My Olympia Cremina & ungrade-itis

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
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CrabRangoon

Postby CrabRangoon » Feb 07, 2018, 10:28 pm

Hey all, I realize this kind of post may look like it better belongs in the Buying Advice sub-forum, but I feel that it really belongs discussed amongst this particular community. If mods feel it should be moved, I'm not offended and so be it. I am not looking to start a flame war, nor pit proud owners of X against proud owners of Y. I would love to know how other lever folks feel, and their experiences and opinions of the machines I have on my mind in regards to perhaps replacing my Cremina.

I got my Cremina in late 2014 and paired it with my NS Mythos in early 2015. I enjoy the Cremina, but inevitably always wondered "what's next?" in regards to what may eventually take it's place. (I also enjoy my Mythos, but I know that a Monolith is likely to take it's place this year.) Anyhow, I've fitted my machine with a 2011+ Teflon boiler:group gasket, an MCaL basket, bottomless Penney PF, 2011+ steam wand and a Spiroline Foam Knife tip. I have a new set of OE silicone gaskets in the mail currently and would like to get a Naked pressure gauge kit for it this year if I ultimately keep it.

The Cremina is amazingly tidy and takes up so little kitchen space, people rarely notice an espresso machine compared to the giant grinder. I work in the coffee industry and I do love the magical charm it seems to have on others who've never seen nor used a lever machine. The only thing driving me to wish for a change/"upgrade" seems to be the wish for faster drink-making & workflow and maybe the whole grass-is-always-greener of a machine I don't own.

I've always had my eye on the Linea Mini, and when seeking a lower cost option eventually considered the Londinium R. I'd love to hear from people who've owned a Cremina and one of these, but I do realize it's a bit too apples-to-oranges to compare them as direct competitors in either case. The L-R is especially tricky for me to form an opinion on because the owners seem quite proud while non-owners often seem to focus conversations on Reiss or his forum, less on the machine. I can't even tell if it would feel like an upgrade from the Cremina in my daily life, beyond giving me the 58mm portafilter and all the wonderful tamper/distributor options that come with that size.

Sorry to make this so long, I'll leave it at that for now. Please weigh in as you see fit, as my wallet and my wife would both surely love the most cost effective option - keeping my Cremina and possibly fitting a Naked kit to it :)
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ilVecchio

Postby ilVecchio » Feb 07, 2018, 10:57 pm

I went through a number of pump driven machines prior to owning my Cremina. I feel no need for upgrade of any kind.

RockyIII

Postby RockyIII » Feb 08, 2018, 12:05 am

Randy,

I've owned a number of espresso machines, including a Londinium I, a La Marzocco Linea Mini, and now a Cremina. They are all great machines, but I believe my shots on the Cremina are as good or better than shots I have made on other machines. It is no speed demon, but I don't mind the process. I love it for the manual lever and sheer simplicity of design.

Only you can decide if you want to try something new. There is nothing wrong with that, and these machines all have different features to appeal to different people with different tastes and needs. Another thing about the Cremina that appeals to me is that if I decide to try a different machine, it is small enough that I can just drain the boiler and put it on a shelf, which I would not want to do with a much larger and more complicated machine.

Rocky

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TomC
Team HB

Postby TomC » Feb 08, 2018, 12:15 am

I'd probably part with my Cremina dead last if I truly needed espresso in my life. I'm not under any sort of delusion that magic springs forth from it's group. It's just simple, easy to use, and very well made. I've "accidentally" made better shots on the Cremina on my first attempt with a new coffee that I had problems dialing in on a different machine. So, in my opinion, the results in the cup can only be matched. There's no trading up that will yield better results flavor wise, but you'll get other features and conveniences that might matter more (volumetrics, cup warmers, etc).

erik82

Postby erik82 » Feb 08, 2018, 2:54 am

I've owned a new Cremina (bought 2014) and used it for 6 months. It's a great machine that can make incredible espresso but for me the volume of the group was just too small. I had a very rare example that had a lot of problems and returned it (none affecting pulling shots though). In the meanwhile I had some great shots from fransg on his Londinium and the options you have on a full 58mm lever is great but tastewise the Cremina can give you the same results with the experience you have.

Owning a Strietman CT1 now and having played with a 2012 Cremina some time ago I would never go back. The Strietman can give better results and is much more versatile if you don't need to steam milk. Especially the double volume of the Cremina that the Strietman has is a big plus. Using the Elektra 18gr baskets never gave me real good results without Fellini and other tricks to try and raise the volume so I stopped using it and settled with the stock baskets. The pressure gauge really took it to the next level for me on the Strietman so that should be a big improvement if you'd buy it for the Cremina. Having precise control did more than I'd ever thought and gives much more consistency.

I'd been thinking about a LMLM lately but stopped thinking about it due to it's limited options for pre-infusion and my love for light roasts so that's also a thing to keep in the back of your mind. I don't have real life experience with the LMLM though.

summer

Postby summer » Feb 08, 2018, 4:31 am

I've had a Dalla Corte Mini, E-61 machines, MCaL and a lot of Pavonis to try out side-by-side with my 2011 Cremina, and the Cremina is still here.
For me the Cremina is a slow, but stabile worker. The size, simplicity, buildquality, hands-on workflow, and quality in the cup makes it my number one home machine. Everytime I use it I find myself smiling. :D

mdmvrockford

Postby mdmvrockford » Feb 08, 2018, 9:30 am

As OP likely knows (especially since he works in coffee industry but I will state just in case does not know), the final choice will be based on one's personal "philosophy of use POU (or personal needs)." That being said: + infinity to recommendation of getting the pressure piston gauge. And to best of my knowledge "naked portafilter" (Gabor) is the only commercially available source on Planet Earth. In short, it provides another variable to monitor, allows for more consistency and still looks like an OEM part (I have the LaMarzocco pressure gauge). Some cons (per others) are cost and it takes away from the analog & simplicity feel of the Cremina. But I do not agree with these "cons". Not to drift off topic further OP may look at the OE Cremina pressure piston rod thread. My full review of Gabor's Cremina pressure piston rod is here: Olympia Cremina piston pressure gauge unboxing

Here is a Cremina upgrades/modification post Calling all Olympia Cremina aficionados --> what other upgrades?

I use Cremina almost exclusively as my espresso machine. Prior to this my single boiler dual use E61 vibratory pump (QuickMill Alexia with PID) was my espresso machine. Now the E61 machine is used almost exclusively just to steam milk. The E61 pump machine makes espresso only when I want a triple risretto pull of dark roasted blends. And my daily personal espresso need is one espresso & one cappuccino in AM and one espresso in PM.

Most importantly, I like the taste of the espresso from the Cremina. And the Cremina especially is great for light roasted beans (e.g. Ethiopia, Tanzania, Panama).

Personally at least two days a year, I need to make at least 20 cappuccino or lattes each day. For these occasions, I'd love to have a larger dual boiler E61 machine or larger boiler heat exchanger machine. But spouse already thinks the QM Alexia is too big so no go there. My guests have learned their caps or lattes will take longer than a commercial cafe.

If one does not ever steam, I can understand why Strietman with pressure gauge mod would be preferred over Cremina with pressure gauge mod. I have never used a Steitman. erik82 post #5 states what appears to be among some of the consensus reasons of Strietman owners/users. I still use Cremina to steam on the rare occasion my E61 pump machine is not turned on and preheated.
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drgary
Team HB

Postby drgary » Feb 08, 2018, 12:31 pm

I love my Cremina, and my Conti Prestina. Both can make great espresso. I find more flavor layering in my Prestina maybe because of its combination of declining spring pressure and declining temperature through the shot. It also offers more consistency with less effort but it seems wasteful to heat half a boiler full of water for longer to pull a couple of shots since I'm the only coffee drinker in the house. The Cremina does great for its small footprint and ease of use. Richard Penney once had both and sold his Prestina but noted fond memories of it. Conti still makes a one group commercial lever.
Gary
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What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

jwCrema

Postby jwCrema » Feb 08, 2018, 1:10 pm

My view of the Cremina mirrors everyone else's - after incorporating preinfusion and Gabor's piston pressure gauge, the consistency and taste is unbelievable. I have no plans to ever sell my Cremina.

However, I'm looking forward to the arrival of my Decent Espresso DE1+ this year. From a technology perspective, that machine is at the other end of the spectrum compared to the Cremina. Much as my wife loves the Cremina, she just won't use it. When guests come over, despite coaching and encouragement, they end up wanting me to do the kung fu. The DE1+ will let anyone get the exact same shot by hitting one button.

The degree of control, with precise information like water pressure and temp at the puck is a compelling combination.

And, I've been following the evolution of the DE1+ on Coffee Forums UK, and he's very close to start building machines.

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grog

Postby grog » Feb 08, 2018, 2:14 pm

I have a 1974 Cremina, that I've used to make 2 shots every morning for the past two years or so. I can't see myself ever selling it, although I used to think I experienced the same upgrade-itis that others mention.

What I've realized over time for myself, is that it's not so much that I want better espresso, but that I want new espresso toys. I love the espresso I get from the Cremina. I don't find myself wondering if I could be getting better coffee from a different machine. Of course I would love a vintage commercial lever, for example (there are many Faemas I would love to have). But that's really just because it seems incredibly fun to me to have something new to play with. I really think people sometimes confuse upgrade-itis with the desire for a new toy. And there's nothing at all wrong with wanting a new toy.

I've scratched that itch so far by essentially flipping levers. I buy ones that need rebuilding, repair or refurbishment, get them back in working order, use them for a couple of months, and then sell then on. That way I get to tinker, experience the fun of a rebuild, and start over. That works for me within my budget.

I doubt you will get better coffee from a different machine - but you may derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction and enjoyment from the process of discovering a new machine, acquiring the various possible accessories, etc. And if that's within your means, why not? Also it often seems that once one's mind starts moving in this direction, it's really just a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'.
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