Coffee and Portion
First off, use fresh good quality coffee. Garbage in–garbage out. Without both fresh AND good quality coffee, you are wasting your time and the potential of the machine. Robustas beans (Coffea canephora) produce a lot of crema. These beans have been given a bad reputation due to the abundance of lower grade bean used in commercial blends in order to create blends that have a lot of crema at low cost. You may have even read here that there is no place for robusta beans in fine quality espresso. Well, I take that all back. I have found a source of great robusta beans. Now, in my blend, I use about 15% robustas to augment the arabicas. The crema is now thick, rich and brown. The robustas give you a big rich bodacious kick without any bitter aftertaste. Great stuff!
The bottom line is this. If you are going to spend so much effort on making a fine shot of espresso, USE EXCELLENT BEANS.
Two filters are included with each machine. My feeling is that the single shot portafilter is too small and completely useless. I use the double shot filter exclusively. The portafilter supplied with a La Pavoni is slightly smaller than the ones used in commercial machines. I find that 12 grams of coffee works for me. Falling loosely out of a grinder’s doser, this amount of coffee will slightly overfilled the double portafilter by about 3 mm at the highest point.