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New "used" la Pavoni professional - what now?

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  • New "used" la Pavoni professional - what now?´s my first forum thread and my first espresso machine!!! I am pretty excited at apparently having bought one of the most difficult espresso machines to get used to for a beginner...but I love challenges and I love good lets get to work. I think Ill be needing a bit of help in the coming weeks/months so please be gentle!

    Anyway...that´s my intro.

    What I really want to know is what should be my first steps after the machine arrives? I bought it used (apparently in super working order, but they always say that) and don´t know it´s history. Should I start with a good clean and descale or should I get to work trying to pull a shot?

    What are the tell-tale signs of trouble? I´m thinking about leaks at various places, or squeaks or other noises.

    I have a Mazzer Super Jolly which i´ve been using to grind for drip. Is this grinder good enough for espresso? How do I start to find the perfect grind for my La Pavoni? due to the "Pavoni Sneeze" should I be grinding first a little bit too rough and try to tune it in slowly to a finer grind? I wouldn´t like to start too fine and then find out i´ve blocked the portafilter and then not be able to get the handle down and have a blow-out!

    Many questions at once...please forgive my over enthusiasm!

  • #2
    Hello robertdbuckley and welcome to CS. I can't speak to your questions on the La Pavoni but your Mazzer Super Jolly grinder is a commercial grade unit found in many cafes and is certainly adequate for grinding for espresso. The only possible issue with it for grinding for espressos might be the condition of the burrs. If they are old and dull they are easily replaced.

    Java "Enjoy your new toy!" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!


    • #3
      If the Pavoni is choked, just switch her off/ raise the lever for a few seconds & remove the pf. It's a pro, which will have a gauge. When that reaches 0, you know there's no pressure in the boiler =safe. (Well actually, There can be pressure in the boiler and not have the sneeze . The sneeze comes when there's pressure in the group.)

      (just don't open the boiler when the gauge shows any pressure, or you might get yourself a new 5 inch skylight above your bench!)

      the sneeze occurs mostly for people when they are too eager to remove the pf at the end of a shot, (never happened to me ) but yes it would happen if you try to remove it when it's under pressure in the way that you described. Time heals all wounds.

      So don't worry about the sneeze too much, or about choking the machine for that matter. That's just a necessary part of dailing in the grind to get the best shots.

      Just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! And let us know how you're getting on.


      • #4
        Hello Robert, and welcome to CS and the ranks of Pavoni lever users.

        I have just noticed that SBM has pre-empted some of this post, but I won't bother to edit, it doesn't matter if I'm repeating some of his post.

        I sometimes think that the difficulty of using a Pavoni is somewhat over emphasised. They do require good techniques, but are not that much more demanding than a typical semi-auto machine. However I should also admit that I had a couple of years experience with semi-auto's before I got my first lever.

        You will need to find the right combination of grind/dose/tamp. It's always important to treat these as a set, because they are inter-dependant and that applies just as much or maybe even more with a lever.

        Pavoni's are very easy to inspect for scale and easy to de-scale if needed. Just take off the tank cap and with a small torch you can easily see what it is like inside the tank. They are also fairly easy to de-scale if necessary, and there are plenty of guides on line.

        One of mine started to leak a little past the group head seals, so I replaced them – it wasn't a big deal, but I was a bit over cautious with the lube during reassembly and it squeaked a little until I did it again with a bit more grease.

        As for the dreaded portafilter sneeze – the key word is patience. If you do choke your machine, just turn it off and wait a short while. The combination of time, and falling temperature should reduce the pressure to allow removal. If you want to be super cautious, once it is cool and there is no actual danger from a bit of a sneeze, you could take it outside where a bit of mess wouldn't matter.

        So if you are inclined to be a bit impatient, and who isn't when they have just got a new toy, it may be better to start grinding a bit too coarse, and then go finer to get a good extraction, rather than to choke the machine then work back.

        QUOTE by SBM :- “never happened to me :-) ” Oh yeah ??? Well it has to me, but then I never was very patient.
        Last edited by deegee; 7 October 2015, 10:34 AM. Reason: spelling