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Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
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Discussions > Espresso > Lever Espresso > Mouth Feel and...  
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 40
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 1:19pm
Subject: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

I had a ristretto from a La Marzocco paddle group machine this morning and it had a mouth feel that I hadn't experienceded from my La Pavoni Pro. I know that comparing my $1000 lever machine with a $10,000+ commercial unit is a serious apples versus oranges situation. Combine that with the origin of bean, the profile of roast, the quality of grind, and the general required barista skill-set needed to pull a legendary shot from any machine, and my question can immediately be filed in the trash. So, I'll rephrase it by asking who is getting a great shot from their LP Pro?

I am particularly interested in mouth feel (as in a thick, lingering, textured crema that can present a syrupy, but not an overly sweet or bitter, quality in the cup).  

The beans contributing to this morning's ristretto is the Espresso Gold blend from Barrington Coffee in Massachusetts (available in several espresso bars around the state).  Sorry, they won't give me the particulars of blend or origin other than using Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa (in that order). It is roasted to what I would call a city+ (or the Central Italian medium roast as pictured in David Schomer's Espresso Coffee Professional Techniques). What is your bean and roast that exhibits a notable mouth feel with lots of crema?

I am usually making my shots with single origin city+ Hottop roasts that are 24 hours to a week old. Do you think I have to blend beans to get the sophistication of mouth feel that I am after?

I am grinding on a Mazzer Mini, usually with a slightly finer setting than the recommended espresso point on the grind dial. I use 14 grams per double basket shot. The portafilter is attached to the group when the lever is in the up position. Next, 8-10 seconds preinfusion, occasionally with 1 or 2 Fellini moves, then, an 18-22 second pull at 185-190 degrees F as measured outside the group head. I am getting a good, reddish crema cone from my crotchless portafilter, although the crema usually dissipates very quickly in the cup. I want to get my shots a bit thicker with the crema longer lasting. I'm taking all suggestions ranging from green beans to final pour.

Thanks.
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SStones
Senior Member
SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 510
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Mon Jan 20, 2014, 7:02pm
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

You're certainly doing everything correctly, but with the most manual machines, there's always more to try in the hopes of discovery.  Try even finer grind, just very slightly finer, in the name of science. With that finer grind, with the same pressure on the lever you'll get a longer draw, but does it thicken the crema or burn/bitter the result? With that same slightly finer grind, and enough more lever pressure to fight the extraction into an equal time-frame benefit it at all or just leave you with a filthy basket?
I know the Pavonis aren't the biggest portafilters in the world, but can you get more than 14g into the double basket?  Experiment with a thicker puck and a little harder lever pressure to keep the extraction time equal, then equal pressure for slightly longer extraction?  If that longer extraction doesn't give you an overly bitter shot, does it thicken the mouth feel?
I think you see where I'm going here. I'm by no means an expert on brewing great espresso using only a piston and a boiler, but I do remember playing (I called it experimenting, but it was playing) with a Pavoni Stradivarius when I had the opportunity.  I think the Stradivarius is well named, as a beginner can get a La Pavoni to do something, but even a lifetime of practicing will still demand more practice in the pursuit of perfection.
I hope your shots get better with experimentation more often than not.
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 40
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Tue Jan 21, 2014, 6:20am
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

Thanks for your suggestions, Stephen. I went from 14 to 17 grams in the basket with a couple of notches finer grind. I'm afraid I moved it toward a more bitter brew with a longer extraction. As I was pushing the lever down, I was watching the temperature rise. The external thermometer on the brew group went from 190 to 195 degrees F. in less than 30 seconds. Oh, I could use a PID on this machine! I guess I'll dive into the CG archives to see if a PID retrofit makes sense. Does anybody offer that install, or do I have to rely on my own meager wiring skills?
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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 394
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Jan 21, 2014, 7:01am
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

You might want to read up on the La Pavoni posts at www.home-barista.com.  There are several techniques that people are using to control the La Pavoni's a little better and provide better consistency.  PIDing a La Pavoni, while it has been done, doesn't always improve things as there are issues with overheating the group that need to be monitored and manually controlled at times.

With my experience on my La Pavoni I find the best crema and best mouthfeel comes strangely enough from a much coarser grind rather than a finer grind.  For my NS Oscar, semi-auto machine, I grind on my Baratza Vario in the 2-M region, but for the same espresso beans on the La Pavoni I find that a 5-D works great for the exact same bean the same day...

- To find that coarse level setting I start grinding coarse enough that I can't get much of a pressurized shot through the lever.  Coffee looks more like a decent drip at this stage.  Almost no hint of crema even.
- Next I start to tighten the grind just until I'm getting some good lever resistance.  You should notice crema from your shots at this point.
- Fine tuning around that coarse edge takes a little practice, but after a few pulls you'll be able to find a grind that matches your style.

I too ran the finer and finer grind until I just couldn't get what I wanted.  Coarser grinds have always worked better in my experience.
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 40
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Tue Jan 21, 2014, 3:15pm
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

Thanks for the tips, DanoM. I got over caffeinated and had to stop my experiments for now. Tomorrow will be my counter-intuitive challenge day. Can I get the mouthfeel I am searching for by grinding coarser? I prepped for it by roasting a beautiful batch of organic R.Dalton Oro that I just picked up on the Filadelfia finca in Guatemala-- big bourbons that I can't wait to brew in the morning. I have been scanning Home-Barista and CG and am looking forward to dialing in a grossa grind following your technique.
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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 394
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Jan 21, 2014, 4:52pm
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

frankward Said:

Can I get the mouthfeel I am searching for by grinding coarser?

Posted January 21, 2014 link

Yeah, you'll get it eventually.  It might not be quite the same as a pump machine due to many variables, but you still get that great mouthfeel and crema galore.

I can lock up my lever to the point I can't pull even with a coarse grind, but sometimes that takes an extended pre-infusion or mini-pump.  Incidentally if you do lock up the lever during your tests I'm guessing you know not to unlock the portafilter until pressures have been dealt with.  Sometimes lifting the handle of a locked La Pavoni will re-arrange the grinds enough that you can finish the pull - might not be drinkable, but at least you have completed the pull.

The biggest problem I have with my La Pavoni is paying too much attention to all of the experiments and weird methods of pulling people prescribe on that machine.  Find what you like, simplify your operation as much as possible, and then just pull.  With the correct temp on the group, correct grind, and system ready to operate it actually works very well.  Just don't overthink it and keep your operations simple - you're doing this to enjoy espresso after all.

Lately I read the group temp, and unless it's really hot or too cold I go with what I have.  Load it and then pull.  If the group is running hotter I pull slightly faster.  If the group is cooler I pull slower unless I want that sour note from a cooler pull.
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crazy4espresso
Senior Member
crazy4espresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Pharos
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 8:06am
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

Pavoni's typically require a finer grind than you might use with the average pump machine, or even other levers. For example on the Rocky, I always had to go 1-2 steps finer for the Pavoni than my Silvia, which was 1 step finer than I use for my Faemina. I like to use about 16 grams, though I understand there are double baskets that can't fit this much. Typically the roasts I use are FC/FC+ and measuring the group temps about half way up, I like to start my shots at 88C (~190F).  Since you appear to be using lighter roasts, experiment with hotter group temps. I can produce loads of crema, though it does dissipate quicker than on my pump machine.  That's just typical with home levers, in general.
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 40
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 12:04pm
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

Another morning of espresso experiments and I surprisingly pulled a delicious shot of Guatemala Atitlan that I thought I had totally baked in the roasting. These are extremely green, high moisture content beans that I basically bought off the drying fields at a co-op in San Marcos La Laguna. A coarser grind opened up flavors that tasted too thin when ground finer. By coarse I mean just a couple of marks off of the recommended grind on my Mazzer Mini. That is several marks chunkier than my standard espresso setting. The coarser grind also highlighted an Antigua Guatemala that I roasted yesterday. I tasted a ristretto from the bean when I bought it and feel that it now tastes richer than the plantation roast. The R. Dalton Filadelfia roaster is the size of a two car garage. I guess something can be said for the quality of small batch roasting.

I thank Dan for helping me to break old habits of making espresso. I have a tendency to figure out what works with my gear and do that for a few months before tasting a pro barista's espresso that blows me away. Then I go back to the drawing board. Crazy4espresso suggested that I let the La Pavoni group temp go higher. I poured starting at 190 degrees F. That certainly improved the crema, and the mouth feel.

I love my manual lever for all its variables. Too bad I can't keep the temperature constant. The group head seems to rise from 3-5 degrees F during an 18- 20 second pour.
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DanoM
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 394
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 10:08am
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

frankward Said:

I love my manual lever for all its variables. Too bad I can't keep the temperature constant. The group head seems to rise from 3-5 degrees F during an 18- 20 second pour.

Posted January 22, 2014 link

Sounds like you are getting there.  Try using a cool portafilter in the group.  You can just dunk it in a bowl of water.  The cooler portafilter will cool the bottom part of the group as the new water heats it back up from the top.  It's not a stable temp profile, but then again we are pulling a very different espresso with a manual lever.  Many say this is real espresso while the pump machines only emulate espresso - what matters is the end product taste really.  If you like it who cares.

When my group is mildly too hot I just use the cooler or room temp portafilter.  When it's cooking hot I put in the portafilter once cold without coffee just to drop the temp, dunk the portafilter in water, load up the espresso, give the Pavoni a couple quick spurts of water through the group, and then lock and pull.
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frankward
Senior Member
frankward
Joined: 9 Feb 2013
Posts: 40
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Professional Gold,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, OE Pharos
Drip: Hario, Chemex
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Thu Jan 23, 2014, 11:15am
Subject: Re: Mouth Feel and the Millenium La Pavoni Pro
 

Dan, So true when you say that what matters is the end product. Even with my thermometer topping 200 degrees F, the shot still tastes great.

I'm using a bottomless portafilter so it doesn't help much as a heat sync. I do have a ramekin under the brew head to catch the drips. I'll pour some cold water in that and lift it to the brew group. It cools it down and rinses the grinds off of the screen. It seems that whatever group temperature I start at, it still rises by 3-5 degrees as I pull the shot. I could say that having a range of temperatures extracts more flavor from the puck. I might be wrong.
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