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Thread: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

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    La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all

    Thinking of buying a La Cimbali Junior S and would like some views on the quality of the expresso shot compared to say an E61 group head machine. Does the La Cimbali make a better shot than an E61 machine?

    Thanks




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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Gday GCM58...... :)

    With this class of machine, the actual machine itself is not that important. More important is the quality of the grinder, the freshness and quality of the beans and the knowledge and experience of the operator. If you have the skills, the La Cimbali will produce excellent coffee for ever and a day. It really comes down to personal preferences at this level of machine, not what individual parts go into its design.

    I think Chris from Talk Coffee has quoted more than once.... "The quality of a machine and the coffee it produces is more than the sum of its individual parts".... And not a truer word could be spoken 8-),

    Mal.

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Thanks Mal for your good advice. I agree that the operator skills, fresh coffee and a good grinder are all great contributors to the final outcome. Hopefully a god shot.
    The Junior has a different group head design to an E61 machine and is connected directly to the boiler I believe. I suppose what I was wondering is whether this design can produces better shot than an E61 group machine when the operator skills, fesh coffee and a good grinder are all equal.
    Thanks

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    GCM58.

    I have the 2 group La Cimbali (same group head design)...... and it makes great espresso. Is it better than an E61???... well....

    first question whose E61? (most have subtle differences)
    then..... has the group been properly tuned (by someone who knows what they are doing? -in both cases)

    They are almost certainly so similar as to make little difference.... but only if correctly tuned.

    It is interesting, none the less, that La Cimbali copied all the original Faema "E61 design" when they produced the original "first" commercial E61 designed machine (the group head is only a small part of the E61 patent - which La Cimbali own by the way!) but chose to use the current group design - rather than the one which is part of the E61 patent. Why? who knows.... but they must have had their reasons I guess.

    So a Cimbali (and any other machine with a heat exchanger and pressure pump) have most of the E61 features incorporated.... just a different group design..... and the one they chose not to use seems to be all people think of when they hear "E61"

    Honestly, I wouldnt worry about what group design it uses..... just how well it has been tuned by the experts prior to shipment / sale.

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Thanks JavaB
    I didnt realise that the La Cimbali incorporated a lot of the E61 design, except for the actual group head. Thats very interesting. I understand that because the group head is connected directly to the boiler it can run hot but probably only after left idle for a while. I read one review which recommended that you let it heat up for 1 hour then run a series of flushes through to bring it down to the right temperature. The reviewer said that as long as your technique wasnt lazy (which the reviewer said his was because he had been using a lot of E61 machines previously which he said were a bit more forgiving) the La Cimbali produces great expresso. Is it easy to produce consistently great shots from the La Cimbali?
    Thanks

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    GCM58,

    I have no difficulty producing consistently good shots from my La Cimbali ranging from maybe 2 doubles a day to maybe 30 in one sitting (lots of visitors!). Im sure I could do the same with a machine with an "E61" group (once I became familiar with the differences).

    Yes, they do need to be on for a while to become thermally stable.... I wouldnt use any machine until it had been on for at least 40 minutes. All HX machines potentially run hot after being idle for a while.... some more than others. Most require at least a short cooling flush. If you run the La Cimbali at about 1 Bar pressure (still more than adequate for great steaming) the amount of this flush will be minimal. The big advantage of the La Cimbali design is that once its stable - it stays that way! Ive read a review of the Junior where they ran water for as long as they could from the group (a couple of hundred mils I seem to remember) and the temperature didnt vary. The comment said it was the most remarkable performance they had ever seen.

    The one difference between the Junior and most E61 grouped machines is that it is designed to make coffee after coffee (it is a true commercial designed machine) and will require more cooling flushes than the E61 which are generally designed for less frequent usage...... and they are built like a tank - will outlast you!!

    Both are excellent machines, both require a quality grinder for best results.... and most importantly - both require a "nut" at the end of the PF who knows what they are doing!

    Good luck, and great espressos, from which ever machine you end up purchasing.

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Thanks JavaB your reply is very reassuring and I will take on board your valuable advice. When spending this sort of money on a machine I not only want a machine that will last a very long time but is able to produce consistently good shots once I have developed the technique for that particular machine. The reviews that I have read have always highlighted the high quality build of the La Cimbali and I feel reassured from your response as an owner of a machine that it also produces consistently great shots. Sounds like you have a dream setup with a 3 group machine when your having parties etc. Did you match it with a La Cimbali grinder as well or another high quality brand grinder. I would be interested in your advice on what grinder works well with it.
    Thanks

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    GCM58,

    I originally had it paired with a La Cinbali Jnr and that combo produced great espresso. (The La Cimbali Jnr is made by DRM by the way - it is rebadged by La Cimbali).

    I then had the opportunity to purchase a DRM combined Conical/Flat burr grinder as used by David Schomer ...

    See http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1197961695#10 and further down that thread.

    The quality went up another notch..... with subtle flavours I hadnt noticed before.

    With grinders, get the best one you can afford (The DRM would have been well over $2000 new).... regardless of the machine. The grinder really is more important than the machine!

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Hi JavaB

    Thanks for your valuable advice.

    I followed the link you provided and read your comments on the Junior and DRM there as well.

    I am currently interested in a second hand La Cimbali commercial grinder that was used in a cafe for a few years. Price was about $470 and it has new Cimbali burrs in it. I will have to check out the model and see if its a Junior.

    I was originally thinking about getting a new Mini Mazzer but I feel that maybe the second hand Cimbali might be a better quality grinder.

    If it is a La Cimbali Junior grinder I would appreciate your thoughts on whether it would be a better quality than the new Mini Mazzer.

    Thanks

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    The La Cimbali Jnr grinder is a real workhorse.... built very, very solidly. They were (and still are) used as decaf grinders in many cafes.

    The burrs are the same size as the Mini Mazzer, the motor is 50% more powerful and they are more solidly built. In a domestic situation I dont think you would find much difference.... but in commercial use the La Cimbali should outlive the Mazzer by quite a bit.....

    I think either would be a fine match to the machine..... and grind quality Id expect to be almost identical.....

    Id be a little concerned at the price.... $470 with new burrs - seems expensive. It would want to be in really good condition as these are getting pretty old now. I sold mine (when I upgraded) also with genuine new La Cimbali burrs (only done a few kilos) for a bit more than half that price..... so to me that is expensive!

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    To add my two beans worth... as an owner of a Junior R for well over a year now and an operator of same for nine months (the other months were the restoration)... I can say, that to me, the Junior allows for repeatability of shot making (I think!), which seems to be the important element allowing finer tuning of the shot parameters.

    To this end, I found temperature logging the pour water very instructive... allowing observation of the impact on the pour temperature of various length cooling flushes, and various length recovery times from flush to pour. This allowed me to get to know the machine (and its tendency is to hot hot hot - so I run it at 0.6 to 0.9 bar to keep it cooler - given its in a home environment - but still get plenty of steam for me). After that, it became the taste in the cup, as per the advice elsewhere on CS.

    So can I get a good temperature at the right pressure at home - what should be asked of a machine - I think so.

    Elsewhere on this site though, I have seen experts disparage the lump of metal hanging off the boiler approach as being somehow inferior. This seems to be part of another stratosphere of knowledge - see for example http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1197616758/0 . But for your average home bristar like me, its more than enough equipment, particularly given its price ;).

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Hi JavaB and slowdown

    Slowdown thanks for the feedback on the Junior R. Your feedback is very reassuring.

    JavaB thanks for your advice and Ill take on board your comment on the price of the La Cimbali grinder being high. When you look at the price of a new Mini Mazza being only about $200 more, I agree that it would have to be in very good condition to justify the price.

    In terms of quality the La Cimbali grinder should be a good match for the Junior and hopefully both would outlast me.

    The dilemma I face at the moment is I can pick up a new La Cimbali Junior S and a second hand La Cimbali grinder for a similar price to buying a new VBM Super Domobar Manual Lever and a new Mini Mazzer.

    If I go with the Cimbalis I am getting a very high quality build, albeit the grinder being second hand. If I go with the VBM and the Mini Mazzer, both are new but Im not sure whether they will last as long and will produce as good an espresso.

    Its a tough decision for me to make!! Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    We bought a 1995 model La Cimbali junior grinder about a month ago, I rang the guy on the service sticker - he had put new burrs in it about 12 months ago. It has improved the coffee 200%. The crema doesnt disappear anymore and I dont drink coffee in town anymore cos it aint as good! It cost a mere $100 and was full of freshly roasted beans.

    Im the sort of person who usually likes everything new....but I cant complain about this 13 year old junior at all!

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Quote Originally Posted by GCM58 link=1216450960/0#0 date=1216450959
    Hi all

    Thinking of buying a La Cimbali Junior S and would like some views on the quality of the expresso shot compared to say an E61 group head machine. Does the La Cimbali make a better shot than an E61 machine?

    Thanks
    I think that the majority of the members of this site consider a good shot to be one that is very rich and thick, like a ristretto. This has the advantage of making it easy to produce reproducible shots, perhaps even to the extent of masking roasting faults, but it has the disadvantage of disguising the flavour of the coffee that you have used to some extent. If thats your thing, its difficult to beat the e61s that have a very long preinfusion time. I definitely thought that the VBM machine fell into this category on the times that I got to use it.

    I used a La Cimbali M series machine on a cart a while back and I have to say that I didnt really enjoy it. That particular machine wasnt especially well looked after and probably isnt representative of the performance that you would get from a new machine. That said, a number of people speak highly of them and I do remember a shootout putting a LC Junior on par with a La Marzocco Linea. I think that that was a stock Linea that probably would perform similarly to a good e61 HX machine.

    If it were me, I wouldnt buy a LC Junior. As people have mentioned in this thread, it might well be that the more technical stuff isnt of much relevance to most people. Thats all well and good, but from my point of view, I dont see why I would want to risk spending a fair bit of money on a machine with a group head that could potentially cause problems. From what I have seen, the metal used in the LC shells can really start to look like garbage after a few years of use in a cafe, so thats another point to think of. I guess you would potentially either have to lump whatever you get or do some restoration work.

    A good reason to buy the LC machine would be if you were plumbing it in and if you couldnt do that with the VBM. That said, there are better machines than both out there. Amongst the ones that are sold by CS sponsors, I would be looking at the Bezzera Domus Galatea, the Expobar Minore and the BFC machines. I wouldnt worry too much about durability at home; I find it hard to believe that there would be significant differences between most machines.

    If it is a La Cimbali Junior grinder I would appreciate your thoughts on whether it would be a better quality than the new Mini Mazzer.
    The Junior has motor size, burr size and speed in its favour. The Mazzer has fit and finish and a better doser in its favour. A better comparison would probably be between the Junior and a Mazzer Super Jolly, which should tip you off that a Junior is pretty good value compared with a Mazzer Mini, as long as you dont mind the looks. All of that presumes that the Junior grinder is pretty similar to the cadet that I owned briefly a few years ago. Again, Ill say this - the mini electronic is a seriously convenient grinder to use at home.

    Hope that helps,

    Luca

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1216450960/0#13 date=1217470335
    A good reason to buy the LC machine would be if you were plumbing it in and if you couldnt do that with the VBM. *
    You can

    That said, there are better machines than both out there. *Amongst the ones that are sold by CS sponsors, I would be looking at the Bezzera Domus Galatea
    Yes- great but tricky to work on. Doesnt like 9 bar too much >:(

    ....the Expobar Minore and the BFC machines. *
    BFC- yes good but not so good on bang for buck. Expobar, great bang for buck- but complex. Assume $$$ if something goes wrong out of warranty...

    Machines at 3 paces Luca with a VBM! ;) :P





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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    To add my 2 cents in I have a 2-group La Cimbali M28 Start which saw use in a cafe for its first decade and a half or so and which Ive had on my bench now for almost 4 years.

    As previously stated by others Cimbalis do indeed tend to run on the hot side, especially in a home setting. With that said though I do not find this to be a problem at all. The vast majority of machines in this class will require a flushing regimen when used in a home environment. Once you get used to your machine and determine what the flushing regimen should be for best performance you will find that the Cimbali will give you an exacting reproducibility in the cup time after time.

    With minor maintenance, good water, and regular back flushing Cimbalis will give trouble free use for decades. :)

    On the grinder side of things buy the best grinder you can afford. :)


    Java "Still lovin his Cimbali!" phile

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    Re: La Cimbali Junior S Views Sought

    A good mate of mine just bought a La Cimbali Junior S and La Cimbali Cadet grinder a week ago. We had a play with both of them last week-end.

    It was amazing the difference a short play with various grinds and tampiing pressures made in terms of espresso quality with the Junior. By the end of the session the shot quality and microfoam was a lot better than many coffee shops and its only early days yet. While some talk about the machine running hot, especially in the home situation, as JavaB and Javaphile indicated, it just takes a relatively short cooling flush to get the temperature down.

    I was also impressed with the quality of construction of the machine and this is reinforced by the comments from a number of different sources who have machines 20 years old that are still going strong and still producing great results.

    The Junior S has great steaming ability and again, after several jugs of playing around, the microfoam improved considerably. Again, this can only get better with more practice on the machine.

    Off course its going to take a while to refine the settings and techniques and get the consistency right, but that will just come with a lot of practice. The results are certainly very encouraging in these early days that there is still considerable potential to improve the results further.

    As many have indicated previously, with the Junior and other machines of similar quality, the machine is not the limiting factor in terms of producing great results, itís the skill of the person operating the machine.



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