La Pavoni Espresso Machine Review
The La Pavoni espresso machine that we’ll be taking a look at today is the La Pavoni PBB-16 which is considered a La Pavoni professional espresso machine. This particular espresso maker looks like the La Pavoni Europiccola espresso machine but the Europiccola is not a professional espresso machine and for the couple of hundred dollars more for the Pavoni PBB-16 it is well worth it. Though both of these La Pavoni espresso machines have received great reviews.
If you’re looking for an old school lever styled espresso machine then the La Pavoni Romantica professional espresso machine is a fine choice. But let’s first give a quick overview of how a lever espresso machine works. In 1945 Achille Gaggia, and many of you will recognize that name developed the first lever espresso machine, also known as a piston espresso machine.
In this setup, a lever is pulled down and this is why pouring an espresso shot is often called “pulling” a shot. The lever is attached to a piston which forces the hot water through the coffee grounds under pressure and usually this pressure can be increased to a degree by the amount of effort put into pulling the lever down.
Because the La Pavoni espresso machine is a lever espresso maker, there is a lot of “art” or manual input that creates a good shot from such a cappuccino machine. Although many beginners are discouraged by the site of a piston espresso machine there is no need to be. With practice the art of espresso making can be developed to a high degree.
The key is to experiment and practice. You can do a search on the internet to find others who have tweaked their pressure and heat to develop a more consistent espresso shot. As a rule of thumb however, I’d suggest that you keep the following tips in mind when pulling espresso shots.
There are 3 main ingredients to the best espresso of your life. The first is the water temperature. Aim for somewhere around 195 to 205 Fahrenheit (90 to 96 Celsius). Hot water is required to fully extract the maximum flavor from your ground espresso coffee beans. Too hot and the coffee beans are burnt. Too cool and you don’t extract the full flavor profile from your coffee beans.
The second ingredient to great espresso are the espresso beans themselves. This is made up of 2 parts. The coffee grind of the beans and quantity of beans used. A rule of thumb is to use around 15 grams of ground espresso beans per ounce of espresso shot you want. This is roughly the equivalent of a gently heaping tablespoon. This is just my suggestion only and you many want to adjust up or down for your own preference. Also the finer the grind you are using the quicker the flavor of the beans will be extracted but at the same time, the water will have a harder time getting through and you’ll need more pressure. You generally want a fine grind for espresso similar to salt. Also involved here is the pressure used to tamp the espresso beans into the portafilter. You want a good espresso tamper for this job.
The third ingredient in perfecting the art of espresso is time. Time here affects pretty much the other 2 ingredients. The more time you use in pouring the shot the more flavor is extracted up to a point. The general guidelines for pulling a good shot of espresso is to allow 20 to 25 seconds for the water to run through the espresso beans.
The above are all guidelines just aimed at getting you started. Using a manual lever espresso machine like the La Pavoni espresso machine allows you to have practically full control over your shots. So play around with all the variables to create espresso that you love. This can take a bit of time, but you’ll get the hang of it quite quickly I’m sure.
One last bit of advice I should give regarding the coffee is that Robusta coffee beans generally produce more crema, and this is why Illy coffee beans and Lavazza Blue coffee beans and other Italian espresso beans offer such great crema. They all include a component of Robusta coffee in their espresso roasts.
Here are some of the great features of the La Pavoni espresso machine:
- The 38 ounce boiler capacity makes one or 2 cups at a time and up to 16 2oz espresso shots
- The machine is nickel plated for durability and aesthetics and has a durable brass boiler
- It also has a re-set fuse in case of overheating and comes with a demo video and 1 year warranty
- Italian designed and made this mostly mechanical espresso machine should last years
- Mounted pressure gauge is easy to read and internal thermostat controls pressure
The La Pavoni espresso machine is a great lever espresso machine designed and made in Italy. It is not cheap, but it should last you many years and is of professional grade. The portafilter is professional grade chrome plated brass and the steam wand is of the 3 hole professional design as used in stores. The extra large brass boiler eliminates wait time between brewing and steaming.
All in all, this is a terrific manual espresso machine for both beginners and advanced espresso connoiseurs. In fact the La Pavoni espresso machine is a great one for beginners because it will keep up with you as you grow and advance in your Barista skills and cafe art.
Here is what one happy customer had to say about their La Pavoni espresso machine:
While it is amusing how very little different the Professional and the ‘Toy’ models look, there is a big difference in performance. I think the bottom line with La Pavoni is you get a really gorgeous Chrome Peacock that makes truly great espresso… The result is that I get a better cup of espresso, with less need to plan ahead. – Joe S.