La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola Manual Espresso Machine Review

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Introduction

La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola is a lever-style espresso machine made by the Italian manufacturer, La Pavoni. If you have the patience to overcome a bit of learning curve, it has the potential for you to pull exceptional shots of espresso you’ve ever tasted.

Being a manual style of espresso maker, you, the muscle man or woman will exert your arm strength to pull each shot via a lever. This is a stark contrast to a semi-automatic or super-automatic type where you relinquish all the controls and power to the machine. If you are obsessed with the process and the ability to test every variable and step more so than even the joy of drinking a great espresso, this is the machine to own. Let’s find out what it’s made of and how this mechanical genius works.

 Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Features & Benefits
3. Brewing
4. Steaming
5. Display & Control
6. Additional Features
7. How to Clean
8. Accessories
9. Power & Cord
10. Dimensions & Weight
11. Warranty
12. Pros & Cons
13. Consumer Reviews
14. Price
15. Summary

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Features & Benefits of La Pavoni EPC-8

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  • Built to Last: Besides a few parts such as the knobs, handles and the drip tray are made of heavy plastic, the main components are made from steel with heavy chrome-plating.
  • Brass Boiler: The 20 oz.-sized boiler is made from brass on the inside and plated chrome on the outside.  Brass is known for its efficient heat transfer and maintaining an even temperature. The chrome-plate prevents corrosion against elements such as acidity and mineral deposits.

    Heat-up time is about 5 minutes from when machine is turned on. No wait time between brewing and steaming. The 20 oz. allows you to brew 8 cups of single espresso (about 2 oz. each shot). If you drink a lot of espresso or entertain a large group of people, you might want to consider a larger size (e.g. 16-cup).

  • Water Level Indicator: There is a tall glass cylinder on the left hand side to see the water level in the boiler. Make it a good practice to always check the water level before brewing or steaming as you don’t want to operate the machine with a dry boiler.
  • Heating Element: It’s made of stainless steel that’s safe in contact with food and also durable.
  • Manual or Automatic Steam Wand: Two options for you to steam milk to make a cappuccino or latte either manually or via an automatic steam attachment. It’s an optional item for this model.
  • Types of Coffee: You may use ground coffee or pod. When using pods, you’ll have to use the single shot filter basket.

Brewing

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Given this is a manual espresso maker, you’ll be doing everything from start to finish. The User Manual recommends a flush before its first brew with baker soda + water solution or water + vinegar. Lock an empty filter basket into the machine, place a container under the brew spout and pull a shot to flush the unit. Then proceed with priming and brewing:

  1. Fill the boiler with fresh tap or bottled water. The amount of water shouldn’t exceed to the top of the level glass
  2. Plug the unit into a socket, turn the red switch on and while waiting for the green light to be on, which means the heating element is activated
  3. After the green light is off, turn on the steam knob on the upper left slowly counter-clockwise to discharge the air left in the boiler and close the steam tap by turning clockwise.
  4. Wait for the green light to be on and off again. Now the machine is ready to brew
  5. Grind freshly roasted coffee beans
  6. Choose a single or double shot filter basket and fill it with ground coffee
  7. Tamp the basket with 20-30 pounds of pressure and wipe out excess loose grounds
  8. Warm up the cup with hot water and place it under the spout
  9. Lock the portafilter into the brew group by turning it clockwise (different from any other espresso machine on the market to lock the portafilter)

10. Lift the lever up and hold it for 5-10 seconds to allow pre-infusion to take place to wet the coffee

11. Pull down the lever slowly with a slow and steady motion

12. Repeat Steps 9 through 11 if making more than 1 cup

The downside of giving you all the power and controls over the brewing process is that any deviation from the optimal will yield different results whether it’s the coffee grounds, tamping pressure, brew temperature, timing and extraction pressure. What you should be looking for is dark honey with a thick layer of crema on top. It’s easy to describe but hard to achieve without trials and errors. The La Pavoni is very unforgiving to grind size. Thus a good burr coffee grinder becomes an integral part to making perfect espresso.

Steaming

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There is nothing special about steaming with this machine. You can use the steam wand or the so-called automatic attachment with a hose inserted into the milk pitcher. The angle of the steam wand makes it difficult to work with. The wand has three-holes in the tip that’s too powerful that produces large air bubbles. Some customers have blocked two of the three holes with some self-made contraption (e.g. toothpick) to reduce the air bubbles while others replace the tip with an aftermarket part altogether.

Display & Control

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There is no Display Panel to speak of other than a rocker switch with an indicator light on the left, a power on button on the bottom front and a steam knob on the left.

Additional Features

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None

How to Clean

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The usual cleaning is needed after each use such as wipe clean the exterior of the machine, drip tray and steam wand. Descaling is a periodic chore to get rid of the calcification. Detailed instructions are available in the User Manual. The frequency of descaling depends on the hardness of the water and the usage of the machine.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

Tamper, a portafilter, two baskets for single and double shot, coffee scoop, and cappuccino attachment, instructional video and User Manual in English, German, English, Spanish and French.

Optional Accessories

It’s more essential than ever to have a good quality burr grinder. A couple of models come to mind as Baratza Vario Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder or Ranchilio Rocky Doseless Grinder. These are not cheap but they will last for a lifetime or more. The other thing to look for is a metal tamper of 51mm in diameter. The one provided in the purchase is no good.

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1000
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 110/60

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 11 x 7 x 12
  • Weight (lbs): 11

Warranty

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1-year limited warranty on parts and labor

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • The La Pavoni represents originality and functionality that’s been through the test of time. It brews excellent espresso that can rarely be reproduced in a semi or super-automatic machine.
  • You are given all the controls over the entire end-to-end process of perfecting your techniques and pulling an impressive shot.
  • The brass boiler reaches to brew temperature in 5 minutes and great at maintaining such for brewing and steaming.
  • The EPC-8 is constructed with steel inside out that will withstand the wear and tear to last for many years.
  • The steam wand is powerful and there is no downtime between brewing and steaming.
  • There are no electronic parts and less prone to problems.

Cons

  • The unit can get overheated if not careful. It pays to switch off the machine in between shots to eliminate overheating.
  • The learning curve can be quite steep for some. It requires testing, tweaking and loads of patience to achieve a good balance of aroma, flavor and crema.
  • The boiler size is only 20 oz. that means you’ll have to refill it often.
  • It’s not made for brewing many cups in rapid succession due to the boiler size and the potential overheating. A larger sized model might be more appropriate.
  • The User Manual is perforated in the middle and it’s hard to read through page by page without scrolling from side to side. The instructions seemed to be written in Italian and translated to English.

Consumer Reviews

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4.4 out of 5.0

86% of the reviewers on Amazon have rated it as 4-5 stars. Some of them have owned this machine as long as 35 years. Most of them are so pleased with the quality construction and the timeless design. More importantly, in the skilled hand of a person, it can pull the most unadulterated espresso that dares to rival those in Milan, Italy. Of course, there are plenty of flaws as mentioned the Cons section.

Price

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It’s under $800 on Amazon. Quite a few reviewers mentioned that they had bought theirs from eBay or Craiglist. I am sure you can save some money buying a used one. Personally, I like to get a new one with the warranty and not knowing how the machine was cared for by other previous owners.

Summary of Europiccola

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The La Pavoni EPC-8 Lever Style Espresso Machine is for the espresso purists. Someone who is willing to get acquainted with the machine and learn to tinker with different types of coffee beans, size of grinds and varying tamping pressure. If you take the time to perfect your skills and technique, this machine will reward you with as good as espresso brewed from a $6000 espresso maker.

If you are not that discerning with your coffee or espresso and don’t have the patience or fineness, I’d suggest you look into other alternatives such as a Nespresso or a super-automatic machine.

 

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