Thanks for the review, do you prefer the taste of the Cremina?
Ps love the 'trading down' comment.
When asked, Chris (Talk Coffee) told me there was no secret to pulling a shot on the Cremina, "Just follow the instructions".
For my first Cremina shot, I left the Mazzer Mini E setting as it was for my outgoing Brewtus. 14g of 2 months old CS Decaf Wow tampted to 30kg, almost choked Cremina - took over 60 seconds for the extraction, with me hanging off the lever. Made the result into a surprisingly drinkable cappuccino. Three progressively more drinkable shots later I had her dialled in.
First impressions - Cremina is very forgiving, no bitterness at all. The ongoing pressure adjustability allowed me to rescue what would otherwise have been sink shots on my Brewtus. Tastewise, there was a smoothing out - no highs, no lows. The nuances were there, but I had to take the time to look for them. Introducing the HG-1 added the hitherto missing body.
Ps one visitor's reaction to Cremina, "How come you got rid of the big expensive looking one"? My answer, "Ran short of a quid and had to trade down". No point telling them the truth. They already think I'm nuts.
Thanks for the review, do you prefer the taste of the Cremina?
Ps love the 'trading down' comment.
I have a 1987 version of the Cremina and has consistently provided the best espresso shots I have made. I find I can use the same grind on my Macap MXK as for my Giotto. 14g is the dose I also use but i don't tamp hard. I get a wider range of flavours from the Cremina.
My technique is to insert the portafilter loosely, pull the lever up to about 2 o'clock, lock the portafilter in and then raise the lever to the top, pause for several seconds and then pull the lever down until I get about 25ml which is usually before I reach the bottom. I don't raise the lever again to extract more; I have two baskets and the portafilter has been converted into a naked so I'm preparing two double ristrettos each time.
Ps the Cremina will, in my experience, turn just about any ballpark grind into drinkable coffee and, contrary to popular belief, no special skills are required. Paired with the HG-1, the sky's the limit.
I was conflicted about what to do at the end of the pull. Let go? Hold it down until the drips stop? Go back up for another bite? Questions. I hadn't considered your suggestion to stop before reaching the bottom. Another variable to explore.
Helpful - not at all patronising. Thanks again.
As I am making ristrettos, I don't go back for a second pull ; it usually isn't as good.
After a month with the Cremina/HG-1/Lido E setup I feel I've reached my sweet spot, equipment wise - no buyer remorse at all. For my needs (one Lido E ground coffee and two HG-1 ground decaf coffees per day) it's just about perfect. With my previous Silvia/Rocky and Brewtus/Mazzer Mini E setups it didn't matter how consistent my routine was, the results were all over the place. I couldn't nail it down. Now, the results deviate only marginally, which should allow me to perfect my technique incrementally.
I marvel at how something as basic and unassuming as Cremina, can consistently produce coffee of a standard that I used to only fluke once in a while. Just what is it that Olympia Express got so right? Does anybody even know?
My missus has forgotten about the initial, admittedly substantial, expense and now reckons it was a wise investment. "Other than the first one or two, you haven't made a bad coffee since you got that thing." From her, that's a ringing endorsement.
A downside is that people have been asking for seconds, and this is where Cremina falls down - apparently she needs temperature surfing, which I have yet to grasp. Much has been written about the 3rd and subsequent shots, ranging from 'don't do anything, just pull the shot' to 'let it cool for X minutes (with or without a cold wet towel draped over the group head)' even 'cool the portafilter and reinsert for X minutes/seconds...' I've still got a lot to learn - and loving it.
Btw 'don't do anything, just pull the shot' didn't cut it.
Conclusion: fine instruments that beg to be finessed and mastered. I liken Cremina to an older Porsche (pre ABS & ESC etc). You don't have to be a Jack Brabham to drive one but it would be up for it, if you ever were.
Ps my chances of ever fully mastering Cremina (God shots on demand) are slim to none but she is forgiving, and is letting me make damned fine coffee in the meantime.
Ps 2 before buying Cremina I flirted with getting one of the 'Decent' machines. I was particularly impressed with the developers passion and candour. In the end nostalgia won out. I love technology as much as the next guy but it's all moving a bit too fast for me. Cremina takes me back to a more leisurely past.
Thanks for sharing your experience OCD. The HG-1 probably takes half the credit as it removes grind inconsistency from the equation (eliminating grind retention and measuring the coffee weight will solve most inconsistency issues for most CSers). The other half is the lever operation which is famous for being forgiving as you noted- there is a reason why the levers have a cult following and are a hidden gem. Not trying to encourage upgraditis or to hint anything... but when you are ready to jump to a commercial spring lever, even that last bit of the temperature issue will be alleviated, just cups after cups of godshot.
p/s: Oh, for starter, you can look into getting some liquid crystal temperature strips for monitoring the group temperature. Speaking of which, I have two extra 60-90C strips sitting unused. I can pop into the mail and up your way if you can't find a local source (I sourced mine in a pack of 10 from some local instrument company a while ago and have no use of them now).
Last edited by samuellaw178; 1st October 2018 at 06:21 PM.
Thanks for your reply samuellaw178.
For me even thinking about upgrading is tantamount to 'suicide by wife.' I swear she can read my mind. Or maybe she just smells fear.
Although temperature strips are on my 'to buy' list I wouldn't want to put you out by taking advantage of your generosity. However, pointing me in the right direction would be much appreciated.
We are all in the same boat aren't we...especially after a recent significant expenditure and all the promises about that being our last upgrade.....for a month
Sure thing. Will pm the detail as it's non-sponsor (couldn't find any coffee supplier that sells them either).
When I fitted Cremina with a 60°C to 90°C temperature strip, it was akin to turning a light on in a darkened room. All of a sudden I could see what my various attempts at temperature surfing were/or weren't accomplishing.
My initial, very rudimentary, technique is as follows:
* Turn Cremina on with the portafilter locked in.
* Bring her up to temperature (approximately 15 minutes).
* Relieve the false pressure (via the steam wand).
* Lift the lever to the top, purge some water, then return it to its starting position.
* Raise the lever to the 9 o'clock (horizontal) position, then lower it back down - 3 times. At this point the temperature strip reads 75°C which is my sweet spot.
* After pulling the shot the reading climbs to 90°C and needs cooling back down to 75°C for any subsequent shots. Easy as...
Ps how you cool the portafilter and the temperature you choose will depend on your ingenuity and preferences.
Ps 2 to get the described readings, I fitted the strip as close to the flare as practicable, with the right side of the strip on the front centre line. Being right handed this setup works well for me, visibility wise, and my 75°C sweet spot is in the centre of the strip. See pic.
Hey mate... would you mind awfully pm’ing me re where to purchase the strips as I would very much like to get some for my leva.
Can find plenty on US sites but not sure if you got them locally in AU.
Much appreciated and by the way the Cremona looks beautiful.
I don't believe I'm stepping on any CS sponsor's toes by divulging that I bought the strips from RS Components Pty Ltd. You can buy as a guest so don't have the hassle of passwords etc. They are NSW based and proved honest & reliable.Can find plenty on US sites but not sure if you got them locally in AU
Ps Cheaper in US but freight about $70 - go figure.
That is where I ended getting them from as well. They are just down the road from me so picking up a pack of 10 next week. If anyone needs any just ping me and I can send a few out as I won’t need all 10.
$6 each - $30 freight.
$12 for 10 - $70 freight.
Leading me to giving up on US sites in disgust. Besides, I'd rather support a local business.
A CSer directed me to the 1st Aus site I tried, but it didn't pan out (my browser kept telling me the site was unsafe - something to do with security certificates, as I remember). Ymmv. To cut an overly long story short, I finally stumbled onto RS Components Pty Ltd.
I hope I've saved interested CSers some wasted hours - and dollars. Caveat emptor.
Ps there are only 613,200 hours in a 70 year lifespan and most of them are spent working or sleeping, leaving precious little time for making and enjoying fine coffee.
Ps 2 it is said that a wise man learns from his mistakes. I prefer to learn from other people's mistakes.
Don't be too keen to give your temperature strips away. During my research into them (before purchase) I discovered that they go stale after a while and need replacing. Also, if you exceed their rated capacity (whatever that may be) they'll die on you.
Now, this might be the hoarder within rearing its ugly head, but every time I get rid of anything (with the possible exception of my ex missus), I usually find that I have a hitherto unforeseen use for it. If only the rest of my rainy day clutter took up as little room.
Ps I do applaud your generous spirit nevertheless.
Just to share a bit more detail about the 'staling'. I've used one for about a year plus. The strip just got slightly fader over time but was still usable. I didn't notice that until I'd placed two strips side-by-side. If you have 3 or so that'd last you for 5 years easy. Not sure if these have a shelf life (probably do), so it might be time to buy new fresh strips anyway (assuming that you manage to resist upgraditis until then).
Last edited by samuellaw178; 29th October 2018 at 07:30 PM.
I've had Cremina for about 6 months now. Recently I've noticed some uneven brown deposits in the sight glass. When I shone a pen light into the boiler I saw the probable cause. A golden/brown coating which was beginning to flake off. Time for a clean of some sort.
Olympia vaguely suggested a descale every 6 to 12 months with "a commercially available liquid decalcifying solution" but definitely not with citric acid or vinegar. I firstly did a high pressure water flush which just exacerbated the flaking. Thinking the coating might be coffee residue I then, unsuccessfully, tried coffee detergent.
It seems there are two ways to remove scale/calcium, either physically (no thanks) or chemically. Apparently the only chemical that can dissolve scale is acid, which would be great - if that was all it dissolved. The trick is to find an acid that is gentle on Cremina whilst being tough on scale. There are many to choose from - all expensive. After some research I've ordered some Aussie made 'Cafetto LOD' which is reportedly environmentally friendly and gentle - fingers crossed.
I will let CS know if Cremina survives this chemical assault.
Ps if any CS have a compelling reason why I should desist, I would be most grateful to hear about it.
Some while back we started using proper sized Teflon washers in place of 2 of the 3 copper crush washers on the Cremina. One of these spots is under the pressure safety valve. If you use Teflon in that position you can just remove the PSV and clean the tube with the proper tube brush without bothering with a new copper washer again and again. Teflon is reusable. Sometimes mechanical cleaning is better than chemical.
The descaler (Cafetto LOD) arrived and was employed in accordance (mostly) with Olympia Express' instructions. I opted for baby steps to minimise any possible damage to Cremina. Instead of the 1 to 5 ratio recommended I went with 1 to 12. It removed some scale (mainly from the bottom of the boiler???) and, from what I can see, without damage. I'll try full strength next time.
The instructions are as follows:
01 Open the boiler top of your Cremina. Empty the boiler water. Pour in the liquid descaling agent into the boiler and fill with water.
02 Open the steam tab of your Cremina and close the boiler top. Leave the cold liquid to work for 2 to 3 hours.
03 Place a container under the steam tab and another container under the brew group of your Cremina.
04 Empty out the descaling liquid and rinse the boiler 2 to 3 times with fresh water. Fill the Cremina with fresh water, only now heat up the machine.
05 Let the steam come through the steam valve and perform 2 to 3 extractions without portafilter with your Cremina.
Ps consumer reports of flaking/dissolving metal have prompted Olympia Express to warn that "These instructions replace all previous descaling instructions in the owner's book and online".
Ps 2 I modified instruction #1 to comply with the golden rule: "Never add water to acid. Always add acid to water".
Ps 3 I ignored instruction #03 and instead just upended Cremina, drained the descaler and then flushed the boiler with a garden hose.
It's been a week since my first wimpy, and consequently unsuccessful, attempt at descaling Cremina. No holding back this time.
Cremina needs 1,300ml of water to reach the 'max' mark and 2,060ml to reach capacity. I figured 2,000ml would be workable amount (it does froth up a bit, increasing the volume).
Dividing 2,000 by 6 gave me 333 so I went with 333ml Cafetto LOD to 1666ml water, giving me one part descaler to 5 part water - as recommended by Cafetto.
* Poured mix into Cremina.
* Employed gravity to flush some of this mix through Cremina by lifting the lever and opening the steam tap.
* Lowered the lever, closed the steam tap then soaked for 2 hours.
Result: when I shined a light into the boiler I saw nothing but clean metal. Ditto the sight glass, and no obvious damage - so far.
Ps if anything untoward crops up I'll report back.
Because the lever pivot points on Cremina are under extreme pressure they need regular oiling or, even better, regular greasing. Unfortunately to be effective greasing requires disassembly which, in my case, means it would be put off for another day. The oil pictured is rated for extreme pressure, has a mess-free needle applicator and is supposed to be 'food safe'.
Ps works for me.
Ps 2 let you know if it worked (or didn't) for Cremina - in a few years time.