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.
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.
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.
You can “bend” the steam wand to make it easier to access and get the magic 45degrees in the middle of your jug.
Don’t jam stuff up the steam wand holes, you just don’t need to.
You don’t think one of the world’s oldest manufactures of espresso machines would lead you astray do you?
Wait for the machine to arrive, then bin the plastic tamp and get the best you can afford. I recommend a custom measure etc.
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…
Read Paul Alter's review on the machine too. He's got some great advice on the shot and a couple of superb links.
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!
I love my machine. It hasn't been without it faults, steam outlet leaked and took ages to get fixed. The seals all recently gaveway simultaneously (some big brother conspiracy), but with full service, and new seals its like the day I bought it.
It makes fantastic coffee (you will snob anything else, I promise) but like any decent machine it is very grind dependant and needs a good and easily adjusted grinder (I love my mini mazzer almost as much).
I would still recomend this machine to anyone wanting to step up in coffee without having to sell the family car.
One Year Followup
Unlike most relationships, the romance is still there. If my machine broke tomorrow, I'd order another immediately.