Over the winter I’ve been doing up this 1998 Rancilio lever machine. Picked up as a non runner for a ton in east london, I ripped straight into it and got it back on its uppers. I don’t have any before pics as all the covers were off within 30 minutes of getting it out of the van but believe me it was a mess; filthy, corroded and entirely neglected.
With the machine now back on its feet and gleaming like a new penny in the garage, Neil at exchange coffee http://www.exchangecoffee.blogspot.com needed a machine for the gig at Brighton chocolate festival, an ideal shakedown for a newly rebuilt machine.
The machine was faultless for the full 800 drinks we served over the weekend, with just two lever snap-backs caused by my own fuckwittedness and a couple of airlocks in the Flojet requiring a big boiler fill and 10 minutes downtime. Until the evening before the event the machine was only operating on 2 groups because the replacement dip tubes which had to be ordered from Italy had been delayed. They came in the afternoon before the event, result. I hadn’t worried about being a group down as the experience of working the shots at Monmouth in Borough Market had taught me that I am not nearly the fastest shooter in the west and it’s a real stretch to get all 3 groups going on a Linea, but on a lever 3 groups gives you a perfect rhythm for workflow, here goes: Load and lock handle 1, cock the lever to start preinfusion. Get straight on to handle 2, dose, release lever 1 to start extraction, level, tamp, lock and cock the lever. Keep your eye on group 1, dose handle 3, release lever 2, tamp, lock and cock lever 3, by now the shot on group 1 will be just about ready to serve. And repeat…
Temperature management was no real biggie. Those big brass groups are real efficient at sincing (sp?) the excess heat away, a little too efficient for being out in the wind, you need to really work some heat into those groups to get best results. When you’re busy and pulling shot after shot it’s perfect, if you’ve had a quiet spell and not pulled a shot for a couple of minutes you need to get warmed up again. Keeping pucks in the baskets helps, and running through a dead puck before pulling a shot recovers the temp from idle. A bigger problem was an issue with the Robur E which sidelined it only to be substituted by the Mazzer Mini decaf grinder. That was a hot little bastard after a few shots and it was a treat to be reunited with my faithful Major on Sunday, give me one of those over an auto any day.
Pic stolen from here. Permission pending…. http://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/
Overall I was real happy with the way the machine performed, it’s gonna be a lifer that’s for sure, the shots are beautifully mellow and gooey and working the machine is so much more fun than pushing buttons. There were lots of happy faces around the stall and several returning customers which can’t be bad for a 2 day pitch. We’re doing it all again this weekend (26-28 March) outside the Royal Festival Hall for the London chocolate festival, hope to see you there.