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upgrade from Caravel?
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Discussions > Espresso > Lever Espresso > upgrade from...  
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alekk
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alekk
Joined: 7 Dec 2012
Posts: 22
Location: Paris
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 12:46pm
Subject: upgrade from Caravel?
 

Hi all,

I have been playing with an Europiccola for a few months: while this is a great machine and I have learnt a lot from it, I grew quite tired of the lack of reproducibility of my espressos. I did manage to get some very nice shots but my kitchen sink also drank quite a large amount of bitter coffee these last few months. I even thought of installing a PID controller, but thinking (a lot) about it I am not really sure that this is a good idea. I only drink a few cups of espresso (i.e no milk etc..) every day so the whole idea of heating up water at quite a high temperature in a pressurized boiler for then send it to the group with the hope that just enough heat will go away in order to get a nice 94-96 temperature drives me mad.

Indeed, this led me to the purchase of another toy: a stylish Caravel arrived in the kitchen. This is indeed a beautifully simple and functional machine. I stick a thermometer in the open boiler, wait a few minutes before getting the exact temperature I want, flush a few times, get a wonderful ristretto. It is simple, the temperature is very stable, I can easily reproduce the results I get, the espresso is good. So far, so good!

There are nevertheless several things that bother me. It is very hard to find Caravel's spare parts. For example, I would love to have a bottomless portafilter and a slightly bigger double basket. I would also really love to get more than 15cl in my cup! But I guess that one cannot hope much more from a 43mm basket.

1: is there any other non-fancy non-expensive open boiler machine that would allow me to get a good espresso (as good as the Caravel, say), but that would also deliver more than 15cl of ristretto? Something like a 58mm basket version of the Caravel. If spare parts are easily available, that would be a huge bonus.  

2: I like lever machines a lot (have only owned an Europiccola and a Caravel), but what really matters in the end is the espresso that the machine delivers. Seems like (I might be wrong) it should be possible to find a non-expensive semi-automatic PIDed machine that delivers water at the right temperature and right pressure + makes pre-infusion possible. Any advice on that side?

3: Any tricks (except Fellini moves) to get more than 15cl from a Caravel? Anybody managed to adapt a bigger basket from another machine?
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,891
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600+, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 1:15pm
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

Hi all,

I

2: I like lever machines a lot (have only owned an Europiccola and a Caravel), but what really matters in the end is the espresso that the machine delivers. Seems like (I might be wrong) it should be possible to find a non-expensive semi-automatic PIDed machine that delivers water at the right temperature and right pressure + makes pre-infusion possible. Any advice on that side?
If you're referring to a NON lever, then sure, for 1k and above, and NS Oscar.
As far as a lever with specs like that? In this case "semi automatic would have to mean a spring-assistewd lever...
For what you quant, try 2k






EDIT..BTW, as unique as is the Caravel, there ISA no upgrade. You don't want small shots, sell it to me! Photo please. :>D
Another BTW, depending on which La Pavoni you have, there are techniques available that will help you get 3 excellent shots before soaking the PF down in ice water for a few seconds, and inserting into the group for a minute. That's one.
You don't mention if your coffee is freshly roasted, or crappy pre-ground, do you have a grinder?
If the answer to the above is NO, then it is, unfortunately YOU who are responsible for the bad Pavoni shots.
I can't imagine how your Caravel shots would be great if you're using stale coffee.
What's the story? That wold help us.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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alekk
Senior Member
alekk
Joined: 7 Dec 2012
Posts: 22
Location: Paris
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 2:42pm
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

IMAWriter Said:

If you're referring to a NON lever, then sure, for 1k and above, and NS Oscar.
As far as a lever with specs like that? In this case "semi automatic would have to mean a spring-assistewd lever...
For what you quant, try 2k

Posted February 17, 2013 link

Any specific non-lever or spring assisted in mind (for espresso only) in the 1k range? Would be greatly appreciated.

IMAWriter Said:

Another BTW, depending on which La Pavoni you have, there are techniques available that will help you get 3 excellent shots before soaking the PF down in ice water for a few seconds, and inserting into the group for a minute. That's one.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

That does not seem very easy to get good temperature control this way. Anybody successful with this technique? Also, the law of physics seem to imply that constant pressure (with a PID) is not a good way of controlling the temperature (would depend on the amount of air in the boiler). And constant temperature in the boiler would have to be at quite a high temperature in order to have enough pressure, and am slightly worry that this would need to be too high a temperature to be of real use (but I might very well be wrong -  I should read the many long europiccola PID posts). My Pavoni shots are not all bad, far from it. I just find that the frequency of my sink-shots is quite high (but might be able to fix that if I returned to the Europiccola instead of Caravel).


IMAWriter Said:

You don't mention if your coffee is freshly roasted, or crappy pre-ground, do you have a grinder?

Posted February 17, 2013 link

Yes, freshly grounded and grinded with a Porlex. I have once borrowed a Rosco grinder and noticed a slight improvement, but nothing earth shaking. A better grinder is indeed on the todo-list.
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crazy4espresso
Senior Member
crazy4espresso
Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Pharos
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 5:34pm
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

alekk Said:

Yes, freshly grounded and grinded with a Porlex. I have once borrowed a Rosco grinder and noticed a slight improvement, but nothing earth shaking. A better grinder is indeed on the todo-list.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

Freshly grounded? What about freshly roasted? As in roasted less than 2 weeks ago.  If you're missing this important variable, than your machines are not the problem.
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alekk
Senior Member
alekk
Joined: 7 Dec 2012
Posts: 22
Location: Paris
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 6:59pm
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

crazy4espresso Said:

Freshly grounded? What about freshly roasted? As in roasted less than 2 weeks ago.  If you're missing this important variable, than your machines are not the problem.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

Yep, I indeed meant freshly roasted (so says my local roaster). And I do not really have problems with my machines: I just find the Pavoni slightly too unpredictable, and while I love the Caravel, I would love to have slightly longer shots. I just would like to find something of the Caravel type (read: simple+reliable+temp-stable+great-espresso) without spending too much $ on an overkill fancy machine.

BTW: do people mainly drinking milk-based coffees really need all these fancy machines? I have honestly never tried to produce a milk-based coffe at home, but it just seems like the milk would hide away the delicate nuances of a great espresso shot.
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,891
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600+, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 9:24pm
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

alekk Said:

Any specific non-lever or spring assisted in mind (for espresso only) in the 1k range? Would be greatly appreciated.


That does not seem very easy to get good temperature control this way. Anybody successful with this technique? Also, the law of physics seem to imply that constant pressure (with a PID) is not a good way of controlling the temperature (would depend on the amount of air in the boiler). And constant temperature in the boiler would have to be at quite a high temperature in order to have enough pressure, and am slightly worry that this would need to be too high a temperature to be of real use (but I might very well be wrong -  I should read the many long europiccola PID posts). My Pavoni shots are not all bad, far from it. I just find that the frequency of my sink-shots is quite high (but might be able to fix that if I returned to the Europiccola instead of Caravel).



Yes, freshly grounded and grinded with a Porlex. I have once borrowed a Rosco grinder and noticed a slight improvement, but nothing earth shaking. A better grinder is indeed on the todo-list.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

There is no "PID" in a La Pavoni, just a pressure stat.
You seem a bit unfamiliar with these machines. The la Pavoni's group over-hearts after 3 shots, generally.
To lower the GROUPS temperature (not the boiler) you soak your PF in ice water till it's cold to the touch, then insert it in the group.
Leave in for a minute, and you can then pull 2-3 shots which will should be close to proper temperature again.

Yes, freshly ROASTED quality artisan roasted coffee. Best for espresso 5-13 days after the roast date. If your beans have no roast date on them (not a "use before") then you have OLD STALE BITTER COFFEE BEANS.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,891
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600+, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 9:30pm
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

alekk Said:

Yep, I indeed meant freshly roasted (so says my local roaster). And I do not really have problems with my machines: I just find the Pavoni slightly too unpredictable, and while I love the Caravel, I would love to have slightly longer shots. I just would like to find something of the Caravel type (read: simple+reliable+temp-stable+great-espresso) without spending too much $ on an overkill fancy machine.

BTW: do people mainly drinking milk-based coffees really need all these fancy machines? I have honestly never tried to produce a milk-based coffe at home, but it just seems like the milk would hide away the delicate nuances of a great espresso shot.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

If you want a spring assisted lever, for 1k you can find a pore-owned Elektra MCAL. 49mm group like an Olympia cremina. The shots will have a bit less crema, but wonderful layers. It too, like other HOME designed levers will have it's group overheat after 3 shots.

Truly, it sounds like an HX semi auto pump machine is your best bet. There are several in the $995 category.
Go to our Consumer reviews and look at the HX machines. They can at times be up for sale here for less than 1k, but as you are over-seas, perhaps check with local vendors. The price I quote is US $$.
All home levers have smaller groups, from 43mm to 51, like the La Pavoni Europiccola Millennium.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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alekk
Senior Member
alekk
Joined: 7 Dec 2012
Posts: 22
Location: Paris
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 7:36am
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

IMAWriter Said:

There is no "PID" in a La Pavoni, just a pressure stat.
You seem a bit unfamiliar with these machines. The la Pavoni's group over-hearts after 3 shots, generally.
To lower the GROUPS temperature (not the boiler) you soak your PF in ice water till it's cold to the touch, then insert it in the group.
Leave in for a minute, and you can then pull 2-3 shots which will should be close to proper temperature again.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

I am just saying that it is not difficult to install a PID (and it is quite well documented).

IMAWriter Said:

Yes, freshly ROASTED quality artisan roasted coffee. Best for espresso 5-13 days after the roast date. If your beans have no roast date on them (not a "use before") then you have OLD STALE BITTER COFFEE BEANS.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

Yes, freshly roasted coffee is of paramount importance. But here in Europe you can buy freshly roasted coffee beans that have no date on it. You just have to trust your local roaster (whose job is to deliver freshly roasted beans). Indeed, there are sometimes dishonest roasters.

IMAWriter Said:

Truly, it sounds like an HX semi auto pump machine is your best bet.

Posted February 17, 2013 link

Would you mind to explain why this is so? It seems like an HX semi auto pump machine is way too complicated for brewing a few espressi (4 cups max a day, say). Also, I never drink milk based cafe.
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,891
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600+, CO/UFO combo
Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 10:48am
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

alekk Said:

I
Would you mind to explain why this is so? It seems like an HX semi auto pump machine is way too complicated for brewing a few espressi (4 cups max a day, say). Also, I never drink milk based cafe.

Posted February 18, 2013 link

HX machines are LESS "complicated" than a lever. Grind, pack the basket, flush a little water (if it's your first shot) lock in and go.
Subsequent shots need no flush, if they are pulled within 4-5 minutes. Simple.
A lever requires much physical involvement. I love that. You say you don't want milk drinks...but how about your guests?
Many HX machines also give you a hot water wand, for dining, heating cups and cleaning the PF.

DECIDE what you want...lever?
If so, I'd go for a used MCAL, Ponteveccio Lusso, or keep your La Pavoni.
Smaller shots...larger than your Caravel though.
HX...or SBDU, such as a Rancillio Silvia, which makes you wait a while before steaming. There re better machines in that category. (IMO)

BTW, which La Pavoni do you have? The 49mm basket (pre Millennium) or 51mm basket?

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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alekk
Senior Member
alekk
Joined: 7 Dec 2012
Posts: 22
Location: Paris
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:18am
Subject: Re: upgrade from Caravel?
 

IMAWriter Said:

DECIDE what you want...lever?
If so, I'd go for a used MCAL, Ponteveccio Lusso, or keep your La Pavoni.
Smaller shots...larger than your Caravel though.
HX...or SBDU, such as a Rancillio Silvia, which makes you wait a while before steaming. There re better machines in that category. (IMO)

Posted February 18, 2013 link

OK, thanks for the advice

IMAWriter Said:

BTW, which La Pavoni do you have? The 49mm basket (pre Millennium) or 51mm basket?

Posted February 18, 2013 link

A 49mm with pressostat.
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