Lever Espresso Machines Smackdown - Page 22

Behind the scenes of the site's projects and equipment reviews.
User avatar
timo888

#211: Post by timo888 »

No, a dolt is me trying to make sense of a book on home electrical wiring. I try following with my eyes where the wires go in the photos, but it's almost as hard as following the subterfuge of knots in the Book of Kells.

User avatar
peacecup

#212: Post by peacecup »

Took a break from the Caravel today, since I was home with the kid(s). Had the usual cappuccino in the AM, but the highlights of the day were two really great two-pull Ponte Vecchio macchiatos. The blend was Café D'Arte's Fabriano, which is alder-wood smoked. The "spot" of milk was the perfect compliment to the spicy smokiness.

I've frequently noted that two or more pulls on the PV can be good, and as cannonfodder pointed out a few posts ago, brew ratios with the double basket tend to be quite high with just one pull.

PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

User avatar
peacecup

#213: Post by peacecup »

cannonfodder wrote:The Lusso uses a very small portafilter -- the smallest I have ever used. The baskets make up for their small diameter by being deep. I can fill the basket to a small mound and do a no pressure sweep to level off the basket. The resulting dose is in the 11.5 gram range, give or take a couple of tenths. I have been using 11 to 11.5 grams in my shots so far with good results. I will point out one annoying problem. The basket is so small in diameter that I end up with a teaspoon-ish worth of grounds in the drop tray. The basket is so narrow that some of the grinds will miss while thwacking the doser handle. I may start dosing into a ramekin and then transferring it to the basket but it is really more work than I want to go through.
The PV double basket will happily swallow 14g, and I've dosed up to >16g. With the 45-mm group, I think one must needs re-think the whole downdosing philosophy that has been in vogue recently here on HB. Downdosing in a shallow 58-mm basket, on a pump machine, may be substantially different than on the Ponte Vecchio. I have no experience whatsoever on a 58-mm machine, but I am prepared to take the word of Ken Fox and others that downdosing is effective. I humbly submit that I have as much 45-mm experience as any regular poster here on HB, and I consistently get good results but cramming the double basket full and taking more than one pull.

I am still waiting for one of the Lusso reviewers to make a serious effort to learn and evaluate large doses and multiple pulls. I think it is important for potential PV buyers who might think that shot size will be limited to 15-20 ml ristrettos.

PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

roadman
Supporter ♡

#214: Post by roadman »

peacecup wrote:The PV double basket will happily swallow 14g, and I've dosed up to >16g. With the 45-mm group, I think one must needs re-think the whole downdosing philosophy that has been in vogue recently here on HB.
While I can't really comment about a 45 mm basket, downdosing to 11 - 12 g on my Cremina's 49 mm basket has dramatically improved both the taste and consistency of my shots without reducing volume. I'm getting all kinds of fruity notes that I wasn't getting before, less channeling, fewer sink shots, etc.

That being said, different machines, different coffee, different shot pullers are gonna yield different results.

Jon

User avatar
timo888

#215: Post by timo888 »

peacecup wrote:I think it is important for potential PV buyers who might think that shot size will be limited to 15-20 ml ristrettos.
Potential buyers should also know that they could take two pulls with moderate 11-12g doses, finely ground, and using a very light tamp.

But whatever approach, peacecup's coarse grind, dose, tamp, dose some more then tamp-again, or the approach I recommend, fine grind, moderate dose and a very light tamp, two pulls are possible with the 45mm double-basket.

Regards
Timo

P.S. But a two-ounce ristretto is not in the cards.

User avatar
timo888

#216: Post by timo888 »

cannonfodder wrote:The basket is so narrow that some of the grinds will miss while thwacking the doser handle. I may start dosing into a ramekin and then transferring it to the basket but it is really more work than I want to go through.
Dave, try a simple single-pull-on-the-doser-lever dosing, instead of the thwack-thwack-thwack-thwack approach, and trust to the fact that the engineers did expend some of their brainpower on the doser, and to the deeper basket, which is very forgiving as far as distribution is concerned.
cannonfodder wrote: I start by pulling an ounce of water through the group and portafilter into my demitasse cup to both preheat the group and the cup. Then I grind my fresh beans and dose the double basket to just below the top rim of the basket for an 11 gram dose. I give that a quick leveling sweep with the back of my little finger followed by three thumps on my tamping stand to further level and settle the coffee bead.
<image>

Then a nice light tamp to settle the puck.
Sounds on the money to me, especially the three thumps and the light tamp.

Regards
Timo

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#217: Post by cannonfodder »

To avoid tossing grounds all over the place, you have to slow down on the doser to let the grinds fall straight down as you describe. I am enjoying this little machine. I have been out over the weekend so the Lusso has been quiet for a few days. But the little machine that could has some new company.


The Lusso will take a larger dose than the 11-11.5 grams that I use. However, that is what I think produces the best shot. At 11 grams, there is ample headspace yet the puck rises to make slight contact against the shower screen after the shot is finished. While you could shoehorn more coffee into the basket, it will swell tightly against the shower screen which is a practice I try to avoid. I do not care for the cup it produces, simple as that. But as with all things, taste is subjective and varies from person to person. I would not consider anything I do to be the only way or the right way but simply my way and subject to change as time progresses and my taste evolves.

I have been using multiple pulls, two to be exact. The cup I get from the Lusso is better than those I get from the Elektra or LaPavoni when using multiple pulls. Don't know why, I would guess it has to do with the basket geometry. While the smaller extraction amount 1-1.3ish ounces sounds small, keep in mind that I am using 11 grams, not 15-18 grams that would get used in a 58mm portafilter for two ounces. Looking at Andy's espresso brewing ratio chart, that put the shots I am producing from Lusso right in the 'normal' 50% extraction. There is nothing ristretto about them.

(Click above to see larger image)
It is about quality, not quantity.
Dave Stephens

User avatar
peacecup

#218: Post by peacecup »

cannonfodder wrote:The Lusso will take a larger dose than the 11-11.5 grams that I use. However, that is what I think produces the best shot.
For two pulls, and the resulting ~1 oz (30 ml) of espresso this is probably true in my opinion as well. Also, with this dose and one pull the PV will produce a Killer ristretto
At 11 grams, there is ample headspace yet the puck rises to make slight contact against the shower screen after the shot is finished.
The weight of coffee depends on the blend and water content, but I can get ~14g in the double basket without the swollen puck touching the screen. MY PV basket requires <5mm headspace - this is far less than a La Pavoni/Factory in my limited experience, and also, I believe less than the Elektra.
While you could shoehorn more coffee into the basket, it will swell tightly against the shower screen which is a practice I try to avoid. I do not care for the cup it produces, simple as that. But as with all things, taste is subjective and varies from person to person. I would not consider anything I do to be the only way or the right way but simply my way and subject to change as time progresses and my taste evolves.
One great thing about the PV design is its versatility - the fact that you can use the double basket from anywhere between 9-15g. Even at "shoehorn" doses it performs quite well, although I can't get any of the reviewers to give it a serious try. I can say that I have had several very nice 14-15g, three-pull cappuccinos lately.

From your photo of a tamped basket a few posts back I can say I normally operate with less headroom than that. If you decided to try fuller doses you'd probably need to loosen the grind a notch. I would like to hear someone else's impression of a 14g shot, because I've nobody to compare notes with.

Pulling all of the test shots as 11g doubles is like test-driving a Ferrari at 55 mph.




PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

User avatar
timo888

#219: Post by timo888 »

peacecup wrote:Pulling all of the test shots as 11g doubles is like test-driving a Ferrari at 55 mph.
Lusso : 11g :: Ferrari : 55mph

Not sure I buy that analogy, peacecup. This one seems more apt:

Lusso : 11g :: Alpha Romeo : pretty passenger

Regards
Timo

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#220: Post by cannonfodder »

Steaming on the Ponte Vecchio Lusso

When the little Lusso arrived I did not expect much from it. It is a little machine with very rudimentary controls and an even more rudimentary steam wand. But I have been wrong before.

The steam wand on the Lusso is as basic as basic can get. It is little more than a piece of pipe protruding through a small grommet covered hole in the front of the machine. There is no articulation of any kind, what you see is what you get. At the end of that pipe is a 3 hole steam tip but the holes appear to be drilled directly vertical so there is no steam dispersion, just a straight downward jet. The holes in the steam tip are also very small, the smallest I have ever seen on an espresso machine.




The steam is controlled by a knob protruding from the left side of the case and attached to the valve shaft by a slot head screw. There is no cover over the control know so the shiny metal screw is there for anyone to see. The steam valve is your basic rubber cupped stem valve assembly; turn the knob and the steam flows. There is very little ability to regulate the steam flow. It is either on or off.


My first attempt at steaming was quite surprising. I got nice microfoam on the first try. You obviously do not have much room to work given the small form factor of the Lusso and the fixed steam wand so pitcher size and angle are the keys. If you try to use too large of a pitcher the milk level will be to low in the pitcher for the steam wand to reach. So do not try to steam 4 ounces of milk in a 20 ounce pitcher. My go-to pitcher is a nondescript 12 ounce tapered stainless pitcher. With 4 to 5 ounces of milk, it works just fine. As I said, the key is getting the angle of the pitcher to get the milk rolling. I angle the pitcher toward me so I am looking down the pitcher and put the steam wand on the right half of the pitcher. This moves the pitcher away from the grouphead and gives you a little work room.

Because the Lusso has a 3 liter boiler there is plenty of steam in that little box. The small steam wand holes produce a low volume of steam but at a respectable velocity. The steam tip also appears to be well matched to the boiler/heater capacity. The Lusso can steam for extended periods without running out of power. The reduced steam flow also means you have more time to work the milk to get the texture correct. On the down side, if you are steaming for 3 lattes for an after dinner party, it takes a very long time. Guest one will be half finished with their drink by the time guest 3 gets their drink. But I doubt Ponte Vecchio intended for the Lusso to be a small catering machine.

To check the steam times I filled the boiler just over halfway on the sight glass. This is a reasonable water level and about where you will be after pulling couple of shots. I allowed the Lusso to heat for an hour to make sure it was at thermal equilibrium. I used a 12 and 20 ounce pitcher filled with 40 degree water and steamed the water to 160 degrees as measured by a Fluke 54II and K thermocouple, while timing on a stopwatch. Each volume was done 3 times and the numbers averaged for the following results.

8oz-52 seconds
10oz-60 seconds
12oz-78 seconds

The Lusso is no steam speed demon but it does a respectable job and produces a microfoam any barista would be happy to serve.

«missing video»

Please not that the shot pulled in the video was less than ideal and the crema dissipated quickly. That is not the machines fault but simply a less than optimal shot created by the barista. However, the entire point for the video was milk steaming which was good, so I used it.

An important note about the Lusso. As noted earlier the Lusso does not have a vacuum breaker. The breaker serves two purposes, not only does it allow false pressure to bleed out as the boiler heats but it relieves pressure as the boiler cools. Without that breaker, the boiler will form a vacuum and it will draw in air from where ever there is a less than perfect seal. Unfortunately, that point of entry is often the steam wand. If you happen to have a small spot of milk tainted water in that wand the vacuum will draw that back into the boiler as it depressurizes. The resulting milk tainted boiler water will go rancid.

A little over a week ago I was playing with steaming on the Lusso. I had flushed out the boiler and let it sit while I did some work on the Titan grinder project. Then I got the flu, so the machine sat idle for a few days longer. Yesterday I filled the boiler and powered up the machine to do a little work but when I flushed out the group the water was stinky. It had a sour, spoiled, metallic trashcan smell to it with an even worse taste and light tan tint in the water. Disaster. A little of the milky water got into the boiler and has spoiled. I had a similar problem with my two group which was also void of a vacuum breaker a few years ago. Unfortunately the only remedy is to soak the boiler in detergent to thoroughly clean it and then flush it vigorously. Sometimes the process has to be repeated a couple of times to thoroughly remove the contaminate. So be forewarned, make sure you thoroughly purge the steam wand. It would also be a good idea to use the water tap wand, not the steam wand, to release the vacuum in the boiler which is how I probably got the contaminate in the boiler in the first place.
Dave Stephens