Zacconi Baby: Best Practice?

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#1: Post by bgnome »

I recently acquired a Riviera Espresso Baby Zacconi. I have no prior experience with levers and am excited for this journey. I am currently trying to dial in my grind, but I think that my methods on the Zacconi could use some improvement. It is a direct lever machine, not the spring actuated Eagle version that I see more commonly here. I have tried to follow advice for use of a La Pavoni Europiccola, but have since determined this is an altogether different machine.

The fill volume in the group head seems relatively small. There is a single hole attached to a dipper in the boiler, and a weep hole at the top rear of the group head. There are 2 seals in the piston and 4 small holes around the periphery of the bottom lip, which presumably assist in purging air. I suspect the head is solid brass and does not have any other chambers or accommodations in regards to thermals and water flow.

I feel that most of my pulls so far are very spongy with little resistance until nearly the end of the pull. I believe this is related to temperature management, air under the piston, and grind. The grind size seems in the range or finer than what works on my regular vibe 58mm machine. I would like to know what your experience is and what you would suggest for use of this machine. Thanks!

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Kaffee Bitte

#2: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

It should behave much like a la pavoni europiccola. So yes to finer grind for most coffees than pump machines. You have temp strips so it's really just a matter of finding the right temp zone and grind level. Definitely be prepared to cool the group head. The cooled portafilter usually all you need with some time.

As far as spongy pulls look up rpavlis on the search. He had some great techniques that have become standard for LP users.
Spongy pulls an sometimes mean group gaskets need replaced though.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110

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#3: Post by armindillo »

I used to have one of those but I am far from expert in its use.
I also have a Europiccola and used that for 20 years or so but these days I only use the open-boiler VAM.
For me the big advantage of the Zacconi was the quality of materials used. The shiny base doesn't rust out the way it does on the LaPavoni.

The amount of water you get from one lever pull of the Baby Zacconi is quite a bit less than one pull of the Europiccola. I always gave it 2 pulls while I always just did one pull on the Europiccola.
That was also the way Chris Cara demonstrated it to me when I bought the machine at his shop.

One issue is that you tend to get coffee sucked back into the boiler with that method. All I know for that is to dump and rinse the boiler water quite often.
LMWDP #667
Warped AEther Theory of Absolute Relativity

bgnome (original poster)

#4: Post by bgnome (original poster) »

I've been experimenting with multiple / partial pulls and seem to get more volume than I expect. I think I will eventually find a deeper basket and get better results with it using a double pull.

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#5: Post by mborkow »

Nice looking machine. Congrats.

I'd stick with a single pull (one less variable). I think to start off with I'd find a grind tight enough to choke the machine and then work my way back to a grind that offers enough resistance.