If you're looking for a classic, timeless espresso machine, La Pavoni machines are ideal because they embody Italian craftsmanship that can charm any coffee enthusiast.

However, when it comes to coffee machines, it's not all about just looking pretty. I want a machine that not only turns heads in the kitchen but also knows how to pull a kick-ass shot of espresso.

So, does the La Pavoni Professional brew quality shots? Let me tell you about my experience with this machine.

Brew Quality

4.5

Build Quality

5.0

Ease Of Use

3.0


Overall Rating

4.2

Overall, the La Pavoni Professional is a 4.2 out of 5. Its ability to produce consistently exceptional espresso shots and a solid build with an iconic, visually pleasing design set it apart.

  • Large boiler capacity
  • Lever-controlled manual brewing
  • Robust build
  • Aesthetically pleasing design

Pros

  • Authentic Italian Craftsmanship
  • Personalized Extraction
  • Pre-Infusion Feature
  • Option for Automatic Frother

Cons

  • Learning Curve
  • Limited Brewing Capacity
  • Overheating Brew Group

Who Should Buy The La Pavoni PC 16 Professional?

The La Pavoni PC-16 Professional is the perfect espresso machine for true coffee enthusiasts who relish hands-on control over every stage of the brewing process.

Its manual lever operation requires skill but rewards with unparalleled taste customization.

It's suitable for those who appreciate Italian craftsmanship and design elegance and don't mind dedicating time to mastering the art of espresso making.

This isn't a machine for convenience-seekers; it's a tool for artisanal coffee connoisseurs.


Why I Decided To Review The La Pavoni Professional Espresso Machine

I've been dedicating quite a bit of my time to learning how to operate different espresso machines.

That's why I've been confident with my shot-pulling skills and am now ready to take it to the next level. Therefore, I've decided to give a manual espresso machine a go.

One of the most popular machines on the market is the La Pavoni Professional. Many baristas swear by the power of this brewer, while others argue that it doesn't really make great espresso.

Which of these claims is true?

Testing Conditions

Days Tested

30

Cups Brewed Per Day

4

Level Of Experience Needed

Intermediate to Expert

Reviewer Background

Home brewing hobbyist who started with a basic drip coffee machine and gradually upgraded to espresso machines. My current machine is a Breville Barista Pro.

Environment Tested

Home

Money Saved Per Year

Around $400 in the first year and approximately $1600 in the following years once the machine is paid for

Favorite Drink To Brew

Espresso and cappuccino

What’s It Like To Live With The La Pavoni Professional

The La Pavoni Professional isn't a machine for the get-up-and-go crowd. It's for those with the time to make their coffee meticulously.

So owning the PC 16 isn't just about brewing coffee. It's about embracing a unique experience that fuses Italian heritage, craft, and love for excellent espresso.

It's more than just an appliance; it's a coffee lover's delight in your kitchen! Here's why.

What's In The Box?

Thinking of getting the La Pavoni Professional online?

Well, you'll be happy to know this Italian work of art doesn't just get chucked into any old box. It's packed with much love and care to ensure it lands on your doorstep without a scratch.

Inside, you'll find:

  • The La Pavoni espresso machine
  • Wooden handles
  • Wooden filler knob for the steam boiler
  • Plastic tamper
  • Double-cup filter basket
  • Single-cup filter basket
  • 52 mm portafilter
  • Instructions manual

I'm not really a fan of the plastic tamper. Although it does the job, you might want to snag a heavier one for even better tamping results.

However, I really liked the wooden handles and the knob on the steam boiler. They aren’t just functional; they're part of what makes this machine look so good.

One thing to expect: if you're shifting from a super or semi-automatic machine, you might want more accessories.

Don't worry; you don't need more. You've got all the essentials covered to operate this gorgeous manual brewer. It's all about simplicity and focusing on the craft with this lever machine.

Unobxing the La Pavoni PC 16 espresso machine

Pulling My First Espresso Shot

Unlike other espresso machines that require an initial set-up, the La Pavoni Professional is ready right after installing all its components.

However, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to operating the machine.

Pulling a shot in this traditional lever machine requires multiple processes to achieve a perfect shot. You must ensure that each step is achieved, or you will have an unimpressive cup.

I think this is why some baristas claim this La Pavoni can't create a good shot. They probably overlooked some of these steps. 

  1. It starts with the perfect grind. Unfortunately, the La Pavoni espresso machine lacks a built-in grinder. This means that you need to purchase a separate one. I recommend the La Pavoni Kube Mill.[1] It's powerful and can produce consistent coffee grounds.

    While it may seem like a drawback due to the additional cost, I actually find it an advantage as I can choose a powerful grinder that can grind my coffee beans just right. Of course, you also need to use fresh beans. Stale ones won't yield good shots.

  2. One thing to note before pulling a shot is always to do a test run with this brewer.

  3. This ensures that the brew group is hot enough to achieve the optimal temperature for your espresso. I tried pulling one without a test run, and the resulting shot is cold and underwhelming.
    However, one test run is enough. If you do more than that, the brew group overheats and yields over-brewed espresso.

  4. As a manual brewer, you have control over every process of making coffee, even with the pre-infusion process.

    So, there's no automation here, no lights, no buzzers when the espresso machine pre-brews the coffee. You have to manually lift the lever and wait 5 to 6 seconds for the machine to gently soak the coffee puck to ensure that pressure will be evenly distributed.

    Your cue here is the little trickle of espresso coming out of the portafilter. Once you see those, it's time to pull the lever down. I recommend a 30-second pull to achieve the best espresso shots. So, you'll need a timer, as the machine doesn't have one.

  5. On top of timing the pull right, the espresso extraction process also requires achieving the right pressure. An espresso needs about 9 to 10 bars of pressure to achieve optimal flavor and rich crema.[2]

  6. Thankfully, this brewer has a sight glass and pressure gauge that allows you to see the boiler pressure. Its internal thermostat ensures that the gauge gets accurate readings for consistent shots.

    While pulling the shot, I noticed that using the lever can make the La Pavoni tip. If this also happens to you, I suggest you hold the filter knob when you pull a shot.

Pulling My First Espresso Shot On The La Pavoni Professional PC 16

As for my first shot, I was pretty impressed. It tasted delicious, and it had a nice crema on top.

While the machine played an integral part in achieving this, I owe most of it to my barista skills. After all, it's a manual machine that relies mainly on the operator's skill. 

So, if you can brew quality shots with this espresso machine, you can pretty much do it with any other espresso machine, regardless of the type.

Of course, its features like large boiler capacity (can brew up to 16 2-oz espresso shots) and group head contributed to the shot quality, but they're mainly useless if you can't use them to your advantage.

One more thing, don't try to brew more than three shots of espresso in one go. The brew group tends to overheat after two to three espressos.

Therefore I recommend you cool it down before using it again to avoid bitter espresso shots.

Tips From A Barista!

For beginners wanting to master the art of espresso preparation, getting a bottomless portafilter can be useful.

This coffee tool lets you see when the crema develops, giving you an idea of how to control your shots and pressure.

First Time Frothing Milk

As you may have guessed, frothing milk in this La Pavoni espresso machine requires manual effort. If you've tried steaming milk manually before, the process isn't so different with this machine.

So, when I first tried frothing milk, it was a breeze. I have had the pleasure of using a classic steam wand before, so I didn't have to learn a new skill.

For those who haven't tried it before, it can be quite a challenge, especially when it comes to ensuring you get the milk to foam.

I suggest you experiment and play around with the steam wand first to achieve the right froth before you make milk-based drinks.

My first frothed milk was good. It was foamy enough that it could be used for latte art. You can also control the steam easily, which means you can use different types of milk for the foam.

However, if you've been learning to froth and don't seem to succeed, don't give up just yet.

Although the PC 16 is a manual machine, you can use an automatic milk frothing attachment that you can use to get quality foam.

The automatic milk frother is an additional accessory but an excellent investment if you love cappuccinos or lattes.

Frothing Milk With The La Pavoni Professional PC 16

How Much Control Do You Have Over The Brewing Process?

You have complete control over the brewing process with the La Pavoni Professional espresso machine.

From the grind size, pre-infusion, and pressure level, you can adjust how you want the whole process. Control is basically what manual espresso machines offer.

While this machine has no dedicated temperature control, a test run can help you achieve the right temperature for your espresso shots.

How Does It Handle Different Roasts?

The La Pavoni espresso machine can handle all types of roasts with ease. However, you have a significant role in ensuring you get the most out of your beans. Here are a few tips:

  • Light Roasts: With these beans, you're looking at more acidity and complexity. Want to bring out the best of these flavors? Try grinding your beans on the coarser side and give them a longer extraction time, around 45 seconds max.
  • Medium Roasts: Ideal roasts for a lever espresso machine like the PC 16. To make the most of their balanced flavor profiles, stick with a medium grind and standard extraction time.
  • Dark Roasts: To prevent a bitter, over-extracted taste, you might want to try a finer grind and a shorter extraction time. Just think: bold but without the bite.

While you can use pre-ground coffee with the PC 16, I wouldn't recommend it.

It doesn't provide a pleasant taste and tends to be a little underwhelming, even if I have tweaked the settings many times already.

Look, Feel, and Size Of The Machine

The La Pavoni Professional PC 16 espresso machine is a beautifully designed machinery that exudes a charming, vintage aura.

It's actually an excellent addition to my kitchen, giving it a classic Italian cafe vibe.

The first thing you see is its polished brass and gleaming copper design.

I have the gold-plated version, but you can also get it in a chrome-black finish. It looks like a high-end machine, even though it's affordable. 

This unique espresso machine basically screams half art deco and half steampunk design from a purely aesthetic perspective.

Don't be fooled. It's not just a beautiful machine; its solid, robust construction gives you a sneak peek into its durability and long-lasting performance.

Size-wise, this espresso machine's got a compact size. Standing at around 14.2 inches tall, 9.8 inches wide, and about 11.4 inches deep, it's small but mighty.

It'll slide right onto your kitchen counter without hogging up too much room.

Look, Feel, and Size Of The La Pavoni Professional PC 16

What Drinks Can It Make?

The La Pavoni espresso machine can brew any espresso-based drink if you have the skill to do so.

Its manual lever allows you to completely control the espresso you make--whether you crave one that has a rich crema or want a less intense shot.

Since it has a manual steam wand, the milk-based espresso drinks you can make also relies on your skill.

So, if you can steam a nice foamy milk, you can pretty much do anything, even latte art. It doesn't have a hot water tap, so if you want to make an Americano, you must boil water separately.

How Easy Is It To Use?

The La Pavoni machine is a little tricky to operate, especially if you're a beginner barista. It's not your typical just-plug-and-go type of espresso machine.

It's asking for your time, patience, and some level of coffee brewing skills. That's part of what makes it so unique, but remember, it may not be everyone's cup of tea (or should I say, coffee?).

Kidding aside, once you've got the hang of it, the machine is pretty straightforward to operate.

However, getting that dreamy shot of espresso involves being mindful of the grind size, the dose of coffee, how hard you tamp, the pre-infusion time, and how swiftly you're pulling that lever.

There's quite a bit of learning to do, and each one of these factors will tweak how your espresso turns out. So, if you're just starting with the machine, it could seem a bit daunting.

How Long Does It Take? (From Heat Up To First Sip)

The La Pavoni Professional quickly heats up its brass boiler and group head to hit that sweet spot temperature for the best extraction.

Heat-up from a cold start takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Once your machine is all warmed up, grinding your beans, tamping them down, and pulling that shot will likely take 1 to 2 minutes. 

How fast or slow you get at this depends on how comfy you are with these manual tasks.

Now, if you're in the mood for a cappuccino or latte and want some frothy milk, that'll add an extra minute or two, so, all in all, from the moment you switch on the machine, it'll be roughly 15 to 20 minutes before you're savoring your first sip of coffee.

La Pavoni PC 16 sitting on a outdoor table

Does It Have A Water Filtration System?

No, the La Pavoni Professional has no built-in water filtration system.

So, the quality of your brew is all down to the water you use. 

Using tap water? You should run it through a separate water filter first to eliminate nasties and minerals that mess with your coffee's taste or clog up your machine over time.

How Hard Is It To Clean and Descale?

Descaling and cleaning the La Pavoni is a relatively straightforward process, but it's essential to be regular about it.

To maintain the chrome and gold finish, make sure to wipe down smudges, splashes, and fingerprints. A microfiber cloth can do the trick.

Limescale is a bit of a party crasher when it comes to espresso machines.

The speed at which limescale piles up hinges on how hard your water is, so filtered water really does save the day here.

As for giving your La Pavoni PC 16 Professional some TLC, you'll want to descale the boiler every three to six months. Citric acid works as a treat for this.

You can also make an occasional batch of white vinegar and water as a descaler, especially if you're looking for an affordable option to descale the machine.

Every now and then, it's worth popping out of the brew group for a deep clean. While at it, check if any gaskets look a bit worse for wear and could do with replacing.

Don't be shy to apply some lubricant to those moving parts. With proper care and maintenance, this can be a long-lasting machine you can rely on every time!

Cleaning The La Pavoni Professional PC 16

My Favorite Parts About The La Pavoni PC 16

  • Authentic Italian Craftsmanship: The PC 16 isn't just a machine; it's a work of art. Its chrome body, wooden handles, and compact design exudes a timeless, classic elegance that serves as a fantastic conversation piece.
  • Personalized Extraction: This machine demands your attention but rewards you with espresso shots tailored exactly to your preferences.
  • Pre-Infusion Feature: Though not signaled by any specific indicators, this machine does offer a pre-infusion stage.
  • Option for Automatic Frother: If you're not a fan of the manual steam arm, you have the option to buy an automatic milk frother.

My Least Favorite Parts About The La Pavoni PC 16

  • Learning Curve: The La Pavoni PC 16 requires a significant learning curve to produce the perfect espresso shot due to its manual nature.
  • Limited Brewing Capacity: Although the boiler has a high capacity, you can only pull one shot at a time due to the manual lever system. This can be inconvenient when serving multiple guests.
  • Overheating Brew Group: After pulling two or three shots, the brew group can become excessively hot, requiring a cooldown period.

La Pavoni Professional Vs Similar Machines

La Pavoni PC 16 Professional Vs Europiccola

Both La Pavoni espresso machines, the PC 16 Professional and Europiccola, are known for their exceptional espresso-making capabilities.

The PC 16 is larger with a 38 oz boiler capacity and allows for 16 shots, making it a great machine for those hosting large gatherings.

However, the La Pavoni Europiccola, with its more compact design and 20 oz boiler capacity for eight shots, might be preferred by those with smaller kitchens or less frequent use.

La Pavoni PC 16 Professional Vs Europiccola

La Pavoni PC 16 Professional Vs Esperta

Both La Pavoni machines offer a unique brewing experience thanks to their manual lever operation. They basically offer the same features and are both thermal overload devices.

However, the La Pavoni Esperto merges traditional espresso making with modern convenience.

It retains the brand's lever mechanism but includes advanced features like dual boilers and a PID temperature controller.

This combination eases use and improves consistency, making the Esperto ideal for those seeking manual control with added convenience.

La Pavoni PC 16 Professional Vs Esperta

La Pavoni PC 16 Professional Vs Gaggia Classic

The PC 16 Professional and Gaggia Classic represent two ends of the espresso machine spectrum.

The PC 16 is manual, lever-based, and you have all the control you could want. There's a bit of a learning curve, so it's a bit more suited to those of us with our barista badges.

On the flip side, the Gaggia Classic is a semi-automatic machine with a more straightforward operation, making it perfect for those seeking a balance between control and convenience.

However, the Gaggia Classic lacks the aesthetic charm of the PC 16, which, with its chrome finish and wooden handles, can add a touch of elegance to any kitchen.

La Pavoni PC 16 Professional Vs Gaggia Classic

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Why are lever espresso machines so expensive?

Lever espresso machines have an expensive price tag because of several factors. One reason is its craftsmanship. They are often hand-crafted and have intricate designs, contributing to their higher cost.

How many watts is a La Pavoni professional?

The La Pavoni Professional model uses 1000 watts of power.

Conclusion - Is The La Pavoni PC 16 Worth Your Money?

If you're a coffee aficionado who wants to learn the intricate process of brewing espresso, the La Pavoni Professional is worth every penny.

It features a large boiler and an impressive build that intermediate to advanced-level baristas can enjoy.

However, it may take a bit of time to learn how to use the machine. On top of that, it doesn't really perform well if you brew a lot of coffee at once.

So, if you plan on hosting large gatherings, get a commercial espresso machine instead, like a La Marzoco.

La Pavoni PC 16

Brew Quality

4.5

Build Quality

5.0

Ease Of Use

3.0


Overall Rating

4.2

References: 

  1. https://www.lapavoni.com/en/products/domestic-machines/kube-mill
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590238519304102#:~:text=As%20historically%20defined%20by%20the,time%20of%2020%E2%80%9330%20s.

Kim Fernandez

Author

Kim Fernandez
Kim offers a unique perspective on coffee culture and trends. Kim's writing is personal and experiential, providing readers with firsthand advice on the latest in coffee. Beyond her writing, Kim is an avid explorer of new coffee trends and spots, always seeking to share the most genuine advice and latest trends. True to her love for coffee, you'll often find her in a café, immersed in a book with a freshly brewed cup of joe.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A freshly brewed cup of joe

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