Buying Guides

La Pavoni Espresso Machine Review

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La Pavoni Espresso Machine Review

There are two kinds of people in this world: regular coffee lovers and espresso aficionados. Most of you might look forward to waking up to the sweet smell of coffee brewing, whereas others prefer more of a kick to start their day.

The La Pavoni Professional is perhaps one of the most-loved lever espresso machines on the market. However, the manual lever has caused some controversy; some users say you just can’t get good shots of espresso out of it, while others hail it as the holy grail of espresso.

Looking into all espresso machines? Check out other ones we highly recommend!

Things to Consider Before Buying a La Pavoni Espresso Machine

As with any major kitchen appliance, there are always things to consider before purchasing. In this section, we’ll touch on some of the biggest controversies and key considerations over the La Pavoni Professional Espresso Machine.

Manual-Lever Requires a Hands-On Approach

The biggest thing to keep in mind about the La Pavoni Espresso Machine is its manual-lever function.

In the recent world of coffee, “quick and easy” has been one of the greatest trends. Whether it’s using coffee capsules, pods, or super-automatic espresso machines (like this Breville one we reviewed), many coffee enthusiasts prefer to let their coffee magically appear in their cup at the press of a button.

In contrast, French presses or pour-over coffee require manual operation.

A lever machine, in the case of espresso, is the original form of espresso preparation, as well as the one with the largest amount of manual work required.

The La Pavoni Professional includes a “cappuccinatore” or an automatic milk frother.

You would think that people who use their muscle power to make espressos will probably want to froth their milk by hand. But I can’t speak for everyone.

Choosing Form Over Substance

The La Pavoni Professional machine has acquired various nicknames — some more friendly than others.

Most people refer to it as “The Diva” — a nickname I think suits it quite well. The La Pavoni Professional’s sleek, showy, and even pretentious design is sure to be the center of attention in the presence of guests.

Additionally, if it doesn’t like a certain action or substance, it simply refuses to work. Anyone who incorrectly tamps or grinds the espresso or doesn’t use fresh coffee grounds is sure to experience difficulties and maybe even develop a grudge against the machine.

And while the espresso machine’s gender remains unclear, others have deemed it “The Peacock,” which refers to a male bird’s showy and flamboyant plumage.

The biggest debate over this machine is whether or not it’s more form than substance. While some claim the espresso machine works beyond perfectly, others swear up and down that the machine is only good as a gaudy decoration.

In this review, we hope to set the record straight. Let’s get into it…

La Pavoni Espresso Machine Overview

La Pavoni PC-16 Professional Espresso Machine, Chrome

The La Pavoni Professional Line of espresso machines allows for 16 cups, making it an excellent choice for large families or offices with eager coffee drinkers.

The machine features a pressure gauge on the side, which allows you to keep an eye on the pressure and extract espresso shots precisely at the right moment. It also includes a classic steam wand and automatic cappuccino frother.

Designed with polished brass and gleaming copper, the La Pavoni professional manual-lever machine adds a little pizzazz to any kitchen. This half Art Deco, half steampunk machine is the kind of device that’s sure to wow guests when they see it on your counter.

The brewing process is relatively simple: pack the filter basket with coffee, tamp it down (carefully) to ensure it’s even, place the portafilter directly into the group head, and carefully pull shots of espresso.

And since this is a manual machine, it doesn’t feature any fancy lights that remind you when it needs cleaning. In this case, you’re on your own — just a device that requires the occasional batch of white vinegar, and water runs through it.

As with all La Pavoni products, the Professional espresso machine is entirely hand-made in Italy and ETL certified.

Features and Benefits

The great thing about this espresso machine is that it doesn’t include tons of confusing bells and whistles that are prone to breaking. Besides, if a seal leaks or a part loosens, there’s an abundant supply of spare parts available.

To seal the boiler pressure, the machine includes a large screw cap on top. There’s also a viewing window that allows you to keep an eye on the water tank level. This is especially important because the machine must cool down completely before you refill it.

The Professional’s built-in pressure gauge allows you to view the pressure inside the boiler as it is measured.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Here are some key pros and cons to the La Pavoni Professional Espresso Machine:

Pros:

  • Takes fewer than 10 minutes to heat.
  • Great workmanship.
  • Looks appealing.
  • Very quiet when making espresso shots.
  • Sturdy, long-lasting design with a generous supply of spare parts.
  • Compact size.
  • Built-in boiler pressure gauge.

Cons:

  • Might overheat after pulling several espresso shots one after another.
  • Requires to cool down before refilling the water.

A Great Machine to Learn On

If you’re looking to engage with your coffee machine, the La Pavoni Professional is the espresso machine for you.

Making a good espresso with a La Pavoni Professional isn’t an instantaneous effort — it requires some work, but it’s worth it.

The lever provides a precise measurement of the grinding degree, how much espresso grounds you need, and how the tamp density correlates with the necessary pressure to propel the water through the coffee puck.

If you can make good use out of the La Pavoni Professional, then you can pretty much operate any espresso machine.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Fortunately, this machine doesn’t require much cleaning and maintenance. Though it does not include any auto-cleaning features, the cleaning process, also called descaling, is still relatively easy.

Mix up a solution that’s 50% water and 50% distilled white vinegar. Fill up the reservoir, heat it, and then pump away.

Once you’ve run the mixture through, run one tank of clean water to rinse out the cleaner. For details, check out this article on how to descale your espresso machine.

To clean the automatic milk frothing attachment, run hot water through it and be sure to put a cup under it, or it’ll spray steam all over your kitchen counter.

Construction and Build

La Pavoni PC-16 Professional Espresso Machine, Chrome

After multiple years (maybe decades), the seals and gaskets may need replacing. Thankfully, these items are readily available and easy to swap.

Older La Pavoni models — specifically ones from the 1970s — have fewer electrical and thermal overload devices than current models, but they’re still kickin’.

Here’s a helpful tip: the La Pavoni Professional is slightly disproportionately heavy at the top of the machine, especially with a full water reservoir. Using the lever can make the La Pavoni tip.

Here’s the solution: place one hand on the filler knob when pulling a shot, and place the other on the front of the base when lifting the lever.

Product Value

Nothing compares to the design and composition of this machine, and having the ability to control every aspect of the drink you’re making is huge. But it’s for a hefty price.

But if you want a glistening Art Deco icon on your kitchen countertop that also lets you make one-of-a-king espresso drinks, it’s worth every penny. Just make sure you’re prepared for the intricate learning process, and you don’t mind doing everything yourself.

For workaholics that need a quick boost in the morning, this might not be the super-automatic machine for you.

Key Requirements to Use the La Pavoni Professional

If you’d prefer a video walkthrough before purchasing products,  here’s a video that does an excellent job of reviewing the La Pavoni Professional Espresso Machine.

Alternatives and Conclusion

The La Pavoni Professional is a beautifully designed coffee machine for espresso shots. Not only is it a feast for the eyes, but it’s very low-maintenance and (extremely) long-lasting. The only challenge is learning how to use it.

However, the Professional isn’t a machine perfectly suited to everyone’s tastes. Other alternatives to check out are the  Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker and the Elektra Microcasa a leva Espresso Machine.

If you’re looking for a snazzy, high-end machine with a unique vintage design and modern technology, go with the Elektra. However, if you’re searching for something simple, low cost, and easy to use, we suggest trying out the Flair.

Classic Italian cafe vibe and steampunk styling make this a unique espresso machine for those willing to put in the time to learn how to use it.

It may take a while to get the hang of it, but with a few tips from this article, you can make anything from espressos to cappuccinos to cortados — all with the satisfaction of learning a new skill.

Happy Caffeinating!

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