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Zacconi Riviera, red, "Flat Top" La Cara  (sold)

A rare red Zacconi "Riviera" model.  This "flat top" model was re-branded and sold by Thomas Cara, Ltd., in San Francisco in the 80s, as a "La Cara," but it's a Zacconi Riviera.  The original Zacconi company died in the 90s, but the brand (using some original factory tooling) was ressurected in Italy, in the early 2000s.   


The Riviera has a spring driven piston, like larger commercial lever machines (and unlike the manual "push" style of a La Pavoni Europiccola, for instance.)  The idea behind a spring drive is that it not only makes the brew "push" a little easier on the barista, it makes that push more consistent from shot to shot.  


The "flat top" was either to save money over the "old school" brass dome and eagle top, or simply an attempt to "moderize" the look (hey, the 80s was the beginning of "hi tech!")


The build quality of the Zacconis is as good as any vintage home lever, and built with heavy, solid components.  This one has a beautiful chromed pressure gauge, an adjustable pressurestat (under the base) a large brass boiler, and a sturdy cast aluminum base, making these a little closer to "commercial" quality than many of the other Italian "domestic" lever machines.  The portafilters are just as small as the Millenium La Pavoni, however, around 49mm.  So we're still talking about small volume "classic" Italian style espresso shots here, which are crema challenged by the lower pressure of lever machines.


The spring is a cool idea, but means yet more experimenting with the grind, tamp and volume to get good shots, and as with the small basket La Pavonis, it's always a challenge getting "modern" shot qualities with such small dosages of water and grounds.


The red paint on this one is obviously peeling off the base, and we're torn about how to deal with that, but in the interest of "originality" (Will puts his foot down) we haven't touched her yet.  Stripping the base would be a pretty simple option. Seal kits are available, but this one is still tight.  No leaks.


We think Rivieras are as good an example of Italian industrial design as you're going to find in the vintage home lever world.  And we love them.

Zacconi Riviera, red, "Flat Top" La Cara (sold)

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