What is the point of 3 hole steamer on La Pavoni Europiccola and a new owner's recipe.

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Sugarbeet
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#1: Post by Sugarbeet »

I've got my La Pavoni EP Lusso a couple of weeks ago and I managed to get "drinkable" espresso after few days(and one 250g bag of coffee) and good ones only few days ago. I have a post millenium machine with a 51mm basket.

For those interested in the details of my recipe it is below. However the steamer was just not working for me at all. I watched enough videos and read enough about steaming milk I could probably write a book on the theory of it, but in practice I was essentially boiling my milk way too quickly. I even tried putting the 300ml stainless jug with 150ml of milk in a 500ml container of ice water and I managed to almost boil the large container of water along with my milk...

Until I finally decided I'm plugging two of the 3 holes with pieces of a toothpick.. And I managed to make great steamed milk on the first try :D This makes me wonder, why on earth did they choose to design the steam tip like that? I thought maybe these 3 holes are aligned in some special way to make a vortex in the milk. Nope, they are drilled like a legs of a tripod - straight down.

So my advice for any new owner of a La Pavoni Europiccola struggling to steam milk without overheating to plug 2 of the holes. I left the "rear" hole unplugged.

Now the details of my "recipe":
- 12g of a lightly roasted speciality coffee (Kenya Swara AB washed)
- Fine grind by my Eureka Mignon MCI that used to grind too coarse for this kind of coffee and the espresso machine until I polished and aligned the burrs. Now the grind is one numeral from burrs touching (two lines, one turn on the dial is 5 numbers or 10 lines).
- The "double" basket that came with the machine, portafilter with the spout unscrewed.
- very light tamp (3kg ?) and a sintered metal disk on top.

Put maximum water in the machine (symbolised by the line going around the boiler). Let it heat up until the light goes off, let the air out through the steam wand. Cycle the lever up and down few times to heat up the group.

Take the portafilter and the basket, grind into them, distribute and tamp lightly. Put the sintered steel disk on top and while holding the portafilter in left hand made into a fist lean on the boiler knob (so you can hold the machine and the portafilter at the same time). Raise the lever abarely below the level where it lets water in and while holding it in this position (it requires slight sideways pressure) gently put the portafilter in the group. Raise the lever a little more and give it 10s of preinfusion. If your grind is correct for this recipe there should be a single drop of liquid at around 10s. Then press with a force of approximately 30kg initially and lower the force gradually to 10kg at the very end. The extraction takes 30s and the weight is 38g. If you choose not to raise the lever before inserting the portafilter you will get 6g less.

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baldheadracing
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

The point of the three-hole tip is that, all things being equal, more holes steam faster.

That being said, a single hole tip does seem to work better at the lower boiler pressure of modern Pavoni's.

The older two-switch models do seem to benefit from three holes in my experience, but the boiler pressure during steaming is quite a bit higher in those machines.

P.S. There is no need to "let the air out through the steam wand." The Lusso has a vacuum breaker so most of the air is long gone.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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lassepavoni
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#3: Post by lassepavoni »

baldheadracing wrote:P.S. There is no need to "let the air out through the steam wand." The Lusso has a vacuum breaker so most of the air is long gone.
Why (and how) would the vacuum breaker discern between releasing excess air or excess steam? I don't think it works that way.
I, too, bleed off the false pressure through the steam wand every time, after having done a test proposed by rpavlis here on this forum: dip the steam wand into a glass of water and then slowly open the steam valve. At first you will see air bubbles rising up in the water, indicating that there really is some air released from the boiler, while the proper steam will only show minimal or no bubbling. All this on my 2021 post-millennium Europiccola.
Regards, Lasse
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baldheadracing
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#4: Post by baldheadracing replying to lassepavoni »

The question is, when does false pressure matter? Does all air have to be bled, or enough air bled that boiler performance does not change?

Pretty much every espresso machine sold in this century that has a steam/service boiler uses a vacuum breaker to make the effect of false pressure on boiler performance irrelevant. Salvatore might still make a compact E-61 with no breaker, but that is the only one that I can think of. The old days of starting the machine with the steam valve open are long gone.

Admittedly, the various vacuum breaker designs that la Pavoni have used have been problematic - I think that the version that you probably have in a 2021 can fail closed, so false pressure would become an issue.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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homeburrero
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#5: Post by homeburrero »

lassepavoni wrote:Why (and how) would the vacuum breaker discern between releasing excess air or excess steam? I don't think it works that way.
You're right, they just release whatever is there. But they do tend to eliminate air because as the water is reaching boiling point there is a period where steam is boiling off slowly, displacing air, and by the time the thing shuts off there is no significant air left. Of course it may be stuck closed, or close prematurely as rpavlis discusses with his olive jar post. Blowing off a little steam with a steam wand takes care of this. When I do this and see a noticeable drop on the pressure gauge that takes a while to rise back up then I'm convinced that my anti-vac has failed to fully do the air purging job.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

Jonk
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#6: Post by Jonk »

3 holes are needed to use the machine as intended:
Joking aside, I too think it's a stubborn relic from the old two-switch versions that can easily steam at much higher pressure. I still preferred a small one hole tip for those: 1.5mm worked well, smaller would still be better to make sure that the heating element can keep up.

IIRC Pavoni is finally coming around, with one hole steam tips for example for the Esperto? Maybe they'll switch completely after old stock runs out.

Coffee-Sensor and others sell 1.2mm tips. But yes, just plugging 2 holes works too. If you add a switch to bypass the pstat you can also enjoy greater steaming power. Better add a gauge as well in that case (or crank up the pstat and use the switch to regulate temperature).

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lassepavoni
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#7: Post by lassepavoni »

baldheadracing wrote:The question is, when does false pressure matter?
Fair point. Might as well be that everything is alright the way it is, but since there is still a little air left to bleed off, the procedure is not totally unnecessary :D . Even if it's just to exercise the valve regularly so it doesn't get stuck. I only make straight shots and don't steam any milk.

baldheadracing wrote:I think that the version that you probably have in a 2021 can fail closed, so false pressure would become an issue.
It would have failed pretty soon then :o . I do think it is working fine though, as it does a little sizzling when the machine is heating up and there's no noticeable vacuum there when I open the (cold) boiler for refill.


Pat's description sounds very reasonable, too.
Thanks for your answers!
Regards, Lasse
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drgary
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#8: Post by drgary »

@Sugarbeet:

Welcome to Home-Barista! 30 Kg is way too much force and will damage your machine over time. The usual recommended pressure is 30 lbs or about 13.5 Kg. You're still learning the La Pavoni. If you grind coarser, you will get a very tasty espresso at the lower pressure and it won't need to be a weight training exercise. Also, people who grind too fine often complain of not enough crema, which detracts from the mouthfeel.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

Sugarbeet (original poster)
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#9: Post by Sugarbeet (original poster) »

drgary wrote:@Sugarbeet:

Welcome to Home-Barista! 30 Kg is way too much force and will damage your machine over time. The usual recommended pressure is 30 lbs or about 13.5 Kg. You're still learning the La Pavoni. If you grind coarser, you will get a very tasty espresso at the lower pressure and it won't need to be a weight training exercise. Also, people who grind too fine often complain of not enough crema, which detracts from the mouthfeel.
Thank you :D

I didn't know it can't take this kind of force. It seems to be built like a tank. Which part does it usually break, the pins or the holes the pins are in(or both)?

At the current grind setting I'm using I can achieve slightly faster or slower pulls with lesser force by tamping less or more. If I "tamp properly" (so the coffee doesn't want to compress at all) the machine is extremely sensitive to grind size and prep. I had extremely slow (over 90s at 30kg) shots and then very fast ones (15s with maybe ~7kg)with minimal difference in the grind size.

I heard it in the Hoffman video and my limited experience confirms it that a light tamp is a key with this machine.

If I tamp with maybe ~1kg of force only I can make also a very tasty (to me) shot that requires less force (around 20kg maybe up to 25kg at the top, but quickly falling to around 10kg and even less towards the end) to pull.
Jonk wrote:3 holes are needed to use the machine as intended:
video


Oh my :shock: But imagine how many of these machines sold after that film was shot. It has been half a century later and still I got interested in this la pavoni machine after seeing the same fragment.
Jonk wrote: Joking aside, I too think it's a stubborn relic from the old two-switch versions that can easily steam at much higher pressure. I still preferred a small one hole tip for those: 1.5mm worked well, smaller would still be better to make sure that the heating element can keep up.


I never had the old one, so I can't imagine having an even higher pressure and succeeding at not boiling the milk before micro foam with 3 holes, but I believe people with experience of older machines this was the case.
Jonk wrote: IIRC Pavoni is finally coming around, with one hole steam tips for example for the Esperto? Maybe they'll switch completely after old stock runs out.

Coffee-Sensor and others sell 1.2mm tips. But yes, just plugging 2 holes works too. If you add a switch to bypass the pstat you can also enjoy greater steaming power. Better add a gauge as well in that case (or crank up the pstat and use the switch to regulate temperature).
The pressure (as far as I can tell) is good enough for me. The disadvantage of plugging two tips is that the pressure can unplug them. This is what happened yesterday to me :roll:

Thank you for the tip about the web shop in Romania having these single hole tips. I might buy one, or I might just make one.

I just have to measure the thread.

Edit: What do you think about nickel plated brass for the steaming tip? Will it stand out against chromed surface of the rest of the machine? (when polished). What about contact with milk and possibly coffee? (if I ever want to make coffee for someone I really don't like, a-la 007?). Stainless is an obvious answer, but brass is far easier to machine.

Edit2: Few photos of the original tip (the holes are twisted!



Sugarbeet (original poster)
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#10: Post by Sugarbeet (original poster) »

So I've made a one hole steamer tip from stainless and.... I don't like it :x

I measured the holes on the original tip to be 1.2 so I used 1.1mm drill and it turned out I should've used a smaller one. I'm back to overheating my milk before it finishes making microfoam. I guess the angle matters a lot and by plugging two out of 3 holes the resulting angle is somehow better.

Visually my tip is fine, but I'll ve going back to the old tip and toothpicks... (the black dot is just a sharpie mark to see if it's rotating when screwing/unscrewing)