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Page 1
The great machine showdown
La Pavoni Espresso Plus vs. La Marzocco Linea
Part 2
Side by Side comparisons - visuals

Now let me look at the visual aspect of the shots.










The first thing you will notice above is the colour.  The shots from the Pavoni were lighter and blonder than those
from the Marzocco.  The Pavoni managed to get the 1 once shot before it reached that  "hit the brew switch" colour.  
The Marzocco (with a larger basket and therefore more coffee) understandably got to about 1.5 oz before the colour
started turning.    The picture also show extremely well the so-called Guiness effect of the crema as it settles.  The
Pavoni did very well and from both machines at one point the shot glasses were all Guiness effect.










When in the ceramic cups the colour difference was obvious.  To be fair the Marzocco shot does look unusually dark
and the Pavoni shot looks unusually blonde.  I find that there is a gap between the colours but not as wide as the
pictures above would have us believe.  The Marzocco shot above had been sitting in the cup for about 2 mins whilst
I got the camera ready - which is why it looks a bit flat and deflated.
Side by Side comparisons - the taste test

As I said earlier I am very familiar with my shots from a Linea.  The added modifications that I installed a few weeks
back (modified group and pressure valve) have given the shots a lot more body and they are also more creamy in
texture.

The shots from the Pavoni were certainly not as rich and complete as the Marzocco but I would definitely say they
were not that far off. In the mouth they were a lot thinner than the Marzocco shots but the same flavours were
present, albeit in a far simplified way.  The Marzocco shots tended to linger a lot more than the Pavoni shots.  The
shots from the Pavoni were equal to anything I have been served in HK in my 10 years of living here.  Certainly they
were way better than an espresso from any super-auto in HK.

It is also worth noting that the crema enhancer from the pressurised PF of the Pavoni had been disabled.  Honestly
it really had, and the crema was all real.  It is a weird sensation to see the shot come from a small machine and you
sort of have this idea in your head of how it will taste (think fully-auto shots which are weak and watery) but then you
take it in and it is a REAL espresso.  
Did I cheat and any room for improvement?

No I didn't cheat or adjust any photos.  I just pulled 6 shots in a row. That was it.

Of course everyone has room for improvement.  My technique aside, the Macap grinder is not stepless and I am not
very happy with it at all.  The La Marzocco is still under testing for the moment and I have to get used to the group it
has now.
What does all this mean?

The point I am trying to make is that I believe many new users, intermediate users and even pro's are trying "too
hard" and not really focusing on the basics.  

Throughout the whole of this drivel I have not mentioned any of these phrases that are in 9 out of 10 posts on
forums - temperature, temp surfing, PID control, thermocouple, group flushing etc...the way I managed to get good
shots from that Pavoni was from having a good grind, fresh (well relatively) beans, a knowledge of tamping and
having put in the work to use the machine and pull shots.

So does that mean we should stop modifying?

No I am not saying this at all.  I am just saying that we should walk before we can run and stick to the basics such as
grinding, dosing and tamping.  Once we have done this and feel that we are up to a good level then we can think
about upgrading.   I just get the feeling that there are lots of disappointed owners out there failing to produce good
consistent shots with equipment that 10 years ago was just a dream.  

And the only other way to get good shots is to practice and then practice again and be prepared to waste coffee.
If a $300 Pavoni can pull good shots how come La marzocco Lineas cost the same as a new car?

This is when other factors come into play.  The Pavoni did 3 good shots in a row but it was a real effort on my part.  
It is OK if you make yourself an espresso in the morning but it cannot do any sort of volume.  Note also that I did not
do any milk steaming. If I steam milk on this machine it gets the group very hot and then you need to start flushing.  

A well trained barista can pull shot after shot on a commercial machine without too much effort.  With these small
machines you have to put in twice the amount of effort.  Commercial machines make great shots consistently again
and again.   

Other factors to take into account are steaming and brewing at the same time, steam recovery time, reliability, safety
for the user etc..  Even if you have to make 2 lattes or capps in a row you will be struggling and it will take you about
5 mins at least.  


Final comment

Don't dismiss your current machine just yet.  Go back to the basic 4 M's and see if you can improve on any of them.
I guarantee that when you hit that sweet spot your "upgrade fever" may just get pushed out of your mind....well for a
few weeks anyway!
This website is created by Paul Pratt, Hong Kong 2004-5. If you would like to use any of the images or text I
am sure I will say yes, but please ask first!  

Email me here.


The La Marzocco 3rd shot
The La Pavoni 3rd shot.
3rd shots together.
Guiness effect of a Pavoni shot.
Guiness effect of the marzocco shots.