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Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

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  • Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

    Hi all,

    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:



    Cheers

  • #2
    Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

    heres a video of my efforts so far

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

        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

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

          Originally posted by 0D15101005143F0D010E5657600 link=1251710399/2#2 date=1251728461
          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?Smiley 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.  

          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

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever 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.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

              Hows she taste ??

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                Originally posted by 3720213F2A2B20747774450 link=1251710399/6#6 date=1251770832
                Hows she taste ??  
                very nice, smooth and full taste (sorry i dont know all the terms, i just like coffee)

                im a big fan of the caffe di gabriel beans

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                  If you never split the pour into two glasses, just screw off the double spout and put it in a drawer.

                  Greg

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                    Originally posted by 76435456665E435C505D55310 link=1251710399/8#8 date=1251794523
                    If you never split the pour into two glasses, just screw off the double spout and put it in a drawer.

                    Greg
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                      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.

                      Greg

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                        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?

                        Many thanks,

                        John

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                          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.

                          Pavoniboy

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                          • #14
                            Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Just bought - La Pavoni Europiccola manual lever machine

                              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.

                              John

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