Olympia Express Cremina new user questions

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Postby pincorrect » Mar 20, 2019, 10:09 pm

I have purchased an Olympia Express Cremina, which will arrive soon, hopefully. In preparation, I downloaded the manual from the Olympia Express web site. I seems very thorough. I will be using it with my Mazzer Mini grinder with a mechanical doser. (But I will weigh my doses with a gram scale.)

Would anyone here recommend any modifications or refinements to the techniques they describe in the manual? For example, they instruct to pull the shot by first pulling up on the lever about 10 seconds, until a few drops of espresso appear, then steadily pulling the lever down in one pull. Is this the ideal procedure for pulling the shot, or are there any refinements I should consider?

I'm going to try to do things as consistently as I can while I try to "lock in" my technique. This is my first manual machine, so I appreciate any tips you may have to help me get going in the right direction.


Postby mgwolf » Mar 21, 2019, 12:54 am

There are lots of long threads in this forum on various techniques to use on the Cremina. I would say that the 10 second pause mentioned in the manual after lifting the lever is a good place to start. Do not lift the lever too quickly or else the vacuum can disturb the puck. Also, it's a good idea to flush 1-2 ounces through the group before you draw your very first espresso of the day. After that, the group is heated and will stay that way.


Postby forbeskm » Mar 21, 2019, 1:34 am

Cremina's are extremely forgiving. Get your grind set, flush slowly a few ounces to warm up the group, pull you shot. I move the lever at the top to get some of the air out, not the fellini move but firms up the lever. Then I pull the shot. Nothing fancy, 16.5 -18.5 grams depending which roaster I am using.

Lots of threads here on the cremina, orphan espresso has all the how to's by Doug, there are some temp studies out there as well, depending how much you think you need to control it. It does just fine bone stock, though I like to watch the bottomless portafilter.

Congratulations on the Cremina!

Just read again, first machine, wow, right choice :) will not need another!


Postby pincorrect » Mar 21, 2019, 6:15 am

Thanks for the tips. I'll dig through the threads here, and also Orphan Espresso. Like I said, I want to try to set up a consistent routine. Then when I vary things, I will try to change only one variable at a time (e.g. the grind). So I wanted to do a little research to make sure I had a close to optimal technique to use as the starting point.

Can't wait for it to come. It's actually my first manual machine. But I do have an Isomac semi-automatic that made pretty nice espresso, but could be temperamental. I haven't used it in a while because it needs some work.


Postby mgwolf » Mar 21, 2019, 3:09 pm

I would keep it simple at first, eg the 10 second wait to pull (whether or not coffee dripping out). If you grind it a little too fine, you may not get any drips. The Cremina makes great coffee without too much effort. You'll need to play around with grind, get the feel of the lever, etc. before you start fooling around with Fellini maneuvers, etc. I've been using mine for 10 years with the basic routine and get great coffee consistently. Also, I use the Elektra baskets which are slightly larger than the Cremina ones (at least the old ones) and I use 12-14 grams of coffee for a double. I've found that the best shots are when I can pull down the lever without a large amount of effort. If I have to hold the machine to keep it from tipping over when I'm pulling on the lever, I've ground it too fine.


Postby pincorrect » Mar 21, 2019, 10:31 pm

Thanks for the tips!!

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Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 21, 2019, 11:39 pm

I will give this Cremina tip. Of note many other HB members I have met in person strongly disagree with this Cremina tip.

Get Gabor (naked-portafilter)'s pressure piston rod and LaMarzocco gauge.

Original poster (OP) has mentioned (correctly) that they want consistency. Well, I will ask OP how the heck is a lever novice going to get great consistency if OP does not know the exact pressure? The other HB members I have met who disagree with me all are exponentially more skilled than novice me. After two years using the Cremina with pressure piston rod and gauge (I at most make 2 drinks a day and take 6 months per year espresso sabbaticals), I can now pull shots without looking at it and go by feel. But it is still nice to know it is there when I need it and when I want absolute consistency. And the kit is built so well that it will last as long as your Cremina. And gravy is Gabor's customer service is as great as any other great consumer product I have purchased.

Please read this thread and all links within this thread.
Pressure profiling advice needed for a novice

BTW, excellent choice for first lever machine. And unless you need to steam milk and/or need to make >3 shots quickly in a row, I can almost guarantee you it will be your last lever purchase. It is that good and priced accordingly. There is a reason it has remained largely unchanged in >50 years as it is hard to improve on greatness.
LMWDP #568

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Postby mdmvrockford » Mar 22, 2019, 5:36 am

Back to OP question. This link is in Lever FAQ.
Using the Olympia Cremina -- The Movie (Video)

Also get an external thermometer and attach at location recommended by erics
Need advice re: Eric's Thermometer kit for Olympia Cremina
LMWDP #568

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Postby grog » Mar 22, 2019, 9:28 am

? I think Gabor's piston pressure gauge is nearly universally regarded as an excellent upgrade for any of the machines it is available for. I've not heard of any naysayers...I had one and eventually moved it on to a fellow HBer, as my experience aligned with yours: eventually it allows you to develop muscle memory such that it is less necessary. But for those who are heavily into playing with various pressure profiles, it would never cease to be a useful tool. Also Gabor is an all around great guy and that makes it easy to support him.

I would definitely get a bottomless portafilter, too. Gabor makes an excellent one, and of course OEM versions are available from Olympia via Cerini. They are indispensable for refining basket prep. Once you get your basic routine down, that's the next thing you want to improve.
LMWDP #514


Postby cpreston » Mar 22, 2019, 10:25 am

I have used a 2009 Cremina with a group head thermometer for years. It's as consistent in practice as my prior Breville Dual Boiler was, if you are consistent with *both* the manometer pressure and the group temp.

It's a strong steamer, and you can very quickly bring the group temp back down for a subsequent shot by squirting with a nalgene squeeze bottle around the underside of the group for a few seconds, and there are other methods too.

The only limitation is the drink size. I have gotten generally better tasting shots from the stock basket with less than 14g than from the Elektra basket with more. Others users will differ.

The original factory seals are still fine after all these years. I would be reluctant to use aftermarket ones if I had to replace them.

I have found the Mater pressurestats to be an Achilles heel and have to replace mine every couple of years. It's contacts are probably fine for Europe on 220v and half the current, but may be marginal here with on 120v and double the current. It's my one gripe.

It's like a fine bicycle or sailboat. Almost perfect, given its self-imposed limitations.