Greetings one and all! Today’s post will be about making a cuppa Latte with a La Pavoni. The La Pavoni is a hand lever espresso machine – almost all the elements are controlled by the user. When I say all the elements, I refer to things like temperature, pre-infusion timings, extraction pressure, and many more. This article will guide you through each step of how to make latte with a La Pavoni!
The machine that I use at home is a La Pavoni Stradavari. Even though I have owned this machine for close to 2 years and pulled countless of shots, there is still so much more to learn about making coffee with this baby. Because of the fact that I still face trouble with this machine after so much experience, I am sure that new La Pavoni owners will have so much more trouble getting the hang of this.
Of course you gotta have your La Pavoni machine.
I pair my La Pavoni with a Lelit PL53 burr grinder. The grinder is very much as important as the machine you use. For espresso, grind size and consistency is crucial to getting a great shot.
I use a naked portafilter with a double basket.
This right here is my 12 oz Rattleware teflon milk pitcher. Not necessary if you do not intend to make Latte Art. You could use any other container to froth the milk in.
Alright, now that we got everything down, let’s move on to making the coffee.
Step 1: Fill the La Pavoni with water
Using the glass sight as a gauge, fill water to how much you desire. For making one cup of coffee, I would recommend to fill just under half of sight glass. Filling lesser water means the machine will heat up faster, which is good if you’re in a rush.
Step 2: Weigh the beans
For the double basket, I’d like to use 17 grams of coffee. Use the freshest beans that you can get your hands on, off-the-shelf beans just can’t quite make the cut. I got my Brazilian Single Origins from a local roaster who also happens to be the people we are working closely with to get our beans from for our coffee catering business. Check them out https://www.facebook.com/Jewelcoffee/
Step 3: Grind the beans
After weighing the beans, toss it into your grinder and begin grinding. If you are just starting out, the rule of thumb is to aim for the grind size to be similar to table salt. You can adjust the grind size later on after diagnosing the shot.
Step 4: Distribution
Once all the grinds are out from your grinder, the next step is to distribute the grinds evenly. The keyword here is evenly. The method that I like to use is to first give the portafilter a light tap on the counter top to ensure all the grinds stay within the basket. Next, use your index finger and swipe left to right gently, horizontally. Then, use your index finger again to swipe the grinds up and down vertically. The end result should be a flat bed of coffee with little to no humps across the surface.
Step 5: Tamping
The next step is to tamp the grinds. Every other article on the web will tell you to tamp with 30lbs of pressure but I digress. Here’s the way I tamp: using my hands, I grab the handle and place my thumb and index finger at the 2 sides of the tamp to use as guides for a level tamp. I press down just hard enough for me to feel resistance through my arm. I give a little tap on the sides of the portafilter with my tamp to make sure the grinds from the walls of the portafilter get in the bed. Then I tamp with the same amount of pressure and give the tamp a light spin to even out the grinds. I do not know how much pressure I used to tamp, but the whole point about making espresso is understanding the variables and controlling them. Use an adequate amount of strength that you can replicate over and over again when it comes to tamping. If the shot is too slow or fast, adjust the grind size and not your tamp strength.
You should end up with something like this.
Step 6: Pulling the shot
I read somewhere that it is better to raise the lever halfway before inserting the portafilter. Something about raising the lever when the portafilter is in may break the seal of the tamped grinds you put so much effort into. Once the lever is raised halfway, insert the portafilter.
Wait for the pressure to rise to 0.9bars before you pull up the lever fully.
This part here is real important. The whole process from lifting up the lever fully to the last drop of espresso should take about 25 to 35 seconds. Once the pressure is at 0.9bars, lift the lever up fully and pre-infuse for 8 seconds. What I do after the initial 8 seconds is to do something called the Fellini method – Push down, lift it back up, and then push down all the way. The Fellini Method lets more water into the grouphead which is crucial if you’re aiming for a specific yield.
By the end of the extraction, which should be between 25-35 seconds, you should have something like this. Look at the crema! The yield I got from this was about 31 grams of espresso from 17 grams of coffee.
Step 7: Steaming the Milk
Fill your milk pitcher to just under the indent of the spout, you could prepare the milk in advance before extraction. I will use this as a gauge later on to see how much foam I frothed.
Steaming the milk is something that requires a ton of practice. I will be making a guide solely on how to make good latte art which will also focus on how to steam the milk properly. My La Pavoni is modded with a single-hole tip. The basics of steaming the milk with the La Pavoni is to first flush the steam wand by opening the valve. Close the valve, dip the wand into the milk such that the hole is under the milk. Fully open the valve and try to get a whirlpool going on the in the jug. Once the valve is fully open, bring the jug down carefully till the hole reaches the surface of milk. Keeping the whirlpool, you should hear a sound similar to paper tearing. Keep a look out for how much foam you want. A good indication for me is that the milk will rise about half a cm. Steam the milk till the jug is hot enough that you can’t touch it. The milk should look like wet white paint. Use a wet cloth to wipe down the steam wand before the milk dries and sticks to the wand. Finally, give the wand a flush.
Step 8: Pour and enjoy!
The last and final step is to pour and enjoy your latte! Stay tuned to the blog as I will be making a guide on how to make Latte Art!
For those who have trouble understanding this article, here’s a video I made POV style of how I make a Latte with the La Pavoni:
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