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Bellman CXE-25
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Discussions > Coffee > Machines > Bellman CXE-25  
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steprock
Senior Member
steprock
Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Parker
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Moka pot, Bellman CXE-25,...
Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 1:56pm
Subject: Bellman CXE-25
 

Hello! I just joined the forum, glad to be here.

I'd like to talk about my new Bellman CXE-25
http://fantes.com/bellman-electric.html
I picked up this shiny, unused little gem at the Goodwill for ten dollars. Go figure.

If anyone is familiar with this unit and can offer tips, I'd love to read them. It's essentially styled like a moka pot, but it has a control knob and also a frothing wand.
I'm trying to produce something closer to espresso, though I'm so far making nice coffee. What I've done is to go to a fine grind and I let the pressure build up before opening up the valve. I'm using the 3-cup setting.

There was a similar discussion on the stovetop version of this unit, though it's 3 years old and I didn't want to raise it from the dead.
As that user experienced, I'm getting weaker coffee than I'd like with a some steam mixed with the coffee as it drips.

Thoughts? General tips?
Much obliged.
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steprock
Senior Member
steprock
Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Parker
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Moka pot, Bellman CXE-25,...
Posted Tue Jun 26, 2012, 9:14am
Subject: Re: Bellman CXE-25
 

Tried again this morning with my Bellman. I used fine ground coffee, lightly tamped into the 3-cup setting.
This time, I left the coffee valve open until it started to drip, then closed it for a couple of minutes before re-opening it.

I keep getting a bit of sputtering and a mix of grounds and steam. The coffee was thin and not at all what I would hope. Experiments so far show that it's best to let pressure build up before extracting the coffee. I think my issue might lie in letting out too much water.

It's supposed to be 3 demitasse cups, so that's more than a full mug. Hmmmm.....
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Eiron
Senior Member
Eiron
Joined: 12 Nov 2007
Posts: 343
Location: Loveland, Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill 0930
Grinder: Quick Mill 031,...
Drip: TechniVorm KBTS
Roaster: Behmor 1600, Presto Poplite
Posted Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:52am
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

Hi steprock,

The CXE was my very first "expresso" maker, way back in 1980 (when everyone in SoCal called it "expresso"!). :-)

Don't be fooled by the "control knob" & steam wand, this is still a moka pot in every sense of what it will produce. The steam wand is a nice addition & should allow you to develop good micro-foaming skills. Unfortunately, I don't feel the coffee brewing "chamber" design is very good for making anything more than mediocre moka coffee. You definitely won't get anything close to espresso out of it. The 3 yr old thread you've found should be 100% applicable to what you're trying to do today.

I wouldn't recommend closing the "control knob," as whatever water has soaked the grounds will now be captured inside the chamber & will come in direct contact with the internal heating element. That dilluted coffee/water will now be re-boiled & sent back thru the grounds. In effect, you'll have "percolated moka" coffee. Bleh...

Demitasse cups aren't meant to be filled. One "cup" from the CXE should be only 2 oz, so three CXE cups would only fill one American-sized (6 oz) coffee cup, not "more than a full mug" as you thought.

In the end, I found it was easier for me to make better coffee with a standard (stainless) moka pot than with the CXE. I loved the style of the CXE, but the design hampers its ability to make better coffee.

 
"Just what I need - another 'geek' label..."
- my friend Mark, on being told of Coffee Geek's existence

Good, affordable espresso: www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/355707
Coffee's hot enough for OCD: www.coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/machines/330079
Personal & global health: http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_12802509
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steprock
Senior Member
steprock
Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Parker
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Moka pot, Bellman CXE-25,...
Posted Wed Jun 27, 2012, 1:15pm
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

Thank you for your tips - I appreciate it. I've been so jazzed up to get this retro-looking gadget and figured it takes some getting used to. However, I've been feeling more than a little let down with it. I'm getting bland coffee and even my cheapie counter-top "cappuccino" maker is more reliable. Except the CXE has a nice foaming wand.

The moka pot makes the closest thing to espresso, but it requires a lot of coffee, whereas the CXE has an adapter.

Funny you should mention it, but the unit is actually labeled "Expresso Maker" underneath! How odd.



Hey! Check out this video of the stovetop unit making some good-looking espresso!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75sXJN4URWw

What gives?
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steprock
Senior Member
steprock
Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Parker
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Moka pot, Bellman CXE-25,...
Posted Wed Jun 27, 2012, 2:16pm
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

OK, I just made another cup, ground my grounds even finer, and I used the 6 cup setting instead of the 3 cup.
About 5 tablespoons of coffee, lightly tamped with a spoon.

I opened the valve at the start so it wouldn't percolate (You're right; I saw brown coffee water in the chamber last time when I emptied it!)

I got to the top of a standard coffee mug and could see the black stream of coffee start to go tea-colored, so I stopped.

The result is a stronger cup, quite drinkable, still not anywhere in bold moka pot territory, but it's less coffee grounds used here. Also, it doesn't look like that video I posted in the stovetop video. Unless I am seeing it wrong, it looks like it was brewing at 3 bars of pressure in that vid.
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Eiron
Senior Member
Eiron
Joined: 12 Nov 2007
Posts: 343
Location: Loveland, Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill 0930
Grinder: Quick Mill 031,...
Drip: TechniVorm KBTS
Roaster: Behmor 1600, Presto Poplite
Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 11:51am
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

I just watched the video & realized a couple of things:

1) My CXE did NOT have a pressure gauge (I don't know if yours does), so I had no way to tell where I was at in the brew/pressure curve. I noticed the operator opened the control knob only slightly in order to maintain constant pressure thru the grounds - very helpful!
2) Coffee & grinder choices were very limited in 1980 when I bought my CXE. IIRC, the most readily available coffee was pre-ground, canned Medaglia d'Oro, & I think that's what I used 99% of the time. You could buy "expresso roasts" some places, but they were universally burnt & oily beans of unknown varieties & unknown freshness. The only grinder available (at a price considered "reasonable" for home grinding back then) was the blade type.

In today's espresso environment, I would probably have more success with a CX/CXE if it had a pressure gauge (like the one in the video) & I was able to use fresh beans & a good burr grinder. Also, I think I'd be more inclined to give it a try with the externally heated CX, since the internal heating element of the CXE is exposed to the brewing water & gets coated with coffee oils. Since you can't submerse the CXE, it was difficult for me to clean the oil-coated element.

Is it just the shadows in the video, or does the milk take on a slight brown hue shortly after steaming begins? I like the (digital?) hot plate used in the video!

My moka pot is a "3 cup" version, so I can brew 6 oz of moka & foam 4 oz of milk, & it fills up a 14 oz mug. It sounds like your moka pot is a "6 cup" version?

 
"Just what I need - another 'geek' label..."
- my friend Mark, on being told of Coffee Geek's existence

Good, affordable espresso: www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/355707
Coffee's hot enough for OCD: www.coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/machines/330079
Personal & global health: http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_12802509
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steprock
Senior Member
steprock
Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Parker
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Moka pot, Bellman CXE-25,...
Posted Fri Jun 29, 2012, 10:17am
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

It's interesting. And he clearly gets a stout espresso and honest crema from it. I see you are right about keeping that valve slightly closed.

I think the milk color was just a shadow. Later in the video he pours it out and it's clearly white. (Darn! I need to learn Chinese now!)

So far as the pressure gauge, I saw another video where the poster waited till the steam wand sputtered. In that, he also let pressure build up first.

The electric hot plate or even a gas burner might make a difference. My electric version gets very hot, so I can't say for sure. If the pressure valve on the other video is any indication, the unit would be in the red at 5 bars. I am guessing that 2-3 is when the wand would sputter.

I believe my moka pot is the 6 cup version, it's not the little one. I've seen a much taller one at the Goodwill before. Funny the fancy coffee gadgets people don't even open, let alone use.
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TrabucoDom
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Apr 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Trabuco Canyon
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: CXE-25 , moka pots
Grinder: Baratza Maestro
Vac Pot: aeropress / french presses
Posted Fri Jun 29, 2012, 8:13pm
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

I am glad to see another bellman user out here....I posted a month or two back when I got a used Bellman CXE25. My experiments seem to mirror what you went through....I chalked up my weak coffee experience with the reducer to likely a degraded seal on the center post and loose fit of the reducer itself.

For smaller amounts such as 3 tasse I still get better coffee from a standard moka pot.

I eventually bought a new (old stock) Elebak electric maker that is similar in design to the CXE25 but different enough that most parts are not interchangable. This one seals better but still does not make the near-espresso look that you saw in that video.

My best success has been with fresh whole bean coffee that is locally roasted, and I grind fine just before brewing. My grind is close to espresso fineness, but not really "packable". I close the coffee valve but leave the wand valve open. When the wand sputters I close it and time it for about 45 seconds. Then I open the coffee valve carefully with a cup underneath.

I rarely use it only because the 3-tasse moka pot is more practical for small amounts. I now only use it if I want to make the full 9 tasse, even though this Elbak does decent with the reducer. I do like you mentioned earlier, filling the cup or pot until the color starts to lighten.

If you make any progress fine-tuning towards a crema-like espresso, let us know what you did. On that video page, the guy posted that he used extra-fine grind and tamped it. I haven't tried tamping...but I can tell you from experience with moka pots that some coffee beans give me a crema-like cup while other types of beans will give me none, yet still will be a very and heavy bold espresso like flavor. I've even had some nice looking crema where the taste wasn't so good...so image isn't everything with these machines and moka pots.

Well, now that I am motivated, I think I'll go and brew a 3-tasse in the Elbak...thanks!
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steprock
Senior Member
steprock
Joined: 25 Jun 2012
Posts: 18
Location: Parker
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Moka pot, Bellman CXE-25,...
Posted Sat Jun 30, 2012, 8:42pm
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

Oh grand. I've been hunting all about for some proof that the CXE25 can make a good brew - mostly because I was so happy to find this gadget in the first place. Still, I've been disappointed with it. I keep chalking it up to having to figure it out (which I'm willing to do) but I need someone to throw me a line here and let me know it's not a waste of time.

I made a 3-cup brew a little while ago, even though it's waaaay too late for coffee. It filled about 1/4 of a cup before getting brownish. I didn't tamp it. I let it sit until the foaming wand sputtered and then released the coffee as slowly as I could.

It was awful. Just awful.
Bad coffee makes me sad.

Truth be told, I got a very strong cup from my cheap countertop cappuccino maker yesterday. I just used a fine grind and tamped it. For some reason, I switched it over to steam for a minute, but I don't suppose that mattered in the end. It was stout enough that I had to water it down a bit.

Come on Bellman! I know you've got it in you! Help me help you before you end up in a yard sale!
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TrabucoDom
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Apr 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Trabuco Canyon
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: CXE-25 , moka pots
Grinder: Baratza Maestro
Vac Pot: aeropress / french presses
Posted Sat Jun 30, 2012, 9:50pm
Subject: Re: Bellman CX25
 

I made that 3-tasse brew Friday night and it was quite good....I went as fine as my grinder would go, espresso grind....and I walked away from the room  after the sputtering of the valve so instead of building pressure for about 45 seconds, it built for about 3 minutes before I realized it. With the espresso grind I found it was probably too fine since it looked like coffee actually dropped below the reducer when I opened it up later. So I'll go back to a slightly coarser grind.  I remember trying the espresso grind on my Bellman using the 9-tasse setting...it was a disaster since it clogged and released the pressure valve...when I opened the coffee valve it just spewed everywhere making a major mess.

To me it sounds like you may have a few problems....what kinds of beans are you using? Are you grinding for yourself? How fresh are they?
You said that you released as slow as possible....that sounds like a mistake...the finer your grind, the faster you want to release...if you make it coarser, then you want the slower release. And it is still possible you have a seal problem. You might want to try a full 9-tasse just to prove whether the reducer is causing a problem...I had poor results with my Bellman reducer but the reducer works good on my Elbak.

To go over some points, I have the wand valve open until it sputters....then close it and wait to build some pressure....then after about 45 seconds or so I open the coffee valve. (maybe more or less than 45 seconds, you might need to fine tune to your grind, etc.)

As far as volume, I also get very little coffee before it starts lightening up....when using the 3-tasse reducer I think you will only get about 3 to 4.5 ounces of brew...If I am not mistaking, a european tasse is only 1 or 1.5 ounces...any more than that and you are weakening the brew and perhaps making it bitter....I wish the carafe had ounce markings on it...on my Bellman carafe I put a 9 ounce marking for reference....but now I usually brew right into  my cup so i just eyeball it and watch the color of the brew.

You said it filled 1/4 of a cup...what size cup was it? 1/4 of your cup might be around 3 ounces.
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