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Thread: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

  1. #1
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    Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    First post, but Ive been browsing here for the last month...
    My 6 year old Cafe Roma started steaming from the inside, and when on steam it would sometimes pump continously instead of pulsing.
    Being an electrical engineer, I pulled it apart, found moisture and corrosion on the circuit board, which I repaired, following with a spray of conformal coating to help waterproof it. (this is a sort of polyurethane varnish).
    This worked for a while, but the internal steam got worse, so I pulled it to bits again and found it was leaking at the base of the element. Separating the element was a bit more difficult, as the screws were corroded and snapped off, but it came apart. I was surprised to find things in pretty good condition, but thats not too surprising, as I use filtered water only (reverse osmosis), and the areas which water flows through are teflon coated (like a non-stick frying pan).
    The larger o-ring was leaking, so I cleaned all the mating surfaces up, drilled out the broken screws, re-tapped for new screws, and put it all together again.
    This all happened over several days, and caffeine withdrawl pushed me into looking for a replacement machine.
    Unfortunately, my expectations of a new machine were dashed when the re-assembled Cafe Roma ran perfectly, so I was resigned to perfecting my techniques. With this machine I found I could get excellent pours with the following technique:
    1. bring machine up to temp.
    2. run water through the basket until metal part of the filter handle is too hot to touch.
    3. dose with fresh, very finely ground coffee, and tamp hard (even doing this, I find I only get 20 secs till blonding)
    4. brew - crema starts immediately, due to the preheating.
    5. If I wait for the heating light to go out before steaming, get steam instantly - no spurts of water until everything heats up.
    6.texture the milk - without the froth enhancer - the methods on this site do produce excellent microfoam

    Even my friends with a VBM machine say the results are great.

    Well, what happened next - I was browsing the Quokka for sale colums, and saw an EM6910 "used twice" for $180, and the next day it was mine.
    I pulled the shower screens and gasket off the group head, the plastic insert out of the group handle, and the two wands off. Their condition was great, not even any coffee staining, so I think the machine had genuinely only made a handful of coffees.
    OK making coffee:
    First the baskets seem to hold a lot more coffee than the Breville, so Ive only used the single shot, single floor baskets so far.
    For my first coffee I followed my usual preheating procedure, ground finely and tamped hard, and got a good result, but the brew pressure was high.
    I found texturing the milk faster than the Breville, but not as easy with the wand on the left of the EM6910. The hole in the nozzle is larger, and I still need a bit more practice to get the microfoam up to the Breville standard.
    My subsequent coffees have been with the grinder set 2 notches coarser. The brew pressure is right in the middle if the "good" zone, crema is good and coffee tastes great.

    In summary, I would say the Cafe Roma can make just as good coffee as the EM6910, but its a lot more "hands on" process.

    My Cafe Roma has been used for 2 coffees every day for 6 years.
    I always clean it and flush the group head and screen with water after use. The screen has never blocked as a result. I take the screen off every 6 months, and there has only been minor buildup inside it, so that flushing helps.
    At the same 6 month interval I have run a citric acid solution through the machine, which does discharge somewhat murky water - dissolved scale. No other cleaning solutions or tablets have ever been used.
    I have not replaced the group handle gasket in 6 years, although it needs a new one now, as the handle locks all the way to the right. Overdosing to the extent of pressing coffee onto the shower screen causes some leaking from the group handle gasket during a pour, but a normal dose is fine.

    So what does all this mean?
    In spite of some of the comments I have read here, I think the Cafe Roma can last for many more than the oft mentioned 2-3 years.
    By using highly filtered water and rigorously cleaning and rinsing the Cafe Roma, it has lasted very well.
    Ensuring coffee grounds are not rubbed into the group handle gasket has prolonged the life of the gasket.
    After 6 years the teflon coating was unmarked, meaning the use of aluminium for the group and heater castings is fine.

    Incidentally it looks like the same castings are used in the Breville 800 series machines.
    The CR pump is an Ulka EP5 - pumps from the same manufacturer are used in a lot of machines.
    The brew thermostat is set to 98C with a 10C differential
    The steam thermostat is set to 140C with a 17C differential
    The heater is 1000W

    I have drawn up a schematic for the Cafe Roma if anyone is interested, and have several photos of the stripped machine.

    Ill post more on life with the EM6910 as I progress.

    Bruce

  2. #2
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    Re: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    Welcome Bruce

    Mate! if you can do all that with a cafe roma I cant wait to see what you will one day do with a commercial machine restoration! The 6910 is a great machine - youll love it.

    Cheers

    Luwaks

  3. #3
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    Re: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    Thanks Bruce - that information was very helpful.

    If you could post the schematic and photos that would be great for the inevitable day we need to fix our Cafe Romas.

    I have to say that your findings on the teflon coating has helped me sleep a lot better + the thermostat info is very interesting.

    Does your CR have a screw under the water tank cover? I had a bit of a go at disassembling my CR and couldnt figure out how to remove this screw.

    Great work - cheers & best of luck with your 6910

  4. #4
    Senior Member Coffee2Di4's Avatar
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    Re: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    Hi Bruce

    Welcome - great to hear some good experiences with your machine!

    I know your past experience says otherwise, but the word is that you shouldnt use reverse osmosis for the water in coffee machines.

    From another thread:-

    Quote Originally Posted by 272F2D2623274A0 link=1209725970/0#0 date=1209725970
    Just browsing the Cafetto website and came across an article that says that Reverse Osmosis water is actually bad for coffee machines. We have an RO water filtration system at home and I had been using that for the machine as I would have assumed that filtered water would be better than unfiltered. Should I switch to tap water?

    Reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment is a
    filtration technique that removes practically
    all particulate, chemicals and water scale
    elements from the water. It is, then, almost
    pure water. Four problems exist for using
    this technique to solve the water hardness
    problem.
    1. The equipment is expensive to install.
    2. It is very wasteful using large amounts of
    water in the process of delivering the
    RO water.
    3. Many coffee experts believe it imparts a
    flat taste to espresso. Ideally, some
    level of water hardness is desirable for
    taste.
    4. RO water has been found to be
    corrosive to equipment.The pure water
    has a tendency to take up elements and
    this causes corrosion of metals.
    The link to the thread here:-

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1209725970

    Its a very interesting read.

    Cheers
    Di

  5. #5
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    Re: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    The screw under the lid has to be removed. The lid will just pop off with care. I used a flat blade screwdriver to help, and pushed the centre of the lid enough to allow it to bow and pop out.

    My model (ESP8) is different than the later models, which rotated the lid.
    When I took it apart I thought it was a bit crazy, as any water splashed onto the lid during filling would drip down onto the circuit board!

    The steam leak in my unit did destroy the thyristor and a zener diode. I replaced them with parts I had lying around, and a comment on the schematic indicates 2 resistor values I had to change to suit the replacement thyristor.

    In the picture of the circuit board you can see the white corrosion on the components.

    A catalog for the Iluka pump can be found on www.ulka.it

    The thermostats come from a company called T-Key and Ive attached details from their webite too.

    Ill show more in another email.

    Bruce










  6. #6
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    Re: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    Hi Di,
    Thanks for the comments and links on reverse osmosis.
    I think I agree the water does taste a bit clinical, we notice that in coffee and tea. I could try tapping water off before the osmotic filter (there are 3 filters) and see how it affects taste.

    We have used this water in the same stainless steel kettle for more than 10 years, and there is almost no scale, and no sign of pitting (now on a pressurised aluminium, brass or copper boiler that may not be true)
    Heres a pic of 6 years of scale and oxidation inside the group casting. (The white stuff) the black stuff under it is the teflon coating.
    I saw another pic of the bottom casting (was it a Breville 800?) here, and comparing with my picture I have a lot of white corrosion which I presume is from my water leak.
    The other pics show the o-rings that seal the heater element casting to the group casting. Pressurised hot water should only flow inside the o-rings.
    When I cleaned it all up, I re-assembled it using the old o-rings and it sealed. I used my large bench vice to compress the o-rings, taking a lot of pressure off the screws until they were fully seated.

    I didnt take the brew/steam valve assembly apart, as it was working fine. I didnt want to introduce another leak!

    Bruce










  7. #7
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    Re: Cafe Roma to EM6910 upgrade

    Thanks Bruce for the detailed info - will come in very handy one of these days !!



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