Olympia Cremina 2002: The evolution of design - Page 5

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srobinson (original poster)
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#41: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

As we go to the next stage of the review, I thought that I would do a couple posts on the process itself to get the most out of the machine. Since many of the Olympias on the board are older machines, I thought that I would intersperse my comments with those from the manual. While small in physical dimensions, I find the Olympia manual one of the most complete little espresso bibles that I have read. Not only are there step by step instructions, but also full part numbers, part schematics, wiring diagrams and a great trouble shooting guide. I will have to post the trouble shooting guide in a separate post, since I find it so useful.

So before we get into the process, let's take a look at what Olympia views as the perfect espresso coffee. All quotes are from the Olympia Express Cremina manual: copyright 2001 Mokaespresso SA.

Visual Appearance
The foam "crema" that forms on the surface of the espresso coffee, the chromatic realisation of the caramelization of the sugars present in the coffee should be of a light brown colour more or less dark with ginger coloured highlights light and uniform. The consistency of the foam must be of 3 to 4 mm, extremely smooth, and it must have a duration of at least two or three minutes, without open spaces or visible bubbles in the centre.

A light-coloured foam with visible bubbles, but with hardly any thickness and tendency to disappear quickly often is due to the problem of under extraction. A foam of dark brown colour or almost black, with a white "button" or a black hole towards the centre, with hardly any thickness and a tendency to move toward the edge quickly forming a black ring, often indicates a problem with over-extraction.
Aroma
The aroma of coffee depends on over a thousand different molecules that are modified several times and transformed by the many steps of processing the coffee undergoes on the way to the coffee cup. The burst of aroma after brewing must be intense and pleasant, vaguely sweet yet strong with body, but without any indication of burnt coffee or tobacco or must odours. Sometimes a light hazelnut-like aroma could indicate a high quantity of "Arabica" coffee in the blend.

Naturally there must not be any off-odors present due to an unclean machine, nor the characteristic odour of used coffee grounds which is indicative of incorrect brewing.

A nondescript aroma, poor or almost non-existent almost always indicates a problem of under-extraction.

A prickly aroma acidy or too strong is an indication of overextraction.
Taste
The perfect coffee presents itself to the taste-test (which must be done without sugar, to avoid altering the taste in any way) with the correct equilibrium between the components of sweet and bitter, revealing body but not too heavy, without giving any taste of being burnt and above all without leaving any foul aftertaste.

A weak coffee with almost non-existent body, of a bland and watery taste without foam is surely due to problems of underextraction.

A coffee which is too bitter, with a prickly and stringent taste, a strong aftertaste and little aroma is often the result of over extraction.
So this is Olympia's perfect cup. Quite a bit of insight for a coffee manual. But what did you expect from this machine. It is actually the only manual that I have seen with a Bibliography: tipping its hat to Francesco and Riccardo Illy and Felipe Ferre.

So let's figure out how to make that perfect cup:

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Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

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KarlSchneider

#42: Post by KarlSchneider »

srobinson wrote: So before we get into the process, let's take a look at what Olympia views as the perfect espresso coffee. All quotes are from the Olympia Express Cremina manual: copyright 2001 Mokaespresso SA.
Visual Appearance

The foam "crema" that forms on the surface of the espresso coffee, the chromatic realisation of the caramelization of the sugars present in the coffee should be of a light brown colour more or less dark with ginger coloured highlights light and uniform. The consistency of the foam must be of 3 to 4 mm, extremely smooth, and it must have a duration of at least two or three minutes, without open spaces or visible bubbles in the centre.

A light-coloured foam with visible bubbles, but with hardly any thickness and tendency to disappear quickly often is due to the problem of under extraction. A foam of dark brown colour or almost black, with a white "button" or a black hole towards the centre, with hardly any thickness and a tendency to move toward the edge quickly forming a black ring, often indicates a problem with over-extraction.
Hi Steve,

I finally had time to read this post today. I fear that I have to quibble on some small points. I suggest that the phrase "perfect espresso" could be more harmful than helpful. I suggest that perhaps a better way to say this is to say these passages from Olympia are the perfect starting point.

Here's my thinking. Tonight I pulled three shots. The first was from the newest roast -- a monkeyed Monkey Blend from Sweet Marias. I started with some Monkey Blend then added extra Ethiopian Ghimbi and Brazil Edson Mobayasu (emptying small lots of old green beans rather than trying to make a blend). It was too underdeveloped. So I returned to this weeks' Eth. Ghimbi. The first shot was quite nice if a bit past the peak. Still far better than last night's still not understood failures. But having read your Olympia passage I judged the color of my crema to be too pale. So I pushed for more extraction via heavier tamping. I got more color and darker flecks. But I also got less good taste. The clearly less perfect crema accompanied better taste. As you know I favor taste over all else.

My fear in the Olympia quote is that some will get out calipers and conclude that a pull is inferior because it has merely 2 mm of crema. Or, use a digital clock and time the crema as less than 3 minutes.

I suggest the parameters of the Olympia text are the perfect starting point but not a definition of the perfect espresso.

KS
LMWDP # 008

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espressoperson

#43: Post by espressoperson »

KarlSchneider wrote:Hi Steve,

I finally had time to read this post today. I fear that I have to quibble on some small points.
Karl,

Your ideas about lever perfection are really worth thinking (and quibbling) about. Here's my quibble...

Maybe that Olympia passage is describing the perfect shot that some lever machine user is skilled and experienced enough to pull. Maybe it's just someone's dream of a perfect shot, attainable only in a dream. However, I prefer to consider that description as the end it was intended to be rather than a start. An ideal that may never be achieved, but still an ideal to strive for.

You've got a hypothesis that there is a tradeoff between different elements of a shot and that maximizing one element may be detrimental to the other elements. A reasonable hypothesis for you to work with, but not proven. I might end up believing it too, but I won't start there. I would rather entertain an alternate hypothesis, that _ultimately_ all elements of a shot can be maximized to produce the perfect espresso. Crema! Body! Aroma! Taste! IMO having this as an exemplar may do more to lead us to the perfect espresso than having a model where only one element can be perfected or traded off at a time.

Many of us diehard LMWDPers already believe that the lever machine is capable of unbeatable excellence. The perfect espresso! Not every shot. Perhaps not most shots. But there will be shots every now and then that will make Synesso and GS3 adherents jealous! Even if seldom or ever achievable for most of us, why not have it out there drawing us to try "to reach the unreachable" shot.

I'm looking forward to seeing (and vicariously tasting) Steve's contributions to this goal of perfection, and hope to add my best efforts. I have no doubt you will have some notable successes to add to the collection. But still, I agree with you and would counsel newcomers (and remind ourselves too) to enjoy what we are capable of producing at this moment without being disappointed if it is not perfect.


(flu-bound in Seattle :-()
michaelb, lmwdp 24

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KarlSchneider

#44: Post by KarlSchneider »

espressoperson wrote: You've got a hypothesis that there is a tradeoff between different elements of a shot and that maximizing one element may be detrimental to the other elements. A reasonable hypothesis for you to work with, but not proven. I might end up believing it too, but I won't start there. I would rather entertain an alternate hypothesis, that _ultimately_ all elements of a shot can be maximized to produce the perfect espresso. Crema! Body! Aroma! Taste! IMO having this as an exemplar may do more to lead us to the perfect espresso than having a model where only one element can be perfected or traded off at a time.
Hi Michael,

Your comment here is the ideal of critical thinking and true conversation between friends. You phrase the differences perfectly. Is there a tradeoff between elements or can there be a maximization of all of them. I have had conversations with Steve on and off-line and know he is thinking about this same question. You are absolutely right that it is not decided or resolved. It is the greatest of questions. Thank you for pushing all of us to ask the real questions.

KS
LMWDP # 008

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srobinson (original poster)
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#45: Post by srobinson (original poster) »

I enjoyed the last two posts around my perfection comment. I think as all of us know, we are always searching for the perfect espresso and the elusive nature of that. The wording was that used in the Olympia manual and I thought you would enjoy their view of what their product will produce. Compared to the poor manuals that we struggle with, it is good to see one both attempting to be both educational and informative with regard to the overall espresso process. So on with the process.

I thought in this post I would focus on both the water and heating the machine in preparation of the first shot. Here again, you will find very detailed thoughts with regards to these topics in their manual. For water, Olympia states that the water should contain as little calcium as possible. They suggest 4 degrees of hardness for the water which would be the equivalent of 40 grams of chalk per 1000 liters of water. They suggest a table water filter and reference both Brita and Everpure as suitable solutions. They then suggest filling completely to the max mark on the machine with the filling facilitated by the use of their beautiful stainless steel funnel. They do not mention draining the tank, but I know that most leverheads do this on a daily basis to help minimize the risk of scaling and to ensure that fresh water is always used.

Now with regards to heating the machine, the manual states that the machine should be turned on for 10-15 minutes to ensure that all parts reach operating temperature levels. They also state that the first 2-3 shots should not be served due to parts that need to heat via circulating water.

I hate wasting coffee more than the next person and three sink shots every morning puts a bit of cramp in my style. As such I have been working on some cheats to get the machine to heat the grouphead faster and pull a fairly respectable first shot. Since there are several write-ups on lever procedures, I will not go into every minutia but will focus in a few tricks.

So the steps are simple: Fill with water, screw on the top, heat it up until initial pressure is reached, bleed the false pressure out of the steam arm and then wait for pressure to recover.

The next step that I do is a set of 6 short half pulls to quickly heat the group head. First time I showed this to Dan he had his head scratching as to how this worked, but I am simply using the basic physics of the machine to pull this off.

Let's take a look at the hydraulic diagram for the machine:

Image

You will notice that there are two inlets into the grouphead. One port when the handle is down which allows water to come in on top of the piston and the second one which allows water to enter the grouphead when the handle is raised. Thus the half pulls allow you to circulate hot boiler water on top of the piston to quickly heat the head. I have been doing 4-6 until the group rim is hot to the touch then do a flush shot which I use to also heat my cup and then go into my routine for the first shot. This technique will give you a first shot good enough for caps and you second shot will be right on the money.
Steve Robinson

LMWDP #001

Cappa1

#46: Post by Cappa1 »

Amazing info here.........feel like I just checked into to a Cremina thesis presentation! Beautiful review Steve.........I couldn't thank you more for all the detail-

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KarlSchneider

#47: Post by KarlSchneider »

srobinson wrote:I am probably the only lever-addict in the US with this in their kitchen:

<image>
More than two years after Steve posted the picture that begins this thread of his beautifully restored 67 Cremina next to a 2002 Cremina I find in my kitchen:



I acquired the 67 Cremina almost 1-1/2 years ago. The Millenium (the first of the 2002's) Cremina just arrived. I will post some notes as I explore these side-by-side.

KS
LMWDP # 008

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KarlSchneider

#48: Post by KarlSchneider »

Here is the ID plate from my "new" machine.



No name of the individual maker. I like the added names on the newer ones.

# 0073 turned out to be in astonishing condition. The seller said it had been used 15 times. It could not have been used much more given its perfect shape. I had decided that I would never find a used one and had sent my 67 off to get all its seals replaced etc. by a friend who is an expert. While it was away this one appeared and I took the plunge. As I said in my Lusso commentary, once again Heraclitus' "Expect the unexpected" rings true.

KS
LMWDP # 008

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KarlSchneider

#49: Post by KarlSchneider »

Steve commented on his preference for the older style cut away pf spouts. The Millenium came with both the cut away spout and the double spout the newer 2002's seem to have. I am trying out the newer style that Steve had. One thing I like is that when flushing the group to warm things up or for cleaning after use the "dropped-spouts" do splash far less water all over the place than does the cut away one on my 67.

Another slight difference I note. The new pf lets all the baskets I use easily drop in and be lifted out without any prying needed. My 67's pf requires slight screwdriver-leverage to remove the Elektra double baskets I use for morning Americanos. Those baskets also require leverage to remove them from the Elektra pf. Since I dose and tamp into separate filter baskets for each pull this is a plus for my routine.

KS
LMWDP # 008

zin1953

#50: Post by zin1953 »

FWIW, the basket just drops in/out of the PF for my Olympia Caffarex (b. 1989).
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.