James Hoffmann Review: The Olympia Cremina

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#1: Post by IamOiman »

I have never had a Cremina but James Hoffmann checks it out and introduces it to an audience much broader than what is traditionally observed. I thought it was interesting to see him describe a manual lever machine from what I already know considering I started my espresso journey there. He tests it out with the Naked Espresso pressure profiler. I think for kicks he should get a Pavoni and compares the two with heat stability and build quality. At the end he likes the fact it takes some skill to use the machine and enjoys the more hands on approach, which is why I got a Pavoni as my first machine for literally a twelfth the price of a Cremina.

So do you think a new machine merits a price that costs more than what I paid for my Bosco :lol: ?
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#2: Post by foam2 »

I enjoyed the review and appreciate the simplicity of design for levers but the price is a little tough. It looks great and I can see why people like lever machines - I may go down that rabbit hole next.


#3: Post by CoffeeCoffeeCoffee »

I own one and I am more than happy with it. I totally agree with James. Using this machine brings me endless pleasure.

Besides making excellent espresso, you have to factor in that it is a beautiful object that will last for decades. There are many machines that make good espresso but they often lack one (or both) of the two latter qualities.
The only criteria that really matters is how much you enjoy your coffee


#4: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

Does anyone think Hoffman is overly dramatic with his characterizations about espresso being a 'hobby' and '30 minutes?'

I can pull a shot in less than 90 seconds after walking into the kitchen. Wifey won't do pour over, she prefers to pull shots, because she doesn't want to 'mess with all that.' I guess pour over can be a hobby too.


#5: Post by wachuko replying to thirdcrackfourthwave »

We have been assimilated... we do not see it as others do... :D My friends that are not into this "hobby", look at me weird and say, "nah, that is just too much work"

I really enjoyed the video. Having a La Pavoni, when looking for the next machine, the cost of the La Cremina was just too hard for me to go for it.... But it looks gorgeous. And when you see it next to other machines is when you realize how compact/small it is.
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#6: Post by Stanford55 »

I think it's impossible to be overly dramatic about anything related to espresso; however, when you look at it objectively, from a non-coffee drinker's perspective, the histrionics we go through in making a good cup is patently ridiculous :mrgreen:
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Randy G.

#7: Post by Randy G. »

In the 19½ years that I have been 'doing' espresso I would say one of the ten best shots I have ever had was one I pulled on a Cremina. I will add that at that time it was the only manual lever shot I had ever pulled. The portafilter was dosed and tamped by the owner, but still.. My years of experience did allow me to easily regulate the extraction and thus the flow to create a 'proper' espresso. But the setup he was using would cost around $5,500 (scale, pressure transducer, cremina, and the grinder). I think for a number of reasons that this would be a great last setup as opposed to a first. You would not only better appreciate the craft, but a lot of the possible frustration of a manual lever would be eliminated if one has the experience of a pump machine to draw from.
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#8: Post by civ »

IamOiman wrote: ... merits a price that costs more than what I paid for my Bosco ...
Hmm ...
In one word?


Of course and as always, it all depends.
Many will ask: on what?

Well ...
On a myriad of things, far too many to even ponder them.

A great deal of them probably ascribable to the eventual buyer's idiosyncrasy, mind set or whatever it is that defines them.
Which is why YMMV is one of my favourite US-english acronyms.

Now, if I had both the cash and the willingness to spend that kind on money on an espresso machine, be sure that a Cremina would not even be on my list, I already have a couple of vintage Pavonis that make great espresso.

I'd go looking for a restorable vintage lever like the ones Paul Pratt works on, single lever Faemas being my first choice.



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#9: Post by IamOiman (original poster) »

civ wrote: I'd go looking for a restorable vintage lever like the ones Paul Pratt works on, single lever Faemas being my first choice.
It's a good thing I gravitate towards two group levers, less competition between us!
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#10: Post by RyanP »

I look at the Cremina the same way I look at titanium bicycles. You buy it because you can afford it, you like the way it looks, you like the way it works, it makes you happy, and makes you want to use it every day. Are there other options out there that can produce the same or even better results for less money? Sure, but that's not why you own one. Anyway, the Cremina was not that machine for me. It made good espresso, but there was nothing special about it to me, and even areas that I felt it was lacking. But, I own two ti bikes, so I get it :mrgreen: