Olympia Cremina vs. La Pavoni Europiccola with same coffee

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nummnuts

#1: Post by nummnuts »

I have recently finished a relatively simple rebuild of an Olympia Cremina from my friends attic. I've been using a La Pavoni Europiccola for many years but have heard so much about the Cremina I was eager to try it.

I know most people will stop right here but I use preground espresso from Trader Joe's. I am saving up for a grinder but in the meantime...

I am able to get a decent espresso from the La Pavoni with the TJ's espresso. I had to mess around at first but I get a decent crema and for the espresso I am using it is pretty damn good. I cannot get a decent espresso from the Cremina with the same espresso. I have adjusted the pressure. I took it apart again to make sure the seals on the piston are installed properly. I've adjusted the amount of coffee I put in.

The problem seems to be pressure. On the La Pavoni if I over pack the portafilter I can be barely move the lever. On the Cremina no matter what I do I can't seem to get it to a point where I have to exert much force to move the lever.

I would like to be able to get as good an espresso from the Cremina as from the La Pavoni while I am figuring out the grinder. So if you've read this far I understand that I need to get a grinder but any suggestions on what I am doing wrong or what could be wrong with the machine?

Thanks!

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armindillo
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#2: Post by armindillo »

There is some information missing.
When you have coffee in the Cremina and move the lever down, are you getting out liquid?
If not, it sounds like the seals are not sealing or there is some other pressure leak in the cylinder or you are not even getting water into the cylinder.
To check if you're getting water into the cylinder, just lift up the lever when you don't have the portafilter on but the machine is pressured up.

If you are getting water flowing through your puck but it flows too easily, a finer grind would really help but you could also try loading in more coffee and tamping harder.
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walr00s

#3: Post by walr00s »

Assuming you're getting gushing water through the puck on the Cremina and a normal espresso flow on the LP, perhaps your puck on the Cremina isn't deep enough? If you're already filling it as full as you can, you could try a larger basket. A deeper puck creates more resistance, which will slow flow.

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guijan12

#4: Post by guijan12 »

You have no idea what improvement in taste will happen, once you have a good grinder.

The Cremina differs from the LP and therefore you need to adjust the grind to the machine, to get the best espresso out of it.
Regards,

Guido

drH
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#5: Post by drH »

You should easily be able to fit 14g in the Cremina- weigh it and let us know. Also try adding a cut-to-fit piece of filter paper (aeropress paper works well) to the top of the puck. My wild guess is that maybe the water jet is more powerful on the Cremina and it is disturbing the puck too much when you lift the lever. This will be less of a problem with fresh ground beans but the paper is always helpful.

nummnuts (original poster)

#6: Post by nummnuts (original poster) »

armindillo wrote:There is some information missing.
When you have coffee in the Cremina and move the lever down, are you getting out liquid?
If not, it sounds like the seals are not sealing or there is some other pressure leak in the cylinder or you are not even getting water into the cylinder.
To check if you're getting water into the cylinder, just lift up the lever when you don't have the portafilter on but the machine is pressured up.

If you are getting water flowing through your puck but it flows too easily, a finer grind would really help but you could also try loading in more coffee and tamping harder.
Hi
Thanks for the response. I am getting liquid out of the Cremina, it's just a large week espresso. I will try overloading and packing tighter.
I know I need a grinder. I have very little space in my NYC apt, so trying to find the right affordable grinder that is small.
Thank you!

ojt

#7: Post by ojt »

I went with a hand grinder and would recommend for anyone with countertop space issues. Rather spend on a quality manual grinder than make compromises with an electric one.
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nummnuts (original poster)

#8: Post by nummnuts (original poster) »

I tried overpacking the portafilter and tamping it down firmly. There was a slight improvement but not much.
I know I need a grinder etc. but shouldn't I at least be able to get as a good an espresso as the La Pavoni?
I am wondering if there is anything else messed up with the machine that needs to be fixed.

drH
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#9: Post by drH »

I agree on the manual grinder. If you have the patience, they can produce quality you won't get with an electric grinder at double (triple?) the price.
I have a Bplus Apollo and find it equivalent to my Niche Zero. James Hoffmann posted a review of manual grinders that might help you narrow it down.

jwCrema
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#10: Post by jwCrema »

I used to own a Cremina and Olympia Club at the same time. They use identical baskets, portafilters, the grinder was a Mazzer Major, and the coffee was Redbird.

I assumed the grind would work interchangeably between these two machines. The Cremina was in pristine condition and my intention was to keep both of them. What I found is the Club's lower pressure extraction liked a little coarser grind than the Cremina. Messing with the grind setting on a Mazzer, even with the right amount of lube on the collar was excruciatingly difficult.

Had I owned the Niche Zero then, I suspect I would have kept the Cremina.

I sold Club #1 to a friend, and then helped their son find a lovely Cremina. So, they ended up with a Club/Cremina set up as well. Their current grinder is a Pharos 2.0, which is better at changing grind than Pharos 1.0, but not as easy as the Niche. Currently, the Club is in the bull-pen with the Cremina running as the daily driver. They came to the same conclusion I did - the grind between the two machines is different and they are going with one machine. Mom likes the Club, but the son is pulling a great cup with his Cremina.

In retrospect, I might have found a happy medium by down-dosing the Cremina dose to emulate the coarser grind the Club likes?

All of this is why I am not surprised you are seeing a difference.