be in the ballpark. From there it is experience to get the timing just right. The major drawback on this machine is if you overheat the head and lose the heatsink factor and get burnt, bitter coffee. Thus, dont be running boiling water through it first.
2. Bleeding off the pressure? In a simplified manner, you can think of pressure as a factor of heat (closed system). You need the pressure valve to be just letting off pressure to be around brewing temp and pressure. I think maybe getting the not hot enough is because the water in the boiler is not hot enough because you have let off all the pressure and brought temps down? Also, you need this pressure to fill the cylinder and preinfuse the puck.
There should be a decent pressure against the handle as you raise it - plenty enough to take the lever back down again if you let it go without the portafilter and filled basket in place. However, with it in place the resistance should be much greater than the pressure from the boiler and thus lever stays up.
3. When you pull down on the lever it should take heaps of force to do so. If it comes down easy, then you are way off. Grind fine, usually finer than most domestic espresso machines and way, way finer than the cheap domestic espresso machines. Tamp very hard as you would for any commercial machine. No need for a handstand, but nothing soft at all - get that elbow into it. To find where, it can help to grind down to a fineness that chokes the lever (that is, impossible to pull down the lever) and back off the grind one step at a time until you can pull the shot without choking and then you are in the ballpark.
4. Never pull two strokes through one puck. When done correctly, you will get a double shot from one full stroke. Any second stroke pulls horrible coffee through - it is designed for one stroke only. If I feel the pressure from the boiler has not fully filled the cylinder for any particular reason, I simply pull the piston down about 1/2 inch or so and lift again for more water to flow into cylinder. Note: never pull down enough to bring any coffee through the group here - its just a touch. When everything is correct, this maneuvre is not needed and if attempted will just meet very hard pressure at the very top of stroke - its only done when something not quite right and cylinder hasnt filled properly.
5. Hopefully, this one goes without saying, but will say it anyway. You must have fresh coffee beans. I mean truly fresh, not supermarket beans that are still within there 12 month use by date!
6. You can microfoam with the three hole tip - just takes practice to understand the idiosyncracies of it all.
You should be aiming for an amazing shot with copious crema that tastes amazing. This machine can perform! I get better shots than my local cafes can provide me nearly all of the time. Still get the occasional F up, but very rarely these days. However, once group head over heats - well thats the end of the amazing shots until you can cool it down again.
And remember - fresh beans, grind fine, tamp hard, have pressure valve just letting off steam, pull shot against very hard pressure, and only pull once per puck.
Hope this explanation helps. Feel free to ask questions or have me clarify anything.
Oh, and Mischa. I think adding the pressure gauge from the Professional model is a whole lot harder than you suggest. La Pavoni purposely made the guage and thread of the two machines different, so you cannot just unscrew the top and screw on the guage. However if you search Google and have some skills in working with metal and threads (or know someone who does) then it can still be done - just not that easy.
Many thanks Pavoniboy. I have taken your advice and I am getting little bitterness this time, so I am on the right track. However, the crema is eluding me, I will keep trying.
The thing is, I went looking on the web and found some advice about what to do. Basically I was advised to warm up the group, and letting off steam before pulling a shot. And also that two pulls on the lever is possible. I realise now that it was all getting too hot. I am going to get a new spring for my pressure valve, as it is old and may be giving a wrong pressure.
Yes, I have found that you need to beware of posts on the internet regarding this machine...many things I have come across are completely wrong and make for terrible coffee.
Sticking to the basic explanation I have given is the best starting point from lots of experience and experimentation I have had now. From there it is gaining your own experience and paying a lot of attention to detail. Make small variations as you go and learn the effect of such. Try to only change one thing at a time so you can isolate the effect of the change.
One thing I didnt mention was dosing. You need to dose this machine such that the dry puck is not touching the shower screen at all. Lock in the group handle with basket filled and then remove again...if you can see that the dry puck has touched the screen then the dose is too high.
As for more crema, I find the trick is truly fresh coffee ground fine enough such that you really have to pull very hard on the lever to extract the espresso. You want to be close to choking it, but not quite choking it.
If everything else is done right, then bitterness is often because everything has gotten too hot, whereas sourness is everything is not quite hot enough. You do get the hang of it all with practice.
Oh, and one last thing. What are you using as a tamper. I found the plastic piece of crap that comes with this machine is very difficult to get a good shot with - it is way undersized and makes for channeling around the edges. I now have a fitted Pullman tamper that works great. I have seen others find different items around the house that fit better than the plastic tamper to use as makeshift tamper and get much better results than the plastic tamper can provide.
Hey, thanks for the reply and the advice. I will try again today...
As for the tamper, I was hoping you would not mention that. Pavoni suppliers here in England are jsut getting some in in a few days, and I am waiting for one. In the meantime I am using... well... um... ah... a spice jar turned upside down...
Maybe thats the problem with my cerema???
Anyway, I am going to continue to practice. Problem is I am not at home every day and then I forgot what I did a few days ago!
Not the plastic one that comes with the machine?Originally Posted by 6C766B697472060 link=1251710399/16#16 date=1254653528
If so, you dont want it! Your spice jar would be better. The plastic one is way undersized and just doesnt work at all. I would highly recommend taking your basket to a place that sells lots of different tampers and buy the one that fits the best, or even better have one custom made to fit (like my Pullman).
Well, I jsut wanted to update you on my progress...
I have taken your advice and I am testing the grind through a range of grind size - different every day. And I have a clearer understanding of how hard to tamp. The quality of the coffee I get has gone up greatly and I sometimes get a really wonderful coffee, other times I get a good coffee. I think the coffee i get is still too watery most of the time. So I would like to thank you for your assistance so far.
What I have not yet managed to do is to get consistency and I think that will come with practice. Nor have I managed to get crema. I have replaced the pressure valve spring and fitted a pressure gauge. The new spring increased the pressure to 1 bar, and I get a better tasting coffee. I have also found that I do need to warm up the whole unit more to get a better coffee and the coffee in my cup is now a better temperature.
i am not quite there yet, but I am getting there. It is useful to fix the pressure gauge because I can see what I am doing with pressure. When I get consistency and crema I will experiment more with a lower presssure, and changing other things.
Glad to hear you are on your way. This machine provides a journey of great pleasure as you go, and an amazing learning experience on your way to consistently great coffee.
pavoniboy i remember a site selling an adaptor to add the pressure gauge from the pro model, although i cant remember which one it was sorry
yes, was just pointing out that you will need some type of adaptor if you want the guage - it doesnt just screw onto a europiccola - Pavoni thwarted that one.
Im not after a guage on mine - I learnt without it and dont think it will now add to the final product. It may make learning easier but once you know your machine I dont think there will be a difference in the cup.
This is the bit, Orphan Espresso in the USA have them, not sure of anyone locally but Jack at Sorrentina may be able to help. Happy with mine without too :)
sorry- I cant help with that part.
I am with Pavoni boy on this one though- you really dont need the gauge. I have a very old (1950s?) Europiccola and no gauge- works like a charm.
3 minutes to answer Jack your ears must have been burning ;) My other new toy turned up today too thanks :)
I bought a generic gauge and adaptor for my Pavoni Euro from Orphan Espresso along with a seal kit cheaper than you can get here - even inc postage. A lot cheaper. From unpacking to fitting it took me less than 5 minutes (the gauge).Originally Posted by 785C46565D54350 link=1251710399/20#20 date=1269242736
And yes, you can easily use the machine without the gauge but its easier with. See it idling between .9 and 1.2 or so, toggling between the two heat settings, it just makes it more heat manageable - more predictable see? With a gauge Miss Pav will talk to you.
There are many ways to use these machines with success. Hard tamp? Not for me at all. Barely a tamp at all in fact. Just rest the tamper on the top and a brief polish and bingo! Slow honey pour and sweet as.
Just work on grind and dose. Only two instead of three things to worry about.
Enjoy the journey!
Well, since starting the thread and then my last post being still experimenting with sort of poor shots, I have just kept on trying. Now, I know thta I have been changing some things a little, but not much, and oddly I can now make great shots, with crema, and great taste. But ask me what i am doing different, and I dont know. It just sort of happens.
Hmm, its a strange machine to learn how to use. but I would not be without it, nor do I want anything else. especially now that I am pulling great shot each time. I have discovered that the only variation I get is in the beans and the roast. When I sniff the beans I can tell what type of coffee I am going to end up with.
The addition of the pressure gauge has been useful to me. I also somtimes use a slightly lower pressure on the second shot to reduce its temperature.
Thanks for all the help,
My La Pavoni Europiccolo (Millenium model) arrived safe & sound on Friday (thank you - fellow CS James)
First impressions using Genovese Super Brazil (the one we use at work).
Ten minutes warm up time. *Bleed steam & flush. *Grind way finer than for a pump machine. *Dose nearly up to the shower screen. *Tamp harder than you have ever tamped before. *Using the Fellini Move (one and a half pulls) produces a lovely soft espresso with excellent crema.
Mind you I used 250g of beans to get that far. *The first couple of shots were diabolical. *I suspect that I have a long journey ahead. *For the time being all of the pump machines are living in the workshop. *I have a lovely Wega Nova to play with at work.
Check out the links here too for a very different technique http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1266878906/27#27 Tamp pressure is very dependant on grind size so it could still be you need to go finer again than what you think is right.
Enjoy the playing :)
I watched this the other night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eec7n-Owuok
It is the most sensible explanation of the process I have seen. I hadnt seen a LaPavoni until I saw this topic.... bit of a newb!!
Im new on the scene and been looking at lever machines. Been a real pleasure reading this thread and being able to take a peek into Johns journey with his LaPavoni. Pavoniboy, thx for sharing your expertise. This threads been a real eye-opener :)
When you pull down on the lever it should take how many seconds?
I go for around a 30 sec extraction including my preinfuse time of 5-8 secs.
30 sec is quite fast for me….. I think I have to grind less fine.
Ive been aiming at preinfusion plus 30 secs. Tried pavoniboys timing this morning and it was about right. Thanks. An interesting learning curve.
We are lucky enough to own a LaPavoni similar to the OPs, a Euro Professional which we bought back in 2000.
As we were including the grinder and base in the purchase there was not a significant difference in the pricing between the standard model and the pro, so the choice was easy, fortunate because i really preferred the look of the model with the pressure gauge.
After 11 years constant use (at least 3 - 4 coffees per day..) and numerous rebuilds - mainly to replace or maintain the steam head seals, i have to say this is a fantastic unit. It is such a simple design, and pulls a consistently good coffee.
Probably the only drawback is the milk frothing is very fiddly - although there are apparently workarounds, not that this really concerns us as we both drink short blacks!
BTW - My second crack about analogue gauges is that it is always good to know what is happening inside the machine. My partner once asked me why the machine was continuing to boil water well past the green zone on the gauge... which alerted me to a fault with the pressure switch. Im not sure how quickly a fault like this would be picked up on a machine without a pressure gauge, but it could be potentially disasterous.*
The fix turned out to be quite simple, and did not require the replacement of the pressure switch - which is very expensive!*
Lastly - I must put in a plug for going with locally grown coffee, the coffee beans we use come from a plantation in Mareeba in FNQ and are as flavoursome as any of the competition, nice to know we are supporting local farmers - especially now that we have taken away a bit of business from local cafes :)
Firstly, thanks to Pavoniboy for the tips provided on this thread, they have helped me get some nice results from my recently acquired Europiccola. I love the machine.
I think my biggest current issue is dose...
My results have been quite good: visous / decent dark crema / not at all bitter and not sour. But I think they could be better... The puck usually shows signs on channeling on the surface.Originally Posted by 0E3F283130373C31275E0 link=1251710399/15#15 date=1254610263
I did the five cent test to assure that the loaded basket did not touch the screen once loaded. I do a decently hard tamp that is level and polished. I am thinking that the first flow of water from the shower disturbs the puck and results in channeling?
I have heard some say that with this machine the ground coffee should touch the basket, though most say the opposite. In any case, I think there must be a very fine margin of error.
Steps toward consistancy: buy a fat based tamper with side guage marks to get my tamp level consistant??
Excuse the rambling...
I would say work on your distribution and tamping if you have obvious signs of channelling. Also gradually raise the lever and gradually lower the lever. Extraction isnt a race! I find that if you do more than one pull you need to tamp harder as the suckup from lifting the lever unsettles the puck a bit. But i dont tamp very hard myself and tend to dose under 14g in a double. Part of it is because i dont want to adjust my grind size (its somewhere in between choke and leaking without much in between) and also because i want similar feedback everytime i pull the lever which i find is easier to do if i just leisurely tamp and not worry too much about overfilling the basket or touching the shower screen.
And get a different tamper cos the stock one is hopeless. I have a cheapie 51mm that i got from coffeeparts which has maybe 2mm gap in between the tamp and sides of the basket but it is still better than the stock one. I wouldnt reccomend this particular tamper though but it does its job.
Cheers tofu,Originally Posted by 66227467120 link=1251710399/37#37 date=1327753680
The water seems to rush quite rapidly out of the shower screen regardless of the speed at which I lift the lever. I dont find I ever need to do a second pull.
So I have heard. I got my machine second hand, and it came with a tamper that fits nicely, but it is very hin, and doesnt allow me to judge depth terribly accurately. I have a pre-millenium machine with the narrower basket. 49 mm I think.Originally Posted by 66227467120 link=1251710399/37#37 date=1327753680
I just bought a pre-millenium LP Prof 3 weeks ago and have ordered a custom 49.5mm stainless / aluminium handled tamper from an ebay retailer for ~$USD50 delivered.*
That sounds pretty weird to me. Make sure you are lowering the lever slowly as well. There is a bit of lag between pulling down the lever and getting feedback from the machine because of how the lever is. Just because there isnt much resistance at the top of the lever doesnt mean you should rush through it.Originally Posted by 43544C4E270 link=1251710399/38#38 date=1327797476
If the shot is running too fast or leaking even without any pressure from the lever then maybe your grind is too coarse. But if you have a coarse grind you shouldnt see any obvious channeling cos the water will just pass through easily.
What does your puck actually look like? Are there any fractures or seams? When you knock it out after a shot does its stay together? Any marks that its touching the showerhead or a very uneven surface?
Remember that with these things that if your extraction time is much shorter than what other people reccomend as a rule of thumb for espresso its pretty normal because these old lever machines pour less coffee than modern pump machines. A double in my 51mm machine is maybe only 25-30ml with 1 pull.
Water should not be coming out of the shower screen until you are the one forcing it out by pulling on the lever.Originally Posted by 4C5B4341280 link=1251710399/38#38 date=1327797476
Sorry, poor description... When I lift the lever, with no portafilter in place, the water seems to jet out with quite a bit of pressure - maybe more than other machines?Originally Posted by 480C5A493C0 link=1251710399/40#40 date=1327847383
So my concern is that with this ruch of water the top of the prepared puck is likely to be disturbed.* Some "online sources" suggest that the puck should be dosed to just touch the shower screen to avoid this - but most do not recommend it.
Im curious to know how others dose for this machine.
:-? :-? :-?
The puck comes out solid, but has indentations on the top that seem to suggest channelling.Originally Posted by 480C5A493C0 link=1251710399/40#40 date=1327847383
I have followed Pavoni boys guide on thie thread Reply #13 with pretty good success - good tasting shots, I just think I could get a leeeetle better.
I have been changing beans so much lately to its hard to get much consistancy - so many factors.
I have to say, I am a lever convert for sure.* :)
Yes, that description I gave is just a starting point to get people going. There is a lot of tweaking to be done from there, which is the fun ( for some anyway) of this machine.
If water pressure from the boiler seems too much, start earlier when its not as hot - pressure is a factor of heat in the boiler.
Ive been noticing lately that Im getting less fractured pucks and more even extractions by paying attention to preinfusing VERY gently - inching the lever up millimeter by millimeter to make sure the chamber is filled slowly. Seems to be a winner for me at least!
Thanks PB, I realised it was just a starting point, and it certainly helped me make a start. Much appreciated. I do find the tweaking fun, and everybody has their own little ways and means...Originally Posted by 5061766F6E69626F79000 link=1251710399/43#43 date=1327902709
Will do!!Originally Posted by 5061766F6E69626F79000 link=1251710399/43#43 date=1327902709
Originally Posted by 7269636B5F626F6E64000 link=1251710399/44#44 date=1327906139
Nice one, thanks for that Mr Bond.
changed coffee.. All my settings ruined I had a laugh. I blame the grind size/consistency when changing beans the pavoni seems to have very fine tolerances when it comes to grind.
Anyways im noticing that my lever raises itself when i leave the machine off to cool. Its a bit of a mind trick to have lowered it in the afternoon and come back to it after dinner to see it fully raised (machine is OFF btw). Its doing this pretty slowly though but its definately raising itself!
hmm your piston seals must be well lubricated or well worn! You could leave the steam valve open after use to stop those kind of shenannigans, but its nothing to worry about.
Just received my pre-millennium (1970s ??) machine from the Netherlands.
The lever is off and before I rush off to the big green shed to buy circlip pliers I just wanted to ask if I'm one the money with needing them!! Looks like I do but is there another way to get the clips off?
Pic of machine looking forward to having a play with it.