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Lelit PL41 owners thread
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Lelit PL41...  
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jojobou
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Gatineau
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL41EM
Grinder: Le'Lit PL53
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011, 9:00am
Subject: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

Hi everyone,

As suggested in another thread on the PL41EM, I decided to start a PL41 so owners of the Le'lit machine can share knowledge.

I received a PL41EM and PL53 grinder a couple of days ago. While this is my first machine and I know I still have to experience more, I seem to have stumbled on the same difficulties as other owners: a very quick shot at 8-9 bar, bitter coffee and difficulty frothing milk.

So, to everyone who has a PL41, please say hi and share your tips if you like!

JoŽl (a very excited newcomer to this world).
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h3yn0w
Senior Member
h3yn0w
Joined: 28 Oct 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Canada

Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011, 7:47pm
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

Here are my tips, but you really should experiment on your own to see what works since grinder, beans, etc will make a difference.

- If your shots are bitter, you are likely pulling at too high temp, or you are getting channeling. See some of my points below to address these.  

- Be sure not to pull your shots immediately after the boiler comes off the heater cycle. The water is too hot at this point and it will result in bitter coffee. If pulling shot immediately after the heater turns off, Flush an ounce or so first, or relieve pressure via the steam wand. Or Wait 2-3 minutes after the heater comes off. Every machine is probably different here, so you can always check your temp using the Styrofoam cup method.

- You need to live with a bit of lungo shot at 9 bar, or you can pull at higher pressure (eg: 10 bar+) for a slower flow. If pulling at higher pressure, be extra careful with your distribution and tamp technique to avoid channeling. Despite what many will say, you CAN pull a good shot at higher pressure, but it will expose flaws in your technique and lead to channeling more often. The good news is you have the EM with the manometer, so it will be easier to diagnose and dial in your shots.

- Dose less (15 grams or so). This is debatable, but personally I've found I can stop the shot sooner, end up with less volume (very useful if running at 8-9 bar - see previous bullet), yet still have a proper extraction. I also  find the extra headspace helps as well. I've read people who have had better success up-dosing, so go figure. Hence why you should experiment with your beans, grinder, etc.

- For steaming, keep your pitcher in the fridge or freezer so that it's nice and cold and gives you more time to froth. Also, When the ready light is on (heater off), open the steam valve partially to let the steam slowly out. When the heater kicks back on, close the valve, wait 8-10 seconds and start frothing. The idea is for the heater to be on, and stay on, so that you are at max power during your ENTIRE frothing. If the heater turns off during your frothing you did something wrong.

Lastly, these are just suggestions. You'll need to experiment. I am still doing it. I could be back on here in 3 months with completely different advice:)
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shawndo
Senior Member
shawndo
Joined: 5 Jan 2010
Posts: 106
Location: NYC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: LM Shot Brewer
Grinder: VL M3/Compak K10 Pro
Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011, 10:06pm
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

A couple of good reference links

Dialing in a Lelit PL041
"Dialing in a Lelit PL041"

Manual for old Lelit PL041
"Manual for old Lelit PL041?"
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tasseloff
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 229
Location: Sherbrooke, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Feb 10, 2011, 10:02am
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

Just wanted to say thank you for the advice. I had noticed (and posted a thread about it) recently about the water coming off too hot from the boiler just as the light comes off. The cooling flush technique definitely seems to help.

I also wanna say that keeping the light on when steaming definitely works better. If you steam just after the light went off, you will have strong steam for about 5 seconds, and then it will slow down and make it hard to get good foam.



On another note, I've had several problems with the group seal not working right. Last time it happened I changed it and was ok for about  a year, but this time, I changed it again and it still overflows on the portafilter handle. Basically this seems to happen a lot more when I grind finer and use very fresh coffee (full of crema). Anyone else had this problem? I'm almost locking the portafilter all the way to "4 oclock".
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h3yn0w
Senior Member
h3yn0w
Joined: 28 Oct 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Canada

Posted Thu Feb 10, 2011, 10:52am
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

tasseloff Said:

On another note, I've had several problems with the group seal not working right. Last time it happened I changed it and was ok for about  a year, but this time, I changed it again and it still overflows on the portafilter handle. Basically this seems to happen a lot more when I grind finer and use very fresh coffee (full of crema). Anyone else had this problem? I'm almost locking the portafilter all the way to "4 oclock".

Posted February 10, 2011 link

You sure it's not crema squeezing out that little cut-out on the side of the PF? There is a gap between the basket and the PF here, and when using very gassy beans(i.e. fresh) I sometimes get so much crema generated that a bit leaks through this gap. But it's got nothing to do with the seal not working (as far as I can tell).
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Rob55
Senior Member
Rob55
Joined: 6 Oct 2010
Posts: 111
Location: Canton, Ohio
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Cuisinart
Posted Thu Feb 10, 2011, 11:42am
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

Mine has leaked since shortly after I bought it a few months ago. It was ok at first, but leaked when I switched to the bottomless. When I switched back, I had no leak. About the time it was 6 weeks old it leaked no matter which I used. Brushing the group or trying to get a rag into the grove to clean the seal after pulling a shot is about impossible without at least getting burnt. (LOL) Anyhow I found that cleaning with q-tips seems to be about the best for getting the seal clean. I am sure that I keep things clean enough because I clean everything after each shot.... but still the leaking. I keep a rag lying in front of the machine to catch the water that runs down the handle. After a clean with q-tips I get about 2 shots with either NO leak or a very small one..... then lots of leaks again.

I think the machine is too inconsistent. I get super shots for 2 days ...then sub par ones for a week. Not awful ones, just not great/good ones. As for channeling... I have never solved that issue. I have varied everything I can think of, tried every suggestion I have seen and still get it in about 3 of every 5 shots I pull. BTW I have the QE ... I guess it was a good place to start ... but I wish I had gotten a better unit. Although I really can't afford to upgrade, I probably will shortly as my patience is wearing thin. Granted it's MUCH better then my old breville ever was at its best... I still feel short changed because of the leaking and the lack of consistency I am able to achieve for the $1000 I spent on the Lelit and Vario. I am also frustrated with the Vario to some degree. You would think if you had a full tank of beans and got 15 grams of ground coffee in 9 seconds... that you would get 15 grams on the next grind too.... but that never happens. So now I am stuck doing exactly what I didn't want to do... which is weighing beans each time . You would think for the price it would be more accurate. Then of course there is the temperature issue .....

I did have a run of very very good shots awhile back. I went through 2Lbs of coffee ... 2 different kinds and roasters too... and thought I had found the 2 best coffees for my taste. Naturally I ordered more of both right away. When they arrived I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I was to not get 5 good shots out of the new 2LBS..... I hardly think its the roasters fault, and I can't lay it all on the Lelit either since I fully understand I am still am complete rookie... lol .. still I should not have had such totally different results....
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boredatwork
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Feb 2009
Posts: 77
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Feb 10, 2011, 12:06pm
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

With any single boiler you have little control over the extraction parameters.  Yes, I know you can temp surf, add a PID, or try to adjust the pressure through certain hacks, but I found the most important variable to control with a single boiler is actually the most obvious but also the least often suggested: the coffee.  

At least in my experience with the Lelit, some beans performed great and most were awful.  I would experiment with different roasts and blends until you find one (or maybe even a few) that make your life a little easier and actually let you produce decent espresso.  

Even on far superior machines, different roasts and blends have different levels of complexity.  With a DB or HX and a good grinder you can try to master difficult blends - but honestly with a single boiler, and especially the Lelit, I wouldn't even try.  Or at least try the easy stuff first and build your confidence and skill with an easy to use bean.
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h3yn0w
Senior Member
h3yn0w
Joined: 28 Oct 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Canada

Posted Thu Feb 10, 2011, 1:09pm
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

Rob55 Said:

Mine has leaked since shortly after I bought it a few months ago. It was ok at first, but leaked when I switched to the bottomless. When I switched back, I had no leak. About the time it was 6 weeks old it leaked no matter which I used. Brushing the group or trying to get a rag into the grove to clean the seal after pulling a shot is about impossible without at least getting burnt. (LOL) Anyhow I found that cleaning with q-tips seems to be about the best for getting the seal clean. I am sure that I keep things clean enough because I clean everything after each shot.... but still the leaking. I keep a rag lying in front of the machine to catch the water that runs down the handle. After a clean with q-tips I get about 2 shots with either NO leak or a very small one..... then lots of leaks again.

I think the machine is too inconsistent. I get super shots for 2 days ...then sub par ones for a week. Not awful ones, just not great/good ones. As for channeling... I have never solved that issue. I have varied everything I can think of, tried every suggestion I have seen and still get it in about 3 of every 5 shots I pull. BTW I have the QE ... I guess it was a good place to start ... but I wish I had gotten a better unit. Although I really can't afford to upgrade, I probably will shortly as my patience is wearing thin. Granted it's MUCH better then my old breville ever was at its best... I still feel short changed because of the leaking and the lack of consistency I am able to achieve for the $1000 I spent on the Lelit and Vario. I am also frustrated with the Vario to some degree. You would think if you had a full tank of beans and got 15 grams of ground coffee in 9 seconds... that you would get 15 grams on the next grind too.... but that never happens. So now I am stuck doing exactly what I didn't want to do... which is weighing beans each time . You would think for the price it would be more accurate. Then of course there is the temperature issue .....

I did have a run of very very good shots awhile back. I went through 2Lbs of coffee ... 2 different kinds and roasters too... and thought I had found the 2 best coffees for my taste. Naturally I ordered more of both right away. When they arrived I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I was to not get 5 good shots out of the new 2LBS..... I hardly think its the roasters fault, and I can't lay it all on the Lelit either since I fully understand I am still am complete rookie... lol .. still I should not have had such totally different results....

Posted February 10, 2011 link

Good distribution is the key to avoid channeling, due to the higher pressure. Using a Vario and good beans, I get pretty consistent results using stockfleths + nutating (start with no weight, i.e  just to level). It's quick, and I get much less channeling. Try it out.
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tasseloff
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 229
Location: Sherbrooke, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Feb 11, 2011, 7:28am
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

h3yn0w Said:

You sure it's not crema squeezing out that little cut-out on the side of the PF? There is a gap between the basket and the PF here, and when using very gassy beans(i.e. fresh) I sometimes get so much crema generated that a bit leaks through this gap. But it's got nothing to do with the seal not working (as far as I can tell).

Posted February 10, 2011 link

I'll try to have a look. But when its leaking, it usually ruins the shot. Basically all of a sudden the crema overflows everywhere and I end up with a washedout tasting shot. I'll shoot a video if I have time. It was running fine for a long time, and then just recently started overflowing all over again.

I actually bought two seals last time I went to the store, I may just try that other seal just in case. The machine seems more inconsistent than ever (in the 2.5 years i've had it). Note that I have a mokita super inox, which doesn't have a 3way valve.
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h3yn0w
Senior Member
h3yn0w
Joined: 28 Oct 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Canada

Posted Fri Feb 11, 2011, 10:01am
Subject: Re: Lelit PL41 owners thread
 

tasseloff Said:

I'll try to have a look. But when its leaking, it usually ruins the shot. Basically all of a sudden the crema overflows everywhere and I end up with a washedout tasting shot. I'll shoot a video if I have time. It was running fine for a long time, and then just recently started overflowing all over again.

I actually bought two seals last time I went to the store, I may just try that other seal just in case. The machine seems more inconsistent than ever (in the 2.5 years i've had it). Note that I have a mokita super inox, which doesn't have a 3way valve.

Posted February 11, 2011 link

What's actually leaking. Is it water? If so then it does sound like a gasket issue. But if it's crema that coming out, then obviously water has been pushed through the basket, hence my suggested diagnosis.
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