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Mark08859
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Mark08859
Joined: 18 Feb 2005
Posts: 219
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Alexia PID
Grinder: Ditting KE640 Vario
Posted Fri Feb 18, 2005, 2:39pm
Subject: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

Hi All,

New to the Coffeegeek forums. My weekday morning machine is a Starbucks Digital Barista Italia and my "Weekend Challenge" is a Pavoni EPC-8 (single on/off switch, not the older double) which I've had for a few years.

My shots are inconsistent and from research, I now know that I need to go to a finer grind and probably need to upgrade my grinder (Krupps KMM model). Was considering a Solis Maestro Plus but am now trying to save my pennies for a Rocky Doserless. But I do have some other ?s.

  1. Timing a shot. With a Pavoni lever, you're supposed to hold the lever up until espresso starts to come out and then press the lever. Does this 8 - 15 second hold count towards the 20 - 25 second shot?

  2. Heat. I do a blank shot then have my first espresso. If I continue to make additional cups, the in-cup temperature of the water keeps rising to where I have to wait so I can do more than take a tiny sip. Any suggestions other than turning off the machine and adding cooler water?

  3. Is the single shot filter basket as useless as I've been reading? I keep switching back and forth; which probably doesn't help matters.

  4. Has anyone ever tried a 51 mm tamp with either the double or single basket as opposed to a 49 mm tamp?

  5. Many times I'll achieve a rich brown crema. However, it will start dissolving almost immediately. Any suggestions as to what I'm doing wrong?  

Thanks in advance.
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Rainman
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Rainman
Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 152
Location: Charleston, SC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Rocky
Vac Pot: Nope- use Bodum French press...
Drip: Ornamental Krups (clock...
Roaster: US Roaster Corp, 1 lb sample...
Posted Sat Feb 19, 2005, 7:29am
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

Hi, Mark - I'm kinda new to the forum too, but I've had good use out of a europiccola for 5 yrs now and think I can offer some ideas.  There are so many things that can go wrong that you have to experiment with a lot of things before getting consistently good shots out of that machine, so here's a few:

Maybe you already know some of these, but just in case..

  1. Coffee:  Fresh-roasted arabica beans (no more than 2 wks old)- preferably a light-roast (full city is what I use) and ground < 2 hrs before use.  I notice a trememdous drop in the quality of my shots if any of these are off.

  2. Grinder:  I use a Rocky (never had anything else), but a good quality burr grinder is a must.  I grind my coffee a little finer than most, I think.. from what I see done in cafes.  This just comes down to experimentation until you get some good results.

  3. Technique:  Once the machine blows it's steam through the relief valve, you turn it off for 2-3 minutes, then back on.  I usually load the filter basket during this time, and only use the double.. even it is pretty small, so I never saw the use for the single.  Fill it up completely and tamp it down to within 1/8" of the upper lip of the basket.  When you insert the portafilter into the group head, sometimes it takes some manipulation to get it to seat correctly (I put enough coffee in the basket, that it gets a second "tamp" from the shower screen in the grouphead).  This just came down to experimentation, and one of my first realizations after filling the filter more completely, resulted immediately in more pressure felt in the handle, which produced a marked improvement in the quality of my shot-- that's something I never read in anybody's online suggestions, but it worked for me.

  4.  By this time the machine is starting to make a bit of noise from building pressure back up and there is just a hint of resistance as you raise the lever.  I only wait 5 seconds, then start the pull.  My shots vary between 18-23 seconds or so, which is a reasonable amount of time.. I think.  Much longer than that, and you'll end up w/ an over-extracted shot (and it'll be waay bitter).   You can cheat a bit (and a lot of people do this) by raising the handle a second time once you are about 1/2-2/3 the way through the first pull.  Depending on how much of a purist you are (and you don't want to dilute your ristretto), if you start seeing the coffee turn a lighter shade of brown, pull the cup out from under the stream and waste the rest in the drain pan..  Sometimes I can get a complete 2nd pull (actually 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pull total) with very little change in color/consistency in the coffee.  The crema should last several minutes.. never timed it, though.

  5.  Temperature control- the reason why I don't heat up the grouphead by pulling a preliminary blank.  The Pavoni's do get too hot after 3-4 shots and have to be completely cooled before you can resume.  Probably the best method to control it, is to turn it completely off between shots (my machine has two toggle buttons, and I turn them both off) and wait 20-30 minutes before turning it back on.. you can re-fill it at that time, because by now it's probably getting low, and I find that it works best when over 2/3 full.  I stop making shots after the third or at most fourth cup to avoid making hot/burnt espresso.. to me, that's even worse than over-extracted/bitter.. yuck!

On any day that I decide to be lazy and use yesterdays' grind, the handle usually comes down quickly (under 10 seconds) and the crema is practically non-existent or kinda foamy due to just air.. that shot either goes down the drain, or gets diluted w/ lots of milk.

Not sure about your tamper question..

Good luck!

Ray

 
LMWDP #18
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Rainman
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Rainman
Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 152
Location: Charleston, SC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Rocky
Vac Pot: Nope- use Bodum French press...
Drip: Ornamental Krups (clock...
Roaster: US Roaster Corp, 1 lb sample...
Posted Sat Feb 19, 2005, 7:59am
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

oops- correction.  I just pulled a shot, and realized I do run a preliminary flush just before the first shot of the morning.  Also, the timing begins just when you begin to pull the handle down.

 
LMWDP #18
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AZbrewer
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AZbrewer
Joined: 19 Jan 2005
Posts: 78
Location: Ft. Collins, CO
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Sat Feb 19, 2005, 12:09pm
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

Hey There,

I use a Rocky as well witht the Pavoni. When you say you grind finer than most, what exactly do you mean? I find that with fresh beans, say 3-4 days old, I don't grind as fine as I was use too before I got Rocky. I know the numbers on Rocky vary from machine to machine, but what average setting are you at?

I have been finding with too fine a grind on the Rocky, the machine chokes easily.
With my Pavoni, I have only been able to get say 12 -13 g. in the filter basket. How about you? Are you using the 30# tamp?
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Izzyscafe
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Izzyscafe
Joined: 15 May 2003
Posts: 22
Location: Columbus, MS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola, Krups...
Grinder: Kitchenaid Proline
Drip: DeLonghi
Posted Sat Feb 19, 2005, 1:36pm
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

I have a single switch Europiccola as well. Rainman's comments apply for the most part to the single switch machines (especially the freshly roasted coffee part) with the following additions:

1) With the single switch, the pressurestat prevents the relief valve from blowing. I follow La Pavoni's directions by waiting until the light on the pressurestat shuts off and then bleed out 2-5 secods of steam to relieve the 'false' pressure. From cold water start, this usually takes 7 minutes.

2) Tamping: I have found that a double tamp is necessary for me to get good crema and extraction every time. I half fill my double basket, very lightly tamp, and then fill to nearly the top and then do a 30 pound tamp.

3) Heat: With the single switch machine, I then need to wait 10 minutes for all of the metal to warm up, otherwise the shot is too cool. I have not tried to do a blank shot, but maybe this would speed up my process. The only other suggestion I have heard for reducing heat is to wrap the grouphead in a towel soaked in cold water.

4) Timing a shot: The water is in contact with the coffee from the time that you have the lever in the up position, so I usually count that toward the shot time. i find that if I wait too long to press down the lever i.e. over 10 seconds, the shot is too bitter.

5) I can get a small but decent shot from a single basket with plenty of crema. Don't think I do anything differently.

I've been meaning to get a review of the 'Millenium' series Europiccola on the Reviews board because i think that there are some significant differences with the older models, especially in terms of heat. The nylon sleeve within the grouphead seems to really slow down the exchange of heat.
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DougM
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Joined: 19 Feb 2005
Posts: 3
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Feb 19, 2005, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

First post, yee ha. New to this forum, have been using an older Krups for some time. Just ordered a new Europiccola and Rocky grinder from all the advice/reviews on this site and others. I should get all this in the next week or so, so please keep this great info coming...

Couple of questions:

- are the newest Europiccola's all "Millennium" editions? In other words, do the new machines manufactured/purchased today have all the upgrades from the 2000 version (I assume they do, but...)? I read on one site that the 2000 year models had plastic pistons, but were changed back to brass on subesquent (and current?) year models.

- what is the right size tamper to buy for a new Europiccola? I've heard 49mm (as the older models) and 51mm.

Can't wait to receive these and start the hands-on learning process.
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pavlovdog
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Joined: 2 Nov 2004
Posts: 28
Location: nyc
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Feb 19, 2005, 4:30pm
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

Wow, what a timely thread!  I just pulled my absolute best shot to date on my europiccola!  (and I've been at it daily for almost a year...)  It may be too much to call it a god shot, but it was darn close -- it had the thick, rich streams throughout the pour similar to those JonR and others have shamed us with!  (Shamed, in a good way).  I was beginning to doubt if a pour like that was really possible with the europiccola.  It looked so good during the pour that I didn't bother to re-load at 3/4 of the way through and pull again to ensure proper double volume and maximum crema output.  I didn't want to risk overextraction.  Though I didn't measure the result, I think I still got 1.5 oz, if not 2.  And it had loads of high quality crema which didn't dissipate.  My beans, a very oily, dark roast that're good, but not great -- they were a gift -- are about 10 days old!

The shot was great, rich, creamy, etc.

This was my second shot of the session.  The first I made for my brother a few minutes prior.  He thought it was great, but I know from the look of the streams and the fact that the second shot had MUCH more reistance -- both on the UP stroke, as well as the down -- that the second shot was infinitely better.

I know many have talked about purposely brewing a sink shot first.  Was the fact that my great shot was pulled second really a factor?  I don't see why that should be.  I know it primes the machine, but I usually run water through the group without a pf to warm the head, and then again with the empty single to warm the pf, once the machine has reached operating temp.  I can't see why the addition of coffee would have any effect on the relative brew pressure of the following shot.

That was the first sign I was onto something special.  As I said, I could feel significant resistance even as I raised the lever.  When I pulled the shot, it seemed I was almost choking the machine, and it required a lot of force.  But it never felt like it was locking up or that I was forcing it.

I was definitely on the edge of using too much coffee.  Still, I think I have choked the machine before with the same amount/grind.  Anybody have any idea why my result was so much better this time?

Also,

Rainman Said:

Technique:  Once the machine blows it's steam through the relief valve, you turn it off for 2-3 minutes, then back on.  I usually load the filter basket during this time, and only use the double.. even it is pretty small, so I never saw the use for the single.  Fill it up completely and tamp it down to within 1/8" of the upper lip of the basket.  When you insert the portafilter into the group head, sometimes it takes some manipulation to get it to seat correctly (I put enough coffee in the basket, that it gets a second "tamp" from the shower screen in the grouphead).  This just came down to experimentation, and one of my first realizations after filling the filter more completely, resulted immediately in more pressure felt in the handle, which produced a marked improvement in the quality of my shot-- that's something I never read in anybody's online suggestions, but it worked for me.

By this time the machine is starting to make a bit of noise from building pressure back up and there is just a hint of resistance as you raise the lever.  I only wait 5 seconds, then start the pull.  My shots vary between 18-23 seconds or so, which is a reasonable amount of time.. I think.  Much longer than that, and you'll end up w/ an over-extracted shot (and it'll be waay bitter).   You can cheat a bit (and a lot of people do this) by raising the handle a second time once you are about 1/2-2/3 the way through the first pull.  Depending on how much of a purist you are (and you don't want to dilute your ristretto), if you start seeing the coffee turn a lighter shade of brown, pull the cup out from under the stream and waste the rest in the drain pan..  Sometimes I can get a complete 2nd pull (actually 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pull total) with very little change in color/consistency in the coffee.  The crema should last several minutes.. never timed it, though.

Temperature control- the reason why I don't heat up the grouphead by pulling a preliminary blank.  The Pavoni's do get too hot after 3-4 shots and have to be completely cooled before you can resume.  Probably the best method to control it, is to turn it completely off between shots (my machine has two toggle buttons, and I turn them both off) and wait 20-30 minutes before turning it back on.. you can re-fill it at that time, because by now it's probably getting low, and I find that it works best when over 2/3 full.  I stop making shots after the third or at most fourth cup to avoid making hot/burnt espresso.. to me, that's even worse than over-extracted/bitter.. yuck!

Posted February 19, 2005 link

I have the millenium, and it seems to regulate and stabilize itself well.  I've never tried turning it off for 2-3 minutes once it's reached temp.  I'm curious if you can expound on that a bit more, because if anything, I'm concerned that pulling a "naked grouphead" shot, followed by a blank shot through the single filter, may be lowering my brew temp too much.  My espresso is never cold, but it's never too hot to shoot back in one gulp after the pull.  It will cool to just above luke within a minute or so.  This was true even of my great shot -- which I drank quickly, so as to maximize the enjoyment! Thoughts?

Thanks.  And welcome to the Pavoni Newbies!  And to all Newbies!  I definitely still consider myself one!
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Rainman
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Rainman
Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 152
Location: Charleston, SC
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Rocky
Vac Pot: Nope- use Bodum French press...
Drip: Ornamental Krups (clock...
Roaster: US Roaster Corp, 1 lb sample...
Posted Sun Feb 20, 2005, 6:27am
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

I still consider myself well within the learning curve of using this machine, even though I've been at it for 5 yrs or so.. it's kinda like learning guitar- there's just so many variations to the method, and how boring it would be if you knew all that.. all part of the charm, I think.

How find do I grind?  Purely speculation, but probably somewhere finer than playground sand if I had to guess.. or about like white sugar (regular purecane stuff- not confectioners).   The settings on my Rocky are not accurate, so I don't even use them.  After cleaning it, I reassemble it w/o paying attention to the numbers.. just tighten it down by hand until I hear the burrs gently touch, then back off a few mm's.  Once I resume grinding, I usually have to tighten up the dial by 1-2 clicks to get back to the proper grind.  That's all the science I apply to that.  I use the stock tamper that comes w/ the Pavoni (I know!  One of my bike racing buddies who uses a Sylvia has a nice Reg Barber tamper- always gives me the "stink-eye" when watching me).. I've never measured the tamp force, but with so much variation there's likely to be out there, I can't see the point.  I know I tamp hard-- probably upwards of 40 lbs, I'm sure.

Peter- did you adjust your pressurestat like the espresso wrench (Stefano) suggested a couple of months ago?  I'm mostly wondering.. seems like you're on target w/ however your machine is currently set up.  I'd have to assume that our machines are so different in regards to temp that technique is different, too (and also the reason I'm now buying an Expobar).  Although I like the cool wet towel idea..
What I've found is that the greater the resistance in the lever (to a point) the more crema and usually the better the quality of the shot.  Good resistance raising the lever just means there's plenty of steam in the boiler pressing against the piston- that's what you feel... it's also higher when the machine is running at it's hottest, and the boiler is full of water leaving less room for steam, which is certainly more compressable than a liquid.  Resistance going down is the product of grind/tamp and plenty of water still in the machine.  Temperature has been less of a problem for me (up to 3-4 shots like I've mentioned earlier).  I've had some shots using too fine a grind that required so much pressure to extract that it almost choked the machine- those were obviously sink shots (or good enough for my brother- he's a Texan).  I wouldn't think that pulling two blanks (one w/o the portafilter attached, and one with) is all that necessary.  Even if you're Pavoni runs a bit cooler than mine, I'd think just warming up the handle under hot tap water and running just one blank through the shower-head alone should be plenty.  I always get coffee grounds (just a few) dumping out of the shower-head from my morning flush, that I wouldn't run that through the portafilter unless you rinse it out w/ the tap.

Does that help?

Ray

 
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PavoniPony
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Espresso: San Marco 85.16.M practical,...
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Roaster: Popper
Posted Sun Feb 20, 2005, 7:59am
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

Hi All,
I recently bought a 2nd hand (in good condition) Europiccola on ebay.
I have to say I really appreciate all the tips and sharing of experience that goes on round here.

My machine is actually a wedding present from my fiancee, so after the initial testing phase I have hand it over to her until we're married. What a tease! I don't mind too much though as i don't have a grinder yet so it gives me time to save up for a mazzer mini.
As such, I've been restricted to buying pre-ground coffee from coffee shops and supermarkets.
Not ideal I know, but still a good way to start experimenting.
It sucks when you get the shop to grind it too fine and then every attempt at pulling a shot stalls the machine!
When I did fine a reasonable (not perfect) setting on the machine at the shop I then discovered what a huge factor freshness was. Soon after grinding the extraction times were a solid 25 or so seconds, the day after they could be down as low as 5-10 seconds. I'm also not convinced of the freshness of the stock at the coffee shop.
I'm in Germany at the moment, where portafilter espresso machines are as rare as hen's teeth so I'm sure I'm the only one in my town who actually needs seriously fresh beans.
My machine does get way too hot to get more than 3-4 shots in a row. A bummer when you're experimenting.
I never would have thought the over heating could be the reason why the volume decreases so much on the 3rd or 4th shot. Often I turn the machine off one I have bled off the false pressure and it's up to operating temp.
Does anyone else find that this then reduced the amount of water coming into the group head, especially after a cleaning flush of the group between shots?
Also, I raise the lever almost all the way up before I lock in the portafilter and raise the lever all the way to start infusion (a blancing act I can tell you!). I read that not doing this could lead to breaking up your carefully tamped coffee due to suction when lifting the lever up.
Any thoughts on this?

I can't wait to get back to Australia, get married, get the machine, grinder, decent tamper and get brewing again!

Cheers,

Michael
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pavlovdog
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Joined: 2 Nov 2004
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Location: nyc
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 20, 2005, 8:26pm
Subject: Re: Pavoni EPC-8: A Few Questions
 

Thanks for the response, Ray.  Ultimately, I didn't adjust the pressurestat, because I decided it was more a brew temp issue than a pressure one, though I did mull adjusting it around for awhile.  In the end, I think my worry about the heating element being damaged was unfounded.  Recently, I measured the water temp coming out of the showerhead following an espresso-making session.  This was at least :30 seconds or so after I had turned off the machine.  The thermometer read, 200, so I think everything's working OK (although, I have forced shots through on more than one occassion when the machine's clearly been choked.  I know, I should just let it go, but at that point I've invested so much time and energy, I just can't give up on it.  Then, of course, I read how this can damage your gaskets...  I don't force it any more, but the shower head does drip slightly.  Bad sign, right?  Maybe I'll need to tune it up/replace them eventually, but the machine still seems to be functioning correctly.  Am I fooling myself?)

So today's shot:  I took your advice and just ran water through shower head and heated up the pf with the faucet.  There was very good resistance on the way up, but I left it in that position for at least :20 seconds, with no espresso drips in sight.  I jogged the lever up and down a little, then finally went for it.  The pour didn't begin til I was nearly halfway down -- and here's a curious thing, there was almost no resistance til that point.  At about the halfway point, the pour started and I had good resistance, but I reloaded near the end of the pour and pulled again to make sure I got close to double shot volume.  The shot was very good, not great like yesterday's, but very good, though there was a bit of "white" crema at the end of the pour.  I know that's a "no-no", a sign of overextraction?  But the shot was pretty good.  Drank it without sugar.

Great line about using the pavoni tamper.  I'm back to it, too!  Got another one awhile back.  Beautiful, but doesn't fit.

Basically all the other variables were the same as yesterday.  Again, the result was very good, but not nearly as great.  So...

I take heart that you approach it like a guitar and are still learning 5 years in.  Makes me feel a little better.

Let me know if you have any other thoughts/tips.

Thanks,
Peter
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