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If you’re ready to handcraft the most aromatic Italian espresso at home, you’ve likely decided on a La Pavoni espresso lever machine. The La Pavoni Europiccola and Stradivari are the two most popular models vying for space in your kitchen. As they are similar in price and footprint, how do you choose between them? Let’s take a closer look at the Europiccola vs. the Stradivari.
The La Pavoni legacy in your kitchen
Founded in 1905 in Milan, Italy, La Pavoni sets the gold standard for the lever espresso machine. The company launched the Europiccola model in 1950, which became a staple in discerning European households and among U.S. home baristas. The Stradivari arrived in 2005 as La Pavoni’s newest consumer offering.
If you are new to crafting manual espresso, know you’ll tinker for days or weeks before finding your shot sweet spot. Your reward is an aroma that rivals the best available. One long-time professional barista described the Stradivari as producing “one of the best shots I’ve ever had.” A 30-year Europiccola owner praised it as the ultimate maker of pure and crema-rich shots.
These tips will help you shorten the espresso machine learning curve and make the best cup outside of Rome:
- Use a high-quality burr grinder. Precisely ground beans prevent bitterness and inconsistency.
- Use fresh beans recommended for your espresso machine.
- Experiment with grind level and tamping, changing one variable at a time.
- Use preinfusion in your lever pulls.
In keeping with its traditional roots, your lever espresso machine won’t be rushed. The stated heating time is five minutes, though reaching optimal temperature may take longer. Steam for milk drinks will take several more minutes.
Features common to the Europiccola and Stradivari
The models offer nearly the same features and functions as well as outstanding durability and design.
Design highlights include:
- Solid metal construction and chrome plating
- Dual espresso spouts
- High-pressure steam wand
- Powerful brass boiler
- Compact footprint
Features you’ll appreciate:
- 8-cup capacity
- Detachable automatic frother
- 20-ounce water reservoir
- Clear tube to see water level
- Side power switch with ready light
Differences between the Europiccola and Stradivari
Appearance is the primary difference between the Europiccola vs. the Stradivari. Despite several updates, the Europiccola retains its chrome mid-century flair. Today, you can choose your favorite look from several options. The base model has a chrome body with a black acrylic base and black plastic accents. You can also upgrade to a chrome base. Further upgrades include chrome with wood accents and a stunning although pricier copper and brass plating with wood accents.
The Stradivari received an aesthetic makeover in homage to the designs of renowned violin maker Antonio Stradivari (check out the violin-shaped base!). A gracefully curved lever replaces the Europiccola’s straight style. Its knobs and handle grip come in rosewood as well as black. The result is a conversation piece that will beautify any space, including your kitchen.
Other differences include:
- Capacity: The Stradivari offers a 16-cup version as well as the 8-cup.
- Dimensions: Europiccola: 11” L x 7” W x 12” H; Stradivari: 16.25” L x 4.5” W x 12” H
Although the Stradivari design changes are mainly cosmetic, more owners report build quality issues than with the Europiccola. This could be due to the newer model attracting first-time lever machine users grappling with a learning curve. Both models require a virtuoso touch to perform flawlessly and some experience to render even a decent shot.
Drawbacks to both models
If you plan to pull several shots on one tank of water, you may want to consider a 16-cup version. Owners of both models note that the norm is two or three shots despite the 20-ounce reservoir. The cup volume is also smaller than many other machines produce.
If you extract more than a few cups, they may be thin due to the group head overheating. The units get exceedingly hot, so you will need to be patient and careful when refilling the tank.
You may find that your first shot tastes off, likely due to the group head not being hot enough. Many owners report this despite waiting for the machine’s ready light. One solution is to mount a thermometer on the front of the group head.
Which La Pavoni is right for you?
The buzz around the Stradivari is mostly due to its graceful, inspired design. It also offers a 16-cup version. If you want a larger capacity, choose this 16-cup model.
The Europiccola has a 70-year track record with several smart, functional design upgrades along the way. You can now select more finishes that rival the Stradivari in striking looks. If you want an 8-cup espresso machine that sets the gold standard, choose the Europiccola.
Both models deliver a caliber of espresso most Americans have never tasted. If you’re ready to own this excellence, you can’t go wrong with either choice.