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I know there has been a lot of rave reviews about how good Cremina is and how great the shots it makes. You probably don’t need another post to convince you that it is indeed an excellent machine or to raise the demand for the machine. However, it also holds true that the “best” isn’t the same for everyone, depending what that person is looking for. For my case, after trying quite a few espresso machines, I've really grown to appreciate my Cremina even more. I would go a step further and say Cremina is the best ultimate espresso machine that I ever need. I don't think it’s not an exaggeration at all!
Here, I am going to list out a few attributes of Cremina that makes it the perfect machine for me.
Simple, but durable tank-liked built Quality
After using quite a few machines such as Mr Coffee, Gaggia, CC1, Oscar, I definitely would say the Cremina is truly built like a tank. The feel and the quality is really light years ahead of others. It is very simple in the inside and there’s almost no part to fail. Every small details in the machine were designed meticulously. With minimal proper care and respect from the user, I can’t imagine what could go wrong with the Cremina. Build quality and durability is an important aspect for me because of my unique situation. I am looking for a machine to bring back to my home country after graduation. This is similar to the commonly cited scenario where if you were to be stranded on an isolated island with electricity and water, which espresso machine would you bring? For me, Cremina won my top list hands down. Moreover, in case of failure if it should, the parts are easily available, accessible and replaceable,at a reasonable price.
Durability would be pointless without a good cup result. Amazingly, Cremina is able to deliver one of the best shots among the top tiers, which is agreed by countless users. It was described to give an ample amount of crema comparable to pump machine, great body, clarity, nuances and etc. All are true in my experience. On top of that, the manual pressure profile could give you infinite control over the possible outcome. In my experience, no matter what pressure profile that I stick to, as long as the flow rate,temperature and coffee is correct, the taste will always blow your mind off albeit being slightly different from cup to cup, depending on what technique you use. They're all surprisingly delicious and you won’t get boring same taste every single time, that is if you wish. It’s like opening a mystery box of shots, only that it has all the goods and none of the bad. Also, as compared to CC1 with precise PID temperature control, I actually still much prefer the shots from Cremina with low tech temp management. The shots were better in almost every criteria in my opinion. Not that CC1 shot is inferior though, the Cremina is just better!
Machine size/counterspace requirement
Compared to CC1, NS Oscar and Gaggia Carezza, this Cremina is the smallest and most compact machine among them. I am so impressed by how much quality and thoughts have been compacted by Olympia into this little magical box.
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Pictures: An idea how big(or small) it is
Heat up time
Most of the espresso machine out there require at least 30 or so minutes of warm up time. This is important to stabilize the grouphead and the system temperature. This is very similar with the Cremina, except that you need to get the grouphead up to certain temp range to pull a shot, but not too hot. And it only takes within 10 minutes(+-5) to heat up depending on the water level. With a pump or HX machine, you would need to flush a copious amount of water through the group if you want a quicker heat up time. Because of the unique water delivery method of the Cremina grouphead, you could accelerate the heat up process by doing partial flushes. And what’s the best part? You don’t even waste any water!
There is a impression going around that lever is harder to use than a pump machine. I find that it is not true at all, at least not with Cremina. In fact, Cremina in my experience, is much more easier to use. It is very forgiving with a huge range of doses. I realized that some people have to updose on their machine to get better shots. With Cremina, a 8g single shot tastes as good as one of 15g double. Also, grind setting is also not as important as with a pump machine. From my experience, pump machine would easily qualify a tight or loose shot as sink shot. With a manual lever, it isn’t so. You can vary the pressure to control proper flow rate. It might not be ideal but still, they’re totally drinkable. Of course, I think a good grinder makes a difference here too.
This is probably a very minor detail, but Olympia's design has taken it into consideration (or by accident, I dunno).With all the machines (yes, all) I have used, Olympia Cremina has the easiest locking portafilter that doesn't leak. All other machines I've used, required a certain amount of torque to turn the pf to seal properly. And you have to keep the seal insanely clean to prevent any potential leaking "accidents". It happens with CC1 and that has killed my $10 weighing scale. With Cremina, a three-finger strength push is enough to seal it nicely. And on my machine, the water goes side way a little when you flush through the showerscreen. So the pf gasket is basically self cleaning. On Oscar, Gaggia and CC1, I would find myself in trouble if I don't do these properly.
There are still many positive features of Cremina that I have not listed, but the above are the main ones that I’ve really come to appreciate after handling many other espresso machines. Would I trade a Cremina for GS3 or speedster? Definitely no! .........Wait a second, maybe yes... but I would turn around and sell the GS3 to get the new 2011 Cremina. =P It's really that good of a machine.
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