LMWDP Rollcall - Page 196

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
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Postby TUS172 » Jan 05, 2018, 1:06 pm

It's been forever since I've been on here nice to see the thread still going and forum is still robust. Cheers!
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012


Postby rittem1 » Jan 07, 2018, 6:04 pm

The journey continues...I started with a pre millenium LP PRO. Couldn't resist a craigslist BES900XL find which transformed into a brand new BES920XL (thanks Breville). Sold the BES920XL with the desire to get back to levers. I wasn't totally sure which one I wanted and I was willing to be patient. My daily checks on Craigslist turned up quite a gem a local HB-er had decided to let go after getting something else. Fast forward to today and this is now sitting on my counter.
LMWDP #517


Postby Villa » Jan 08, 2018, 5:13 pm

Greetings fellow baristi...and Happy New Year !

Having lurked around this forum for a number of years now I thought it high time to extend my appreciation for the knowledge gleaned from Dan Kehn and the entire H-B community.

By way of introduction, and the circuitous route that led me to Home Barista...

Bought my first Chrome Peacock in the early 70's while knocking around Italy with my new bride.

After spending the first month or so choking off the machine to get a ¼ ounce of thick, black, highly viscous asphalt, I soon began to develop the art of pulling a shot. Something in my DNA, perhaps.

Initially, the gunk that I was producing probably had as much to do with the coffee beans available at the time and a Braun blade grinder as it was to my nascent barista skills. It was either Italian Roast or French Roast. Cleaning that Braun grinder after a session with an Italian roast would have challenged an AAMCO technician..

As time passed, availability of coffee beans got better, home grinders got better...as did my barista skills. Never measured, never weighed and never timed. Instinctively dialed in by grind, dose volume, viscosity of flow, crema, blonding, output amount in the cup, the below mentioned temperature surfing...and of course, taste. All seemed within traditional tolerances.

In the ensuing years I've had about 3 Pavoni's moving from the 8-cup single switch Europiccola to the latest 16-cup Professional. Played around with the Tin Man, Cremina and Microcasa a Leva but always felt the Pavoni Pro, despite it's quirks, suited me best for a manual home lever and the ability to profile to one's tastes. It's possible that was more the result of a 30-year intimacy.

Performed the usual preventive maintenance and easily handled its well-known annoyances with the tried and true methods, The fact that most of the time it was only my wife and I drinking espresso or a cappuccino made its most notorious problem of overheating less of an issue. We chose not to crank up the kids too early by introducing them to espresso. We got them puppies, instead !! With company...friends or family...we just fired up a large Bialetti Moka pot.

Which brings me to Home Barista...

About 10 years ago, when taking a break in one of the so called "high-end" coffee bars that dot the streets of NYC (my home town) I ordered my usual ristretto and since it was crowded, I moved off to the side next to the gleaming La Marzocco and was absentmindedly watching the barista do his thing. And like most things in life (in my life, anyway) out of the blue, it occurred to me that despite losing my virginity to my beloved La Pavoni, after 30+ years of monogamy it was time to move on and take a walk on the wild side.

Never thinking of anything but another manual lever machine, I researched and stumbled upon H-B and Dave Stephens (Cannonfodder) thoroughly and wonderfully detailed bench review of the Gaggia Achille. I realize this is ancient history and probably old school...what with the Londinium, Profitec and other high-end spring levers for the home barista. But for my money you can't beat what a skilled barista can get out of a manual lever machine. Plus I prefer the more hands on ritual...thought not in an OCD type of way. In any event, bought the Achille and had it now for about 10 years and use it 3 or 4 times a day...every day, pulling consistent shots.

From a preventive maintenance standpoint...replaced the infamous #45, 47, 95 and 16 gaskets twice over the years, along with the group head gasket...more to "tighten- up" the machine than anything else. Many thanks to some earlier H-B members for having paved the way on those issues! Canned the steam valve and found that the internal valve from the Brasilia Baby works perfectly. Got it chrome plated at a local shop. You'd never know the difference. Also, a number of years ago, bought a shiteload of spare parts from WLL just in case.

And, yeah...I've shaken my head more than once when I think of a country (mine) that once produced the Lamborghini and Ferrari having produced a wonderfully conceived espresso machine wholly dependent on 10 cents worth of o-rings, a couple of springs the size of a pencil eraser, cheap plastic one-way valves...and the aforementioned steam valve.

In any event, all through these 10+ years I'd occasionally clock in to H-B...peruse a few articles, but primarily was checking out the latest coffee reviews. Until, I decided it was time to upgrade from my Mazzer Mini. So I began to deep dive the HB archives, conversations, reviews, back and forth debates, trending topics, etc. All things grinder/espresso related. Though, I must admit, the wonderfully exhaustive treatise on filter basket construction and hole size distribution by Jim Shulman et al. a few years back, did have me against the ropes.

The breadth and depth of knowledge of the entire HB Team and community is sincerely appreciated by those of us who just lurk.

Anyway, bought the Mahlkonig K30 Vario and having some time on my hands due to a minor cycling mishap, I also bought a few tools...or toys, if you prefer...to see if the coffee I was producing all those years yanking on the Pavoni and Gaggia was respectable. It always looked and tasted as good as the coffee bars or restaurants I would frequent. But I wanted to know if it was theoretically good. Weight in and out, timing, temperature, over/under extracted, etc.

It was...

Thanks to all for your expertise !


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Postby drgary » Jan 08, 2018, 11:20 pm

What a delightful first post, Robert. Thank you for an entertaining read!


What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!


Postby ritternathan » Jan 22, 2018, 9:10 pm

About two years ago I found a chrome 1989 MCAL that I restored. Due to many of the posts here, I was able to take apart the pstat and rebuilt it. I replaced most of the gaskets/seals and descaled the boiler. I love how relatively simple these machines are, how well-built they are and how the espresso tastes. I have pulled many memorable SO shots.



Postby bradenl123 » Jan 23, 2018, 5:12 pm

A very short journey to a lever.....June 2016 I bought my first "espresso" machine or so I thought. I bought a Saeco Poemia and a Baratza Encore for my grinder. At that point I thought I was dishing out quite a bit of money for a coffee set up....Boy was I wrong! I started researching more about espresso and how to produce better shots and stumbled across Home-Barista. I spent too many hours reading and re-reading. I was became very dehydrated along the way...Too much coffee not enough water. I then went to the Buy/Sell forum and saw that a Quickmill Alexia was for sale. I read the reviews and decided this might be the machine for me. At the time, I wasn't an espresso only person. I preferred milk drinks. I convinced myself that I would turn into an espresso only person. I had my Alexia from May 2017- until last week where I sold it to my friend. I really enjoyed the shots I pulled (I upgraded to a Mahlgut MG-1) and started to wonder if it were possible to do better. So, I started looking up a lever. Now, I 99% of the time drink single origin shots. Some of you on here might cringe at some of the espresso I pull but to me it is enjoyable and gives me energy which is what I need being in the Army (P.S. their coffee sucks) Fast forward to today and I am patiently waiting the arrival of a Brass and Copper MCAL that had about 50 shots pulled for 1/2 the price of a new one. I am excited to get it up and running and experience those lovely layered shots everyone talks about. I am sure I will go through a few shots before I get their as I know it can be finicky but I am excited!


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Postby redbone » Jan 23, 2018, 5:40 pm

Braden, good to hear you found a suitable lever. Where did you luck out ?
Keep us informed on your MCAL experience.
Leverism is a slippery slope but then again that could be applied to many other things on H-B.
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.

LMWDP #549


Postby bradenl123 » Jan 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

3 shots in....Much different than E61. I am putting about 15 in and getting about 20 out. Still figuring out the grind but the shots are exactly what people say they are. Layered and soft. I am extremely pleased. One thing, how do you put the Eagle on lol. It didn't come with a screw and the guy who sold it said he never put it on...Not the biggest deal but I do like the Eagle! I will post some pictures later...about to make shot 4.



Postby LObin » Feb 04, 2018, 1:31 am

Bonjour à tous les "Lever aficionados"!
Here's my current setup...
Olympia Express Club 79

Caravel V3...

My espresso journey only started 13 months ago...
I bought and sold first, a La Pavoni SI (pressurized PF) and then...
Mokita Combi (added swivel steam wand and solenoid)
Avanti Alba
Isomac Relax
ECM Giotto premium (full restoration)
Ponte Vecchio Lusso
Untill my current machines...
Caravel v3
Olympia Express Club (restoration almost completed)

Also own 2 commercial machines...
2 groups black and gold Gaggia D90
Iberital Ladri 1 group

Not to mention I also dragged a few family members with me and found these machines for them:
Free Gaggia Classic
1980s La Pavoni professional 16 cups
Dual switch La Pavoni Europiccola
Bezzera bz99

Sparing you guys the grinders stories!

Did I mention that 13 months ago I was drinking Tassimo? I think we can call it a newly found passion!
Obviously, my wife does not believe me when I say that I will never sell my Oly Club and my Caravel, but I'll do my best to prove her wrong!
What does the futur hold for me? Well, I can easily imagine a La Peppina sitting next to my Caravel! Mind as well add a faemina, a microcimbali, a Brunelli, a mini Gaggia, a Zacconi, and a Mcal to that list!
Oh! Will for sure keep my eyes opened for any vintage single group commercial lever like... a Lambro, Aurora or Orion, to name a few!

What started as a passion for espresso machines quickly turned into an obsession for vintage levers...

But I refused to get treated!



Postby paddygarcia » Feb 04, 2018, 1:37 pm

This is a great read and has been kind of inspirational.I posted a few pics of my rebuild to the Repairs forum, but wanted to thank folks here in the lever forum as HB was the key to my finding just the right way to get back to enjoying the small amount of coffee that my gut can handle anymore :-)

Over the years I've had a huge coffee habit, occasionally supplemented by moka pots and low-end espresso makers, and after my first internal plumbing inspection my gastroenterologist told what I already knew but was ignoring about reflux. Coffee had to go, along with most of my caffeine intake for other reasons, and for about 4 years I drank almost only decaf tea. Fast forward, and I find that I can enjoy 1 double espresso per day, but $3/day at the local shooting gallery gets expensive, and their shots aren't all that great.

So I end up at HB looking for info about how to make espresso at home. I quickly latched on to levers and manual grinders as a way to naturally limit intake (pretty sure that if I had an electric grinder and a pump machine I'd be like a lab rat with an electrode in it's brain - press-press-press-press-press-press...). A little shopping on ebay and craigslist got me an unused Knock Hausgrind, an antique Troemler apothecary scale (I'm a Philly kid and they were made there), and a sad Europiccola that needed rebuilding. One order to HB's suppliers and a weekend later:


Not knowing anything about this other than what I've read, I started with bagged beans from the supermarket to get familiar with things, and by the end of the bag I could even drink a few of the shots I made. With some experience, I bought beans from a local roaster/shop (Weird Brothers in Herndon VA), and have gotten the routine and settings reasonably well dialed in. The Hausgrind seems to do a nice job and is just slow enough. The scale works well and looks nice in the kitchen. Only issue is that it's calibrated in avoirdupois grains and is a balance, so I need to convert from grams and use a counterweight. In a nice crossover to another hobby, it turns out that a 200 grain .45 caliber bullet measures a good double and a 148 grain .38 caliber makes a good single with the scale adjusted to pull 15 grains off each.

The Europiccola is a nice machine for my needs. It heats up fast to make my one shot per day, and I may not even do the mod to remove the steam heat, for that reason. So far, so good, although I must say a small spring machine like a Sama/Ponte Vecchio Export or Microcasa a Leva looks intriguing...