Our kitchen counter has been buried with various pieces of equipment as I gear up for some concentrated consumer reviews of an even wider variety of stuff.
Across the counter first was a locally owned Pavoni Professional that was getting a rebuild by Geir of MyCoffeeSite.Com. He loaned it to me for a few days to run it through the paces.
The Pavoni's of this design are a significant departure from familar methods of brewing coffee. With that in mind it is not difficult to see the visual appeal and potential for boasting rights with one of these things in your kitchen.
The operation and design of the Lever Pavoni is quite straight-forward. There is a boiler, a brew group, a piston, a lever and a fairly solid body that holds it all together. The Pavoni Pro boiler has one thermostat and therein lies my major concern. This unit runs hot, very hot and excessive heat kills coffee. There is a methodology when using the Pavoni that works around this issue. Oddly, this is not mentioned in any of the manuals or materials that come with the Pavoni.
The Pavoni is no slouch when it comes to steaming milk. Therein lies the rationale for setting the boiler temperature AT the boiling point of water. Now that is fine if all you want to do is steam milk or boil water. Trouble is, coffee does not like boiled water passing through it. How much trouble would it have been to add a second thermostat and have a BREW and STEAM setting like most civilized espresso machines do? There are other Pavoni that do this, like the Europiccola, but THAT is another review!
How did I cope with this design? Well, I will tell you. According to the equipment supplier, Geir Oglend, of MyCoffeeSite.Com, the success in the brewing is the timing of "Shutting the power off to the boiler" at the right time. In this case, you heat the machine, steam the milk, if necessary and prepare to brew your espresso. Pack your portafilter with ground coffee. Lock and Load. Now KILL the power to the Pavoni. Count to 25. In reality, I should have counted down to 60 or something because it takes QUITE a while for this unit to COOL off. I only need it to cool off ten degrees or so.
Lift the lever. You will hear a sploosh as the water rushes into the brew group pre-infusing the ground coffee. Wait a few seconds and pull down... slowly and consistently. The kind of shot you get is totally dependent on how smoothly you drag the lever down.
When all the elements are right, you will get a shot of espresso like no other. This is pure hydraulics and muscle, friend, and there are no pumps, belts or whistles involved. It is YOU and the machine! How would I rate the Pavoni?
This unit is for the advanced coffee enthusiast. I would rate it Difficult For pure fun, I would rate it 2 thumbs up. For kitchen hazard, I would rate it Moderately dangerous. This is NOT a child friendly appliance. Scald or burn risk is VERY high.
Many, many thanks to Geir Oglend of Drumroaster.Com for yet another loan!