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Elektra Nivola Detailed Review
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Discussions > Articles > Detailed Reviews > Elektra Nivola...  
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,584
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Clive Coffee Drip Stand
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2002, 12:00am
Subject: Elektra Nivola Detailed Review
 

Elektra Nivola Detailed Review

CoffeeGeek takes a hyper-detailed look at one of the most interesting and beautiful espresso machines available in North America today.
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Georg
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Apr 2002
Posts: 7
Location: Rosenheim, Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Zaffiro
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Zassenhaus
Vac Pot: Jenaer Glass Gaskettless,...
Drip: Press Pot or hand pour
Roaster: HG/DB setup
Posted Thu May 2, 2002, 9:00am
Subject: Great review.
 

Rarely you will find a review which is that accurate, although you come to a different conclusion for yourself. This review is and I think it is great.

The beauty of the Nivols requires an appropriate environement. It definitely gives a very strong statement of style and its style isn't the average american kitchen style! As an example the Elektra Espresso cups are a requirement for the Nivola to shine. My other cups (Dorothy Hafner designed) didn't look as good on the cup warmer!

All these electronics are fancy. But it will stop in the middle of a shot if water level gets low. There should be a warning in advance espeacally as it is difficult to check how much water is left.

My Nivola sees only a low volume: I drink a double in the morning and sometimes a second one around lunch time. I have the machine for 3 months now and after a brief period of experimenting with tamp style, grind and roast I can get a good espresso every morning without taking care to any details. The consistency of the outcome is a great thing if you have two small kids who want to help you with your morning ritual 8^) I just had a great espresso this morning despite the stress which left only a minor moment for my "barista" task.

Georg
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espressohead
Senior Member
espressohead
Joined: 25 Apr 2002
Posts: 16
Location: Leeds (UK)
Expertise: Aficionado

Espresso: La Pavoni Pro, Elektra:...
Grinder: Elektra MS,MSC
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Thu May 2, 2002, 6:17pm
Subject: GOOD REVIEW BUT............................
 

I enjoyed reading your test on the Nivola and think on balance it was pretty fair EXCEPT I have consistently been able to achieve microfoam with the frother, my technique is to ensure that the wand is deeper in the milk than normal and this minimises the tendency for a "sculpture" to develop.  Also it is possible to srew the steam nozzle fro the microcasa range (which as you know gives excellent agitation) on to the threaded end of the Nivola steam pipe..... This works well for the "purist".
Also I believe that the temperature of the water output for coffee is set about right - no chance of overheating and "cooking" the grounds.
Anyway my boy Sebastian (2 1/2 years old) enjoys making his Daddy a nice morning espresso. Need I say more? Yes. This for most people is an exceptional piece of aesthetic design that makes pretty damn good coffee. Not everyone's like us....CoffeeGeeks!!
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,584
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Clive Coffee Drip Stand
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Thu May 2, 2002, 9:33pm
Subject: Disagree on the temp issue...
 

I have to completely disagree with you on the temp issue. If yours reads 90C or less at the grouphead, that is not hot enough. Don't take my word for it. Take Illy's word on it, through research. Take Ukers' word on it, again quoting scientific research and proper studies. Take the SCAA's word on it, again through research and studies.
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espressohead
Senior Member
espressohead
Joined: 25 Apr 2002
Posts: 16
Location: Leeds (UK)
Expertise: Aficionado

Espresso: La Pavoni Pro, Elektra:...
Grinder: Elektra MS,MSC
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Thu May 9, 2002, 1:00pm
Subject: Nivola Brew Temperature
 

Mark stated that the brew temperature is too low. This is definitely a matter for debate: In Illy Caffes "bible" My Espresso page 43 and I quote"the machine must be able to heat water up to 90oC. This book is generally regarded as carrying some weight. Obviously the SCAA are entitled to their own opinions and of course tastes are subtlely different in Europe and N.America. I stand by my original comments!
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MarkPrince
Moderator


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,584
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Clive Coffee Drip Stand
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Mon May 13, 2002, 2:49pm
Subject: Illy comments
 

The Illy comments are not accurate with Illy's current methodology on what produces the best espresso. Reference Espresso Coffee, the Chemistry of Quality, a work by Dr. Illy, Andrea Illy, and others. The bulk of this books' work comes from Illy's testing facilities and work done in the late 1980s and early 1990s and beyond.

They quote that acceptable parameters for brewing espresso are 90C for water, PLUS OR MINUS 5C. However, on p. 176 and other pages, ideal temp extraction rates are stated at 92C, which is closer in line with the SCAA's findings.

Nowhere does the book establish that a machine must "heat up to 90C. It says 90C must be the median, ie, up to 95C, or down to 85C. IMO, and my own empirecal testing, that temperature is completly wrong, but I'll bow to Illy's findings that it is the bare minimum acceptable grouphead water temp.

But the point of all of this is sorely missed. This website's focus is global, but most of our audience is American based. As such, reviews are slanted towards the American standard of what espresso is supposed to be. On the East Coast of the US, the slant is more towards the norto Italiano way of brewing espresso, but the west coast has its own way. To certain west coast mentalities in the espresso world, even 92C is too low - 95C is approaching better extraction perfection. I'm in the 92-93C range myself, and I have my pressurestats on various machines tuned to deliver that range, plus or minus a few C. If I "surf the gauge", ie pull a shot when the boiler pressure needle is at a certain spot, I get that 93C pull and it delivers superb, almost "god shot" like results, everytime.

Since this review takes into account N. American likes and expectations in what temps should be delivered to the grouphead, I stand by the argument that the Nivola needs to be ramped up at least 3C or more. If I were in Italy, or some other region of the world, I might argue something different, or I might find the temp "perfect".
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espressohead
Senior Member
espressohead
Joined: 25 Apr 2002
Posts: 16
Location: Leeds (UK)
Expertise: Aficionado

Espresso: La Pavoni Pro, Elektra:...
Grinder: Elektra MS,MSC
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Thu May 16, 2002, 6:18pm
Subject: Consensus....
 

Ok Mark I accept that there are differing approaches within both the US and Europe and I guess it all adds to the intrigue as to what makes up the caffe perfetto! Keep up the good work and I'll continue to be a (constructive) thorn in your side!! ps I'm currently doing ny own evaluation on the Hottop roaster, I'll be adding some comments to the first look test. Cheers
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coffeefiend
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2002
Posts: 1
Location: Portland, OR
Expertise: Intermediate

Posted Sat May 18, 2002, 4:34pm
Subject: random owner comments
 

Thanks for the great article and for clearing up a few things that I had questions on.  The problems I've had with "out of water" alarms are really annoying and I wouldn't recommend this machine if my experience is typical.  That said, it truly is stunning to look at.  Am wondering if the perfect machine [for me, anyway] exists?  One that is incredibly simple to use, reliable and makes a good cup?
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drylatte
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 1
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Aficionado

Posted Thu Jan 30, 2003, 12:05am
Subject: "Lemon?"
 

The Nivola vibrates while the machine is in brew, and is very noisy.  I find the water is not hot enough and after 4 months of experimenting with different coffees, I have yet to ever see crema and enjoy a coffee that doesn't taste like mud. It takes almost one minute before the steamer/frother is ready to use- far too long. I had to put up with the bells going off for a few months until the retailer learned it had to be retro-fitted with a part.
I find myself reverting to to my 8 year old $200 Gaggia  just to have a good cup of coffee. Maybe I have a lemon!
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Race
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2005
Posts: 1
Location: Venice, CA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Tue Nov 15, 2005, 11:42am
Subject: Re: Elektra Nivola Detailed Review
 

I've had the Nivola over a year now and it's worked great. As far as the steam issue is concerned, I replaced the plastic steamer head with a metal tip because the plastic tip made the foam too airy. My only concern is over the cleaning of the grouphead. I can't find a socket that will fit the machine. When I contacted TMR Inc (tmr9.com), I was told cleaning wasn't necessary. Can that be true?

If anyone can tell me the exact socket size to use, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks and happy brewing!
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