Upgrade Advice from La Pavoni Europiccola and Baratza Sette 270wi

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

#1: Post by flyingtoaster »

I've had this setup for 3 years now, a Baratza Sette 270wi and La Pavoni Europiccola from the year 2000, a hybrid of the older style grouphead and newer electronics. I always buy fresh-roasted espresso locally and I always order a shot when I buy beans. The quality of espresso from my setup has always been 8/10 compared to the coffee shops. Would upgrading the grinder or espresso machine make more of an impact to the espresso quality? And how much would I need to spend to get to 9/10 and 10/10?


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baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

The Europiccola is a bit difficult in that the machine is capable of 10/10 espresso, but getting 10/10 is entirely dependent on user talent, not the machine. The joke is every Pavoni owner claims that the best espresso that they've ever had was from a Pavoni. Singular, as in one espresso. Ever :D.

That's a bit harsh, but there is some truth to that, at least in my experience. I got my Europiccolas after almost a decade of using other lever machines. I added thermometers and pressure gauges and data logging, and it took me over a hundred shots to match the quality that I could pull from a 'better' machine. Once. I have no lever-pulling talent :lol:.

Thus, I would say that a new machine or modifying the existing machine primarily gains you ease of use, capacity, repeatability, consistency, etc. Not necessarily better espresso, but better on average.

As for grinders, my feeling is that the magnitude of improvement is very dependent on the coffees that you drink. The Sette is a pretty decent grinder for typical traditional espresso roasts, but I couldn't handle the noise.

Good luck!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

flyingtoaster (original poster)

#3: Post by flyingtoaster (original poster) replying to baldheadracing »

I understand these machines require a lot of skill. However, if my skill was holding me back, it stands to reason I would have accidentally pulled a 10/10 shot over the approximately 3,000 shots I've pulled over the past 3 years, with varying grind size, temperature, and espresso roast. As such, I think its the grinder. Maybe next time I buy a bag of espresso, instead of buying a shot to drink, I'll buy a shot and just ask for the grinds. Then I can test it on my La Pavoni.

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baldheadracing
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#4: Post by baldheadracing replying to flyingtoaster »

Note I am not saying that the grinder is not the issue. There are definitely better grinders (and better burrs), but the choice depends on the coffee that you drink and your own taste preferences. Sometimes 'better' is mostly 'different,' and at the high end it is not uncommon for a better grinder to deliver a worse-tasting cup - it depends on the coffee. For example, a blanket statement like "get a Niche," while ostensibly good advice, is not what I would recommend to someone who loves very light roasts.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

SutterMill

#5: Post by SutterMill »

What type of coffee do you enjoy? More chocolate/caramel or more fruit/acidity?

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Jeff
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#6: Post by Jeff »

Another important question is, "What do you find lacking in your current espresso?"

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Kaffee Bitte

#7: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

In my experience the 10/10 shots are VERY coffee dependent. I find they heavily depend on the coffee being at it's peak. Hit that day and nail your prep and pull and get ready for a ride you will remember for years. Otherwise love those 8/10s on the daily and view the real WOWera as your reward for hard won skills.

That said, the vast majority of my personal shots of remembrance have been pulled on flat burr grinders as opposed to conicals like the Sette. But that could easily be down to taste preference.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
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flyingtoaster (original poster)

#8: Post by flyingtoaster (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:Note I am not saying that the grinder is not the issue. There are definitely better grinders (and better burrs), but the choice depends on the coffee that you drink and your own taste preferences. Sometimes 'better' is mostly 'different,' and at the high end it is not uncommon for a better grinder to deliver a worse-tasting cup - it depends on the coffee. For example, a blanket statement like "get a Niche," while ostensibly good advice, is not what I would recommend to someone who loves very light roasts.
SutterMill wrote:What type of coffee do you enjoy? More chocolate/caramel or more fruit/acidity?
Jeff wrote:Another important question is, "What do you find lacking in your current espresso?"
Kaffee Bitte wrote:In my experience the 10/10 shots are VERY coffee dependent. I find they heavily depend on the coffee being at it's peak. Hit that day and nail your prep and pull and get ready for a ride you will remember for years. Otherwise love those 8/10s on the daily and view the real WOWera as your reward for hard won skills.

That said, the vast majority of my personal shots of remembrance have been pulled on flat burr grinders as opposed to conicals like the Sette. But that could easily be down to taste preference.
So it might be the grinder. When I bought beans yesterday, I asked for a shot of espresso and a shots worth of espresso grounds. 15 minutes later, I pulled a shot using their grounds and it was a solid 9/10. It was the best shot I've pulled on my La Pavoni. It was better than the shot they pulled for me.

As for what I'm looking for and what's lacking in my current espresso, its extraction quality. There is a certain "pop" that good espresso has that descriptors like "fruitiness" "acidity" or brightness" don't adequately describe. Usually medium espresso roasts are my favorite. Some examples would be Intellegentsia Black Car or anything from Klatch.

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baldheadracing
Team HB

#9: Post by baldheadracing »

What grinder does the shop use?

FWIW, from the few roasts that I've had from Klatch, I could see how Klatch wouldn't be the greatest on the Sette's Etzinger burrs.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

flyingtoaster (original poster)

#10: Post by flyingtoaster (original poster) replying to baldheadracing »

I'm not sure, but I'll ask. The place is called "Maps" in Lenexa, KS.

When I lived in California, I would get shots at Klatch in Rancho Cucamonga. They used a Mazzer Mini.