I prefer a short shot which, if made correctly, is thicker and stronger than a regular shot because it uses the same amount of coffee but less water. Beacuse of this, I was looking for a semi-automatic, pressure machine so I can stop the unit when I have the desired amount coffee. The LaPavoni Napolitana fit the bill and for under $500, I was happy.
I've had the LaPavoni Napolitana for 2 months now. After making my second shot, the unit began leaking from the front, left corner of the unit. I shipped the unit to a LaPavoni authorized service center and they told me the return water hose had a small hole.
I got the unit back a week after I sent it out and I was ready to start making the great shot of espresso I got addicted to when I was in Italy. But, I couldn't. The shot was slightly warm, not hot enough to dissolve the sugar. The basket would also have a lot of wet, soupy grinds along with lots of water which suggested to me that there wasn't enough pressure. I adjusted the grind and pack with no success. I called the service center to see if there was a way to adjust the pressure and temperature. Unfortunatly, there isn't and I was told, by the person who serviced it, my unit was at 100%. I was pretty unsatisfied and was ready to return the unit for a refund.
The next evening I went out for dinner and at the end of my meal I ordered a short espresso. What I got was a shot that was a lot worse than what I was able to make at home. I decided to keep the machine because after that evening, I realized it could be worse.
I began experimenting and after a few weeks I learned what had to be done. 1) Once the unit was up to temperature, I inserted the basket with no coffee and ran hot water thru the basket and into the cup. This ensured a heated cup and basket. 2) Press the "Steam" button. and wait for the light to go out. This would raise the temperature of the water, generating more steam and pressure. 3) once the steam indicator light goes out, fill the basket with coffee, press the " Steam" button again to turn it off and press the " Coffee " button to activate the pump. This method sends more steam thru the coffee grinds.
The result is a shot that is better than any I've had in any "Non-Italian" cafe. I'm not going to lie and say it's better than what an experienced barista can create on a $5000, 220V unit. But it's damn good anyway.
To sum up. Is the LaPavoni Napolitana perfect? No. There is still room for improvement. But once you've figured out what works best for you, you can make a great shot in less than 60 seconds.