Faema Baby Faemina crema caffè, the 1960s pour-over manual lever documentation

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Jan 13, 2012, 2:31 pm

I was so lucky and saw this Baby recently, and just couldn't pass it up! So here it is! It is very retro hand lever machine that is so simple and that suits my quest for simplicity. A piston with lever to push hot water through coffee puck, literally, who would have thought of that? :P Did I mention it is petite(and light) and is a good candidate for portability? It appears to be pretty rare and I can hardly find any info on using it.

How it works
First, you push the levers up, which will pull the piston up. Then you pour hot water onto compacted coffee bed, protected by a showerscreen tamper, inside the filter basket. Note to pour the hot water with the basket in the holder as not to burn yourself. Insert the portafilter. Next, pull the lever down, and the piston will be guided down into the filter basket, sealing it and creating pressure. Slowly apply pressure and you will get rewarded accordingly.

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One nice thing that I see in this machine is that you could use very good quality fresh water to make the coffee. No compromise by using softer water for the fear of scale. Just boil/microwave a small amount of fresh water each time you make the coffee. Another advantage is low maintaince needed. There's no descaling needed as mentioned. Just lube the piston occasionally with Dow 111. Very easy because of the exposed piston, no need to disassemble anything. Not many parts as well, the most likely part to fail is probably it's operator failure (hand strain and such)

The only problem it has, in my opinion, is the temperature management. Because it's a open system, the heat loss could be quite significant. I find that using off-boil water works wonder. And if you use immediately boiled water, you could get a slightly burnt taste indicating too high of a brew temp (with a darker roast, yet to try with other coffee). So far though, I find that it's quite forgiving with the temperature. I've only get miserable shots when the grind is too coarse or dose is too low,yielding weak coffee. It requires fairly finer than both pump machine and Cremina. You can dose up to 20-25g if you want, no worry about hitting the shower screen :P But I normally stay between 15-18g.

Here're some photos
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At the side of Cremina
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The showerscreen tamper and the long basket. Notice the slope at the bottom
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See how the piston fits nicely into the long basket:
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Pharos Baby combination: Welcome to manual's world.
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Sometimes the coffee puck can stick nicely to the tamper showerscreen, which eases cleaning and removal. But I can't replicate this at will.
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If everything is done right, you get nice looking shots like this.(Maybe a tad lighter because of lower temp I supposed)
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Crema that lingers forever, indistinguishable from the crema from Cremina and Crossland CC1
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Here's a video, the grind was too fine though. Will upload a better one when I got more time to shoot.



More info:
The inner basket wall is about 57mm and it slopes down to about 48mm at the bottom. I normally dose 15-18gram coffee, can go way up. Mine is probably the third version according to http://www.francescoceccarelli.eu/faema.htm.

I've found one thread talking about it not delivering enough pressure for espresso. How can I verify that? I got results that I thought actually have decent crema and very good body, except that I haven't been able to get 90% crema throughout the pull. The crema was very oily and lasts for a long time too, very similar with the shots from Cremina and Crossland.

Conclusion
Overall, I think Baby Faemina can be a very decent setup for manual espresso purists. It's so simple and take very little space. If only there're more of these floating around...

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Whale

Postby Whale » Jan 13, 2012, 10:08 pm

Great little guy!
Thanks for posting this. I had seen this machine before and dismissed it not understanding how it worked. Now that I know, I regret letting my opportunity go.
LMWDP #330

Be thankful for the small mercies in life.

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sorrentinacoffee

Postby sorrentinacoffee » Jan 13, 2012, 11:41 pm

these are great- I love the 50's rocket ship styling. Have you seen the modern version- the Presso? It works quite a bit better... but is basically the same device with some functional improvements. Not as pretty though...

On your machine was the seal OK? Usually they have shrunk with age and cannot be used...

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Jan 14, 2012, 1:01 am

Whale wrote:Great little guy!
Thanks for posting this. I had seen this machine before and dismissed it not understanding how it worked. Now that I know, I regret letting my opportunity go.

Thanks Whale! Hope you did enjoy reading it. It is indeed a great little guy.

sorrentinacoffee wrote:these are great- I love the 50's rocket ship styling. Have you seen the modern version- the Presso? It works quite a bit better... but is basically the same device with some functional improvements. Not as pretty though...

On your machine was the seal OK? Usually they have shrunk with age and cannot be used...


I did read about Presso prior to this, but there seems to be some problem with them. Like the air in the piston, causing faux crema and suboptimal pressure build-up. And also the plastic piston face or something that could crack and spit boiling water to the operator's face. Nasty. And also there were stories about broken arm. These were the few reasons that made me stop looking for Presso. Did they manage to fix those eventually?

Surprisingly, my seal was okay. It is useable, no leaking even with very high pressure(in the video, I was almost using all the energy I could muster to press it, ground too fine)... but it is also not very perfect. There is a part of the piston seal's lip that was curved/bent previously. It could flip onto the wrong side and leaks(during the process of piston going into the basket, it won't flip once it's properly seated in the basket), especially with the piston's tendency to tilt sideway when pushed down. So, if I reposition the curved part to the center, it would work okay. No water leaking and such. *touch wood* But if it leaks, I could raise the lever and try to reposition the piston. Very annoying though. So if possible I would like to get a new replacement seal.

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sorrentinacoffee

Postby sorrentinacoffee » Jan 16, 2012, 12:35 am

not sure if those issues have been resolved with the Presso or no- but I have used them (without issue) and they work very well- the valve system is a big improvement over the Faemina- and the presso makes real crema- very nice. but likely it is not as robust as the Baby. Orphanespress sold a seal- not sure if they still do- it would be great if someone could get some made- yours would be a good candidate to copy- most I have seen are much more damaged/old/shrunk. If you can get some made I will buy 10 off you at least!

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jsolanzo

Postby jsolanzo » Jan 19, 2012, 3:41 pm

Sam, I hate you.
Now I want one so bad!
LMWDP #355

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Jan 19, 2012, 7:04 pm

sorrentinacoffee wrote:not sure if those issues have been resolved with the Presso or no- but I have used them (without issue) and they work very well- the valve system is a big improvement over the Faemina- and the presso makes real crema- very nice. but likely it is not as robust as the Baby. Orphanespress sold a seal- not sure if they still do- it would be great if someone could get some made- yours would be a good candidate to copy- most I have seen are much more damaged/old/shrunk. If you can get some made I will buy 10 off you at least!



I think OE does have some of the seals left in their inventory. Its too bad though it's not exactly the same seal and that we can't get the OEM seal from Faema anymore. It shouldn't be so difficult to make one either, at least not with rocket science technology, these are from 1950s. :P

I agree about the robust part. If Presso doesn't use any plastic in them, I would definitely consider them heavily. This Baby is tough as tank!

jsolanzo wrote:Sam, I hate you.
Now I want one so bad!


Hahaha.. :P Be patient, they will come out once a while *I guess*.

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Jan 19, 2012, 7:10 pm

Here're more pictures :lol:

Baby got all stripped down..
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I am tempted to paint the body to a Ferarri Red but too bad I don't have much confidence in undertaking that. :P

The washer was bent. I wondered how it happened or was it intended that way..
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Nice looking shot :P
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After sipping
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timo888

Postby timo888 » Jan 28, 2012, 6:35 pm

Corroboration: in my experience, the shots tend to run cool because of heat loss. So I pre-heat the filter and filter-holder in a pyrex measuring cup full of boiling water. This technique yields a good espresso.

The machine can produce delicious lungos and caffe cremas and Americanos, especially if the roast/bean is sweet as it cools. The filter holds several ounces.

The machine is well-suited to single-origin delicacies.

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sorrentinacoffee

Postby sorrentinacoffee » Jan 16, 2013, 10:28 am

i have to revive this ancient thread for an update- and apology: I finally found one of these with a working seal! Whilst I was correct that in theory this machine is less functional than the Presso: in practice it is more functional! Tamped with a 58mm tamper- fine ground 4 day post roasts- peruvian/new guinea blend: first go- AWESOME long shot- loads of persistent crema- good pressure- sweet chocolatey taste with no burnt flavors. These machines are Faema GEMS!

I didn't preheat the basket or handle- the alloy is so light I don't imagine they would hold much heat for long? I simply poured boiling water direct from the whistling kettle: locked, loaded, and grabbed those two levers. Squish.... perfect espresso. And the less the shot was not too cold.

Someone needs to make replica replacement seals for them (Kurt? You onto it?)- there are quite a few machines floating around reduced to display pieces when they could be in fruitful service. This has to be one of the simplest true home espresso makers out there- and certainly the most space age...