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La Cimbali Domus - T Sted's Review
Posted: July 20, 2004, 1:46am
review rating: 8.7
feedback: (3) comments | read | write
La Cimbali Domus
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Arrow The La Cimbali Domus has 6 Reviews
Arrow The La Cimbali Domus has been rated 8.37 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since June 27, 2002.
Arrow La Cimbali Domus reviews have been viewed 52,529 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Richard Killoh 10.00
T Sted 8.66
Colin Maxwell 5.33
Michael Hauptman 0.00
Marco Anglesio 0.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.2
Manufacturer: La Cimbali Quality: 8
Average Price: n/a Usability: 9
Price Paid: $300.00 Cost vs. Value 8
Where Bought: Strictly Coffee Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 4+ years Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: MicroCimbali, Elektra Semiauto
Bottom Line: A great workhorse machine with some commercial niceties.
Positive Product Points

Very simple to use, reasonably forgiving, but with the potential to yield excellent results.

Negative Product Points

Older models take a while to build up steam pressure.

Detailed Commentary

This was the first proper espresso machine I used - I pretty much taught myself to make good coffee on it. It is worth noting there are several versions of the Domus, with varying degrees of automation. I had the Classic, which has 2 buttons - one for the pump, one for steam. Other models have automatic shot dosing. Also, the price I paid for the Domus listed above was around NZ$500 second hand, which roughly equates to US$300. Here in NZ, they retail for about NZ$1400 - a bit cheaper than a La Pavoni Pro.

The Domus features things like a 3-way pressure release valve (which I appreciate much more now I am using a machine without one!), and a commercial size portafilter. It has a huge drip tray compared to my other two machines, and a reasonable sized internal water tank. I believe the automatic models have a low water light on them, but checking the water level is as easy as lifting the lid. The tank has a built-in, rechargeable water softener, and I would recommend using filtered water if possible.

I have found it an easy machine to use, and very easy to get good results with. Great results however, take a bit of practice. There seems to be a fine line  between a too coarse grind/light tamp, and a too fine/heavy one. The machine's pump will let you know when you have crossed that line by squealing (oh, and you'll get about 3 drops of coffee for a 25 second shot). Speaking of shot timing, I rarely found the Domus took 25 seconds to brew a shot, it was more like 15 most of the time. Most of these shots were entirely drinkable, with about 15% of what I deem to be excellent ones.

Steaming is good on the Domus. It comes with a plastic froth-assisting tube on the wand which is fine, but I quickly removed mine with excellent microfoam being the result. It takes a little time to heat milk, but you can get an excellent whirlpool going, and get very nice sweet and creamy foam. It does take about 20 seconds for the boiler to get up to steaming pressure once you have pushed the steam button (after pulling a shot, it varies a bit if you steam first), and the wand spits water around a bit while its getting going. Generally, I have found this machine to steam much better than my MicroCimbali, and I'm sure you've read other peoples' comments on the Elektra's steaming ability.

If you steam first, then brew shot, it is best to run the pump for about 10 seconds prior to inserting the portafilter. This is because you will get a lot of superheated steam through the group immediately after steaming, which spoils your coffee. I just run the pump until I get a steady flow of water and the steam dies down. You can get hot water from the Domus by pushing both the steam and pump buttons at once - water will flow from the steam wand. I rarely use this feature, partly because I'm not actually sure if it is supposed to do that (I vaguely remember something in the manual about it, but I have long since lost the manual).

Maintenance is easy. Just a regular routine of backflushing, and cleaning the dispersion screen and up under the group seems sufficient. A quick clean of the removable water tank is good also. I never really bothered with the water softener, since I have very good tap water here. Other than the occasional seal, the only thing that has needed replacing in about 6 years of daily use was one button, which inexplicably short-circuited one morning, yielding a bit of smoke. No hassles though - there's a Cimbali importer where I live, and the switch was replaced within a couple of days.

I would recommend the Domus to someone who wants a machine which is pretty easy to use, which gives great results with a bit of practice, and which requires very little TLC. It just keeps going.

Buying Experience

I bought a refurbished second hand unit from a local roaster. Not much to say about shipping, etc - they are about 2 doors from where I work.

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review rating: 8.7
Posted: July 20, 2004, 1:46am
feedback: (3) comments | read | write
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