La Pavoni vs Ponte Vecchio and others

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
Starguru
Posts: 71
Joined: 7 months ago

#1: Post by Starguru »

How do I differentiate between the various "simple" boiler/lever/streamer options out there? Im talking the La Pavoni and PV type options.

I've excluded levers like the Flair as I don't want to deal with having to wash out more than the portafilter basket after each shot (my understanding is most of the Flairs/Robots have a chamber that needs disassembling and cleaning after each shot).

It seems like there are some relatively modestly priced options, but on the other end I can get a CT2 or a Cremina for what seems like a hefty premium. Do those machines just have superior finishing, or is there something more to them?

I make a shot or two a day. I don't often steam milk, but it does happen. I was considering an ACS Evo Leva but that thread made me realize I should probably try a more modest lever before such a big investment.

One big distinction here is Spring vs manual. Im not opposed to manual, but I would certainly like a pressure gauge so I can see how much pressure I'm applying, especially for my first lever.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6588
Joined: 19 years ago

#2: Post by Jeff »

Shot size and temperature stability will vary a lot among lever machines.

My Arrarex VAM pulls a tiny shot from about 7 g max. It is very temperature stable as it is an open boiler.

The CT2 is also very temperature stable but can pull a shot of much greater volume.

Many of the intermediate models have varying rituals to manage temperature. They also have varying shot sizes.

Starguru (original poster)
Posts: 71
Joined: 7 months ago

#3: Post by Starguru (original poster) »

Watching the videos I'm failing to see what's so special about the Streitman vs a La Pavoni. What am I missing?

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6588
Joined: 19 years ago

#4: Post by Jeff »

At least for me, a La Pavoni is annoying to manage temperature and makes small shots. Other than that they are really cheap used, I don't see the attraction. I've tried a couple times and haven't found redeeming characteristics.

sympa
Posts: 98
Joined: 1 year ago

#5: Post by sympa »

The Robot has no chamber to clean. Just the basket. The disadvantages of the Robot are two: (1) heating the water in a separate device, (2) doing your own thermal management (preheating the piston and basket). Regarding Jeff's comments, someone just doing a shot or two a day is not affected by the heat buildup in the group. It does make smaller shots, but from my research the Pavoni can do a 18 in 36 out without issue. My next machine will be a Pavoni, actually.

Starguru (original poster)
Posts: 71
Joined: 7 months ago

#6: Post by Starguru (original poster) »

Jeff wrote:At least for me, a La Pavoni is annoying to manage temperature and makes small shots. Other than that they are really cheap used, I don't see the attraction. I've tried a couple times and haven't found redeeming characteristics.

How do they compare to the PV Export? I was reading there are some quality issues with PV, but maybe those have improved lately?

doobedy
Posts: 6
Joined: 5 months ago

#7: Post by doobedy »

La Pavonis have been around longer than most of us, and they didn't do that by having no redeeming characteristics. Unmodded, they require a temperature strip and some attention but otherwise there is nothing stopping anybody from making espresso equal to Cremina or Strietman. Modded, they are a little better in some quality-of-life ways. You can see pressure as you pull, run the boiler at a higher pressure than a Cremina for better steam, etc.

The PV Export is a spring lever machine, which is an entirely different experience, and it's probably fair to say that makes pretty tiny shots. I've never used one, but I have no doubt they can also make great espresso.

RyanP
Posts: 871
Joined: 8 years ago

#8: Post by RyanP »

Starguru wrote:Watching the videos I'm failing to see what's so special about the Streitman vs a La Pavoni. What am I missing?
The La Pavoni is a machine full of compromises, ime. I found it a frustrating experience and it didn't last very long on my counter. The strietman isn't perfect, but it gets a lot of things right. Better piston design meaning no vacuum effect on the puck when lifting the lever and less air between piston and puck. Larger shot volume capable of 1:3 ratios. Open boiler and saturated group design for good temp precision and back to back shot temp stability.

I do wish it had a small external temp readout somewhere, or even better, a PID. I currently use a thermapen to check water temp if I'm not sure. It's a small compromise for me, but an upgrade I'd be pretty happy about if Wouter ever decides to address it. Beyond that, there are the two obvious points of price and no steam. Some people may be put out by the 49mm group, but to me it's a plus. After 5+ years of use I'm hard pressed to come up with any other complaints beyond the temp control/read out.

User avatar
baldheadracing
Team HB
Posts: 6169
Joined: 9 years ago

#9: Post by baldheadracing »

Starguru wrote:Watching the videos I'm failing to see what's so special about the Streitman vs a La Pavoni. What am I missing?
You're missing that James Bond had a 1970 v1.6 Europiccola. That's why I have a 1970 v1.6 :lol:, but also that v1.6 is one of the best versions of the Europiccola.

A Streitman is an open boiler and so the boiler runs at about the brew temperature that you want; the brew temperature profile is relatively flat; and the pre-infusion pressure/flow is at atmospheric pressure (gravity). A Pavoni is a closed boiler so the boiler water runs at a higher temperature than boiling; is a dipper so the brew temperature profile is typically decreasing (but is up to the user); the pre-infusion pressure is at boiler pressure, usually 0.78 bar (above atmospheric) in a current stock Pavoni; and, as a dipper, the pre-infusion flow is very high (sometimes "too high," which is why puck screens were invented).

In other words, the biggest plus is that a Streitman is MUCH easier to use and get great results out of; a Pavoni needs to be mastered (10,000 shots?) but is ultimately more flexible. If you have the skills - and you need to develop those skills - then you can make a Pavoni taste like a Streitman, but there are Pavoni shots that cannot be done on the Strietman (and a lot of those Pavoni shots will taste worse than a Streitman; again, skills). I do not recommend a Pavoni as a first machine; but I'm not saying it can't be done, of course.
sympa wrote:The Robot has no chamber to clean. Just the basket. The disadvantages of the Robot are two: (1) heating the water in a separate device, (2) doing your own thermal management (preheating the piston and basket). Regarding Jeff's comments, someone just doing a shot or two a day is not affected by the heat buildup in the group. It does make smaller shots, but from my research the Pavoni can do a 18 in 36 out without issue. My next machine will be a Pavoni, actually.
I agree about the Robot, and have already recommended it to the OP - but about the Pavoni: In a stock machine, I actively manage the extraction temperature profile for the first and second and every shot. (There are mods.) I also wouldn't say "without issue" for the 36g capacity, unless one does Fellini and/or mods, but dose and capacity does depend on the coffee, roast, and your technique. As a result, YMMV.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Starguru (original poster)
Posts: 71
Joined: 7 months ago

#10: Post by Starguru (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:You're missing that James Bond had a 1970 v1.6 Europiccola. That's why I have a 1970 v1.6 :lol:, but also that v1.6 is one of the best versions of the Europiccola.

A Streitman is an open boiler and so the boiler runs at about the brew temperature that you want; the brew temperature profile is relatively flat; and the pre-infusion pressure/flow is at atmospheric pressure (gravity). A Pavoni is a closed boiler so the boiler water runs at a higher temperature than boiling; is a dipper so the brew temperature profile is typically decreasing (but is up to the user); the pre-infusion pressure is at boiler pressure, usually 0.78 bar (above atmospheric) in a current stock Pavoni; and, as a dipper, the pre-infusion flow is very high (sometimes "too high," which is why puck screens were invented).

In other words, the biggest plus is that a Streitman is MUCH easier to use and get great results out of; a Pavoni needs to be mastered (10,000 shots?) but is ultimately more flexible. If you have the skills - and you need to develop those skills - then you can make a Pavoni taste like a Streitman, but there are Pavoni shots that cannot be done on the Strietman (and a lot of those Pavoni shots will taste worse than a Streitman; again, skills). I do not recommend a Pavoni as a first machine; but I'm not saying it can't be done, of course.


I agree about the Robot, and have already recommended it to the OP - but about the Pavoni: In a stock machine, I actively manage the extraction temperature profile for the first and second and every shot. (There are mods.) I also wouldn't say "without issue" for the 36g capacity, unless one does Fellini and/or mods, but dose and capacity does depend on the coffee, roast, and your technique. As a result, YMMV.
Thanks for this perspective, and the details provided. Where did you recommend the Robot; not seeing it in this thread, perhaps my thread about the ACS Evo Leva? In any event, I think I want a machine that at least heats the water. Maybe I should look for a second hand CT2 to get started....