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La Cimbali Junior - Barry Nielsen's Review
Posted: June 8, 2009, 1:37pm
review rating: 8.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
La Cimbali Junior DT/1
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More About This Product
Arrow The La Cimbali Junior has 17 Reviews
Arrow The La Cimbali Junior has been rated 8.82 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 5, 2003.
Arrow La Cimbali Junior reviews have been viewed 139,757 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Rich C 9.00
Bob LOSS 8.66
Ken Fox 8.54
K Russ 8.00
Barry Nielsen 8.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Manufacturer: La Cimbali Quality: 9
Average Price: $2,975.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $1,000.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: craigslist Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 2 months Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: saeco, lever
Bottom Line: An elegant and classic machine that will challenge any home barista to make the best coffee
Positive Product Points

A relatively simple and solidly built machine. If the basic frame and boiler of this machine are not grossly abused and rusted out, there is virtually nothing that can keep this machine from being put back in service through replacing old/defective parts.

Negative Product Points

I have a couple of annoyances with the drip tray. It is large and has great capacity, but when pulling a flush shot without the portafilter in the water would hit the drip tray right where there was a solid bar in between the corragated parts and would direct water over the front of the machine and on to the counter. Leaving the portafilter in helped by directing the water to each side. The drip tray also overflowed on me a few times and flooded the internal frame with water. The hole that drains the drip tray was so tiny that it backed up in the drip tray if you did too much flushing. I drilled this hole out bigger, but still it flooded whenever I flushed too much. Another thing that could be a negative is it's size. It is a big box and also affects anything close to it with heat, moisture, steam. Don't measure the box and think that that is also how much counter space you need. This thing needs room. Flushing the group splashes water, purging the steam affects everything around it.  Noisy. My bedroom is right next to my kitchen and this thing makes a lot of noise. The "clacking" of the pressurestat was loud enough to wake me from a sound sleep at night.

Detailed Commentary

I bought this machine on the used market and paid $850cdn for it. It was a Cimbali Jr./D with auto fill, plumbed in boiler and drip tray, and vibe pump and auto dosing. It was approximately 10 years old (older than 10 years the Jr.'s have a galvanized frame and painted/colored side panels; newer ones, like mine, have painted steel frames with chromed side panels). I used it for two months and sold it for exactly what I paid for it. I sold it because I found  another used machine (a m20 cimbali lever) that i liked better, not because I disliked the JR. In fact, if I could afford it, I would have liked to kept it. First of all, it is just a beautiful and elegant machine to have in your home. Classic design. Also, leaving it on all the time, it was a ready tool to make a great coffee anytime for almost any number of people. Something that gave me confidence in buying this machine was the close proximity of my home to a Cimbali dealership (5 min). I think service should be a very strong consideration when buying any machine. But this machine has one of the best reputations of being servicable for long time use. I made sure it was funtional when I bought it, checked the frame for rust and recently took it in for a cleaning/service, which cost me $100 for a clean machine and the peace of mind that there was nothing wrong with the machine. All the usual stuff about grinders and fresh coffee apply, of course. Given a good grind and fresh coffee this machine is capable of the very best drinks. My new machine is a much better steamer, but in retrospect, I think the Junior could have been tweaked to steam better by turning up the pressure of the boiler a bit and changing the steam tip (previous owner had put the 'wrong' tip on it). If you've read, as I have, about people who buy a prosumer machine and spend 6 months trying to make a cup that they're satisified with; and you wonder, as I have, what one could possibly be tweaking after 6 months (!), then getting a machine like this will make you understand that kind of experience. The coffee is drinkable (with a great grinder, fresh coffee and reasonable barista skills) the first day. But you know it can be better. There are so many variables. Boiler pressure, flushing routine, grams of coffee, blends, tamp, that it can literally take months to really get a feel for what works best. After about a month I felt my americano's could be about as good as a good cafe (i mean the best caffes). It produces monster crema and delicious flavor. But it also required diligent cleaning. I backflushed it daily without chemicals, but after about a week the coffee had an off flavor and absolutely demanded a thorough cleaning with chemicals to get the rancid flavor out. My milk drinks were pretty good, but never as good as I could get at JJ's or Artigianos in Vancouver. But, as i mentioned above, I think this could have been improved with some changes. My lever, after having it only a week, is a stunning machine. But that's for another review I guess. I would definitely buy and own a Jr. again, but hopefully the next time with the rotary pump instead of vibe. My experience with owning this machine compared to my previous Starbucks Barista was fantastic. As most people, I went throught the hx/db debate and whether or not plumbed in was important or what kind of pump was best. I was immediately hooked on a fully plumbed in machine. This is just an incredible function of convenience that I will never want to go back from. I also like the great simplity of the hx design on the cimbali. As for the pump, I was initially dissappointed that this machine turned out to be a vibe instead of rotary. But in the end it made no difference, except that i knew if the pump was not good when I bought the machine it would be a relatively inexpensive thing to replace. Yes, I did inquire about switching it from vibe to rotary. The service guy at cimbali told me it could not be done. Over all, considering a new rotary version of the Jr. retails for about 4k, this was a great way to go.

Buying Experience

craigslist, local buy. The seller had it hot and ready to play with when I arrived. Took all the side panels off for me to inspect. gave me a small discount for a broken knob. carried it to my car (with some difficulty!).

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review rating: 8.0
Posted: June 8, 2009, 1:37pm
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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