Is the La Cimbali Junior too difficult for the average home user? - Page 2

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HB
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#11: Post by HB »

Compass Coffee wrote:This is not meant in any way condescending but simply acknowledging different people have different strengths. Having hosted numerous Gathering and Jams over the last 5 years I've observed some people struggle and continue to struggle year after year where others find it easy to pick up.
Perhaps it's a matter of the instructions or the instructor. Brew temperature management can be reduced to rote learning; Bob Yellin's three step "keep it simple" instructions documented in the Andreja Premium review and elsewhere will satisfy most people. More challenging problems, like diagnosing taste flaws, aren't easily reduced to a flow chart. My concern is that readers may conclude double boiler = no brew temperature worries = effortless exceptional espresso. As I (re)learned in One week with the La Marzocco GS3, that simply isn't true.
Dan Kehn

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timo888

#12: Post by timo888 »

HB wrote:My concern is that readers may conclude double boiler = no brew temperature worries = effortless exceptional espresso. As I (re)learned in One week with the La Marzocco GS3, that simply isn't true.
HB re the GS3 wrote:Down, down, down went the temperature as we retried shot after shot... 198F... 197F... 196F... 195?!? At that temperature, the ashiness was nearly gone, the espresso the most pleasant of the series. But c'mon, we asked each other, this temperature readout can't be right, can it? A few minutes with the thermofilter confirmed a three degree offset between brewhead temperature and displayed temperature.
Knowing the right temperature to use requires barista experience, i.e. knowledge of how a roast responds to temperature. Setting the GS3 to that temperature seemed quite effortless, once you learned the offset between displayed boiler and actual brewhead temperature.

Now try a Gedankenexperiment with an unPID'ed Cimbali to find the point at which the ashiness goes away... and then, the next day, consistently pull shots that have no ashiness.

Which is more likely to mislead Grasshopper, playing up the ease a double-boiler brings to temperature management, or playing down the cooling flush ... :?:

Regards
Timo

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HB
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#13: Post by HB »

timo888 wrote:Which is more likely to mislead Grasshopper, playing up the ease a double-boiler brings to temperature management, or playing down the cooling flush ...
I think we're in near violent agreement: The brew temperature of a double boiler is indisputably easier to manage than an HX's cooling flushes. However, returning to the original poster's question, the importance of brew temperature management skills compared to other important skills is reflected in the Cimbali Junior conclusion:
Junior is a dream heat exchanger: Nothing short of a dual boiler could claim a simpler routine of temperature management... On the other hand, producing an exceptional extraction with Junior proved more challenging; flaws in my technique were revealed with painful clarity.
As I've stated before, I think the difficulty of HX temperature management is often overstated. It is a bit of a hassle, like a stick-shift car. But like a stick-shift, you really don't notice it unless you're frequently stuck in stop-n-go traffic. The thread Questions about La Valentina is noteworthy because it documents randomperson's journey from decision-making to post-purchase. I believe her experience is representative of the HX versus dual boiler decision.

As to the GS3, it's worth noting my conclusion in the same post you quoted above:
HB wrote:The lesson we learned tonight: Comfort in digital readouts is false comfort. Our tastebuds were yelling the answer and we ignored their calls because an LCD display said it wasn't so. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." :oops:
Dan Kehn

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jesawdy

#14: Post by jesawdy »

To the OP, Cimbali quality is probably second to no one, "bulletproof" as stated, well laid out and thought through for easy service. Unique parts and electronic bits can be very expensive, that quality and reliability comes at a price.

Also, I know you said 'no' to the thermocouple, but Eric's newest Silvia TC adapter and a properly-sized TC could easily be added. There is an M6 screw at the "nose" of the grouphead (see the diagram below).
HB wrote:On the other hand, producing an exceptional extraction with Junior proved more challenging; flaws in my technique were revealed with painful clarity.
Dan, I am curious to know if a Cimbali Junior landed on your doorstep today, do you think it would still reveal flaws in your technique? Do you think it is that unforgiving, or had you simply developed some bad habits that did not reveal themselves on a machine with E61-style preinfusion?

I have not used the M21 Junior, but I have used the bigger brother M32, the grouphead design is a touch different (I think it is a bit bigger), but the HX design is identical. Granted that my M32 is used and may not be performing as stock (in fact it is not even operational at the moment), but I did not find it to be very unforgiving. Here's a cross section of the M30:


la Cimbali M30-series grouphead cross section

Does anyone know if the M21 grouphead design has the same expansion area (the cavity just above G, the 3-way solenoid valve). I assume that this cavity is used to attenuate the brew water, instead of "slamming" into the puck. Does anyone agree or disagree?
Ken Fox wrote:All of the above having been said, the stock Cimbali D is now, in my opinion, becoming a dated design and could use a little refreshing. Hopefully this will happen soon, although I have heard nothing about changes being made imminently.
What specifically do you feel is dated about the design? Aesthetics? If it makes good coffee, it makes good coffee. I'll give you that the pressurestat is way too expensive and the deadband over time may be less than desirable.
Jeff Sawdy

Ken Fox

#15: Post by Ken Fox »

jesawdy wrote:To the OP, Cimbali quality is probably second to no one, "bulletproof" as stated, well laid out and thought through for easy service.



What specifically do you feel is dated about the design? Aesthetics? If it makes good coffee, it makes good coffee. I'll give you that the pressurestat is way too expensive and the deadband over time may be less than desirable.
It absolutely makes good coffee, no doubt about that, and the appearance will look good in many nice kitchens. I'm not exactly sure what is that "cavity" you refer to above "G." There are some models where there is a water stream that goes above the group for cooling off the group head; this water does not mix with the water used for making espresso, it is rather like a mini heat exchanger for cooling off the group head. It is not plumbed in or connected in the Junior, although I believe that the threads are present in the group head itself. I think this is because all the group heads are the same in the Cimbali "traditional" machines, just they are not all plumbed in the same way. I have discussed this with Michael Teahan at some time in the past and we concluded that it could not be utilized in the Junior even though the threads are present. I hope I am discussing what you were referring to, Jeff.

Getting back to your questions, I would like to see electronic temperature control in the boiler and some sort of pre-infusion. In the stock configuration, I find it much less forgiving than my old vibe machine, and this can be fixed either electronically as I have done (although in a more sophisticated fashion) or via some slight plumbing changes. A design that works well with a vibe pump, with its normally slow pressure ramp up, should not be taken exactly as it was before and simply have a rotary pump put in place of the vibe pump, which I believe is basically what they have done.

When the machine was designed, no one was using bottomless portafilters. Now in the era of bottomless portafilters, one can see how much channeling one is getting, and you get a lot with the current rotary Junior unless your technique is consistently very good. The e61 design, and apparently that of the Electras, is much more foregiving.

The Junior is being sold for residential use in North America. As such, it should be easier to use. The unforgiving rotary pressure ramp up is one issue, but so is the shot temperature control. Having electronic temperature control would go part of the way to fixing this, but also having some instructions on flushing and perhaps a programmable button designated specifically for flushing, would help. This machine was never really designed for home use, but is being used this way, and as such it could use some changes, such as I have listed, to make it more suitable for use by the home baristas who are buying this undeniably excellent commercial machine.

Finally, there were never so many other choices in machines one could put in a home, as there are now. If the Cimbali Junior is going to compete in the high end marketplace, with its rather lofty sales price, it is going to have to be made more user friendly and more easily adjustable, than it is now

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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jesawdy

#16: Post by jesawdy »

Ken Fox wrote:It absolutely makes good coffee, no doubt about that, and the appearance will look good in many nice kitchens. I'm not exactly sure what is that "cavity" you refer to above "G." There are some models where there is a water stream that goes above the group for cooling off the group head; this water does not mix with the water used for making espresso, it is rather like a mini heat exchanger for cooling off the group head. It is not plumbed in or connected in the Junior, although I believe that the threads are present in the group head itself. I think this is because all the group heads are the same in the Cimbali "traditional" machines, just they are not all plumbed in the same way. I have discussed this with Michael Teahan at some time in the past and we concluded that it could not be utilized in the Junior even though the threads are present. I hope I am discussing what you were referring to, Jeff....
Ken, does the M21 grouphead look like this?


Cimbali M30-series grouphead

The "cooling" connection you refer to, I think is the unused through-hole seen toward the top middle. I never ascertained if this was for a water pre-heat or grouphead cool-down, but I guess it would or could do both :D . This is unused pn my machine. I think this is used in the larger multigroup M30-series machines.

The "cavity" or chamber I am referring to is in the brew path, on the coffee-side? (HX-side? EDIT - I better double check that, the line drawing above is not to scale and now I wonder if it is even accurate) of the 3-way valve. In the pic above, the 3-way solenoid valve is mounted on the side. The large allen headed fitting below the group is an access port to this "cavity" in the grouphead. I assume the fitting is there so that they can machine this chamber into the group when manufactured and possibly for access and cleaning a fouled brewpath. I do have more pics at home if interested.
Finally, there were never so many other choices in machines one could put in a home, as there are now. If the Cimbali Junior is going to compete in the high end marketplace, with its rather lofty sales price, it is going to have to be made more user friendly and more easily adjustable, than it is now.
OK, agreed. While I think it is mostly bells and whistles, and a little bit of hype, I suspect the US market needs that (or at least we think we do). I am admittedly a gadget freak.
Jeff Sawdy

Ken Fox

#17: Post by Ken Fox »

jesawdy wrote:
Ken, does the M21 grouphead look like this?
Hi Jeff,

Although I have removed the group heads from both of my machines, it has been a year and unfortunately I did not take pictures. My house is getting cleaned right now and I'm not really in the mood to disassemble my machines now :P however I do have this picture of the rotary machine's group taken from the top, plus my recollections:



As you can see, the group head is more or less the same but the plumbing is different. Like your machine, the threaded path on top is not used. Unlike yours, the port on the front at the top, which is just in front of the boiler, is not patent, it is closed off. In the case of your machine, the white plastic injector goes in through this hole on top which is sealed on my machine.

In my machines, the white plastic thing screws in directly into a fitting on the inside part of the back of where the group screws on (with 4 screws, top two visualized in my photo) to the boiler. This picture which is not from my machines, but which I found on a website a while ago, shows the arrangement:



So, the tube's water path is from the side and not from the top. The white plastic injector fits inside the heat exchanger that looks like this, alongside the white plastic injector, in this photo of actual parts removed from my old vibe Junior, which if memory serves is identical to what I found in my M21 Junior:




I will leave it to you to speculate on what the heat exchanger in the picture might resemble :P

In summary, I think the design of the heads is the same but the plumbing is slightly different.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

T.J.

#18: Post by T.J. »

Hello Again Everyone,

Although I don't want to address every single issue within this thread, I thought I'd address certain points specifically:

1. In an effort to bring our factory and design closer to our customers, we have indeed opened a North American office in Chicago.

2. The M-21 Junior has lost the name "Junior" and will simply be known henceforth as the M-21.

3. We will re-style this unit and add certain components to increase the barista friendliness of this machine.

4. As a response to the enthusiasm expressed on this site toward the Cimbali MAX grinder we are currently working on creating a new style grinder with Cimbali Junior attributes while also including the Conical Burrs of the Cimbali MAX.

5. Unlike manufacturers who utilize dual boiler systems, we at Cimbali continue to believe in Pre-infusion via steam and consider our HX system to be the best available on the market. We have found several drawbacks to the dual boiler system and have thoroughly researched and documented them in an effort to truly define optimal brew parameters for Espresso. While we find that dual boiler systems available in LM's and the Spaziale S/1 are quite thermo-balanced, we also find that they are stable but RIGID. This rigidity, while offering a fairly consistent brew on single short espresso drinks, also leads to over extraction on long drinks, double and triple shot drinks. We also find that the odor and taste of stale water that emanates from dual boiler systems is not an attribute concerning taste. Data will eventually be published in coffee journals this year through the I.N.E.I. and S.C.A.A. along with several other sources to document optimal brew characteristics.
In the dual boiler systems we employ for our super-automatics, we have them purge stale water on a consistent basis while also keeping them as small as possible so that the boiler water is always being "refreshed"....you do not find this technology on any standard dual boiler home or commercial espresso machine and that is one reason why they are not popular abroad.

Thank you all for your enthusiasm....I hope to keep you posted of any new information we may have to share with you.

T.J. Tarateta
T.J. Tarateta
G.M. Ammirati Imports
La Cimbali

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timo888

#19: Post by timo888 »

T.J. wrote: We also find that the odor and taste of stale water that emanates from dual boiler systems is not an attribute concerning taste.
I thought the La Spaziale had a 450ml (i.e. rather small) boiler. How is it that so little water becomes stale?

Regards

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Compass Coffee
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#20: Post by Compass Coffee »

timo888 wrote:I thought the La Spaziale had a 450ml (i.e. rather small) boiler. How is it that so little water becomes stale?

Regards
Tim Romano
Maybe if only pulling one single shot a day with very low volume pre & post shot flushes? Otherwise I highly doubt it would be an issue with the Vivaldi. Quite certain it wouldn't be with my home usage rate! However it could be an issue in home use for some with a larger brew boiler like Brewtus.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com