Riviera Espresso Refurbish

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.

#1: Post by Flyinace2000 »

I recently pulled my grandfather's espresso machine out of storage. Family lore says it leaks which is why it was mothballed years ago. I fired it up and true to the stories it did leak. Major leak was past the piston and when the group meets the boiler once the smallest amount of pressure began to build. No big deal, I found new gaskets from www.lamacchinadelcaffe.com. Now the machine builds and holds pressure right to 1.5bar. I did a deep clean using citric acid and hot (180f water) to clear out the boiler.

Its been 20 years since i last used this machine so my memory might be fuzzy. Once the machine is at temp/pressure i load the basket, tamp down the espresso and attach to the group head. The lever comes down easy, but coffee comes out immediatly and the spring pushes the piston back fairly quickly. I used to recall the coffee not coming out until the piston pushed it out. I could be wrong.

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Once i confirm functionality my next step is to re-polish everything and possible strip it down to bring to a local metal plating to bring back the original high shine copper/brass look.

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#2: Post by Nunas »

Cool project! You got it about right. Generally, one adds a bit of preinfusion by holding the lever down for a bit. the pressure in the boiler causes the water to saturate the puck. Then you release. I usually wait until I see a few drops emerging, as I like a longer preinfustion. You need to adjust the grind finer if when you pull the lever down the coffee gushes out. On the other hand, if when you release the lever the coffee just comes out in drops and the lever takes a long time to rise back up, you need to coarsen the grind.


#3: Post by Flyinace2000 »

I have an automatic Burr grinder made by encore. Setting is set to the finest but the water still surges past the puck even that the finest level. Maybe I'll buy some commercial pre-ground espresso for testing or do you think the encore unit can be adjusted.


#4: Post by Flyinace2000 »

I bet my grinder needs dialing in. Darker stuff is my grinder at its finest setting and lighter coffee is Illy espresso pre-ground.


#5: Post by Flyinace2000 »

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#6: Post by Nunas »

Great...thought it would. BTW, your pressure is a tad high. When you pull the machine apart for the restoration you might set it so that the needle stays in the green. Also, you've probably already discovered "false pressure". Sometimes when mine heats up the pressure gauge goes up prematurely and shuts the heater off. Letting a bit of steam off when the gauge first starts to rise will fix that. I don't know if this is true of all Rivieras or just a case of the valve on mine being stuck (I've not done a rebuild as it works fine).


#7: Post by MK1 »

Such a cool project. It looks like you have your work cut out for you, but once it's finished, I'm sure it will be beautiful.


#8: Post by Flyinace2000 »

Next is going to be to just polish and clean the exterior. I have a new pressure gauge I may install too. I'm also going to need to calibrate my grinder. Then I'll look into replating.


#9: Post by Flyinace2000 »


Grinder adjustment done. That should sort things out.

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#10: Post by truemagellen »

Flyinace2000 wrote:Finer coffee fixed it

You are moving in the right direction. Ideally you would have the lever down and no drops of coffee for several seconds. Then upon releasing the lever a short period of very slow flow. Then rest of the shot a light even flow. Many videos on youtube.