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?
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.
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
But I normally stay between 15-18g.
Here're some photos
At the side of Cremina
The showerscreen tamper and the long basket. Notice the slope at the bottom
See how the piston fits nicely into the long basket:
Pharos Baby combination: Welcome to manual's world.
Sometimes the coffee puck can stick nicely to the tamper showerscreen, which eases cleaning and removal. But I can't replicate this at will.
If everything is done right, you get nice looking shots like this.(Maybe a tad lighter because of lower temp I supposed)
Crema that lingers forever, indistinguishable from the crema from Cremina and Crossland CC1
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...