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La Pavoni Pro Lever - Neil Edwards's Review
Posted: June 26, 2002, 9:13am
review rating: 3.9
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 210,913 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: 3.6
Manufacturer: Pavoni Quality: 4
Average Price: $999.00 Usability: 2
Price Paid: $350.00 Cost vs. Value 1
Where Bought: Recovery Sales Outlet Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 4+ years Overall 2
Writer's Expertise: Professional Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Presso
Bottom Line: For the price, you could buy a more effective machine.
Positive Product Points

Beautiful.

Negative Product Points

Very hard to use.

Detailed Commentary

     The Pavoni Professional espresso machine is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but that is the singular compliment that I can offer the machine.
    After extensive experimentation, over many years, I believe that producing truly outstanding espresso is almost impossible with this machine. It can make a good single espresso, but I have never been fully satisfied with this machine’s performance.
    Temperature: Temperature control with a Pavoni Lever machine is difficult, to say the least. Voiding your warranty, and adjusting the pressure-stat only provides slight improvements to overall temperature stability. The Achilles’ heel of lever machines (manual or spring controlled) is heat-sink temperature control. The water in the boiler is over heated to provide enough pressure for water to be delivered to the group head. In order to cool the water enough to extract an espresso that isn’t disgustingly bitter, the group head is designed to act as a heat-sink.
    The problems with this kind of temperature control are multitude. In short, precise temperature control is difficult at best (almost impossible).
    Pressure: The pavoni uses user generated pressure to force hot water through the espresso grounds. If you are like me, this idea is appealing, because it puts the user in complete control of an important part of the espresso making process. However, it is extremely difficult to gauge nine atmospheres of pressure without any instrument to measure it. Nine atmospheres of pressure approximately 132.3 pounds per square inch. Not being an engineer, I am unsure about the best way to approximate that amount of pressure in my arm. I would encourage readers not to underestimate this issue. I have used my Gaggia espresso to help me make educated guessed about an appropriate grind setting, and have found the amount of pressure exerted on the Pavoni in order to achieve a good extraction to be distressing (because the machine virtually groans under the pressure). Other lever machines (comparably priced mind you) have a spring piston that takes the guesswork out of this part of the espresso making process.
    Portafilter and Portafilter Basket:
The portafilters of the Pavoni lever machines are small and almost toy like. On an older model like mine, I would not recommend trying to get a double espresso out of it. I can fit about 12 g. of espresso in the portafilter, give or take a little depending on what blend of espresso I am using (the newer models can hold more espresso due to a slightly larger portafilter and basket). 12 g. of espresso grounds are between the traditional recommendations of 7 g. for a single espresso and 14 - 16 g. for a double (of course, many baristas prefer larger amounts of coffee). I like the basket size because the group head only holds so much water, and prefer to extract my espresso in one pull of the lever. I have never liked extracting a double espresso with two strokes of the lever. While the machines are designed to do this, I have never been satisfied with the results. So I recommend a super single espresso: an ounce and some change for a caffè solo.
    This machine can make decent tasting espresso with crema, but it is not a machine for someone who really wants to delve into the finer points of espresso extraction. If you are as inexplicably attracted to lever machines as I am, then I recommend buying a machine with a nine bar spring, because guessing at the appropriate amount of force to exert is not helpful to extracting great espresso. Then you only have to worry about the daunting difficulty of overcoming the instability of extraction temperature... Good Luck!

Buying Experience

I bought it at Recovery Sales Outlet in Independence Missouri. It needed parts, which I ordered and installed. The machine’s price was reduced because it needed work, otherwise it would have been outrageously overpriced. I could never recommend that someone buy one of these machines for list price.

Three Month Followup

Three months after I bought this machine, I was fantasizing about how to take off the group head and attach it to a boiler with some sort of gravity feed system.

One Year Followup

Over 1 year actually.
I have revised my previous review completely, because it was poorly written and not very informative.

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review rating: 3.9
Posted: June 26, 2002, 9:13am
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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