No leaks is always a good sign - some with levers say "no leaks, no repairs needed." However, lubing the seals / group is always a good idea, some pin oil on the metal to metal parts on the lever. There are videos on quick and easy lube jobs.
But only RO Water? On purpose? Coffee extraction, or so the theory goes, benefits from minerals in the water. (see SCAA and other sites). Reverse Osmosis strips darn near everything out of the water mineral-wise, and sometimes the TDS is around 10 depending how much filtering is done. Sure, the water tastes "clean" - that is because there is darn near nothing in it!
When I have used RO for my press or espresso as a comparison, I notice a difference and it is not as flavorful an extraction. On the flipside, my Phoenix tap water is almost 700 TDS (hardness - Total Dissolved SOlids) and makes crap for coffee due to all the garbage / chlorine. If you don't want to spend the extra on just Crystal Geyser or Arrowhead *Spring* - which can range from 100 to 150 TDS depending on the spring - do a mix and save money.
Conventional wisdom says 150 to 200 hardness is a good range / balance for espresso machines for keeping scale down, whilst still having enough minerals for flavor. Too much water hardness, and you are clogging up the works on your machine with scale and descaling more often, too little and you are not getting the optimal flavor from the extraction.
I mix 1 part RO (20 TDS) to 1/2 part Arrowhead (100 to 150 TDS) and 1/2 part MPP water (350 TDS) for a mix typically in the 170 range TDS. My RO water and MPP water is 20 cents a gallon, and I typically get Arrowhead in bulk for 89 cents a gallon. Keeps the cost minimized, but not nothing.
Sorry for the digression, water is important to coffee extraction / taste. I am sure others will add more on the La Pav maintenance front.
frankward Senior Member 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 Thu Mar 6, 2014, 7:25am Subject: Re: La Pavoni Millenium - how do I know if I need seals? and tips?
I hope a brief description of my process might give you some answers.
I have a Millenium Pavoni Pro and a Pharos. I use 16g grind and extract 30-33g espresso per shot. That's a shot from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 oz depending on the crema. I like to really fill the brew group. I do a 10 second pre-infusion with 1-3 Fellini pumps. I always attach the portafilter with the pump handle in the up position, set where the water does not stream out.
Maybe you are overfilling your basket. You want to leave more room for hot water. Try the old trick of putting a nickel on your tamped coffee and pop the portafilter into your group head just to see if it leaves an imprint. If your shot volume is small, you need more water through the puck. I used to make 14g shots and I recall that they were a little bigger, but the mouth feel was a bit thinner.
I used distilled water for awhile and went back to Brita filtered tap water. My (well-pumped) tap water makes better coffee and I've never had to descale in the 3 years that I've been a La Pavoni user.
Posted Fri Mar 14, 2014, 4:49pm Subject: Re: La Pavoni Millenium - how do I know if I need seals? and tips?
I'm in a similar boat as OP. No leaks, lots of water coming through the group when I do a pull with no coffee but when I try to pull a shot, I get very little liquid, the pull has very little resistance and little to no crema. I'm using an OE Lido roughly 1/6th of a turn from zero and updosing. This AM I tried packing it up and still nothing.
Buckley Senior Member Joined: 25 Jan 2011 Posts: 423 Location: Internet Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Mar 14, 2014, 5:19pm Subject: Re: La Pavoni Millenium - how do I know if I need seals? and tips?
Homebrewdude and bob_fris: Do a 'fellini' at the top (pump the lever up and down, mildly) to get all of the air out of the piston chamber. Listen to the water gurgle into the head, or feel it through the handle. Don't commit yourself to a full pull until you feel a pull against pressure - just keep going up and down with the lever at the top of its travel until you get this resistance built up by filling the group with water. While you are doing this, if coffee starts pouring out of the spouts before you pull, your grind is too coarse. If it starts dripping out or does not appear, your grind may be in the appropriate range. (Homebrewdude, if you still do not get water into the group you may not have good pressure in the boiler [what is your pressure?] of your intake pipe may be clogged with mineral deposits. Run your decal solution through your intake pipe.) Both: are you exhausing all of the air from the boiler before beginning by using the "twice green light" manuever? Also, a spongy feel may be due to your boiler temperature not being hot enough. The pressurized, superheated water that is pushed into the grouphead by the boiler pressure will flash into steam in the atmospheric pressure of the group and drive the air down through the puck and up past the piston seal to exit at a top hole back into the boiler (or so I am told). Once the puck becomes saturated the air will continue to exit upward past the piston seal. The steam that is taking its place will begin to condense in the below-boiling temperature of the group, allowing more water to take the place of the previous air. If the boiler water is not hot enough this will happen to a lesser extent and less air will be displaced. If you are purging the air from the boiler and letting the green light come on a second time then the boiler temperature should not be an issue. Anyone else have anything to add? Buckley
Posted Thu Mar 20, 2014, 12:24pm Subject: Re: La Pavoni Millenium - how do I know if I need seals? and tips?
Thanks for all the info Buckley!
My LP is a 1970-73 model so no lights but I waited until I had hissing coming from bleed-off/drip stem. I'd them open up the steam wand for a second or two then run a couple oz of water through the group. Water usually came through pretty fast so I'm guessing good pressure and it's steam/water coming through the dispersion screen so temps look good. My first guess was weak gaskets in the piston/group so I ordered some replacements and installed those to see if it resolves the problem. Also took apart the pressure release valve and made sure that was installed correctly.
Unfortunately I ordered the wrong gasket set so I can't finish the job until that comes in, hopefully the next couple days and I'll be able to see if the gaskets resolve the issue.
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