If you like detail than this is your machine. Very solid.
Positive Product Points
Classic looks. Ingenious design, Steep learning curve- enjoy doing some things that are difficult.
Negative Product Points
Bakelite resin handle will become brittle and crack after years of use.
First of all and the most obvious point for my purchase of the LaPavoni is its appearance. The boiler, filter group, sight glass, and pressure gauge are easily seen and the slightly industrial design exposes their function. This machine has been a daily ritual with me for nearly 10 years. There is no need to go into detail about how the first shots of espresso turned out. They were just as you imagine. It is an ongoing learning experience with the La Pavoni, I'm still figuring things out with this after a decade. This machine needs a slightly finer than average espresso grind. Depending on the climate, coffee used, and personal preferences this may change. Without fail finer grinds work best. Use "feel" instead of any specific rules during use. Far to many variables exist to go into exact procedures. The sound the boiler makes will tell you when it has reached temperature and when it is ready to press down the lever. Over time you will know what the resistance should be during extraction. Judge by sight the amount of ground coffee in the filter basket. Water quality is critical with this machine. Use distilled water and the results have a slimy, slippery mouth-feel. Tap may work fine but then your risking unknown, possibly undesirable "ingredients. Bottled spring waters provided the best results- different brands will yield different results. Filters- refrigerator, faucet, Brita etc. worked very well for me as well and are convenient. Maintenance is something that cannot be forgotten- seals and gaskets need changing every couple of years with 2 shots/day use. Keep this machine clean and you will be rewarded with excellent espresso. Keep a dirty portafilter and basket when you want to give someone a "special" drink. Modified machine slightly by having a machine shop fabricate the cracked black resin portafilter handle with one made of heat resistant polysulfone.
Purchased this at a Gloria Jeans coffee shop at the mall. The salesman new absolutely nothing about it, but doesn't matter.
Three Month Followup
10 Year Followup: After several months of trials, if the brass interior of the group is polished and cleaned, you can get a much better shot. You still must pay attention to all other variables-water, grind, coffee type, etc. A food grade polish/metal cleaner is mandatory. I have found that Kuhn Rikon Swiss Cleaner works very well for this purpose and takes only a minute to do.
One Year Followup
Although the machine has been in use for nearly 11 years on a daily basis, new details have come to light this past year that are worth mentioning. The likelihood of getting a good result is one of details. FRESH COFFEE- the coffee used must be fresh roasted. The mass produced bagged coffee just doesn't work, regardless of cost. Depending on environment, the coffee must be used in less than 3 weeks after roasting. Crema does not need to be in the shot in order to judge whether it has turned out well depending on the type of coffee being used. It still must be fresh. The use of a grinder that allows for fine adjustments in the grind setting is a must. I have already mentioned the importance of cleanliness, but the machine MUST be maintained in order for good espresso. If you have patience than you have all the time in the world to make things work. One of the great things about this machine is that it is infinetly repairable. Every part of the machine can be repaired, modified, or replaced.