DanZ Senior Member Joined: 28 Feb 2014 Posts: 1 Location: Vancouver Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Feb 28, 2014, 8:33pm Subject: Dead La Cimbali - Repair or Replace?
I bought a second-hand La Cimbali Junior about 6 years ago. It was already well-used when I bought it, but had been rebuilt. Well, now it's dead, and the local La Cimbali repair depot estimates about $1000 to repair, which is about what I paid for it originally.
So... before I tell them to go ahead, I thought I would reach out and get the collective wisdom of this group. On the one hand, I have a sentimental attachment to this machine, and enjoy using it. On the other hand, reading this forum over the years, I wonder whether it might make more sense to let Madama Cimbali die a natural death, and replace her with something like a Rocket R58, or (heaven forbid) even a Breville DB -- especially since the latter will cost about the same as repairing my old machine.
Still, I think I would miss the sheer heft of having a commercial-grade machine on the counter...
Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions. Quick facts about me: family of four We all drink coffee (yes - we started our girls young - please don`t call child and family services on us) Usually cappuccinos and Americanos, with the odd espressos thrown in the mix Two grinders - La Cimbali and Rancilio Rocky Price range: well more concerned about value than price, but that said, a new GS3 is (unfortunately) way out of our price range.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,950 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Feb 28, 2014, 10:05pm Subject: Re: Dead La Cimbali - Repair or Replace?
Welcome to the board.
A full commercial machine is more solid than any prosumer machine and let's not even think counter top appliances. You need to decide what you want but in my personal view is that with a dealer rehab, that machine will be set for many, many years to come.
That is me though so you may wish to see a new machine. It is not a secret here that I am a commercial guy,
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
thebaz Senior Member Joined: 27 Mar 2006 Posts: 80 Location: Victoria Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: NS Oscar LaCimbali Domus Grinder: Rancilio md50
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 3:31am Subject: Re: Dead La Cimbali - Repair or Replace?
When you say the Junior is dead, do you know what is specifically wrong with it? I agree that the Junior when refurbished would give many years of great service and great coffee, so would be well worth repairing if you like the machine. I have come very close to buying a Junior myself and probably will some day.
Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 7:49am Subject: Re: Dead La Cimbali - Repair or Replace?
We love our Junior and know how you feel about yours. You have my sympathy.
Whether or not it's worth dumping that much money in an old one depends on whether or not you're willing to replace it with something better -- newer doesn't in and of itself mean better. You can look at it as an economic vs financial decision. Economically, repairing it , even at a thousand bucks, is the least expensive way of holding on to the level of machine to which you've become accustomed. Financially, an old, repaired M21 of whatever model won't make the money back in terms of resale value.
Replacing: It's $3K, as I write this. for a new M21 Junior "Casa" from Chris or Clive Coffee. With reasonable care and maintenance and the occasional repair, as long as your water isn't too hard, it should last forever. The Casa model adds a two-needle gauge (nice, but not earth shaking), a more controllable steam tip (nice, but not earth shaking), and pre-infusion (earth-shakingly wonderful).
After living with pre-infusion for a few years, I wouldn't consider a machine without it. It's that big a difference.
There isn't another machine with the same build quality, and performance which costs less. Under $4K, commercial, 115V, plumbed-in, 1group HX, automatic competition, with pre-infusion (now that's a mouthful!) consists of the Astoria Divina 1 (20A), Elektra T1 (20A), and Nuova Simonelli Appia Volumetric (15A). They start at a few hundred more (not counting upgrading your circuit to 20A if necessary), and run right up to $4K for the Astoria.
If you can afford the extra, buy by looks. They do the same things in pretty much the same way as the Cimbali. If they all cost exactly the same and I had to it again, I'd buy the Cimbali again.
Top of the line, prosumer, convertible, E-61 HXs (they're all E-61s), go in the $2,000 - $2500 range.
The GS/3 is the least expensive commercial DB, at about $6K, street. Top of the line. prosumer, convertible or plumb-in DBs run $2400 - $2900. With the exception of the La Spaz machines, all are E-61s.
An intriguing and realatively affordable alternative, if you have the room and the interest, is one of the new pump/levers like the Bezzera Strega. It's an odd thing, but in that class of machine you actually want (so I'm told) the reservoir or convertible models rather than the plumb-in only, because the pump allows you to do some pretty fancy pressure profiling.
Repairing: What repairs does your old one need? Any chance that you could undertake some of them on your own? It's very roomy inside the Junior's box, and pretty easy to R & R just about everything. FWIW, I've found that the best sources for Cimbali parts are Chris Coffee on the East Coast, and Pasquini on the West (they're the only sources for some parts). Cimbali parts are expensive; so if it's something generic like a vacuum breaker valve, I suggest buying generic. If it's any comfort, older Cimbalis use more generic parts than new ones.
If your Cimbali's problems are related to hard water, you need to get some serious filtration. So add that to whatever other expenses you'll incur.
Bottom Line: It's my experience is that once machinery reaches the stage of high repair bills, it won't stop breaking down unless it's completely rebuilt.
While you may be in a very different place and have different financial concerns, in your shoes, I'd take a "charitable" write-off on the old machine by donating it, or get what I could from Craig's List, and replace it with a new one.
Explain to your sober side that life has generously offered the opportunity to provide your family with a brand NEW!! and IMPROVED!!! M21 Junior. Carpe diem, and buy your wife something nice.
'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!
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