Like an Italian supercar, it might be expensive, heavy on maintenance - but you buy one for the difference it makes in your life.
Positive Product Points
Built to last a lifetime. Gorgeous, classic Italian design. Real sense of achievement and proud ownership when you master this machine.
Negative Product Points
Rip-off UK prices compared to USA. Heavy chromed brass construction is a plus, but plastic components in the "business end" group? Base is chrome-plated mild steel which eventually rots.
I paid virtually full-price for this machine three years ago, naively perhaps not trusting international shipping from Italy.
I bought the Pavoni after a lot of thought, having consigned my last el-cheapo machine to the bin when a small part (lost by an over-zealous guest doing the washing up!) proved to be unavailable from the manufacturers. I'd seen a La Pavoni Europiccola at a Whittards coffee shop a few years earlier, but when the money was available to blow on what the Management thought to be a self-indulgence, I opted for the Professional with its larger boiler.
If I bought the La Pavoni with my heart, my head took a while longer to convince as I experimented with different coffees and splashed out more money on a Dualit burr grinder. I told myself that, if I looked after this machine, I would never have to buy another as long as I lived. I should have told my heart to have a longer deeper chat with my head as many years experience of Italian-built cars should have warned me. Like all mechanical things Italian, the Pavoni is beautiful but the design of the thing means it's bound to be maintenance-heavy. Not overly expensive (see buying experience), but the group does need to be stripped down occasionally for thorough cleaning. I understand that the plastic group liner and piston may have some reason based on quality of coffee the machine produces, having read many observations about the sheer heat of the machine affecting the "shot", but cynical little me wonders about cost-cutting. Unless the plastic piston is very tightly screwed onto the metal shaft, it will in time begin to unscrew itself. As the piston only admits water into the group in the last couple of millimetres of piston travel, this soon renders the machine inoperable until the group has been dismantled and the piston re-tightened. I'm considering retrofitting the machine with an old-style head.
Learning to use the La Pavoni is something that can only be done by practice. There are a good many guides available on the web, but there can be no substitute for getting your hands dirty. If you consider buying one, do it for the love of your coffee - your pocket won't thank you, but your heart and your taste buds certainly will! :)
I've never had a problem dealing with this company, but I've since found another UK supplier of spares which is considerably cheaper than Fairfax. I'll be ordering some bits and bobs in the coming few days, I'll post a report on them then!