The La Pavoni Europiccola is perhaps the most iconic lever machine in the coffee industry. This classic machine is beautifully designed and built to last- it truly has stood the test of time! In this article, we review the La Pavoni Europiccola and see how it stacks up.
La Pavoni Europiccola
The La Pavoni Europiccola is an absolute tank of a machine. It is extremely well built and has an elegant design. While it has a few quirks when it comes to using it, if you master it, you will find a friend for life.
About La Pavoni
La Pavoni was founded by Desiderio Pavoni in 1905, and they have a rich history. Being the first company to produce a commercial espresso machine, they instigated the trend of drinking espresso around Europe. La Pavoni then went on to produce the first electrical espresso machine for home use- enter the La Pavoni Europiccola. This was the first espresso machine that allowed you to both brew espresso and steam milk from the comfort of your own home. In 1977 the design was further developed, and the La Pavoni Professional was born- with a larger boiler and pressure gauge. Years later, both these machines are still around- a true testament to the timeless design and quality workmanship.
There is no denying that the La Pavoni Europiccola has a timeless design. In fact, its older brother, the La Pavoni Professional, is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York! This beautiful machine has a simple and elegant design. With a gleaming metal exterior and the option of wooden accents, it really is a work of art.
And it’s not just a pretty face. The La Pavoni Europiccola is known for its quality workmanship- built entirely of steel with chrome plating; it is built to last. This machine is also easy to service with gaskets and seals easy to replace if required.
The one critique users have found with the design is that both La Pavoni Europiccola is top-heavy, especially when full of water, so it can easily tip when you are using the lever.
Ease of Use
The ease of use of the La Pavoni Europiccola has been a point of contention among users, with some claiming it is very difficult to make good espresso on it. While overall we think that the La Pavoni Europiccola is an excellent machine, we can not deny that it is both challenging and at times frustrating to use- so probably not the best option for a beginner.
To start with, you need to ensure your machine is topped up with water before you begin, as otherwise, you cannot refill it until the boiler is completely cooled. The La Pavoni Europiccola takes around 10 minutes to heat up initially. Secondly, you need to prepare the basket properly- to do this you need to ensure you get the right grind size and tamp properly (this can take a bit of trial and error). Thirdly you need to master the pre-infusion step, which involves gently raising the lever up until it catches and waiting for a few seconds until you see some espresso trickling out. You then slowly and steadily pull the lever down at the right pressure to yield your espresso shot. The La Pavoni Europiccola does not come with a pressure gauge, but you can buy a kit to ad one, which is extremely helpful. While achieving a consistent brew can be tricky, it’s not impossible, and many users absolutely love the La Pavoni Europiccola. Once you have mastered it, the espresso produced is something to cherish.
The La Pavoni Europiccola has a couple of quirks it pays to know about before buying.
The first of these is that it struggles with thermal management. As the boiler heats up, so too does the group head. In order to ensure a stable brew temperature, some users do one or two empty pulls first to ensure the group head is at the right temperature. Additionally, if you leave the machine on for extended periods of time or try to brew multiple cups of coffee in a row, you will find the group head overheats and needs to be turned off to cool down. A temperature sticker on the group head is a good idea to give you some indication of what the temperature is.
The second quirk to be aware of is that once the La Pavoni Europiccola is heated up, you need to let out the false pressure before brewing. Basically, when the machine is warming up and coming to pressure, there can be air trapped in the boiler leading to a false pressure reading. So once the machine has heated up, it pays to purge the steam wand to let out the trapped air so it can be replaced by water vapor and allow a few minutes for the machine to come back up to pressure again before brewing.
The La Pavoni Europiccola has a smaller boiler of 0.8L or enough for about 8 cups of espresso. The smaller boiler means it heats up slightly quicker than larger machines; however, it also overheats more quickly.
The La Pavoni Europiccola comes equipped with a steam wand and also an auto frothing attachment (although some models of the Europiccola do not have this). The steam wand is adequate but not amazing. Some users recommend changing the steam tip from a three-hole tip to a single hole tip which improves the steaming power. For those that choose to use the auto frothing attachment, you simply attach it to the boiler fitting. The auto frother produces frothed milk but not microfoam- so no latte art! However, if you are investing in a manual espresso machine, it does seem a bit of a contradiction to use an auto frother!
Cleaning and Maintenance
The La Pavoni Europiccola is relatively easy to clean and maintain- you just aren’t going to have your reminder lights or descaling programs of modern machines. For regular cleaning, you simply flush out the group head and wipe it down, purge the steam wand and wipe that. And then, the drip tray slips out for emptying and rinsing. The used puck can be knocked out, and the portafilter and basket rinsed.
Other than that, the boiler will need the occasional descale, which can be done by adding a descaler to the water tank, heating the machine up, and then turning it off and leaving it for 30 minutes before emptying and rinsing- pretty simple!
La Pavoni Europiccola vs Professional
The La Pavoni Europiccola has an older brother, the La Pavoni Professional. The main difference between these two machines (other than price) is that the La Pavoni Professional has a larger boiler, and thus both a larger capacity and slightly better steam pressure. The Professional also comes equipped with a pressure gauge which is extremely helpful when extracting espresso. The Europiccola has a few benefits, to start with it has a lower price! The smaller boiler also means it has a slightly quicker heat up time. There is also a pressure gauge kit you can purchase for the Europiccola, which is pretty simple to install.
Tips for Use
You will find there is a whole community of La Pavoni Europiccola lovers out there and plenty of support if you decide to invest in one of these beauties! We found this forum helpful. Here are a few tips to help as you start out.
The Final Verdict
While the La Pavoni Europicolla has a few quirks, there is a reason it is so well-loved. It has a simple and elegant design. It is built like an absolute tank to stand the test of time. And if you take the time to learn to use it, it can produce some delicious espresso. So if you are an espresso purist and love the idea of a lever machine, the La Pavoni Europiccola may be for you!