Trouble steaming milk on La Pavoni Europiccola

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
RagingMammoth

Postby RagingMammoth » Jan 17, 2014, 6:58 pm

I recently got a Pavoni. Apart from the 3 odd weeks of absolute agony I had learning to use it, it's been okay. I'm sort of sometimes getting the hang of espresso. My problem now is definitely milk steaming.

I had a 3 hole tip, which I replaced with a one hole tip which someone made for me. I really cannot seem to make any microfoam with it however. I know the techniques everyone uses, watched countless videos and read many threads but... nothing.

It swirls, the tip is just below the surface but no slurping noise. Just some milk that sprays out of the pitcher and welds itself onto the side of the pavoni. The hole on the steam tip is slightly off center, could that do it?

I'm using a 600ml pitcher with cold semi skimmed milk. Around 200-300 ml's of milk. I place the tip just below the water and tilt slightly to the left, and create a vortex. A really powerful vortex in fact...

Then lower after however many seconds seems correct, say 10? Then heat until 160.

Every so often I get a little bit of microfoam, but never anything impressive. Is my problem the tip? Help me guys!

Sorry if this is the wrong section.

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TomC
Team HB

Postby TomC » Jan 17, 2014, 7:34 pm

RagingMammoth wrote:...

I'm using a 600ml pitcher with cold semi skimmed milk. Around 200-300 ml's of milk. I place the tip just below the water and tilt slightly to the left, and create a vortex. A really powerful vortex in fact...




That's a very large pitcher for a very small machine. I use a small 10oz pitcher, and that's plenty for enough milk for a small latte or capp when I use my Pavoni or even my Cremina. That's slightly less than half the size of the pitcher you're using.

Those small boilers/elements just lack the oomph needed to get a large volume of milk going in a pitcher, but the same volume of milk in a narrower, smaller pitcher is better capable of containing that vortex of swirling power from your small machine.

RagingMammoth

Postby RagingMammoth » replying to TomC » Jan 18, 2014, 9:06 am

I mainly have been using some smaller pitcher that came with someones pod machine they gave me. Same result then as well.

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drgary
Team HB

Postby drgary » Jan 18, 2014, 9:35 am

RagingMammoth wrote:It swirls, the tip is just below the surface but no slurping noise. Just some milk that sprays out of the pitcher and welds itself onto the side of the pavoni. The hole on the steam tip is slightly off center, could that do it?


I agree with Tom about pitcher size. Then, do you purge the steam wand of condensed water and air pockets before attempting steaming? This can be done into a rag or a cup. You want to start with pure steam. Also if you have the tip partially immersed there should be a scuffing or slurping noise as you incorporate air into the milk. During this phase you want to see the milk "stretching" or expanding in volume. If you're getting a nice spinning vortex I doubt it's an issue with the hole being misplaced. And rather than measure temperature you might try holding your hand on the bottom of the pitcher. When it starts to get uncomfortably warm close the steam tap. Let us know if any of this helps. If not maybe you can post a video of what you're doing.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

WSH

Postby WSH » Jan 18, 2014, 11:28 am

It swirls, the tip is just below the surface but no slurping noise.


If it's swirling and not slurping, the tip is too deep. Raise the tip very slowly until you can hear an intermittent slurping/tearing sound. There is a very fine line between being too deep, no slurping, and not deep enough, splattering milk everywhere.

No slurping/tearing noise, no microfoam.

3 weeks in the scope of things is really not much time at all, keep at it.

You can substitute water and 1 drop of dish soap in place of milk to practice your technique. Cheaper and easier to clean up.

RagingMammoth

Postby RagingMammoth » Jan 18, 2014, 12:09 pm

drgary wrote:I agree with Tom about pitcher size. Then, do you purge the steam wand of condensed water and air pockets before attempting steaming? This can be done into a rag or a cup. You want to start with pure steam. Also if you have the tip partially immersed there should be a scuffing or slurping noise as you incorporate air into the milk. During this phase you want to see the milk "stretching" or expanding in volume. If you're getting a nice spinning vortex I doubt it's an issue with the hole being misplaced. And rather than measure temperature you might try holding your hand on the bottom of the pitcher. When it starts to get uncomfortably warm close the steam tap. Let us know if any of this helps. If not maybe you can post a video of what you're doing.


I always purge the wand. The problem is that whatever I do, it just seems to spray milk everywhere?

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drgary
Team HB

Postby drgary » Jan 18, 2014, 12:18 pm

That is a puzzle. Can you show us a video? It seems impossible for that to happen if your tip is at least partially buried and you're getting a steady flow of steam. Here's one thing to try. Start with the tip immersed fully. Within a couple of seconds bring it closer to the surface so there's a scuffing sound but not high enough that milk sprays. The only other thing I can think of is if your pitcher is so large that the milk is too shallow it may be bottoming out under the force of steam. Then it would splash. Even then you might improve things by tilting the pitcher. But I agree with Tom, you need a smaller pitcher.
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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RAS

Postby RAS » Jan 18, 2014, 12:48 pm

Seems like there has been an uptick in the interest of making a good cappuccino with an LPE... Though I've not made one with my 2-position switch pre Millenium machine for a good 10 years, reading this (and other) thread got me interested in having a go. This in spite of already having 2 cups of Chemex coffee this AM :shock: .

Fired up the trusty LPE with the switch in the II hotter setting to speed up the process. Put it back to I when the manometer got to about 0.6+ bar. Lifted the lever to run some water through to heat my cup and the brew-group. Ground my 16.5gm of what I had laying around (Mexican Zaragaza - I think it is... Picked it up last weekend at Whole Foods more out of curiosity - it was roasted that Saturday). Pulled a great looking shot, and about halfway through the pull, I turned the power switch back to II. When the pull was complete, it was only a few more seconds before the machine was VERY hot (~ 1 bar).

Using about 2 ounces of cold 2% milk in my Cafelat small pitcher (8 ounces?), I first cranked open the valve to bleed off wet steam, turned it back off, stuck the three-hole tip just below the surface of the milk, and re-opened the valve. After about 8 seconds of stretching, I buried the tip to create a nice vortex. Within a few seconds, the milk was at 140 degrees I stopped, banged the pitcher, swirled, banged, swirled and poured.

While maybe not as dense as I get with my PV Lusso, the milk was quite nicely microfoamed, and the resulting cappuccino excellent. I'm really rediscovering how good this machine is. Just takes time, patience and experimentation. I'm going on 18 years with this machine, and I'll tell you that it took some time before getting good results (though I have learned LOTS during that time).

Good luck with your adventure getting to know your LPE. And enjoy the journey.

Now to burn off some of this caffeine...
Bob

RagingMammoth

Postby RagingMammoth » Jan 18, 2014, 1:41 pm

drgary wrote:That is a puzzle. Can you show us a video? It seems impossible for that to happen if your tip is at least partially buried and you're getting a steady flow of steam. Here's one thing to try. Start with the tip immersed fully. Within a couple of seconds bring it closer to the surface so there's a scuffing sound but not high enough that milk sprays. The only other thing I can think of is if your pitcher is so large that the milk is too shallow it may be bottoming out under the force of steam. Then it would splash. Even then you might improve things by tilting the pitcher. But I agree with Tom, you need a smaller pitcher.


Afraid a video is not an option. Raising the tip instead of lowering sounds like great advice, I'll make sure to report back to you as long as it's not too much hassle for you lot.

It's not a splash, it's more like a complete spray. I'll fiddle around for a while at some point until I improve... maybe.

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homeburrero
Team HB

Postby homeburrero » Jan 18, 2014, 3:13 pm

RagingMammoth wrote:milk that sprays out of the pitcher

That sounds pretty wrong. Hopefully, starting low and immediately but carefully bringing the tip near the surface will fix that. Also a smaller jug will help a lot. I don't think is due to your offset hole, because many on this forum have made a single hole tip by plugging two holes of a three hole tip with toothpicks. I guess it's possible (but unlikely) that your tip orifice is way larger than what the rest of us are using. A 1/16" (1.6mm) orifice should work fine, but larger than that may not. See Optimal steam tips .

You will find a somewhat quiet zone near the top where you hear it sucking air, but it's not tearing or screeching, and stay there until your volume is up and the jug feels warm, then continue with the tip a little deeper, heating and intermixing until at the temp you want. To me, the key is finding that zone, and I do that almost entirely by sound.

Is your EPC a pStat model? If so, there's a trick you can use to help max out the steaming pressure. Before steaming you always want to open the valve and blow out any condensation water and let the wand get hot. When you do that, if you leave it open til the green light comes on, then close it and count 6 Mississippi before re-opening with the tip in the jug you will start your steaming at an ideal point in the heating cycle. Idea is to re-open it just before the green light goes out, while the element is hot and pressure is approaching max. You can experiment with your machine to see how many seconds it typically takes for the green light to go out after a steam wand purge (may not be 6 Mississippi for your machine.)

Also, you might consider trying different milk. Fresher is better - well before milk sours it will not make microfoam. And I've seen reports that some milk sources, depending on the cows' feed, may not foam as well as others.
Pat
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