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La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine, Chrome
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- Ideal for making coffee specialty drinks at home
- Sturdy all-steel construction under heavy chrome plating
- Comes with tamper, screen, screen holder, measuring ladle, and cappuccino attachment
- Also includes instructional video for getting started
- Measures 11 by 7 by 12 inches; 1-year warranty
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EPC-8 This stylish machine is built to last and designed to give you constant, perfect espresso with each pull of the lever. It is steam pressure and piston operated, while internal thermostats continuously monitor pressure with re-set fuses. Makes one or two cups of espresso at a time and includes automatic milk foamer, measuring spoon, and 2 stainless steel filter baskets. Features: -Perfect for home use; a great addition to any kitchen -Easy-to-use hands-on lever and piston operation -Makes 8 cups of espresso (2-ounce servings) -Makes espresso and steams milk with the greatest of ease -Attractive, durable triple-plated chrome design with chrome base -ETL listed, nickel-plated, solid brass boilers water-level gauge and safety valve -Long life stainless steel heating elements -Brewing temperature monitored by internal thermostat -Removable drip tray for easy cleanup -Removable water tank: 20-ounce capacity -Traditional steam wand allows you to easily create thick, rich foam, and heated milk for lattes and cappuccinos -Lever-based operation allows you to control the final product and lets you craft the perfect, personalized espresso -Demonstration video included Specifications: -1000 Watts / 110 Volts -La Pavoni provides a 1 year warranty -Over 30 nationwide repair facilities available -Made in Italy -Dimensions: 12''H x 7''W x 11''D
Whip up custom coffee specialty drinks in your own kitchen, with just the right amount of foam on your double tall latte, with this sturdy Italian-made espresso machine. It has an all-steel construction under heavy chrome plating, making it as sturdy and shiny as the bumpers of a '55 Buick. The machine is 12 by 7 inches in size (with the handle lowered) and comes with a tamper, screen, screen holder, measuring ladle, and cappuccino attachment, as well as complete operating instructions and a ten-minute video.
The machine's sleek, retro look sports shiny surfaces, a thick base with curved edges, and a pull-down coffee compressor. It's attractive enough to leave out on the counter (and really too heavy to move around frequently), and once you get used to inexpensive lattes at home, you'll want it handy for everyday use. --Marcie Bovetz
Editor's note: This item may arrive with water inside from the manufacturer's pressure test. This is a normal occurrence and doesn't point to a problem with the machine.
Top Customer Reviews
When we first got it, it was a refurbished model and I honestly thought it was broken. Everything I did with it turned out kind of crappy. I got no crema, often times the water would start seeping through the coffee before I pumped no matter how hard I tamped. This may well be the experience of many first timers. It was the result of 3 key factors that were wrong: Bad grind, old coffee, group head not hot enough. Let's look at those 3 key factors:
1) The grind: We started out with a Bodum grinder on the finest setting and eventually bought a Rancillio Rocky. Many others have said, "don't bother with anything less than the Rocky" and I'd concur wholeheartedly with that. It may seem a kick in the pants when you've already spanked over $800 on the La Pavoni to throw another $400 at a grinder, but if you're not willing to do that, don't even bother with the espresso maker.
Grind is such a critical factor in getting a good shot, not just the consistency of the grind but the big differences that tiny variations can make. Lighter roasts need coarser grinds than darker roasts; older coffee will need a finer grind than newer coffee; the machine at temperature needs a coarser grind than if it's not fully warmed up.
So what is the "perfect" grind? It's the one where you don't have to tamp too hard and where you have to exert fairly firm pressure on the lever to get a 20-30 second shot. If the grind is too course, you'll get less crema, less extraction and it will pump too fast. The fine adjustment available on a grinder like the Rocky allows you to find the sweet spot for the beans that you have - one click out of 60 makes a noticeable difference.
2) Old coffee. I'd read people asserting that espresso beans are basically junk 3 weeks after roasting and I dismissed this as perfectionism/snobbery. In truth, for french press and probably just about any other use, coffee beans that are a month old are probably fine.
However your La Pavoni will punish you for using old coffee. Don't buy from the bulk section in the supermarket and pay particular attention to the roast date on the bag. The turning point for me was when I saw a video on YouTube of a guy proudly pulling an stupendous crema from the same model of La Pavoni. What is he doing differently?? Why can't I get that??
I noticed he was using beans from a Montana roastery called "Red Bird". I ordered a bag of Blue Jaguar and tried it out. It was a revelation! Red Bird not only sells exceptional coffee, but they roast right before they ship out, so it's guaranteed fresh. If you're struggling with crema, trust me - just order a bag from them and see if it makes a difference. If it doesn't, your coffee beans are not the problem.
For what it's worth we now order 5lb bags from Red Bird and use a vacuum sealer to seal them into 12oz bags the moment it arrives. We then put these bags in the freezer. This way it works out at about $10/lb with free shipping which is a STEAL considering the quality of the coffee and the ridiculous prices charged by the Bay Area wax-moustache brigade.
3) Group head temperature: Many people in other reviews talk about the first shot always being disappointing. We found that too. There's no logical reason for this to be the case and it's all down to the fact that the machine needs to be fully up to temperature before you pull.
The best investment we made - and I waited far too long to purchase this - was a stick-on thermometer that goes on the front of the group-head. It ranges from 194F to 248F and it tells you for sure whether your group-head is at temperature. Without this, you're guessing and you're probably guessing wrong. I was amazed at how many "fake shots" (pulling the lever to let hot water through without the portafilter in place) the machine needs when you first turn it on before you have a decent temperature at the group head. I usually wait until it gets up to 212F and then I'm guaranteed to get a decent first shot. Before getting the thermometer, I was just going by touch which just isn't accurate enough.
I don't think Amazon sells these thermometers - we found ours online at a specialty espresso parts store.
Finally, here are some tips that I've found to be very useful and I hope you do too:
- Temperature: There are many out there who talk about the machine overheating and burning shots if left on. This has not been my experience and from what I've read, the "millennium" edition (being sold here) solved that problem. There may be some who disagree with me and we don't leave it on for hours, but over-heating has never been an issue.
- Pumping: The machine produces quite small shots, but gives you fabulous control over not only how much water goes through, but the speed too. When I first got the machine I wondered a lot about how much time you should wait with the lever in the fully up position before pumping? How long is too long? When the lever is fully up, water is being pushed under a small amount of pressure into the coffee. If the grind is too course/inconsistent or the machine isn't hot enough, it may push right through even before you start pumping. If this is happening, your shot will suck.
The pump is where a lot of the "feel" of the machine comes in. Both in when to pump and how hard to pump.
When to pump: If the grind, tamp and temperature are all correct, it won't really matter how long you have the handle up for because the water won't find its way far into the coffee under its own pressure.
How hard to pump: What you're looking for is that the pump should feel firm when pressed down a small amount. If it feels "spongy", I do some short pumps until it firms up. If you've ever driven a car where the brake pedal needs to be pumped to get good pressure, it's a very similar feeling. If you pump with the spongy feeling, you'll find that the shot you pull is going to be smaller than ideal and may not have great extraction. One trick I've learned recently that's really helped with this is to leave the portafilter in for a good minute before even lifting the pump handle. This heats up the top of the coffee, causes it to expand a little and seems to really help with building that firm feeling. Even then, I may pump a little water into the coffee (before it comes out) and then go straight back up to get some more in before doing the full pump.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the water goes through in 20-30s and that you are exerting some decent force on the pump. You'll feel it out, but don't get stuck in the notion that the pump has to go straight up and straight down. You are in complete control.
- Tamping: If your grind is good, you shouldn't need to tamp particularly hard. The one thing to avoid is getting a situation where the shot appears to be coming out of only one side of the portafilter. This means that it's found a hole somewhere that has allowed it to progress unevenly through the coffee. I tried a few techniques to avoid this, including "gardening" the coffee with a fork or similar. Turns out the simplest way to avoid streaming is to just give the portafilter a few good bangs on a rubber mat as you fill it. It just helps the lumps to spread out.
In terms of getting the correct amount of coffee in, I actually tamp twice. I fill it up so that it's not spilling out, bang it on the rubber mat a few times, give it a light tamp, fill it again and then tamp fully. This minimizes the spillage/wastage of coffee.
- Steaming milk: Getting good steamed milk from this machine has been the biggest challenge for me. There are some days when it comes out great and other days when it doesn't. I have yet to figure out a definitive formula for this. However, I will share what has helped. Having the machine full of water tends to work better than if the water is low - probably due to the fact that it can produce more steam. Getting the milk to swirl seems to help - that all comes down to the angle of the wand. Keeping the wand just under the surface so that it's not making big bubbles also seems to be helpful, but this does require a steady hand. Too much milk or too little milk also seems to be problematic. I did try buying a single nozzle attachment for the steam wand to see if it would help, but that was worse.
I hope that this is helpful. I will take you a while before you feel really confident with this, but once you do, boy is it worth it.
Once you have the technical skills down, learn the nuances of the beans you are using, and the stars align the espresso this machine can produce is as good as (or even better) than the highest end models above $6K (La Marzocca GS/3 comes to mind).
For under $1K this is the best deal available, period.
1) Absolute control of the pressure. You can do everything (with pressure) that the fanciest machines are just becoming capable of such as pre-infusion, controlled variable pressure while pulling the shot, and make tweaks on the fly based on what you see coming out of the spout.
2) It is a beautiful and striking piece of kitchen equipment with a timeless design. A true conversation starter which will never go out of style.
3) It can produce the the best quality espresso possible.
1) Almost no temperature control, it get's hot and after that you have to "surf" the temperature as the machine's interior metal parts start to heat up. Commonly I can only pull four shots before it starts to get unrecoverable hot. There are tricks to help this, such as running the portafilter under cold water between shots, but you are always having to ride the temperature wave.
2) You can only make a few good shots in a single session due to both the temperature issue above as well as the volume of the boiler. This is not a machine appropriate for entertaining with as you won't be able to make six quality shots. However, if your guests do not have a discerning taste for coffee you could perhaps get away with it.
3) The learning curve is insanely steep due to it's 100% manual nature. It's easy to pull a shot that is as good as the swill Starbucks pulls within about a week of use. However, to learn to pull high quality shots on a consistent basis it will take over a year of practice. This can be fun as you'll probably be pulling random amazing shots within the first month if you seriously dedicate yourself to trying.
4) The portafilter is not the standard commercial size. This doesn't impact the espresso quality for most blends. What it causes a problem with is the tamp. It comes with a piece of junk tamp you should immediately throw away - however to buy a new quality one is not as easy as popping down to your average coffee shop. As it has an unusual size you usually have to order it online.
5) The design of the machine leaves built up pressure in the portafilter and group-head after you've pulled a shot (if it was a good shot that was properly tamped). So when pulling out the portafilter you have to "bleed" the pressure off carefully - otherwise it will "sneeze" hot coffee grounds and water all over the place. It invariably does this when you are showing the machine off to friends.
6) It gets amazingly hot. Almost all of it. Only the base remains cool - but every other metal exposed metal part gets far too hot to touch quickly.
7) The steam wand is at an odd angle and hence is hard to use - which is too bad as it has pretty good steam pressure.
8) Eventually, under heavy use, the seals will wear out and you'll either have to replace them yourself or send it in to one of the three shops in the nation who will replace them for you.
9) Finally, regardless of how good you get with it you won't be pulling great shots 100% of the time. I've had mine for nine years and still can only pull a good shot perhaps three out of five times. There are simply too many variables and if the grind, tamp, pressure, and temperature isn't spot on the shot will go sour. However, at least one of those shots is usually so good the sky splits open and angels sing.
That's a long list of serious cons, but if it's truly quality espresso you are after and you are OK working for it this is the machine for you. Be sure to buy a good grinder too though.
My recommendation for beans are the very forgiving and truly delicious Counter Culture Toscano blend. Most blends will work but the Toscano is a good starter as it isn't as picky about temperature and pressure.