lapavoniOver the years, after playing with various commercial machines, and owning different consumer and prosumer machines, I fell in love with the idea and design of the chrome La Pavoni. From the chrome body to the bakelite filler cap, it is a beautiful example of retro-futuristic industrial design from the early 1960’s. It is rumoured by some that it was designed by the famous Italian architect Gio Ponti. Not only can I not confirm this, but I’ve also been told that this is unlikely. So, if anyone knows for sure, please e-mail me.

Yes, there are superautomatic machines that will produce decent espresso these days. We actually have one at the office where not everyone is as fanatical about espresso as me . However, the simple mechanical nature of the machine forces you to slow down and think about each operation. The machine is a finely tuned instrument and you are in control of all aspects of making or breaking the shot. For me this process makes the act of pulling a shot a more pleasurable (and initially humbling ) human experience…a nice daily ritual. This machine may not be for everyone, but I knew I had to have one! The Holy Grail of “java-enhanced” Propellerheads!

I purchased a chrome La Pavoni Professional from Tom of Sweet Maria’s about a decade ago now as of this update. (they no longer sell these machines) The machine is professional only in name. The real difference from the Europicola is that it has a larger capacity boiler and a pressure gauge. After waiting for what seemed like forever (real time was only a few weeks) for the machine to go from Columbus, Ohio to the Great White North, it arrived on a Tuesday morning. You wouldn’t believe my excitement as I picked the machine up from the postal station.

After setting it up following the instruction manual and running through the “break in” process, I ground up some espresso using my Cuisinart Coffee Bar burr grinder and tried pulling a shot. Guess what? It worked…but what came out on the other end was an insipid, watery brown liquid without any crema. I tried again, and the same thing. Went through the manual’s troubleshooting section and the same thing. Tried surfing for the answer…another attempt…and the same disgusting brown liquid.