5 Things I Like About the Nuova Simonelli Musica

In my last week’s blog post, I listed 5 things I don’t like about my Nuova Simonelli Musica. In this week’s post, I’m listing 5 things I love about it.

  1. The steam power, wand and tip: if you’re like me and you steam a lot of milk and love latte art then you will appreciate the steam on the Musica. The Musica has a 4 hole steam tip, the same tip used on the Nuova Simonelli machines used in the Barista Championships. You can watch this video here to have an idea for the steaming power. You can also watch some of my posts on Instagram to see examples of latte art.
  2. Temperature consistency: so far my experience has been that before I pull a shot, if I flush the same amount of water after the flash boiling stops (cooling flush), the temperature in the cup is pretty consistent so is the taste (assuming other variables are constant)
  3. Design: beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I personally find the design to be very attractive and a nice combination between modern and retro making it a good fit with other coffee equipment or appliances.
  4. LED strips: you may think that the lighting on the LUX model is a gimmick and unnecessary but I personally find it extremely cool and a nice WOW factor when I have people over at the house.
  5. Tank and drip tray capacity: both are huge compared to the size of the machine. The reservoir holds 3 liter of water while the drip tray holds close to a liter. Both don’t need to be frequently refilled/emptied often. Coming from a Silvia, which has a small water reservoir and a tiny, almost nonfunctional, drip tray, the Musica is a relief.

5 Things I Don’t Like About the Nuova Simonelli Musica

For those of you who don’t know or didn’t read my earlier posts, I’m the owner of a Nuova Simonelli Musica that I purchased off of eBay for 40% of its retail price! The Musica was a flop for Nuova Simonelli simply because it was double the price of its smaller sister the Oscar without double the features. Below I will list 5 things I don’t like about the Musica:

  1. Crazy price: the Nuova Simonelli Musica Lux (with the LED strips) retailed new for $2500 for the tank model while the Oscar retailed for close to $1000 and the Oscar 2 for close to $1300. Keep in mind, these machines are nearly identical except for the price and couple of other changes. I purchased this machine for close to $1000 so depreciation is crazy on these machines. 
  2. Missing brew pressure gauge: for $2500, you would think that a brew pressure gauge (feature found on much cheaper machines) is a given but somehow the folks at Nuova Simonelli didn’t think so, so you only get a boiler pressure gauge. 
  3. Unnecessary NSF certification: for some reason Nuova Simonelli thought that certifying a machine like the Musica, with its vibratory pump and 2 liter boiler, was a good idea. The certification was intended to make the Musica a viable option for small, low volume commercial application (e.g. galleries, small restaurants, etc.). However, the vibratory pump is ridiculous with its 1 minute on 1 minute off requirement and the heating element is only 1200 watts. The high price (for what the unit offered) and the reliability concerns all played important roles in making this machine a nonviable option for the commercial or even semi commercial environment. 
  4. Can’t choose between plumbing and tank after purchase: the Musica must be purchased as either a tank (pour over) model or a plumbable model. You can’t plumb the tank model if you choose to after buying the machine and you can’t use a tank with the plumable model. Again, for the price, the option to switch between tank and plumbing should have been a given. 
  5. Pre-infusion time is not adjustable: the Musica has a pre-infusion option, which you can turn on and off using the keypad, but the length of the pre-infusion is already set at 3 seconds and is not adjustable. 

In the next post I will talk about the things I like about the Musica and why it’s a good buy in the used market. 

The Force Tamper – Review

While browsing coffee gear and coffee-related posts on Instagram, I stumbled upon a post by Socraticcoffee showing The Force Tamper and indicating that a review of this tamper is on its way. Looking at the tamper, I was intrigued. Every tamper out in the market that promises a leveled tamp has to be manually adjusted to accommodate different doses. What do I mean by that? Basically, self leveling tampers that promise a perfectly leveled tamp and a consistent pressure works by manually setting the travel distance of the tamper base to a set level and this level is controlled by your dose. In other words, if you dose 19gm in the basket and you adjust the travel distance of the tamper to tamp down at let’s say a 30 lb of pressure but then if you decide to dose 21gm or if you change coffees (and the new coffee has different density) or if you use different size baskets then you will have to adjust the travel distance of the tamper or you will be tamping too much (or too hard) before the leveling base reaches the basket for a leveled tamp. Once Socratic confirmed that this tamper provides a perfectly leveled tamp regardless of the dose, I was ecstatic and I reached out to the owner (Zubing Sun) on Instagram (@starmoonxp) and asked for more details.

After some back and forth, The Force Tamper complete with multiple bases and handles, was on its way from China to New Jersey and I couldn’t be more excited.

CSC_0239
The Force Tamper with all its glory
The Force Tamper comes with the following:

  1. One handle of your choice (see picture below)
  2. One base (see picture below for different choices)
  3. One small pouch/bag in case you would like to transport the tamper (see picture below)
  4. One rubber tamper base to sit your tamper on it (see picture below)
  5. A plastic clear box where everything fits

DSC_0251
3 different handle shapes, the Jelly (far left), the Mushroom (middle) and the ball (far right)
DSC_0253
The bases are (in order from top left then bottom left): Flat, Curve, Euro Curve, C-Flat, Ripple, Euro Ripple, US Ripple and C-Ripple
DSC_0256
The pouch, the box and the base on which the tamper sits
Once I unboxed my tamper, I wanted to see how the mechanism of this tamper works and to confirm my understanding of its uniqueness and so I disassembled most of the parts but before I show you the parts and components it is important to understand why this tamper is unique. In my mind, the perfect tamper is a tamper that tamps level while applying consistent amount of force or pressure. All tampers on the market that I’m aware of (before the release of The Force Tamper), promise either a leveled tamp (by having a base that sits on top of the tamper), or a consistent pressure, or both as long as your dose is consistent and your coffee is the same. Never existed a tamper that promises a leveled tamp, a consistent pressure regardless of coffee, basket size or dosage (more on that later) without any adjustments!

What makes this tamper unique and what ensures the consistent pressure is the method it employs to apply the force to the coffee. Most tampers on the market that regulate the pressure applied to the coffee in the basket, do so by using some sort of feedback function such as a click or a compression spring that’s designed to provide a preset level of pressure. The Force Tamper unique design is different. Pressing down on the handle of The Force Tamper compresses a spring, then at a point controlled by an internal mechanism, the spring is released pushing or punching a piston down onto the base and then the bases compresses the coffee. This genius of this mechanism is what eliminates the need to adjust the tamper travel distance, like with other tampers, every time you need to adjust your dosage or change coffees.

DSC_0247
Some of the many parts making up the genius design of The Force Tamper
DSC_0248
A picture of the leveling base (without the tamping base) that sits on top of the basket to ensure a leveled tamping
The pressure or amount of force applied can be adjusted. You can do so by unscrewing the handle from the tamper then you will find what looks like a washer (t’s not) with two dents or bumps (see picture below). Grab a coin, then insert it in the two holes and rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. Clockwise will increase the pressure (or punch) force applied to the coffee and counterclockwise will decrease he pressure (or punch) force applied to the coffee.

dsc_0249.jpg

I have embedded below a video I made showing how you can easily adjust the pressure.

From the day I saw Socratic’s post on Instagram, I knew that this tamper is a game changer and once I received it and started using it, I was sold. The Force Tamper with its perfect leveling and consistent pressure tamping, practically eliminates tamping as a cause of bad extractions. Also, for cafes with multiple baristas or multiple locations it helps uniformize tamping. Finally, for working baristas, The Force Tamper eliminates elbow and wrist injuries caused by hours of tamping as you only need to hold the portafilter and tamper still while pushing down on the handle.

I have made a video review of the tamper as well. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I received the tamper in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. 

 

New Coffee and Espresso Station/Table

If you haven’t read my previous post about my coffee equipment and station, please do so before reading this post as it will give you a better idea as to how different this new station is. 

For some time now, I have been scouring the web trying to find a table that’s 60 inches wide by 30 inches deep and 34 to 36 inches in height and under $100 (my total budget for the project is $100 to $120). The reason for those measurements is simply because that’s the largest table I can fit in my kitchen and I was going after the largest table since I have a lot of stuff and I wanted to contain it in one place. Also, my wife was getting tired (never complained though and that’s why I love her!) of me sharing the kitchen counter space with her so this size table will allow me to get everything done in one place and also tuck the mini fridge under the table instead of next to it. This was my setup until last weekend before my father and I completed the new station 


As you can see, it’s nice but not enough space to prepare the coffee or the espresso shot and definitely no room to add more accessories or gear in the future. 

I finally found the perfect table, it’s a butcher block, measures 60x30x34.25 inches and looked like it was built like a tank, one issue though, I live in New Jersey and the table was in Long Island, New York. 

The table was listed on Facebook marketplace for $75 and I negotiated it down to $60, which is a discount that helped offset the cost of tolls and gas. It was a Saturday and I borrowed my mom’s Chevrolet Equinox (I measured my wife’s Jeep and the table wouldn’t fit) and my wife and I decided to make a day out of it. We left New Jersey heading to Long Island around 10 am and was there, on time, at 11.30 am. The table didn’t fit all the way in the car and so we ended up leaving the trunk slightly open but tied down with ropes and bungee cords. Upon arrival and further inspection, I noticed that there are some deep scratches that will require some major sanding and paint chips on the white paint, which will require sanding and repainting. Here’s a picture of how the table looked like when I went to pick it up. 

And another picture showing the scratches 

Scratches and green stains were tough to get out, even after 4 hours of sanding with 100 grit sand paper and a palm sander

On the way back from New York, I went to Home Depot and purchased white semi gloss paint, wood stain, 2 paint brushes and sandpaper. The supplies cost a little less than $40, bringing the total cost of the table to just under $100, not including tolls and gas. As soon as I got back home I went to work on the table and called my father and asked him for help. Luckily, he was free the whole day Sunday and told me that he will stop by first thing after church to give me a hand. 

First thing I did to the table after we came back home on Saturday was to sand the tabletop


First thing Sunday, I decided to continue sanding till my father arrives and once he got here we made the cutout in the bottom shelf to accommodate the mini fridge


Once the cutout was done we started sanding the white paint to remove the paint chips and prepare the surface for a fresh coat of paint. 


Once we laid down the white paint, we started staining the tabletop and the shelf. 

My father giving me a hand and while I was taking pictures
Once the staining was done the table was pretty much complete. 

The tougher part was lifting this beast and bringing it inside the house, this required my wife’s help as my father’s back has seen better days. Once inside I proceeded to arrange my stuff and admire the weekend’s worth of hard work….and it was beautiful! 


These are pictures showing my old and new espresso/coffee tables. 



Please let me know what you think in the comments below or if you have suggestions for updates or a better layout.