A commercial lever has always been my ultimate dream in my coffee journey - thanks to many of the leverheads in HB as well as OE for having such a great influence. Home levers are great but I always find myself wanting when others are posting about their commercial levers - there's just this X factor with vintage commercial lever(single group that is, two group are somehow fugly and clumpsy IMO
) that I can't articulate. Finally after a few years into this rabbit hole, the Santa must think I've been good enough to chance upon this rare vintage Brugnetti Aurora (couldn't have asked for more!).
Update Feb 2018 : 2.5 years later, still loving every bit of it! First Impression
When it arrived at my door, the first thing I thought - the grouphead is just gorgeous! The size is smaller than what I would expect for a commercial machine too, good! By no mean it is a small machine, but the previous La Cimbali 'Junior' I had was a behemoth in comparison and anything but junior. I can imagine this Aurora is more compact as compared to many commercial levers.
The serial number ended with xxxx87 which is the only sign that makes sense for a year indication(anyone?). As I understood there were three versions for this model - pre-hx, hx through boiler plate (aka horseshoe hx), hx straight through the boiler. This is the horseshoe HX lever - with fresh water from the main line, going through the horseshoe hx in the boiler before getting delivered to grouphead. What amazed me most is that it doesn't need a pump and doesn't use the boiler pressure/water for brewing coffee! Line pressure is used to push the preheated hot water into the grouphead,as well as for refilling boiler via a manual-fill push lever. So pulling shots after shots won't deplete the boiler water and there is no fear of boiler water taste. The boiler is said to be 5L, but when I emptied the boiler, it's more like 2L when filled half way (Anyone measured this before?). Setting it up
Before I even set it up and make coffee, I went and disassemble the grouphead (a true HB spirit!). The reason? To check for usual suspects if there is any rust on the spring, or if there is any split in the group head collar (which might happen if anyone let the lever snap without any resistance). Thankfully none of them and the group is just beautiful and beautifully maintained by the past owner.Pic: Pulling out the piston
Although, I can't say all is rosy. First, the manual-fill push lever was a bit stiff(stuck open when I pushed too hard), so I disassembled that too to fix it. It wasn't that convenient but quite straight forward (involves disassembling a few other pipes too). Good opportunity to learn about the machine - which is all mechanical and so simple - you really don't get this these days and it is totally in line with my quest for simplicity. .Pic: Manual fill mechanism
Next, there're some minor leaks here and there, which I can't do much at the moment without new parts. The boiler safety valves seems to be hissing and I can't figure out how to remove it. Then there is some leak from my pipe connection to the water inlet on the machine. The steam wand is spitting some water slowly when up to pressure.
The showerscreen is also missing on this machine, but I hope that it is an easy part since it is a 58mm part. The one from Astoria seems to be similar. Currently, i'm putting a piece of mesh above the coffee puck to protect it from being trashed by the water jet.
Set up proved to be cumbersome as I'm staying in a rented house and plumbing is best avoided. So I run it through a Flojet style pump and it happily runs from a reservoir. Due to that, it makes a 2 sec humming sound when pulling a shot, but that's nothing compared to the annoying vibe pump on other machines I have used.Pics: Finally set up
Currently, the pressurestat is set to 0.8-1.0 bar. I figure that could be upped to 1.0-1.2 bar (as mentioned by hpery in another thread) and I think the brew is on the cooler side as is. Increase in pstat will help with steaming microfoam too. Speaking of which, I don't really fancy the fixed, long steam wand. Plan to change it out when I have more dispensable cash later on (not sure what would fit though).
So far, what I'm pulling isn't to its potential. The crema is transient and settles quickly. But the body and creaminess from the same bean is already much greater compared to what I could get elsewhere. Unfortunately, when served in milk, the flavors is weaker and doesn't cut through the milk for my wife. Will work on that slowly, it's just another learning curve for me.
Some more pictures: Pic: Boiler safety valve
Pic: Mysterious hex hut
p/s: I'm starting to wonder what's next for my coffee journey now that I have what I've always dreamed of Does anyone else feel that way too in their coffee journey?