La Pavoni Europiccola instructions... for newbies

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TUS172

#1: Post by TUS172 »

I have rebuilt a number of La Pavoni Euros over the past few years and I have sold some of them on Ebay (where I bought them as 'Charity cases'). I have always sent a letter along with them (below is one of them)to help those that are just becoming acquainted with their new friend.
Perhaps it will be of some use here also...
It is somewhat 'long winded' but for those starting out with a lever it has helped.

Hi,
These La Pavonis are a well built machine and if properly cared for will last for ever. They are designed to never overheat or build up too much pressure. A fuse wired into the boiler on the older models (later models have them as replaceable or resettable fuses) to prevent overheating and a pressure relief valve for too much pressure solves that problem. The pressure relief valve is what you will hear hissing once the machine gets up to pressure on setting I.
So anyway the pressure relief valve is the part of the unit that has the small tube that is closest to the boiler. It is a small spring with a metal ball at the end that fits into a venturi mounted on the boiler. The spring is set so that it allows pressure in the boiler to be let off once the unit is up to the appropriate temperature. Why am I explaining all of this? What the last owner did to this unit was to put a heavy spring in the pressure relief valve that must have increased the pressure and heat in the boiler until it forced leaks. The only thing I can think of is that they must have thought that these units use the pressure and steam from the boiler to make espresso. So when they heard the unit hissing they thought something needed to be fixed. WRONG!
I can tell you one thing it did... it must have made the worst tasting espresso they ever tasted. By forcing steam through the grouphead to the shower screen it not only overheated the espresso grind in the portafilter; it put undo stress and heat on the grouphead gaskets, boiler gasket, sight glass seals, and to much air from boiling the water continuously burner out the heating element itself. (The older La Pavonis did not have a reset able or replaceable fuse it was inconveniently wired up inside of the heating element body and almost impossible to replace). In other words these people really messed up. These machines rely on the lever operator (you) and the piston in the grouphead to create the pressure to force hot water (approximately 200 degrees F) through the puck in the filter basket.
So that is the history of this machine as far as I can determine. What I did; was to go through it and replace all that I have found wrong with it. It has a new stainless steel heating element and gasket, a replaceable fuse (Radio Shack) to protect it from overheating, boiler to grouphead gasket, sight glass seals, spring for the pressure relief valve, and portafilter gasket. I also descaled the boiler and put new high temp wiring under the boiler (there was that old fabric kind that was horribly discolored and frayed). I also check and lubed the piston and its gaskets.
I have used this machine for 1 ½ years and it is doing great. As I said earlier, if these units are properly cared for they last and last and...well you get the idea. The only thing you will need to replace on a regular basis is the grouphead and piston gaskets. So I will just take the opportunity to give you a few tips.
Always make sure you have at least ¾ of the sight glass boiler filled before heating. But don't go way over the sight glass level either.
You can use the setting II for initial heat up but stay close by because when it gets up toward temperature it needs to be turned down to setting I to make good espresso.
Once the machine is up to temperature it will be hissing and sputtering a bit (that is perfectly normal).
I put the portafilter in with an empty basket and lift the lever fully (Just for a second or two) to let off false pressure, steam, and any impurities that may be on the shower screen.
I then take off the portafilter dry the shower screen, and filter basket and then load a filled basket into the portafilter.
I then put the portafilter into the grouphead and turn it just enough to know that it catches, but do not tighten it down yet.
Then raise the handle about ¾ of the way towards getting hot water, and then tighten down the portafilter firmly. This procedure prevents a vacuum being created above the espresso in the filter basket which usually causes channeling during the pull.
Raise the handle to the full height and allow hot water into the grouphead for about 10 - 15 seconds before starting a firm (But not hard) down stroke.
If the stroke goes very easy and you get weak espresso with no crema. You probably have too coarse a grind, have used too little espresso in the filter basket and/or you have not tamped the espresso firmly enough.
If the stroke gets choked (the lever doesn't want to go down even with very firm pressure)... It means you have either used too fine a grind, have tamped the espresso to hard and/or used too much espresso in the filter basket.
If you choke the pull do not immediately take off the portafilter! You will get a pressure release of hot water, and wet espresso all over the place. If you have gotten the handle down far enough to be past the point where hot water is introduced to the grouphead; wait for about 30 - 45 seconds without further pressure on the lever. Try the stroke down from there again. If it goes hard, don't force it, go ahead and wait for the pressure in the grouphead to release and then slowly turn the portafilter handle to relieve the pressure still in the grouphead. When it starts to 'sneeze' stop and allow it to de-pressurize.
If you did not get the handle down past the point where hot water enters the grouphead; turn the unit off and turn on the steam wand to release pressure in the boiler. But be aware that pressure may still be in the grouphead, so be careful with the portafilter.
On successive pulls you will get two or perhaps three great shots before the grouphead begins to get too hot for good espresso. The solution is to cool off the portafilter by putting it in cold water.
La Pavoni advertises that these units can pull 8 doubles... Wrong; at best you will get 5 or perhaps 6 pulls before the water level gets dangerously low to the heating element. You never want any part of it above the water line.

Well by now you realize that these machines can be quite a challenge. But once you get to know Miss Pavoni, she will make the best espresso you've ever had in your life. The espresso itself is actually creamy and the crema ooohhh... the crema!
As I mentioned earlier a lot of making a good espresso depends on you. The machine is not the problem. You have to consider the Espresso blend, the grind, the filter basket, the tamper, the tamp itself and finally the pull. Allot of variables depend on you 'the home barista'. I suggest you visit some of the many Internet sites that fanatics like me tend to visit, there is ample great information out there to help you out of any jam you may get into.
Another issue is the tamper; I don't know why a company as prestigious as La Pavoni sends a tamper of such low quality... In layman terms, "It sucks." Reg Barber makes a top of the line tamper at a fair price they will 'turn' your tamper to the measurement of your basket to within 1/10th of a mm... for your baskets the correct size is 49.4mm. If you go on their website you will see you have many choices. Do yourself a great big favor and get one.
Lastly, the single size filter basket for the La Pavoni is worthless. In the pictures I took to sell this unit I used the double basket sold by La Pavoni and it can make great espresso with practice. But if you want another double basket (as many people do) La Pavoni baskets are about
$40.00 (Outrageous!) So do yourself another great big favor... Go online and find a Internet seller that sells the "Elektra Leva 'A' machines and replacement filter baskets. They are much deeper than the La Pavoni basket yet are the same diameter. So since you already have a bottomless portafilter you can use them. They are high quality and still much cheaper than the La Pavoni baskets. You will have much more success with them in making espresso because they hold more grind.
Well that is about it. By now you may realize that I love espresso machines and I love espresso. I have three at home, one at my office and five in my shop. I collect them, I use them and I thoroughly enjoy all different types of machines... But my wife thinks I have gone a bit overboard. So I agreed to sell a few... But that does not mean I won't be tempted on Ebay by some unique find...

Have fun with your machine. Hopefully what I have written here will help you on your way to years of great espresso... enjoy!
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#2: Post by RapidCoffee »

Thanks for sharing your instructions. For newbies, it's probably worthwhile noting that some parts of this guide apply only to older (pre-Millenium) Pavoni levers. For example, the newer models have a simple on-off switch, and take a 51mm basket (the Elektra basket will not fit). Double baskets for the Millenium models are now available for reasonable prices (e.g., $12 at partsguru.com). The 51mm single baskets are actually usable, although single shots always make me think a) "what's the point?" and b) "I want more!" :)
John

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TUS172

#3: Post by TUS172 » replying to RapidCoffee »

Thanks,
I found a letter that I had written last year for a Millenium that I sold. I have posted it. It is somewhat similar to the letter in this post but does contain the differrences you pointed out.
La Pavoni Millenium for Newbies Somehow it was deleted so I have reposted it.
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

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Kaffee Bitte

#4: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

TUS172 wrote:Lastly, the single size filter basket for the La Pavoni is worthless.
This is the only point I felt was off on this otherwise very well written instructions. I agree the single basket doesn't behave the same way as the double, but it most certainly can produce great single shots. For one thing, you have to be very careful to use the right amount of coffee. Go much above 8 grams and the shot will most likely be way off. It also helps to grind a bit coarser, maybe a step or half step (for stepped grinder users). Using the exact same grind with the single basket can easily lead to a choke, especially if you added above 8 grams. With a little coarser grind you could probably still pull the shot and have it drinkable.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
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TUS172

#5: Post by TUS172 »

I agree... I guess its a matter of taste. I like double-doubles or even triple-doubles... Perhaps for me it is... The more volume the better... I only tried the single basket a few times and I knew it was not for me personally but that does not mean that one can't make an espresso to his/her personal taste with one... :oops:
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

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Kaffee Bitte

#6: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

Honestly, Bob, I mostly drink doubles myself, so I understand your view point. Singles can be an amazing shot though, especially when they are pulled with a single origin. Aside from the volume issues with the single shots though, it seems that many people don't use the baskets because singles take a different skill set than a double. People invest so much time in their double baskets, and start getting good shots, then switch once and the shot just isn't as good. It is just a matter of practice really and learning the right techniques, just like so much of the espresso brewing process.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
____________________

calb

#7: Post by calb »

Kaffee Bitte wrote:Honestly, Bob, I mostly drink doubles myself, so I understand your view point. Singles can be an amazing shot though, especially when they are pulled with a single origin. Aside from the volume issues with the single shots (...)
That is very interesting. In my experience with the Pavoni I get the same (very small) volume with one pull of the lever either I use the single or the double basket. When you say you mostly drink doubles I assume you make 2 pulls?
And have you tried the "double basket + 1 pull" approach with a single origin?How would you compare it to the "single basket + 1 pull" approach?

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Kaffee Bitte

#8: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

I usually use the Fellini preinfusion (one or two mini pulls) for either basket. For the double basket it varies a little. I start with the Fellini, and then pull the first pull. If it is going well I will continue the pull to the bottom. If the pull is difficult, I only do a half pull and then start on a second pull. More often than not though I do two Fellini's and two full pulls. Normal volume for the two full pulls ranges from 1.5 ounce to 1.75 ounce. The one and a half pulls usually range in the 1.25-1.5 ounce area. On the single basket I also do the Fellini, at least one mini pull though often two. Doing so will get you much closer to an actual full single shot, at near 1 ounce. I use both the single and the double for single-origins. Each way will produce a slightly different flavor profile from the beans. Often times my single origin espressos are used more for testing a bean to use in an espresso blend. It gives me an idea of what it can add to a blend and can lead to a nice balanced blend. There are however some coffees that I drink mainly as single origins. These include DP Ethiopians, Yemens, a few others randomly (like El Salvador San Emilio! YUM!), and last but most definitely most favored Australia Mountain Top Estate!
calb wrote:And have you tried the "double basket + 1 pull" approach with a single origin?How would you compare it to the "single basket + 1 pull" approach?


I have tried both of these, yes. I truly prefer the single basket for a single pull on any SO or blend. If I am using the double basket I tend to prefer the pull techniques stated above. To me the double basket single pull leads a shot that is too intense and misses the subtle flavors. Best thing you can do is just try it out as many different ways as you can think of. You have to learn your own tastes, and find the methods that work for you.

For more reading on Multiple pulls on levers here is a good thread. There are many more out there if you dig a bit too.
Lever multiple pull techniques
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
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calb

#9: Post by calb »

Kaffee Bitte wrote:Best thing you can do is just try it out as many different ways as you can think of. You have to learn your own tastes, and find the methods that work for you.
Yeah I think you're right. I have been using more the double basket. Now I'll start to explore the single basket with 1 or 2 felinis.
I drink mainly single origins and I have had very good results with some Guatemalas too...

calb

#10: Post by calb »

First efforts with the single basket loaded with 8 to 9 gr are giving a bit thinner crema than the double basket. Is this expectable or am I doing something wrong?