HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Reselecting my first espresso machine (was Aaaaarrrrgggggghhh!!!!) (26 msgs / 764 lines)
1) From: Les
It sounds like you definetately want a HX machine if you want Latte's and
Cappos.  Hey I have an idea I will email you off list.
On 2/22/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:

2) From: Michael Dhabolt
This article:http://www.home-barista.com/hx-love.htmlis a good resource
for the kind of info you are after.  Home Barista has a 'How To' page with
some other exceptional articles with good information and explanations.
Mike (just plain)

3) From: Derek Bradford
If you're the only coffee drinker, you may want to look at a manual
lever.  That's how I began my espresso journey.  I now have two levers
and one Gaggia Classic.  I never, ever use the Classic.
If you're looking to get intimate with your espresso, there isn't a
much closer way...
On 2/23/07, Rudy Ramsey  wrote:
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

4) From: Brett Mason
Which levers do you have - what do you like best?
I'm looking...
On 2/22/07, Derek Bradford  wrote:

5) From: Derek Bradford
I have a La Pavoni Europiccola and an Elektra Micro Casa a Leva.  I
much prefer the Europiccola because it's fully manual; the Elektra is
spring-assisted.  That means that you push the lever down to cock it,
and the spring does the actual pulling of the shot.  With the
Europiccola, the only thing it does for you is heat up the water; you
do all the rest.
I like the relationship it gives me with my coffee.  If I pull a bad
shot, I know it was my fault.  When I pull a good shot, I know it's
also me, using the machine to it's potential.  Having control of the
lever lets you make microadjustments that are impossible with a
spring-assist lever.
The thing I like most, though, is the shot quality.  Thick, smooth,
buttery, crema-heavy, and relatively consistent.  The Europiccola is
perfect for ristrettos, but of course makes any coffee drink you need.
 It makes wonderful coffee.  Steaming is fine, and it's instant.
Since you asked what I like best, it's only fair to tell you what I
like least, too.  First, it overheats.  If you're making more than 3
drinks in a row on a regular basis, look elsewhere.  If you're making
a couple drinks, then going back for more in 30 minutes or so, then
it's fine.  Then there's cleaning; to clean the piston, you have to
take apart the group a little.  It takes me about 8 minutes start to
finish.  Not bad, but it's a pain.  No backflushing here.  Finally, I
hate La Pavoni.  Their distributors tend to be lousy merchants, and
service from the actual company is deplorable.  The machine quality
seems to have diminished in recent years.
For the record, I've pulled, by way of a ballpark estimate, about 2700
shots on mine in 18 months.  It has held up well.
Anymore questions, feel free to ask.
On 2/23/07, Brett Mason  wrote:
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

6) From: Brett Mason
I had heard that La Pavoni makes a better machine that is still
manual, but maintains temperature, rather than cycling the way my old
Sylvia did...  Do I understand correctly, or am I just sadly
I had understood the completely manual part, and do look forward to
that factor.  My UNIC Diva has a blown circuit board, which can be
replaced for a mere $400+ - if indeed that is the problem.  I have two
UNIC Phoenix machines that are good on the circuit board, but have
other parts problems.  I am in the process of building a UNIC
Frankespresso - meaning "Equals the sum of several parts".  I am
close, but have to move the group over from the Diva as the Phoenix
groups are locked up, causing the pressure reliefr valve to wash my
kitchen....  I am glad that college didn't work this way - there'd be
several hundred dead students around as I learned the basics in
chemistry, etc.
More comments would help!
On 2/22/07, Derek Bradford  wrote:

7) From: Derek Bradford
I can comment on the Pavoni until I'm blue in the face, as I'm sure
can many others.  Happy to do it.
You might be thinking of Gaggia.  They made the Achille; an HX manual
lever.  HomeBarista has lots of great info on it, along with a great
review.  Had I known more about it I'd have bought it instead of the
Europiccola.  They're 1200 bucks in the States, but only 600 in the
rest of the world.  More than I paid for my Europiccola, but it's a
lot more machine.
Any pics of the rebuild?
On 2/23/07, Brett Mason  wrote:
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

8) From: Brett Mason
I am pulling a couple pictures from the camera right now, and I will
post thes on my website with a link in a few minutes.  Here's a
description in the meantime...
UNIC is a french coffee machine company.  DIVA was their lowest end
espresso machine, one or two group depending...  Phoenix was their
espresso pod machine.  Both have a 6l boiler, HX machines,
semi-automatics.  My DIVA was an early version made in 1991 - bought
off eBay.  My Phoenixes are 1986 machines, bought as-is off ebay as
well.  I figured I would use them for parts.  This plan is basically
working OK.
DIVA has a rotary pump and a volumetric dosing system that integrates
with the electronics.  PHOENIX has a vibe pump.  DIVA has polished
stainless sides - PHOENIX has painted black sides.  DIVA has really
nice chorme faceplate and drip tray - PHOENIX has painted black face
plate and stainless drip tray (not so elegant).  The electronics from
the DIVA to the PHOENIX are not inter-changeable...
I first tried to work with some UNIC service locations - Chris who
does coffee was one - they helped as far as they could.  For a few
hundred I could send these all in somewhere and maybe get something to
work...  too costly to me.  I couldn't get the controls on the Phoenix
to work with the DIVA.  So after hating the almost $1K I have in the
machines, I thought to go the other route.  I would take all three,
and create a Phoenix machine with Phoenix controls and vibe pump, and
move my espresso portafilter grouphead across.  I would also replace
all painted items with prettier stainless items.
Having never seen a Phoenix work, and with a maintenance guide written
in french, I decided to take it on last weekend.  Basically I pulled
the head from the DIVA and replaced the POD head on the better of the
two Phoenix machines.  I pulled lots of brass tubing and replaced old
pieces with new pieces.  After several hours, and lots of cleaning, I
finally tried the thing.  I coule hear everything going, pressed the
dispense buttons, heard the pump engage, watched the pressure build,
and build, and build, and build, and at about a minute, relief!  Oh
what a relief.  Several litres of very hot water gushing out the
pressure relief valve rather than through the group....
Cooled off the machine for an hour, and pulled the pressure relief
valve that was won my previously working DIVA, installed in the target
machine, and rebuilt it all again.  This tuime I am ready for
espresso!  And of course it was different!  This time it was a known
good pressure relief valve that sprayed several litres of hot water
across the kitchen, which of course had just been washed, and then
cleaned up from the previous run.  Old Faithful in Yellowstone has not
been this good!  I shut it all down, and cursed that all my money
ought to go in the dumpster...
Yesterday I walked to work, and thought about this...  Perhaps the
entire grouphead assembly that was in the Phoenix is locked up - valve
won't work.  I know the valve works in the Diva.  So I need to
disassemble the DIVA further, pull the entire assembly, rebuild it
with the head that I added to the phoenix, then replace what was in
the phoenix with the complete assembly that started out in the Diva.
Very likely I have a complete PHOENIX, ready to brew, and with lots of
Chrome extras that just make her prettier.
I hope so.  My ThorTamper fits this 57mm portafilter.  My machine is
plumbed in.  My investment remains reasonable.  And I end up with a
machine that started in the couple thousands, as a long term work
horse...  Thats if it all works.  It's my story until proven
I will let you know when the pictures go up...
On 2/22/07, Derek Bradford  wrote:

9) From: Brett Mason
I should have also said that all the electronic buttons, switches and
controls were not installed.  I had to deduce how every wire
connected, and the order, according to the french wiring diagram.
Some connections were ovbvious.  Others were done by what was left.  I
am certain they are now all correct.  Do you like Sudoku?  Same
puzzle, just costs more than a $5 book....
On 2/22/07, Brett Mason  wrote:

10) From: Brett Mason
Pictures of the espresso machine rebuild so far are found at:http://homeroast.freeservers.com/photo_2.htmlI also posted some pictures of the Cory Grindmaster grinder I picked
up for $30....  Oh you should see it now!
On 2/22/07, Brett Mason  wrote:

11) From: Vicki Smith
I would love to read your wife's version of all of this. I am the 
fiddidler in our house, and Ron somehow has an, urmmmm, slightly 
different take on such things than I do. You should have seen the smirk 
when I told him about your French documentation.
Brett Mason wrote:

12) From: Brett Mason
Here's my wife's version on the "rebuild the UNIC Diva on the kitchen
table project" - I asked her if she'd like to spend 10 minutes and add
her thoughts....
"Sure, here it is.  I love it when we have a machine that works.
Brett has so much fun with it.  At this point we have invested so much
money and he has put in so much time that I think we need to go for it
and make it work.  Not that there aren't a bazillion other project
that he could do instead (Workroom, kid's rooms, garage etc.).  He has
finally started cleaning up better after he works on it and for the
most part we have the space and the mess is hidden sooo....  I'll be
happy when it works and the 2 parted out machines can go back into
cold storage (ie: the garage)  The kitchen table has taken a bit of a
beating, but we bought a less costly one on purpose and he and the
boys "broke it in" last year with another project,  so now our house
looks like we actually live here, not a totally bad thing in my mind.
Anyway, that's my take on it.  Let's get it done and work on the
downstairs!!!!! "
On 2/23/07, Vicki Smith  wrote:

13) From: Leo Zick
Youre a brave man; that's a lot of work just to change packaging!

14) From: Vicki Smith
LOL--so, she'll be happy when it works and you can move on to other 
projects. It's nice to see how supportive Debbie is about things like 
this. A good marriage is a wonderful thing. Ron is putting on his game 
face as I do this whole coffee/espresso thing. I appreciate his efforts, 
and I have watched countless episodes of "Lost" and listened to lots of 
accounting talk as I have tried to balance the scales. Not that marriage 
is ever really balanced, as we take turns being the one for whom 
accommodations must be made, but you get my drift.
Brett Mason wrote:

15) From: Brett Mason
Good point Leo!  Actually the UNIC DIVA electronics quit, and I
couldn't replace them for less than $395.  The electronics are paired
up with the water metering components.
SO I actually needed to switch the frame from DIVA to PHOENIX in order
to move over to a platform with different electronics and matched
The stainless & chrome packaging was an added action on my part
because if I am going to run an old machine, I will make sure it looks
great and maintains the retro look.  (see the pictures of my '83
porsche to gain further view of this attitude)  Since some of these
skin components are from each machine, aI get a great looking shiny
monster in my kitchen!
   RWAhttp://homeroast.freeservers.comOn 2/23/07, Leo Zick  wrote:

16) From: Floyd Lozano
My Lord, with 7 sons, I would think you would view a working espresso
machine as critical equipment!
On 2/23/07, Brett Mason  wrote:

17) From: Brett Mason
Absolutely...  But I am extending the enterprise as well.  Last night
I taught my 16 year old how to use and master the mokapot....  Can
never have too many baristas in the family
  also, Amateur Barista at home
On 2/23/07, Floyd Lozano  wrote:

18) From: Derek Bradford
So...do you have a timeline for getting the machine running?
Explosively-spraying hot water isn't so  nice...  Smoothly-flowing
espresso is far better.  I await your next experiment...
On 2/24/07, Brett Mason  wrote:
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

19) From: Brett Mason
hopefully over the weekend....
On 2/23/07, Derek Bradford  wrote:

20) From: Brett Mason
I worked on the machine today, finished transferring the DIVA
grouphead to the Phoenix.  This helped a bunch!  I also worked woth
the electronics to make sure everything is wired correctly and all the
buttons work...
Ultimately, the High Pressure Safety Valve for the boiler is broken.
I was able to pull espresso, but the valve was spraying my kitchen at
the same time.  So all the components work, and the gauge for the
pressure (Diva's was broken)...
The Hi Pressure Boiler Safety Valve needs a new gasket inside, or a
full component replacement.  One problem is the UNIC uses a 3 Bar
safety valve according to the documentation I own.  So I am working
with vendors to get the right valve.  Several carry it, and it's less
than $40, so I am a happy camper.  I have a prettier machine than
before, all the viring and components work, and the electronics are
all doing well.  I have a pressure gauge which was broken on the Diva.
 And I am one piece away from a commercial machine in my kitchen, once
So, here's the same espresso rebuild page, with my newly refurbed
machine in place, panels on, shined up, etc. Everything is ready, from
my Rocky, to my Folger's Knock Box, to my Thor Tamper, to my Mugs &
Cups, and my Phoenix...  Take a look at the pics!
 http://homeroast.freeservers.comThanks all for bearing with!
On 2/23/07, Derek Bradford  wrote:

21) From: Tom Ulmer
Sexy machine you got there pal...

22) From: Brett Mason
She's French - but you could probbaly tell from her curves and touch...
On 2/24/07, Tom Ulmer  wrote:

23) From: Derek Bradford
Looking good, Brett.
On 2/25/07, Brett Mason  wrote:
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

24) From: Les
It sounds like you are ready to take the plunge!  I love the no noise in the
morning with my lever.
On 2/28/07, Ross  wrote:

25) From: Derek Bradford
Enjoy, Rudy.  It's a wonderfully slippery slope.  I'm going to pull my
first shots of the day now.
On 3/1/07, Les  wrote:
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

26) From: miKe mcKoffee
Man like duh, it's vibe pumped! Don't post while just drinking your first
cup of the day:-)

HomeRoast Digest