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Feedback on my technique please
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rosscova
Senior Member
rosscova
Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Compak K3
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 2:58pm
Subject: Feedback on my technique please
 

Hi all, I've had my La Pavoni europiccola for a couple of weeks now, and I'm starting to get some results I'm fairly happy with. Definitely hoping to get better though, so I'd appreciate feedback on what I'm doing if possible please.

Here's a video showing what I'm doing at the moment. The tamper I'm using here doesn't fit the basket properly, but I do have a new one on the way. I notice some shots are a little frothy at the end like this one, but not sure what causes it, or even whether that's something I should be aiming to avoid. My milk technique has a way to go yet :)

http://vimeo.com/76922603
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Bostonbuzz
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Joined: 30 Apr 2010
Posts: 23
Location: Boston
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Pharos
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 4:59pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

Looks very good. Milk steaming could be a bit better, but there isn't much to tell you on that, you just have to figure it out! If you're experiencing sour or bitter shots (or you have a la pavoni ;) your temp is probably off. There are some long threads on HB that talk about attaching a 10$ digital thermometer to the grouphead of manual levers to accurately reproduce temperatures. Also, of course, bottomless pfs will let you know if everything is staying even, but from the looks of it you're doing great.  

If things are good, don't bother with any mods, just work on that steaming.
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crazy4espresso
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crazy4espresso
Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Pharos
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 7:55am
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

Hi,

I made a massive leap forward when I began monitoring group temps with a simple digital thermometer, as mentioned. I haven't attached anything permanent because I like having the machine look stock.  I simply tape a thermometer probe to the side of the group and remove it when I'm done. The LP has become my daily machine, as a result.
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rosscova
Senior Member
rosscova
Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Compak K3
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 2:37pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

Thank you both very much for the replies. I have noticed that if I make a few shots in succession, around the third shot I start getting smoke off the espresso itself, and also off the puck afterwards, which I figure means the temperature is getting too high. That thermometer attachment seems like a great idea, but I can't seem to find a specific thread on it anywhere (I've tried a few searches here, on google, and on home-barista, just not coming up with what I'm looking for), does anyone have a direct link to an appropriate thread?

I'm off to search out some milk-steaming tutorials :)
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 386
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 3:21pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

rosscova Said:

I can't seem to find a specific thread on it anywhere (I've tried a few searches here, on google, and on home-barista, just not coming up with what I'm looking for), does anyone have a direct link to an appropriate thread?

Posted October 16, 2013 link

You definitely have some heat issues as many of us do with the Pavoni's.  Here's a good thread for you:
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)
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rosscova
Senior Member
rosscova
Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Compak K3
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 3:54pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

Thank you Dano, that thread was exactly what I was after. Seems to be a nice easy add-on to the machine, and non-destructive as well.

I'll start looking for a suitable thermometer with thermocouple.
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 386
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

It helps to have a thermometer on the group somewhere to monitor those temps.

I have one myself, and if the group is too hot I cool the brass portafilter with tap water, lock it into the group and watch the temps drop to a little below where I want it.Remove the portafilter, slip in the basket, raise the handle to give a brief spray out the group and immediately lock in the portafilter and raise the handle again for pre-infusion.  The act of cooling the group can make action spongy, so the brief spray will warm the air in there so it's more likely to condense and avoid spongy pulls.  Also micro pumping helps to remove the spongy feel.

I generally pre-infuse for 4-5 seconds and then start micro pump and pull when I get a solid feel.  It seems to be working for me, but I'm still working on developing a method that works for me time after time.  (I've had my La Pavoni for 4 months now.)
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rosscova
Senior Member
rosscova
Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Pavoni Europiccola...
Grinder: Compak K3
Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 3:43pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

DanoM Said:

I generally pre-infuse for 4-5 seconds and then start micro pump and pull when I get a solid feel.

Posted October 16, 2013 link

That's interesting. What do you mean when you say "micro pump"? Does that mean raising and lowering the lever multiple times near the top of the range (opening and closing the water intake valve) to get more water into the group?

I'm not sure if the pre-infusion is started when I first raise the lever to the top (open the valve and fill the group with water), or when I do my first half-pull (push some of the water into the puck itself). Any help here?
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crazy4espresso
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crazy4espresso
Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Pharos
Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 7:54am
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

rosscova Said:

That's interesting. What do you mean when you say "micro pump"? Does that mean raising and lowering the lever multiple times near the top of the range (opening and closing the water intake valve) to get more water into the group?

I'm not sure if the pre-infusion is started when I first raise the lever to the top (open the valve and fill the group with water), or when I do my first half-pull (push some of the water into the puck itself). Any help here?

Posted October 17, 2013 link

As soon as water enters the group and makes contact with the coffee puck, you're pre-infusing. To build up a bit more pressure you'll do a couple of Fellini moves, or micro-pumps.
Here's my technique with my pavoni:

(Important to note: I have a very old Pavoni, 1972?, so my group is NOT steam heated as the 74-2000 groups, but I follow a similar preparation.  Also, my machine does not have a pressurestat).

  1.  Set switch to "Massimo".  When steam starts emanating from the valve and I see a few drips of water come out I switch to "Minimo". I believe it takes about 8 minutes? I never actually timed it. I have a pressure gauge that hooks up to the steam wand which I sometimes use. Here I grind my beans while the machine gets down to brew pressure. I use the double basket and 16.5 grams of coffee.
  2. Warm up cup by expelling some water from the machine.  This will also remove any air in the system.  On the steam heated groups this is critical.  I believe opening the steam valve yields the same effect.  You'll feel the group go from cool to hot.
  3. Load coffee into the basket.  If this is the first shot I put the portafilter back in while I'm loading the basket.  The first shot is always a bit tricky and you'll find that often it comes out a bit cool if you're not careful.
  4. Tamp coffee. Place basket in portafilter.
  5. Expel water until group reaches approximately 88 degrees celcius (measured half way up the group).  You'll have to play around with group temps to see what works best for you. Usually I get up to 92/93 degress max temp during the pull.
  6. Raise handle just before water is expelled and lock portafilter in place.  Raise handle.  Wait about 10 seconds.  I do about 3 Fellini moves(short pumps near top of range) until I see some drips of coffee come out and when I feel there's adequate pressure.  
  7.  I pull down in a declining profile.  That means more pressure at the top of the range and then slowly let off whilst still maintaining the lever in motion. This mimics the profile of a spring lever machine and I achieve some very good results.

I've never experienced an overheated group because I don't generally pull more than 2 shots in succession. By the time I'm done my first shot and ready for the second I've noticed the group to be back at 88 degrees celcius. It's pretty stable for my purposes.  I'm a big fan of the really old Pavoni's.  It's almost impossible to pull a bad shot once you've got the hang of it.
Here's a pic of my machine.

crazy4espresso: 27964f1_20.jpeg
(Click for larger image)
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z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 376
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013, 3:04pm
Subject: Re: Feedback on my technique please
 

Looks okay but with a few adjustments to your technique you're well your way :)

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Do not tap your basket. Tapping is not necessary, and I would argue is a detrimental technique that leads to channeling down the sides of the basket.  When you tap, it shifts and narrows the pile of coffee in your basket.  Although the effect may be slight, and even after tamping down the coffee, the outer edges will always be the path of least resistance.  A better technique is to learn to quickly distribute and level your coffee with your finger.   Most pro baristas fill above the rim and quickly level off the excess coffee.  For a home barista, you might think this is bit wasteful but what's more important, saving a few beans or pulling the best shot you can?  

  2. Do you flushes before grinding.. This will warm your portafilter in advance. That way you can...

  3. Grind the coffee into the basket already mounted in the portafilter. This saves a step, reduces potential disruption of puck.   The mere act of dropping the basket into the portafilter can create fractures in the puck that lead to channeling.  

  4. Don't steam the milk too far in advance.  The micro-froth will coalesce and prevent you from doing latte art, which you seem to be trying to do.  If latte art is not important, than this point doesn't matter.   You took your time (well over 2 minutes between frothing and pouring) at the cost of your milk thinning out.  Dual boilers and many HX pump machines offer the luxury of simultaneously frothing and pulling shots, so if you want to do free pours, you may consider frothing your milk after pulling your shot instead. I would argue that milk crema is critical for a great latte. And doing a perfect free pour will make a perfect latte.
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