Illy has a set of standards in his famous Book of Coffee for brewing espresso.  Let’s go through them before discussing how they apply to pulling a shot from a La Pavoni.

6.5 ± 1.5 g for the ground coffee portion
90 ± 5 °C (194 ± 9 °F) for water temperature
9 ± 2 bar for inlet water pressure
30 ± 5 s for percolation time

Like I mentioned earlier, I spent almost a week using every moment of free time contemplating my plight. I was surfing the Net, irritating anyone I could find with a Pavoni by bombarding them with questions via e-mail, calibrating an electronic temperature probe, adjusting the boiler temperature, getting a dedicated espresso grinder, trying different beans, etc.

Systematically, I broke down all the components of making espresso with La Pavoni. I eliminated one variable at a time. It seems that EVERYTHING is essential with a La Pavoni, but I’ve found that the most critical factors are grind and the tamp! Here are the fruits of my labour…