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Cimbali Junior DT/1 Espresso Machine

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Our 22 year old Pasquini Livia 90 (serial no. 300) broke down, and we decided that it was finally time to replace rather than repair.  


We considered entering the 21st C with a La Spaz or an Izzo Alex Duetto, but after a long conversation with Mary (h/t) at Chris Coffee, decided that (a) my two decades of experience with an HX were probably enough to get me over the hump; (b) preinfusion rocks; and (c) the Cimbali was a better candidate for another two decades than anything near its merely shockingly unreasonable, stroke-inducing price.  

Our Pasquini Moka grinder is as old as the Livia, it's not only dirty but a pain in the ass to clean, the burrs are beyond worn and were in serious need of replacing the last time (last year) I cleaned them, etc., etc., excuse after excuse.  So as long as the credit card was out of the wallet, and I was on the phone, I ordered the recommended Cimbali Max Hybrid over the Barzata Vario largely on the basis that the Cimbali's grind quality is better -- according to Mary.  The Cimbali has something of a reputation for being noisy under some circumstances, but the hopper and using the doser as God, nature, and Italy intended, so the Cimbali should run quietly.  We'll see about quality and quiet, both.  

Delivery should be shortly after Christmas.  Installation will not be straightforward, we are going through walls and will need a plumber.  

Nevertheless ladies and gentlemen, the canary has entered the mine.  First impressions to follow.

BDL

post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 

The espresso machine (La Cimbali Junior Casa) and grinder (La Cimbali Max/Hybrid) arrived Monday afternoon. 

 

Yesterday, I plumbed it in, started playing with it, and had a terrible time getting the grinder dialed in correctly.  The best shots I could pull were horrible. 

 

This morning, I had the grinder figured out to the point where the espresso was approaching decent.  Not sour, not bitter, good crema (mottled, neither too much nor too little), okay body, okay mouthfeel, and the various taste "notes" came through reasonably clearly considering I'm still using bunk coffee (a blend of a couple of TJ varietals with some bulk, cheap Brazilian I got from the "Mediterranean" -- read Lebanese/Armenian -- grocery down the street, to "season" the grinder's burrs). 

 

At the current stage of the game, I'm not going to compare the Cimbali's quality of espresso in the cup to my old Pasquini Livia 90 / Moka grinder combination because the new grinder isn't truly dialed in yet. 

 

What I can say is that the other aspects of the machine are outstanding.  For instance: 

 

1.  If you're an espresso person and wondered whether plumbing in is worth it... it is.  That's the line AND the drain, by the way.

 

2.  I'm positive the rotary pump doesn't make better coffee, but it's certainly quieter.  

 

3.  One of the big breakthroughs of the Casa -- compared to the regular DT 1 Junior -- was uniting the Cimbali group head with pre-infusion and the rotary pump.  Rotary pumps come up to pressure very quickly and without pre-infusion you would end up brewing hot.  It's either working as it should, or "so far so good."   

 

4.  The dual manometer -- another Casa improvement -- looks nice, might turn out to be useful later, but so far does nothing as I go "by feel" and not by gauge.

 

5.  The final distinction between the Casa and the regular Junior is a slower steam tip on the Casa.  It's plenty fast, let me tell you.  It took about 15 secnds to steam 10 oz of milk for a double latte.  Anything faster would be difficult to control for a non-commercial setting.

 

6.  Automatic dosing by itself would be annoying, but combined with the free-pour button -- it kicks.  Who knew?

 

Let me add that if you're interested in a big deal espresso machine, you NEED a big deal grinder.  The grinder is more important to the quality of the cup than the machine. 

 

So... Is the grinder / machine pair worth the $4K it costs retail? 

 

Maybe. 

 

Good espresso is wonderful thing, expensive and hard to find in commercial coffee bars.  That's good espresso mind you.  Everything considered, I'm probably saving something like five bucks a day compared to what I'd spend if I drank as much outside as I do in the home.  Not that I would.  Having that kind of quality where you can use it is the real luxury -- and it's worth a lot.

 

If you want the kind of build quality the La Cimbali offers, you can't beat it at any price.  As I understand it (unbelievably) you have to spend more to do as well.  My previous machine lasted more than twenty years, I want this one to last that long as well.  Within the narrow context of "forever," the La Cimbali was one of the few choices.  I certainly got more and better service from my Pasquini than could reasonably have been expected.  As to the Cimbali, only time will tell.

 

Cosmetics and aesthetics are completely subjective.  They had a great deal to do with my Cimbali choices.  I really love the way they look.  In that sense -- complete success.  Also, I can hold my head up when lurking at home-barista.com.  Priceless, right?

 

The Max/hybrid grinder does micro adjustment very well, but won't go from espresso (very fine) to drip or press-pot without a lot of tedious turning.  The quality of the grind from the conical/flat hybrid burrs is -- for lack of a better term -- frikkin' awesome.  Better than anything I've ever used.  It's a little less important, but the doser is also quite nice with nice clean sweeps, and a good spring on the lever. 

 

Give me another couple of weeks to finish dialing in the grinder and machine with a really good blend and I'll get back to you with some idea of their capabilities. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 12/29/10 at 11:48pm
post #3 of 6

Good review!

 

An espresso machine/grinder is on my list of things to buy....eventually.

post #4 of 6

dare i ask, kind sir, is this something a poor working girl can afford? i remember looking at a commercial cimbali a few years ago for the restaurant...think the price tag was somewhere around $6 grand...how much espresso you gotta drink migo to make it worth it? or better yet, do you drink more in order to make it worth it? or should you even be drinking that much espresso anyway? wanna come paint my house now that you're all jazzed up?......nice gift though

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Espresso machine and grinder combination would be somewhere right around $4K, new, retail.  It is not a "prosumer" machine, like a commercial.  It is a single-group commercial -- just barely small enough and otherwise sufficiently civilized to fit into a home which is willing to devote the effort.

 

how much espresso you gotta drink migo to make it worth it? or better yet, do you drink more in order to make it worth it? or should you even be drinking that much espresso anyway? wanna come paint my house now that you're all jazzed up?

 

Amazingly perceptive.  You well and truly understand me.

 

At the time the Pasquini went to meet its maker we had a well established routine.  Linda drank one large latte every morning while I had two or three straight, black double shots, and the occasional double later in the day.  She still maintains her safe and sane pace, while I'm up to four in the AM, and looking for excuses to have a couple later.  

 

Well, you understand up to a certain point.  Even though I'm drinking enough crank to vibrate like an E string, I have no ambition to do anything which resembles work.

 

Drinking so much was partly the joy of the new and partly the compulsion to get everything right -- including adjusting rusty technique to unfamiliar equipment.  I feel good about the grinder and the various tricks which allow temperature surfing.  Today I opened everything up, lowered the pressure from 10 to 9 bar and think that's just about it.  The good news is that dialing the machine and grinder in didn't take anywhere near as long as it could have, so I'm done with the "diagnostic" coffee and will be starting on a decent blend, Machristay Black Pearl, tomorrow.

 

BDL

post #6 of 6

guess you got a good strong heart to drink that many in a day...maybe try decaf, for those times you may want the whole taste/experience, but not the jitters(like at night).....but then, what would be the point to no high...anyway, just thinking...it is a sexy machine, i gotta give you that, migo!

joey


Edited by durangojo - 1/4/11 at 3:11pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply
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