Ramblings on Nivona 7-series coffee machine

It’s been few months from my last post so I needed some lightweight subject to warm up. I have chosen to collect a bunch of free thoughts and impressions over Nivona 7-series coffee machine after nearly a year of home usage. It is far from fulln blow review, so if you are looking for such one then carry on with searching. If you want see however what reviews usually do not bother to look at, like engineer’s perspective on this appliance, then you are in right place.

Nivona with longer pipe

Looking for new brewing machine started right after milk frother of DeLonghi died. Actually after I was fed up with systematic repairs of steam valve. I sold it out before I got new shortlist of candidates. Criteria were simple: cappuccino made as easily as possible, quality not worse than DeLonghi’s ECAM offered, prices not higher than 700 euro. Next ECAM gen was considered but I found a lot of good opinions on Nivona and I gave it a try.

There were few more factors next to good opinions on taste and build quality:

  1. Silicon pipe to place in milk bottle with frother at coffee nozzle – no need to move cup to get milk and then get coffee. Cleaning should be also easier.
  2. Modern colourful interface – not touchable yet but giving better navigation for options it offers.
  3. Water tank aside instead of back – this particularly matches my kitchen needs.
  4. Access from mobile app – because it reduce my age placing me among millenials. Also usable during party time to show off with geeky toys. No benefits found (details down the essay).
  5. Multiple cleaning modes – DeLonghi did not have any and I felt concerned while tinkering inside I saw brown pipes possibly clogged with coffee sludge.

Like in IT world also with coffee machine I found disparity between vision and realisation.

First annoyance I found was too short silicon pipe. It can suck only 2/3 from bottle milk or cartoon as pipe end does not reach the bottom. Surely Nivona offers detachable milk tank yet after playing it a bit I dropped that idea: it would add to cleaning burden and nice inbox one was only half a litre. Instead I measured diameters of pipe and bought chunk of similar pipe in shop with food processing devices. To my surprise longer pipe with same inner diameter did not work. There was not enough under-pressure to suck milk into frother nozzle. I should foresee this recalling Bernoulli laminar flow equation yet I feel closer to practical engineering then theoretical physics. It took me some more time to get over the internet a pipe with slightly bigger inner diameter. This turned to be right choice. The only drawbacks are more loose plastic ends and longer swishy sound when foam production starts due to increased inner volume of pipe.

Longer pipe in action

Longer pipes allows tray manipulation

Original (left) and longer (right) pipe

 

What I found a bit disappointing in frother system (after purchase discovery) it does not offer regulation of foam thickness. While DeLonghi offered knob to set it Nivona has just one. No way to set it using knobs or mobile app.

Second issue is interface. Quite non intuitive knobs assignment as there is no hints from display which knob does what. Add to it ambiguous languages translation of different menu items. Especially cleaning modes makes it hard to quickly decide if I choose flushing milk subsystem or I choose full clean with detergents. Over time I got use to it though.

And this is place where mobile app goes handy. It allows was faster configuration modifications. What is best though is one time coffee modification hard to set with knobs – you can simply change each characteristic of your drink right before you click “do it for me”. If you think though you can put your favourite mug in the evening and ask coffee machine to make coffee right away from you bed after wake up, then forget about it: app connects thru Bluetooth (so it won’t work over long distances), there is no way to wake up remotely powered of device and finally, once it starts up you need to click knob to confirm initial flushing. I leave to geeks checking if you can run it whole night (standby off) just to prove you can make coffee in purely remote manner.

Display poor angle view

Display refresh quirks

User interface has also another weak point. Display suffers from colour shift looking from different angles. In most natural situation i.e. looking from above colours get washed and Nivona designer have chosen white for milk and light blue for water which made some icons barely distinguishable in daily use. Funny fact to add is that display driver was not thoroughly tested for internationalisation – long labels are not refreshed completely as if redrawing areas are hardcoded.

Easily manipulated site watertank

Budget thin side doors with latches

Next one is easy maintenance. Water tank is easier to operate when is located aside, especially having cupboard above coffe machine. This model does not need much space for operation: just pull up a bit and move away from main unit. Mounting it back is also very easy. On the right side there are doors to brewing unit compartment. Actually it is cover panel, not doors, as it is fixed by dozen of latches. Panel is made of thin plastic and feels fragile so dismounting and placing back should be careful.

Plenty of cleansing ways

Last funny fact that annoys my wife mostly. Nivona is Mrs Clean, amount of water it uses is astonishing. Make three cappucinos cleaning frothing system after each one and it will complain on try full of water. And it does usually when it is my wife’s turn to make a coffee. It flushes milk path separately from coffee path and has three different programs to clean system (milk path grease cleansing, coffee path grease cleansing and decals with tablets). DeLonghi had just flushing milk path and coffee path.

What about beverages quality? It is exactly what I expected from robot like this. It neither as good as you get espresso from manually fed machine nor from professional piano-size La Cimbali, yet it is perfect one-click fast track life support machine for coffee addict. So it will stay until we move to bigger place to afford space for more prosumer appliance.

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