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Espresso: Lever Espresso Machines
Manual lever recommendations?
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grogstah
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2010
Posts: 11
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: La Pavoni Pre-Mil, La...
Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 11:54am
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

What you're describing sounds like a pretty standard learnining curve.  I've got a 1st gen Caravel.  I did have a hell of a time getting my seals dialed in - specifically, the tiny o-ring that goes under the c-clip.  That one took a couple of weeks to 'settle in' and my boiler was draining out through the group during those two weeks - and then it suddenly settled in and was sealing properly.  Just like you, at first my shots were thin (baffling to me since so many Caravel users raved about the rich and syrupy shots) with no crema.  For me, it was all about dialing in the grind.  Once I figured out the proper grind (it was finer that I initially thought I needed), I found myself pulling some really syrupy ristrettos with a nice hunk of crema on top.  But it took me a few weeks to get there.  I have about half a dozen different levers, both spring and manual, open and closed boiler - and they all took me about a month to really dial in.  It's the old 'practice makes perfect'.  Best advice I got was to follow basic scientific method - only change one variable at a time.  I would start with the grind.  Go fine enough that you completely choke the machine, and back off slowly on grind from there.  I get a lot of crema on the Caravel with a surprisingly fine grind.  

Don't worry - just keep making espresso and you will get there.  Once you do - and you will - you will see why people love Caravels.  It's still my daily driver.
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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 Nov 15, 2013, 9:01pm
Subject: Re: Manual lever recommendations?
 

Just a note of encouragement. It took me a year to get comfortable with my La Pavoni Professional. And that was after ten years of using a Baby Gaggia pump machine. Levers are idiosyncratic. What works on one machine will foul-up another of the same brand. Just keep at it, take notes and try everything you read about. Now, I get great shots almost every pull. I don't like to use coffee roasted more than a few weeks previously. That is the starting point.  If the beans are fresh, you should be able to tune-in everything else. I went through dozens of sink shots before I even found the parameters of a potential good shot on my machine. Trial and error and more trial and error, then you will find true awakening-- full-caf espresso style.
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