La Cimbali Max Grinder - a first look

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#1: Post by jesawdy »

Well, I am a sucker for gear and I happened to be cruising eBay briefly late one evening, and before I knew it, I had purchased one of these:

La Cimbali Max grinder

As you may or may not already know, I am interested in La Cimbali machines (for no particular reason), and I have a La Cimbali M32 Bistro single-group commercial machine (also from a late night eBay cruising :) ). In addition, I have the La Cimbali Junior grinder, which I think is a great machine. The Cimbali Junior grinder plays second fiddle to the Mazzer Mini a bit too much IMHO (admittedly, the Mazzer Mini is perhaps a bit more of a "looker")

Did I need this grinder? No. Did I want to see what it was all about? Most definitely.

This particular grinder is a bit of an oddity, since it would appear that very few are imported into the US. The unique feature of this grinder is that it uses a combination conical and flat burr very much like the Versalab M3. Otherwise, as you can tell from the picture it is very similar to the La Cimbali Junior grinder.

Here are the tech specs from the La Cimbali website:
Body - Silver version
Grinding - start and stop automatic
Motor - Single-phase
Motor output (W) - 300
Grinding stones - Flat - conic
Grinding stones' diameter (mm - in) - 64 - 2.5"
Output per hour (approx. kg -lb.) - 7,5 - 16.5
Coffee beans' hopper capacity (approx. Kg - lb) - 1 - 2.2
Height x Depth x Width (mm - in) - 470x360x225 - 18.5"x14.2"x8.9"
The machine's main differences from the La Cimbali Junior grinder (apart from the burr design) are the hopper capacity (2.2 lbs vs. 1.65 lbs), the height (18.5 inches vs. 17 inches) and the automatic start/stop feature for filling the doser (a bad thing). Motor power, the doser design, the case, the doser forks, the grinds catch tray, the hopper lid, etc. are all identical between the two grinders. There are a few other subtle differences that I will touch on later.

I have had the Max grinder for a week today and will post some more details about this grinder, in particular how it compares (favorably and unfavorably, in design mostly) against the Junior grinder.
Jeff Sawdy

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#2: Post by jesawdy »

The biggest drawback of the La Cimbali Max grinder for a home barista, is its height. At 18.5 inches, the grinder is a bit of a pig. This is not going to work in too many kitchens. Another drawback, also related to height, is the non-removable hopper. Unlike the Mazzer Super Jolly, or the Mazzer Major, you're not going to just remove the hopper, and pour your beans down the grinder's throat. Many folks just remove the Mazzer hoppers, and get down to 14-16 inches pretty simply.

The Junior is much more refined in this area. Even with a very commodious 1.65 lb hopper (short and squat), at 17" inches, it should find its' way under the majority of upper kitchen cabinets.

Junior versus Max - Junior on the Left, Max on the right

Junior, just shy of 17 inches

Max, right at 18.5 inches (up or down, on my 37 inch rule :) )
Jeff Sawdy

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#3: Post by zix »

interesting! If I may ask, where did you buy your grinder?

The hopper is supposedly possible to unscrew. Is this so?
LMWDP #047

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Team HB

#4: Post by cannonfodder »

Jeff got it from eBay, a Chris Coffee special. He sends me an email letting me know about this awesome buy it now deal on the Max, then twenty minutes later send me another email letting me know it was too good a deal to pass up and he grabbed it. :( Rub salt in that wound, but hey, I got my A3, he he he... :twisted:
Dave Stephens

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#5: Post by zix »

A fast boy! rrrhhhh.... I have been searching ebay USA, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and so on for the past month or so, and never saw this. Not that it would have made any difference, I am on the wrong side of the pond for ordering from chriscoffee anyway, so maybe it was just as well that I didn't see it.

Anyway... somewhat larger doser too, it seems? Does it sweep clean?
LMWDP #047


#6: Post by quar »

How hard is it going to be to get new burrs?


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#7: Post by jesawdy »

zix wrote:interesting! If I may ask, where did you buy your grinder?

The hopper is supposedly possible to unscrew. Is this so?
As Dave said, it was an eBay find. The grinder wasn't directly from Chris' Coffee, but it was resold via Chris, and came from someone that buys up equipment from closed shops. At this time, Chris has not imported any of these grinders.

The hopper is removed via three screws within the hopper. Unfortunately, you are left with a rather unsightly view into the grinder housing. The exposed throat is very short, and an extension tube would be needed if you wanted to feed beans on a per shot basis.

Wait for some more pics for details on the hopper (and the doser),
Jeff Sawdy

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#8: Post by jesawdy »

quar wrote:How hard is it going to be to get new burrs?
Mike, I haven't looked yet. They may end up being special order items (and perhaps a long wait), but I THINK the flat burrs will be easily sourced. The conicals, perhaps not so easy. That being said, the concial burrs in this grinder are crushing only and not shearing, so they should last a very long time. Burr pictures coming soon.
Jeff Sawdy

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#9: Post by jesawdy »

Okay, here is a look inside the Cimbali Max. I have removed the hopper, and we are looking at the grinder throat, the top black ring is the grind indicator ring. To the far left, you can just see one of the three tabs that the hopper screws go into. The hopper screws extend through the hopper and attach to the front left, rear center, and front right of the housing.

Cimabli Max, grinder throat, black is grind setting indicator ring

The above picture captures one of my complaints with both the Junior and the Max grinder. What's up with all those beans sitting on the ring? They're stuck there for the most part, not too likely to make it to the grinders throat. This is an area for improvement in the hopper design. Also, this picture shows what you'd be looking at with the hopper removed.... little to no throat, and exposed housing, motor, wiring and capacitors.

Okay, remove the three screws and we can remove the indicator ring to expose the worm gear-driven adjustment ring.

Cimbali Max, adjustment ring and worm gear

Pop off the adjustment ring, and we see the top burr and burr carrier.

Cimbali Max, top burr installed

Unscrew the top burr and burr carrier to expose the bottom burrs.

Cimbali Max, conical center burr and flat bottom burr

I am happy with the small amount of grind retained around the outer perimeter of the bottom burr. This seems a touch better than the Junior, but will need more run through it to see what accumulates.
Jeff Sawdy

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#10: Post by jesawdy »

I don't have any direct experience with the Versalab M3 grinder, but the burr sets are similar, but not identical.... The Max center conical has 8 points, the M3 has 6, the Max outer conical has 12 points, the M3 has 15. The flat burrs appear to be the same on both.

To compare the Max and the M3 grinders is a little silly... beyond the burr set, there are no real comparisons between these two grinders. The Versalab has a very unique grind distribution and doserless design. The Max is like any other doser design grinder out there. The grinds are still pushed out a chute and fall into the doser. How well are the grinds thrown, pushed, or extruded out the grinder chute? It is too early to comment on that yet.

Cimbali Max, top conical burr

Cimbali Max, top flat burr

Cimbali Max, center conical and bottom flat burrs

Compare these to the Versalab M3 burrs (from Abe's review):

M3 burr set

M3 top flat burr

M3 lower burr set
Jeff Sawdy