La Pavoni Professional, am I gonna be in over my head?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
dak52

#1: Post by dak52 »

I got into making espresso about 10 years ago on a sunbeam em6910 semi-auto. After a year or so I really had it down and had rebuilt parts of the machine and could reliably pull quite good shots.

After moving from Australia back to the US I bough myself a gaggia classic and the machine just never clicked for me. I pulled some drinkable shots but it just wasn't my jam.

Today I stumbled across an incredible deal on a la Pavoni PC-16 and ordered it (returns are an option).

Long story long, this was an impulsive choice and I'm wondering if I'm biting off more than I can chew. I see a lot of mixed reviews of this machine but at the same time, I am not in a position to spend the $1000+ that it would cost to buy a dream machine. I would love to hear from people who moved from low/mid tier semi-auto to la Pavoni and what you thought? Should I get my money back and save up for a rancilio?

Thanks so much for any feedback, David

LObin

#2: Post by LObin »

I've owned a Gaggia Classic, a Rancilio Silvia and now La Pavoni Europiccola (and a bunch of other prosumers and small levers)
I would never go back to any SBDU. The LP levers are just so much better. Easier to work on, impossible to kill, much more fun to use and they just pull stellar shots once you have the group temp figured out.

A few quick pointers:
Get a digital group thermometer or at least temp strips.
Get (or convert the stock one to) a bottomless portafilter.
Get a deeper double basket (Mcal or Strietman 18 if you have a 49mm group)
Consider getting a heat breaking gasket if you're goi g to be pulling consecutive shots(bong isolator or teflon gasket kit from eBay.it)
Get a one hole steam tip.
Get some good fod safe lubricant.
The filter above the puck or 2nd shower screen works wonders. I got an Aeropress mesh filter that I cut to size.
Check out coffee-sensor for custom parts, mods, gaskets, etc.

A few questions:
What grinder do you have?
What are your usual coffee habits? (Preferred roasts, milk drinks or straight, daily consumptions, routines, etc.)

Cheers!
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Chert
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#3: Post by Chert »

You'll probably love it. At resale $500+ you're okay if 6 months in the espresso and capability is just too much compared to the semi. ( obviously I'm biased, devoted Pavonista 18 years.)
I sponsor Artisan Roasterscope.

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yakster
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#4: Post by yakster »

Give it a good grinder and fresh coffee and I think you'll be very happy once you get it dialed in.
-Chris

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dak52 (original poster)

#5: Post by dak52 (original poster) »

Thanks for the encouragement all, and for the mod tips LObin. I'm definitely going to go naked portafilter as soon as I can afford to do so. I had one for each of my past machines and it really helped me get feedback to improve my technique.

I'm not familiar with temp strips, is that like some sort of a sticker/decal? I need to do a bit of googling here. Will need to look up each of those suggested mods on here to get a bit more context and prioritize which to do first once I have the $$$.
LObin wrote: A few questions:
What grinder do you have?
What are your usual coffee habits? (Preferred roasts, milk drinks or straight, daily consumptions, routines, etc.)
In regards to the above:
- I have a Breville smart grinder. It worked great for my em6910 but suspect this will be one are where I need to upgrade a bit. I also have a nice handheld ceramic burrs grinder I use for my aeropress that I might try out. Is there a general consensus for the best affordable gender to pair with a la Pavoni? I have heard it requires a bit of a finer grind.

- Back when I lived in Australia I had a lot of roasters and had a couple favorite. I preferred medium to medium dark roasts and only ever used milk when making drinks for my wife. Since moving to Baltimore I feel out of the scene a bit. I do know a couple local roasters that I intend to get some initial stock from while I dial in the machine. In the past I have found that beans 3-10 days post-roast were easiest for me to pull a good shot from.

- As for consumption, ~2 doubles in the morning every day for breakfast is an old routine I look forward to getting back into.

Thanks again for the support everyone. This has been something I have been wanting to do for more than 5 years, so I'm really excited about pulling the trigger and trying to get back to this.

drH
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#6: Post by drH »

You'll love it.

But make sure you look online for the procedure to take the group head apart, clean and lubricate the piston. It doesn't have to be done often (and it's easy once you see it) but you don't want to be caught off guard without the right tools and find yourself frustrated.

And definitely a thermometer... this little thing is the most important for consistency and shot quality (aside from the grinder):
https://coffee-sensor.com/product/la-pa ... and-diode/

LObin

#7: Post by LObin »

dak52 wrote:Thanks for the encouragement all, and for the mod tips LObin. I'm definitely going to go naked portafilter as soon as I can afford to do so. I had one for each of my past machines and it really helped me get feedback to improve my technique.

I'm not familiar with temp strips, is that like some sort of a sticker/decal? I need to do a bit of googling here. Will need to look up each of those suggested mods on here to get a bit more context and prioritize which to do first once I have the $$$.



In regards to the above:
- I have a Breville smart grinder. It worked great for my em6910 but suspect this will be one are where I need to upgrade a bit. I also have a nice handheld ceramic burrs grinder I use for my aeropress that I might try out. Is there a general consensus for the best affordable gender to pair with a la Pavoni? I have heard it requires a bit of a finer grind.

- Back when I lived in Australia I had a lot of roasters and had a couple favorite. I preferred medium to medium dark roasts and only ever used milk when making drinks for my wife. Since moving to Baltimore I feel out of the scene a bit. I do know a couple local roasters that I intend to get some initial stock from while I dial in the machine. In the past I have found that beans 3-10 days post-roast were easiest for me to pull a good shot from.

- As for consumption, ~2 doubles in the morning every day for breakfast is an old routine I look forward to getting back into.

Thanks again for the support everyone. This has been something I have been wanting to do for more than 5 years, so I'm really excited about pulling the trigger and trying to get back to this.
Temperature strips are decals that you stick to your group. There are low temps and hi temps strips. The low temp is the one you need.
I much prefer the digital group thermometer. It's easier to read and has a much faster response time. They are quite cheap as well. Here's my 78 Europiccola:


I removed the temp strips since I don't have any use for it anymore.

This is where I got my group thermometer from:
https://www.ebay.it/itm/174745648302

Coffee-sensor.com has a similar one and sells the SS bracket.

For the bottomless portafilter, I'd say get the proper size hole saw and do it yourself. It can be done with a hand drill plus a rotary tool or sand paper to smoothen the edges.




Did you get a pre-millenium (49mm) or millennium (51mm) Professional?

If you bought a 49mm group, the deeper Elektra Mcal double basket is a MUST. I can squeeze up to 17g depending on the roast and bean density. I usually dose 14-15g for medium-dark stuff. With the stock LP double basket, 13g is a hassle.
https://www.espressocare.com/products/i ... ble-basket

A funnel makes your life much easier with the smaller portafilter. They are cheap and can be purchased from various online coffee stores as well as Amazon and eBay. Might as well consider WDT if you get one. It'll improve the grind distribution inside your basket.

As for the grinder, there are many many options out there. The best grind you'll get on a low budget is from a quality hand grinder. Small electrical home grinders are at least 2X the price but they come with other obvious advantages. I'd give the Breville smart a try for now. Small mods and accessories for your Professional will have an immediate impact on your espresso game.

For pstat settings, tips & techniques, group cooling tips (the cold bath is what I do), etc. Check out the other sections of the forum. Tons of LP owners here. There's also a La pavoni lever machine owners group on Facebook. You'll find many knowledgeable folks there.


Cheers!
LMWDP #592
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dak52 (original poster)

#8: Post by dak52 (original poster) »

I got a millennium (open box, hopefully in good shape). I will shop for some thermometer option but planning to use a handheld IR one in the mean time. I'm most nervous about my grinder but hopefully at its finest setting I will be able to make some headway.

If I were to replace my grinder, is there one that people generally accept to be a solid lower end electric? I have seen some deals on Rancilio grinders that I could probably afford but if there is something else I should be looking for I'm all ears.

Thanks so much for the FB group tip. I joined yesterday and have been reading so many helpful posts. Can't wait to get my hands on my new machine! Should show up Friday at some point!!

LObin

#9: Post by LObin » replying to dak52 »

Millennium 51mm groups (or gen 3)are much more temp stable. The group temperature will keep rising but they are easier to manage compare to gen 2 machines.

You're Breville smart pro should be able to grind fine enough for the LP.
Rancilio Rocky's are OK. They have their own flaws that are difficult to overlook.
I'd suggest looking at a Eureka Mignon Specialita, or even a G-iota (also called Solo or DF64) if you're ok with single dosing. I don't think you can get a better flat burr grinder in that price range. Unless you decide to go with a hand grinder with solid conical burrs.

Anyways, first lever... you're in for quite a ride!

Good luck on your new journey!

Cheers!
LMWDP #592

dak52 (original poster)

#10: Post by dak52 (original poster) »

The wait for my new machine is killing me. Still 3 days to go :p

In the meantime I'm obsessing over grinders. I dug out my old prolex that I'm hoping can pinch hit if my BSG can't hack it. Unless one of these works much better than expected though, I'm already setting aside $$$ towards an upgraded grinder.

With COVID and everyone working from home, the second-hand market in the DC area (I live in Baltimore) is pretty limited.

Currently, my top 3 contenders are:
- Well used (but supposedly well maintained) Cunill Brasil ~$175
- Ascaso i-Steel I-2, used but like new. $195
- ISOMAC MPI, Brand new (and free returns if I have issues) ~$250

I don't mind used, but if the prices are close I tend to prefer to spend a bit more but be able to return it if there is an issue. The trouble is, I can find next to nothing about the MPI, especially when paired with the La Pavoni.

... Or maybe I should just save up and hope for the Nice Zero or DF64 to come back in stock somewhere...