If you’ve ever seen a La Pavoni Espresso Machine, you already know they is among the most beautiful manual espresso machines out there. However, upon hearing the word “manual” or “lever,” many espresso lovers get turned out. While it’s true that a lever machine takes more practice and discipline, once you get comfortable with it, few things compare to the gratification you feel after pulling a shot on your own La Pavoni Espresso Machine. We put together this guide to help you get started pulling delicious, consistent shots on the brilliantly crafted La Pavoni.
Before you use your La Pavoni Espresso Machine for the first time, make sure that you clean the inside properly. As should be standard practice with all higher-end coffee equipment, you must prioritize maintenance and upkeep. Here are the steps in getting started:
To get the smoothest, richest cup of espresso, you should always start with the right grind. For best results, your grind must be consistent and have a powdery texture (similar to sugar). There is no specific grinder we recommend you use when preparing to pull shots on a La Pavoni, but make sure you have a grinder that lets you adjust and experiment the grind settings. Everyone has a preference, so it’s best to not be limited in options! (We realize this step is not any different from preparing your coffee for any other machine, but sometimes it’s the simple things that we forget!)
First, choose either a one or two cup coffee filter. Then insert this into the filter handle.
Second, fill the coffee filter with your freshly ground coffee using a measuring spoon. Use one large scoop of coffee while using the smaller filter. For the larger filter, use two scoops.
Third, use the tamper to level of the coffee. You will need a high-quality, even tamper to press it down. The coffee filter should never be filled to the top. As a rule of thumb, we like to leave about one-eighth of the basket empty.
Tip: Check out this great, old-school video below that walks you through the La Pavoni espresso-making process:
Place your cup (or cups) right under the filter handle and raise the lever. After few seconds, you can see the espresso begin to slowly dribble out. Tip: If you find that the coffee gushes out too quickly, you will need a finer grind. If you see that even after 15 to 20 seconds the coffee is not dribbling, then lower the lever about 4 inches. Now, raise it back again once the dribbling starts. Then next time, loosen the grind and make it a bit coarser.
Once the bottom of the cup is covered, lower the lever. Be aware: this will require some firm pressure. If that lever doesn’t offer you much resistance, then the coffee will bubble out, which will lead to a bitter and weak taste. La Pavoni coffee filters have the capacity for about 1.4 ounces of coffee when you are using the smaller, one-cup filter. When using the larger two-cup filter, it can provide about 2.5 ounces.
Pro tip: Never pull the lever more than once for a single serving of coffee.
The enemy of “crema” is high temperature water. Water that is too hot (or boiling) can cause your coffee to have a very strange, burned, and bitter taste. We found this to be especially true with decaf espresso. The lesson here is that it is possible to over-warm-up your espresso machine, so you should let your La Pavoni machine rest immediately after use, and not warm it up for more than 20-25 minutes.
If you are using bad coffee, any perfect technique or great piece of equipment cannot overcome it. Freshly roasted coffee is an absolute must not just for La Pavoni, but for all espresso machines. Another thing: Never let your ground coffee stay exposed for more than an hour. A fresh oily bean can produce a lot of crema, so remember: the fresher, the better.
For steam delivery, you must check the sight glass first. You need to ensure that there is sufficient water in the boiler. The lever should be in the down position with the steam knob being closed. Once you meet these requirements, the machine will build up enough pressure to deliver steam.
We hope we covered enough of the “La Pavoni basics” to get you starting pulling great shots for yourself or guests! Remember: Using a La Pavoni takes practice and patience. Try these exact steps, experiment with different blends of coffees, and you’ll have it figured out in no time!