Great machine for the hard-core espresso enthusiast or home decorator
Positive Product Points
An espresso aficionado‘s dream
One of only a few manual home machines available
Looks gorgeous on your counter - A work of art
Negative Product Points
Filter basket has no retaining mechanism
Higher than normal learning curve to get good results.
May need adjustment to pressure stat (which voids warranty)
I purchased the La Pavoni Professional on sale from Best-of-Italy (http://www.best-of-italy.com) after years of lusting after one that I used at a friend‘s house.
The Professional was on sale with free shipping and the currency exchange it came to approximately $450.00 USD which was far less expensive than I was able to find it at any US dealer. The one drawback with ordering direct from Italy was the 4 day customs hold, but my Machine arrived the day that it was released from the customs hold in Kentucky.
The Machine arrived with all of it‘s parts intact and no damage, however there was one mistake in my order. They had shipped me the Brass/Copper (more expensive) model instead of the Chrome. When I called to see what they wanted to do, they determined that if I wanted this model instead of the chrome that I was welcome to keep it (apparently, with the sale and free shipping it would have cost them more to ship this one back, then ship another machine to me, than the difference to them in the cost of the machine).
While I would definitely not reccomend this machine to someone as a first machine, if you truly appreciate espresso and are a hands-on person who would never dream of owning a "super-automatic" machine, then this might be a good choice for you.
The machine is a throwback to the turn-of the century (the 1900s, that is), other than the pressure stat that limits the pressure level (unlike Pavoni‘s lower-end models that just have switches and not pressure gauge), this is a truly manual machine.
I have worked at and managed a number of espresso bars and I still had a bit of a learning curve it getting my shots just right. This machine is fairly sensitive to the grind, the tamp and the pressure you use on the lever. Be prepared to go through a number of shots and adjustments before hitting your groove.
I did make an "unauthorized" adjustment to the pressurestat that raised the point at which the pressue cut out to just under 1 bar (it had been peaking at about .7-.8) to enable decent steaming and get better crema from my shots.
Other than that the machine has been great. In addition to making great espresso, it has become the number one conversation piece in our house. It is by far the most beautiful piece of equipment in our kitchen