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La Cimbali Max / Max Hybrid - Rich C's Review
Posted: July 17, 2011, 11:49am
review rating: 9.7
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
La Cimabali Max / Max Hybrid
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Arrow The La Cimbali Max / Max Hybrid has 5 Reviews
Arrow The La Cimbali Max / Max Hybrid has been rated 9.52 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since July 25, 2008.
Arrow La Cimbali Max / Max Hybrid reviews have been viewed 21,629 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Curt Raney 10.00
Rich C 9.67
Steve Dillick 9.00
Jason Brandt Lewis 7.83

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.6
Product Reviewed: Max Hybrid
Manufacturer: La Cimbali Quality: 10
Average Price: $795.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $795.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Chris Coffee Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 6 months Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Pasquini Moka
Bottom Line: No static.  No clumps.  Fluffy goodness.
Positive Product Points

Great fines.
Pleasure to look at.
Pleasure to use.

Negative Product Points

Needs more than a dose in the hopper.
Hopper removal is inconvenient.
Inconvenient disassembly.

Detailed Commentary

With the single exception of our individual reaction to dosers, I agree with Curt Raney's review completely and suggest you read it if you're at all interested in a Max Hybrid.

I generally distrust -- and expect you do as well -- wall to wall 10s reviews.  Nothing's perfect, right? If it's any comfort, the Max Hybrid isn't perfect.  It's biggest defect, if defect it is, is lack of versatility, and that's expressed in several ways.

The grind adjustment does very fine micro-adjustment extremely well.  Great if all you do is espresso, but a serious PITA if you want to grind for an espresso machine AND a French Press.  Enough of a PITA to just forget it.  Since all I use mine for is espresso, that's not a negative for me -- but it could be a deal breaker for you.

As Curt wrote, the grinder doesn't do well without enough beans in the hopper to keep the feed filled all the way through the grind.   I use a darkroom enlarger timer to time grinds, so that's not a problem for dosing.  BUT since the hopper doesn't come off without a screwdriver, and there's no provision for holding the beans in it when it is removed, changing beans means taking them out with a spoon or chopsticks or something.  Another royal PITA.  Not a problem for me.  I'm sufficiently loyal to load the hopper with 200g of beans at a time without regret.  You may be more promiscuous.  

About the enlarger timer... you want one.  If you're costing out a Max Hybrid factor it in.  At the time of this writing, a new GraLab 450 may be had for around $200 from Adorama.   Perfectly good, used timers are available on ebay for significantly less on a catch as catch can basis.   Lots of luck with that.

Curt wrote about the plastic guard inside the doser preventing brushing out the throat.  What he wrote was right.  Unsurprisingly, there are easier grinders for a home user to break down for cleaning.  For routine, weekly cleaning, I've switched to Grindz.  Unless you're ambitious, you probably will too.

The forks don't do a good job of supporting a La Cimbali pf.  You'll want to hold on to the handle.  Is that a negative?

What's with all the kvetching about the noise?  Not just here, but Home Barista, too!  It's not a particularly noisy grinder.  In fact, quiet compared to all but the quietest -- certainly much quieter than my old Pasquini.  And while it isn't the fastest grinder on earth, it's plenty fast.  My 15-18g grinds take between 7.3 and 8.8 seconds (GraLab strikes again).  So, what noise there is doesn't last long.  If you don't keep your spouse's bed or meet clients in the same room as your grinder, you should be alright.  

The adjustment knob does very fine variation.  Adjusting to bean age, the weather, or other dynamics may be accomplished with great precision.  I can't over-emphasize how important and wonderful that is.

Nice looking grinder.  Good ergonomics.  The switch is where it should be.  The sweeper handle is comfortable.  F&F is flawless.

People make a big deal out of the fact that the Max Hybrid gives big commercial grinder performance but is sized to fit under standard kitchen cabinets.  Important if you need it.  Kudos to Chris Nachtrieb and kudos to La Cimbali for stuffing Max internals into a Junior body.

Great burr set.  You can read about their hybrid nature elsewhere.  They reveal every nuance the beans have to offer.  Among other things, that means the grinds are extremely consistent for size, and are not subjected to much heat during the grinding process.  What else they're doing right compared to what else  other grinders -- even in the same price range -- are doing wrong, I don't know.  After seven months, there's been no discernible slipping.  10 out of 10 on the burrs.  

Bouquets to Curt, but I like dosers in general and this one in particular.  The doser's dosing is adjustable and very accurate.  However, it is the nature of dosers not to do consistent dosing per sweep unless the entire bottom of the doser is covered with sufficient fines.  Unless you're pulling shots one after the other, that would mean leaving a lot of coffee down there to stale.  So, good as it is, the accuracy is useless, pretty much.  The vanes sweep the bottom very clean, which is good for a lot of reasons and (finally) utile.  After grinding and before dosing, from what I can see with the lid off, the grinds look very nice.  But the proof of the grind is in the basket, and after getting knocked around with the vanes and emerging from the doser (with right-hand English), the fines are PERFECT, PERFECT, PERFECT.   No static.  No clumps.  Fluffy goodness.  Be impressed.  Be very impressed.  

If you don't switch coffees in mid hopper, either don't drink anything else or can afford a grinder dedicated to espresso, can handle the financial burden of Grindz, and can live without the joy of frequent brushing, buy one.  

And get a timer.


Buying Experience

Another Chris Coffee purchase.  Can excellence ever become boring?

Three Month Followup

See 1 Year Followup

One Year Followup

Actually about 2 years.  

The Max Hybrid's been very, very good to me; and I still think it's great.  But, as far as I know they're no longer available new.  

The Max Hybrid was -- essentially -- a Max burr set in a Junior body.  It was the product of a collaboration between Chris Coffee and La Cimbali, and was only ever available through Chris.  Please note the repeated use of the word "was."

The story, as I understand it, is that Chris Coffee, requested that La Cimbali make some changes to the machine which would make it easier to remove the hopper (without a screwdriver) and prevent beans from getting caught between the hopper and deck in order to make it easier to clean the machine.  

La Cimbali said "no," and Chris won't order any more of the old design, so...  

I DO remove the hopper every month to clean the deck and make sure no beans are caught there, getting rancid and ruining the party for everyone.  After experiencing the problem of a bad bean fragment caught in the burrs, I clean with GRINDZ once a month.  

Because GRINDZ cleans the burrs well enough, and because the burr duty cycle for home use is measured in geologic time, it's not worthwhile to bother removing them.

The screws which attach the hopper to the machine are very long and go through long guides in the hopper.  While they are not quite "captive" they're very close to it, and you'd have to be very careless to drop a screw into the grinder's throat.  Chris thinks it's a bigger deal than I do, but Chris talks to a LOT of customers.

If you find a used or NOS machine it's something to be aware of, but not a thing to worry over unduly.

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review rating: 9.7
Posted: July 17, 2011, 11:49am
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