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La Pavoni Pro Lever - Josh Kempthorne's Review
Posted: February 4, 2009, 12:10am
review rating: 9.2
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
La Pavoni Professional
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More About This Product
Arrow The La Pavoni Pro Lever has 40 Reviews
Arrow The La Pavoni Pro Lever has been rated 8.20 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow La Pavoni Pro Lever reviews have been viewed 217,829 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Josh Kempthorne 9.20
Paul Alter 8.80
Pal Cabral 8.25
Bernard Murphy 8.00
Taylor Nunley 7.50

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.6
Manufacturer: La Pavoni Quality: 9
Average Price: $999.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $900.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Mercato (NZ) Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 1 month Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: La Pavoni Espresso Plus
Bottom Line: Sexy coffee machine with a classic twist. Don't be scared off by a challenge, this machine is espresso.
Positive Product Points

This is a sexy piece of coffee equipment. It draws comment from all who see her, and rightly so.
It is contentious with so many E61 machines out there, people wonder why you'd get a lever.
The machine is made well, this much chrome is always going to be sexy.
Being in control (the pump) you get instant feedback on grind/dose/tamp
Steam wand which microfoams and steam on demand
It is a challenge
It has featured in a Bond movie

Negative Product Points

It is a challenge (some will not relish this)

The rest are minor but the  only ones that came to mind.

Small drip tray, but does mean it never gets stale/old because you have to empty it a lot
Small boiler capacity, 4-6 coffees a day and refill/top-up once or twice a day. But it is dead easy, and your water is always fresh
Small risk of sneeze, but really I don't care, its only happened 2x so far, and was entirely my fault.

Detailed Commentary

What a machine, I've been in love with it ever since I first saw a La Pavoni Professional 8 years ago. I was warned off it by the retailer (“to much machine for you newbie”), and probably rightly so. This is a great value espresso machine, in NZ terms its almost $1000 (US$500) cheaper than an E61 group head machine, and as our dollar falls that gap grows.

Straight out of the box... no regrets! What  a sexy machine, but not too big. I can easily hold it with one hand and lift it out. And it doesn't engulf my kitchen bench, rather it coyly sits there, well aware of how good it looks and waits to be noticed.

What you need to appreciate is it is a top end machine despite the lower cost, and you are finally in control of everything. But at the same time you need to be in control of everything. You need an appropriate grinder, and just as importantly, an excellent coffee tamp.

My first pull was a fluke, but after 2kg of beans, and the arrival of my custom made tamp (courtesy of my hospitals engineers, very very nice 316 s/s tamp) I'm only tipping one coffee a day, and pulling what I consider to be (in my relative inexperience) very nice coffee. My habit is now 3/day from 2/week as a result! I've enjoyed all sorts, espresso short black, espresso macchiato, latte, flat white and generally liking it all. I also notice now I can honestly taste & appreciate the differences in the different coffee beans I've been buying.

I won’t bore you with more how-to (‘cos really I'm still learning) and the online resources are vast enough without my self-made YouTube glory shots. But here are a few things I’ve learnt fast.

  1. You don’t need to adjust the steam nozzle to get microfoam. Just treat it like a pro machine, put it just under the surface in the middle for a few seconds then rock your jug slightly to the side for a whirlpool.
  2. You can “bend” the steam wand to make it easier to access and get the magic 45degrees in the middle of your jug.
  3. Don’t jam stuff up the steam wand holes, you just don’t need to.

(August 2010) I've been asked by several readers of this review to youtube my foaming... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaVZWI0nvY0

You don’t think one of the world’s oldest manufactures of espresso machines would lead you astray do you?

  1. Wait for the machine to arrive, then bin the plastic tamp and get the best you can afford. I recommend a custom measure etc.
  2. Watch the pro advice YouTube videos from various espresso shops around the world. They are full of 100+ cups a day advice. Not advice from some unshaven geek to uses micro scales to measure beans before and after and sweeps the grinder and then measures again…
  3.     Read Paul Alter's review on the machine too. He's got some great advice on the shot and a couple of superb links.
  4. My one mistake for online research is that you can read too much, the opinions are diverse and at times heated or misleading. I was quite worried (again) that maybe I hadn't done my coffee experience justice and bought out of lust for the chrome rather than doing more research. But now I sleep easy, and look forward to my mornings work at the easel, trying to create another piece of latte art.

So far with 2 months continuous use, it’s going strong without a fault (touch wood, fingers crossed). But its early days, and there are lots more reviews on here over much longer duration. That in its self is reassuring; people own and use this machine for years!

Buying Experience

Mercato (www.mercato.co.nz) are stars, and were (as always) very easy to deal with.

Three Month Followup

Unlike most relationships, the romance is still there. If my machine broke tomorrow, I'd order another immediately.

I've added a foaming video for the la pavoni professional, again... I don't see why you need to tamper with the head. But I'm not brave enough to show my "latte art" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaVZWI0nvY0

One Year Followup

This is a 5 YEAR review....

I still have my machine, and still find only one or two cups of coffee a year that are better. It's still going strong, and depending on use needs service every 6-8 months depending on usage. Shop around till you find a good service agent who uses authentic parts, it makes a difference. The value of my grinder can't be overstated, you need a great grinder to make the most of this machine... as you should for any good machine.

I still, as per my previous posts, feel absolutely no need to modify the steam wand. It continues to make great microfoam, and latte art is fairly consistent these days.

I have downed the usability from 10 to 9 for the simple reason I need more groups. For the morning cup of coffee, this is perfect. But the price of fame is the mobs of mates that appear on the weekends after a good fix. And it takes a while to pull 6-8 cups of coffee. I will be moving up to a prosumer machine with two groups at some point, but this one will get a custom box made for transporting and become the holiday machine.

Our family is so fussy now, we even shipped this machine to the UK when we moved over here for 2 years. It was a hard 3 months waiting for it to arrive.

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review rating: 9.2
Posted: February 4, 2009, 12:10am
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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