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Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
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Discussions > Espresso > Lever Espresso > Manual Lever VS...  
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donnydregs
Senior Member
donnydregs
Joined: 6 Dec 2009
Posts: 127
Location: Australia
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra A3 / MCAL / E61 Two...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini / HG-One (soon)
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 5:05am
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

If I could add something..

Don't think buying a spring lever is going to be your magic pair of underpants.

If I may suggest going back to the very basics, and temporarily at least, doing away with the voodoo, the Fellini double pumper moves whilst standing on your head and that over rated curio of a thing the bottomless portafilter. All you end up doing is obsessing about temperature and and channelling and completely miss the point of what these machines are all about. Simplicity.

I've had a few Pavonis and my success with them has a lot to do with some advice I got years ago. Relax, use a slow and easy hand and be at one with the machine. I should add a chopped p/filter only adds to overheating. A cooled solid p/filter can be a valuable heat sink between shots.

So listen to it's little industrial farts and hissing like it's talking to you and enjoy the results. It really is not that complicated.
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Mon Mar 11, 2013, 7:07pm
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

I like when the Senior Members come along and clear the air of newbie anxiety. I am a forever newbie as it has been about a year with the LA Pavoni Pro and I am just getting up to speed.

I made some very good espresso today with a rougher grind and a 16 gram dose. The dose barely fit into my doubled basket so I'm trying a quadruple basket that I found at our local dump. It was with an unused Krups Espresso machine.  No one told me that the Krups and the La Pavoni had the same diameter baskets. I brought my La Pavoni bottomless portafilter to Hadley Propellor for a trim so the deep basket has room to stick out the bottom. I'll be back to the Baby Gaggia for a few days while I await for a bigger hole in my previously very valuable portafilter.  

A nod to donnydregs for his real world suggestions to get back to simplicity and damn the gizmos. Unfortunately, I chopped the crotch off of my very expensive portafilter and don't have a back-up. But I do promise to listen to what the machine tells me, and damn the channeling.
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,877
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sun Mar 17, 2013, 8:32pm
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

I didn't notice if your Pavoni Pro is pre or post Millennium? Is it a 49 or 51mm basket?

Not to confuse you even more (buwahahaha) but many lever heads like myself will tell you that we can get great results with a finer grind and a very light (10#'s or less) tamp. it's the distribution that is most important. Make sure the coffee has no gaps on the basket sides, level lightly, and tamp as level as possible. I had a La Pav, it likes about 3mm space between the top of the puck and the group screen.
SLOWLY lift the lever, and hold for an 8 count, lower. Depending on the coffee, usually I like to slowly lessen the pressure downward at the juncture when the lever is horizontal. This somewhat emulates the action of a spring assisted lever.

Just MY .02 added on to the rest.
For grins, give this a try.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Mon Mar 18, 2013, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

Thank you IMA, Donnydregs and Russel for keeping this thread going. I spent the weekend combing through every lever and roasting post I could find on Coffeegeek, HomeBarista and SweetMarias. Man, that's a lot of information. I like to see and read about the thermo probes sticking out of coffee baskets or strapped to brew groups. It is fascinating to have PIDs proving how zero temperature variables makes a "god shot" contrasted with others whjo believe that 25 degree changes in puck temperature during the pull helps to provide layers of flavor.  In summary, I'm for Donnydregs approach of keeping it simple.

When I was waiting for my portafilter to be drilled larger, I switched to my 10 year old Gaggia Baby with triple shot basket. I immediately got very good shots with a beautiful cone and no channelling. I didn't even have to tune it in. I figured that I can do the same for my La Pavoni. My post Millenium Pro is now sporting a big Krups basket (it has #s 2 and 4 measuring marks on the side) sticking out the bottom of the 51mm portafilter. The basket is almost full with 18 grams of fresh ground dosed into it. A few flattening swipes with a finger and a NSEW move with the tamper sets me up for a light tamp to even everything out. The Krups basket fits into my portafilter more firmly than my double LP basket and it also holds my tamper more snuggly, to the point that the NSEW move is very limited. I know that those two contrasting dimensions don't make sense. I do have plenty of clearance at the top of the basket once it is tamped. I follow IMA's suggestions for the rest of the process, measuring my pressure on the lever based on how my cone is looking. These are the best results I've had in my 1 year and one week of La Pavoni-ing it.

Next, I've got to improve my roasting.
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,877
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Wed Mar 20, 2013, 9:55am
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

Frank, may I suggest you order some Artisan roasted coffee?
If you like the chocolate-y thing, Order Redbird espresso from Red Bird Coffee. VERY reasonably priced, so you can experiment with it.
There are MANY other fine coffees from Paradise, Metropolis, Veltons, etc.
This will eliminate one variable.
Remember, it STARTS with the best coffee you can put in your machine.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Wed Mar 20, 2013, 11:30am
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

Great suggestion, IMA, and I've come to the same conclusion. I'm currently buying from Esselon, the local artisan roaster which was started by Scott Rao author of "The Professional Barista's Handbook". Owner Mark has been known to ply me with complimentary shots personally pulled by his best barista while the very knowledgable roastmaster scoops the best green and roasted beans for me. It is great to taste a ristretto pulled from their Marzocco and ground from a Mazzer similar to mine. With one sip, I know how high the bar is set. I'm checking out the other roasters you mentioned. Thanks.
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,877
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 9:02pm
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

Scott Rao=as good as it gets.
He has awesome vids, books, and miles of experience and I'm pleased you found a source with so much cache.
Perhaps, when you have time, give one of their coffee's a "plug" on our Espresso Blends Forum.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 7:41am
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

I just took a peek at the Espresso Blend Forum and got all excited about Red Bird. I'll be ordering from them soon.
Back to the Manual VS Spring debate, I was enjoying the posts here and at Barista Exchange about Mechanical Paddles. It seems that as technology advances, it attempts to replicate previous, manually controlled options. Mike Sabol summarizes by saying:

My point is that even "old" tech is awesome. The La Marzocco MP and The Slayer are not the only contenders in the field. There are actually a dizzying array of really good machines: Simonelli Aurelia(WBC), Del Lacorte, Synesso, Van Der Westen, E-61 Legend, La Marzocco Strada, Linea and FB-80 MP, GS/3, and GB5, Slayer, and many others I am not aware of.  Not to mention your basic hand operated lever machine.  All of these units will deliver mind blowing awesome coffee in the hands of someone who knows. Which brings me to my main point:  All a really good machine does is get out of the way of the operator.

It is amusing that even at the GS/3's $7,000 price point, the espresso process comes down to the mercurial relationship between a vat of very hot water and a piston to push it through a basket of coffee. Any possible variable is fair game for making better shots. It reminds me of the first book I read about coffee 12 years ago. I can't recall the name, but the author's conclusion was to buy a lever machine and be immediately immersed in "The Joy of Coffee". Maybe that was the book.
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dr_java
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2013
Posts: 11
Location: TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, Estro SIN6, Pavoni...
Grinder: Hand, Breville Smart
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Mar 23, 2013, 10:41pm
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

Frank:  With your LP Pro, are you using a single lever stroke for extraction with that 18g dose?  If more than one, how do you minimize the affect of the upstroke suction on that damp puck?
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 39
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 12:25pm
Subject: Re: Manual Lever VS Spring Lever
 

Hi Dr. Java, I've abandoned multiple lever strokes because of the suction issue. I think that lever suction even disrupts my dry, tamped doses. Just put your hand over the screen to feel the suction from lifting the lever. Don't do it while it is hot.

I bring the lever to the "up" position before loading the portafilter. I release a little water, then, while holding the lever high, I slide in the crotchless portafilter.

The lever now only needs to be raised about an inch before the head starts filling, I give it 5-8 seconds, sometimes with a half inch worth of a Fellini move if I am not sure of what I am sensing from the sound and such. I definitely stop filling if the basket starts dripping.

I vary the pressure pulling down on the lever by watching the dispersion screen at the bottom of the basket. Sometimes, more pressure feels needed if it is slow to form a cone. I tend to ease back on the lever pressure after the cone has formed. Total time 20-25 seconds. Average shot per 18 gram dose is around 28g. That is between ristretto and normale.

Now that I have pulled successful shots with the big basket, the double basket working better, with little or no channeling. I do prefer the Krups basket, which I estimate as a triple, even though it has a 2 and a 4 stamped into the side. I think there is an Elektra big basket that is available also.

The coffee sequence is becoming an act of communication. Learning about the manual paddle concept has helped loosen up my technique. I try to adjust for what the La Pavoni is telling me while filling the brew head, and how the ground coffee is responding to the extraction. Making espresso sure is fun.

If Russel is following this, is your GS/3 a paddle machine? I'm interested in what paddle users have learned that can be applied to a lever.
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