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Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napolitana

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  • Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napolitana

    Im just trying to figure out if my machine has a problem, or I do. Ive asked my Faema dealer here in Toronto about it, but theyre pretty dismissive. I get the feeling they think that as long as I put beans in one end and brown stuff comes out the other end, Im supposed to be happy with it....and I shoud admit that Id never had an espesso until buying this machine for my wife last xmas..since then weve been buzzing around the house like a couple of hummingbirds.

    The first brews (or shots?) turned out great but after a month or so, they seem watery and bitter.

    I turn on the machine, I run the pump to fill the boiler, I wait for the indicator light above the steam wand knob (boiler light?) to go out and hit the brew switch.

    At first,.. the coffee would drip out, barely a stream and after 10 or 15 seconds, turn into a creamy lather. Id turn off the brew switch and the valve would make a sneezing sound. All was well.

    After a month or so, Ive noticed that the espesso is coming out much faster, after only a few seconds the boiler light comes back on and the espresso flow turns very pale. When I turn off the brew switch, theres no sound from the pressure valve (if I wait for the boiler light to go out and turn on the brew switch for a few seconds, without giving it time for the boiler light to come on again it will make a weak "sneeze" when I turn it off).

    Ive tried adjusting the grind settings, tamping harder, and filling the basket up as full as humanly possible but havent seen a great deal of difference to the final result.

    Anyway, if anybody has any advice Id be very grateful.

  • #2
    Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli

    Hi PaulB

    There are others here that are for more knowlegdeable than I. Heres some info that might get you started on your trouble shooting journey:
    1. Are you using the same coffee, grind, etc. and how old is your coffee?

    Heres some other info from an Oz site:
    2. In June 2003 the Napolitana was updated to feature an expansion valve which prevents excess pressure buildup in the portafilter (coffee handle) and any sudden release of pressure when the filter is removed after espressing coffee
    3. the dispensing pieces and most specifically the cup handle has a screw thread on the bottom which allows the attachment of the dispensing piece. This piece should be washed weekly/ fortnightly. Simply unscrew and remove to soak or scour used coffee.

    The most recent model features an expansion valve which removes the need to insert the pro crema rubber filter included with the machine. If you have a Series 1 model insertion of the pro-crema filter is necessary as it performs a useful role in increasing pressure which produces crema and intense flavour. It is a rather simple approach to a science but it gives a satisfactory result for the home or small office. IF YOU DO REMOVE THE PROCREMA FILTER IT MUST BE REPOSITIONED IN LINE WITH THE HANDLE OR THE FLOW WILL BE UNEVEN WHEN MAKING COFFEE FOR TWO.


    • #3
      Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli

      Hi PaulB and welcome to coffeesnobs!

      I had this machine for a few years ; the boiler light coming on prematurely is consistent with the higher than normal flow rates youve observed, obviously because since waters coming out faster its cos the cold waters going in faster which cools the boiler quicker -> activate heater earlier. If the flow is very fast it may be because theres not much resistance to the water flow, and if thats the case you wont hear the 3-way valve activating. If you turn the brew switch on and off with no portafilter in, for example, the 3-way still works but you dont hear it because theres no pressure for it to release.

      * Certainly check the coffee, or buy some fresh beans from a local roaster.
      * Adjust the grind finer, i.e. numbers lower not higher (try reducing by 1/2 a digit at a time)
      * Dont ultimately worry about the crema enhancer; you dont need it to make good coffee though if youve been using it then follow Dennis advice for now so we can focus on whats mysteriously changed

      Do the coffee grounds look about the right size when theyre ground? Its possible the hopper may have been twisted so even though you may be on the same numerical reading, you may be grinding much coarser than you used to. If the change was basically overnight rather than a gradual thing this may well be a possibility. From memory my grinder went up to about 10 before it wouldnt go any further, and I ground for espresso on about 2.5. Take note of your current grind setting, wind yours right out to max and see what your maximum reading is, then adjust finer so its about 7.5 lower than it was and then see how close you are to your original reading and have another grind.

      The only other thing which may be happening is if the pump pressure has gone high for some reason. I understand this can be adjusted, and Mal if youre reading this you may like to share your experiences with your underpressured Napoletana and what you did to fix it.

      Let us know how you get on.



      • #4
        Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli

        Thanks a lot guys!

        Somehow, the hopper must have gotten twisted by a huge amount. I had dialed it down from what I thought was the usual "3"setting, to "0" but didnt realize that it had a great deal finer yet it could grind! The lastest brew turned out MUCH more like the first few brews.

        I didnt find any pro-crema filter when I unpacked the machine, but Ill dig out the box and check again.

        The indicator light still seems a bit strange in that itll come on even when theres not much more than a tablespoon of espesso in the cup and the 3-way valve wont release unless that light is out, so Ive been finshing the brew, waiting for the light to go out and then turning it on for a few seconds and off again (and it makes that sneezing noise). I dont know if this is a waste of time or not.

        Again, thanks.

        Paul Bouchard


        • #5
          Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli

          If you havent been using the crema disk dont bother looking for it. Its only designed to make stale supermarket coffee appear to develop good crema.

          When you turn on the pump cold water will flow into the boiler, displacing the hot water. I found mine would normally come on about half way through the shot if I started brewing pretty well as soon as it went off.

          The three-way not releasing until the light is off is strange; it should be open when the brew switch is off and closed when its on. You may like to rip the lid off and follow the wiring on the 3-way and see if any wires are incorrectly connected to the thermostat rather than the brew switch. You may like to have a look at the photos of the Imat section of my website ( to show you how to do this or what things should look like.

          With acknowlegements to Mal, attached is a schematic of the Mokita / Junior with a PID controller which shows how the 3-way should be wired.



          • #6
            Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli


            I have a Nemox which is virtually the same machine. You need to keep an eye on the grinder setting because for some reason it gravitates to a finer grind. I find I need to adjust it back to my setting every couple of weeks.

            It must be either the vibration of the grinder itself or the brewing which does it.


            • #7
              Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli

              Interesting Rowdee, I never had this problem with mine. With a worm drive there shouldnt be any slippage, unless youre just talking about the hopper moving not the grind setting itself?


              • #8
                Re: Longwinded beginner question about Imat Napoli

                Dont worry Greg I have had some interesting episodes with my little machine.

                It is the actual grind setting, not as drastic as Pauls scenario but when I first got the machine I noticed after a few weeks the pour was wierd, then I realised what was happening.

                No big deal, I just keep an eye on it. Certainly shouldnt be happening though and will raise it the next time I have it back in under warranty. It has been a whole 2 months since the last visit.