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'78 Custom Europiccola -- Sold!

No, you're not "seeing things."  La Pavoni didn't put manometers on Europiccolas.  We did.


Pavoni saved this "upgrade" for the big brother Professional models.  And we've just accepted that for years, thinking, "If people really want a pressure gauge, they should buy a Professional." 


But our philosophy has changed. 


There's just not enough vintage Professionals to go around.  Not to mention how pricey they've become when you can actually find one. 


So we're giving up on that maxim.  We're putting pressure gauges on a Europiccolas.  Or at least on this one!  (We'll see how people react to it before doing it again, because it's gonna add some cost to the "budget" Europiccolas.  We're hoping it's adding enough genuine user value to make up for it.)  

We're violating our rule to "stay original" with vintage machines in this instance for a couple reasons. 


One, original Europiccolas are not THAT hard to find.  And two, one of the Europiccola's great "drawbacks" has always been they run so frickin hot!


So after thinking about it, and getting a machine "nice enough" to splurge on (this beautiufl "hi/lo" '78) we sold ourselves on the value of adding a pressure gauge.  


On the classic Europiccolas without pressurestats, you're really "flying blind" as far as temperature goes.  Sure, you "learn" your own machine, and people develop all sorts of strategies to deal with the heat, but the truth is you have only a vague idea about where your temperature is.


And that lack of knowedge about boiler temp makes trying to "control" it that much harder.  So we're taking a little "art" out of the process by adding a manometer.


You may know "your baby" is boiling, and hot as hell, and feel the waves radiating off that beautiful chrome boiler, and even get a little edgy (we do!) as the pressure builds up and blows out the relief valve like it's about to explode and take off half your face, but the truth is you're operating on "faith."  


Since boiler pressure is the "indicator" for water temperature in espresso machines (the higher the BAR reading, the hotter the water inside is) being able to see the pressure in your Europiccola gives you a fighting chance of consistently knowing when to pull your shots without burning them.  You can finally control your machine's temperature, using the "hi/lo" switch (and even the "on/off' switch) with some accuracy.  


What we've "discovered" after adding a gauge to this Euro is that we really didn't even need to use the "hi" setting to get to the optimal 1 BAR range.   Like most people, we aren't patient enough to stay away from the turbo charged heating up with the "hi" settting ("Massimo!")  And it does obviously help with steaming milk. 


But after you get where you want to be to pull espresso (which is around 1 BAR, or we'd prefer slightly less than that) by having the luxury of seeing boiler pressure, we discovered that our hissing relief valve allows the machine to idle right around that 1 BAR sweet spot.  


(To be fair, we should admit we've tweaked the spring in the pressure blow off valve to make sure it lets pressure out at this rate.  There's no way to guarantee your machine will idle at the same pressure, though the "stock" setting of your relief valve is probably pretty close.)  


The beauty of having a gauge is KNOWING where your relief valve is opening, and the pressure your machine tends to run on both the "hi" and "low" settings.   


The upshot is you could probably get by on "lo" only.  Especially if you don't need to steam milk.  That way you'll avoid it getting super hot in the first place and trying to figure out how to get the heat back down to brew temp.  The "overheating" cycle Pavoni's are notorious for. 


Obviously you can't completely overcome La Pavoni design, which has your group bolted onto the boiler, just a few inches from the heating element.  But seeing pressure in real time can help you mitigate that reality.  (Like social distancing!)


As for the machine on it's own merits, it's a super nice second generation 1978 Europiccola.  Just completely rebuilt with all new seals and gaskets (even new sight glass seals on this one) and the usual service "works" (cleaning, descaling, lubing, adjusting piston travel, etc.)


It comes with both single and double baskets, and a new Motta flat 49mm tamper (made in Italy, and sterlized in San Francisco!) 


The only real "flaws" on this one are a scrape mark on the top front of the boiler just under the cap and left of center (it's kind of hard to see, but it's there in the pics) and the rubber sub base was changed at some point by the previous owners, to a generic rubber molding on the bottom. 


Still, this one is impressive on the counter.  The chrome is awesome for this vintage, and the real reason we bought it.  Check out that drip tray!  (If you've been looking at Pavonis, you know this era is populated by rust buckets.  So keep your drip trays dry!)  


If you've made it this far, thank you!  (And you must really want one of these!)  Stay safe.  And remember, if this one is over your budget, there WILL be cheaper Europiccolas ahead...




'78 Custom Europiccola -- Sold!

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