Review: Demoka M-821 C1
A review of the M821 espresso machine by Demoka.
- Single boiler prosumer machine: a solid brass grouphead and
portafilter, with 3-way valve
- Stylish and robust design: outsides of cast aluminum and
- Manometer for monitoring brew pressure
- The design is not well thought out. Drip tray is prone to
spilling when emptying. Steam wand is too small. The steaming switch
is spring loaded. The filterbaskets fall out of the portafilter.
- Bad QA: the manometer was not working on delivery, and the
pressure was at 11 bar, making it impossible to prepare good coffee.
Demoka is a small spanish company manufacturing espresso equipment and
other small electric appliances (among others: meat slicers and
blenders). They seem well-known for their line of burr grinders. I
already have a Demoka mini grinder, which I use to my satisfaction.
My previous machine (Quickmill 820 Stretta De Luxe - bought second
hand for just EUR 120) had just died from internal hemmorhaging. Leaks
in the pipes and seals had wetted the internals of the machine, also
wiping out the circuitboard. This caused the steam-pulse to die. Since
I'm a cappucino addict above everything else, this meant that the
machine had to be replaced.
Since my vendor (Van Pommeren, located at the Lijnmarkt in Utrecht,
The Netherlands) had always been very friendly and knowledgable about
coffee matters, I decided to buy my next machine with them. A HX
(heat-exchanger) machine seemed too expensive for my tastes, and too
wasteful (I only drink a few cups each day) so I decided to go for the
top-of-the-line boiler machine, the Demoka M821 (C1), which is equal
to the M820, but uses different switches and has a pressure gauge.
For your information, here are the specifications, taken from the box
and the internet.
The machine only comes with a Super-crema filter and a 2 cup basket. A
plastic tamper is attached to the machine. It also comes with a Super
Crema filter which supposedly makes better coffee from poorly ground
coffee. For EUR 599, my vendor gave me a complimentary one-cup basket,
as well as a kilogram tin of Gruppo Izzo Arabica
- Body in stainless steel, shining polished
- Sides panels in cast aluminium, fished: dully polished (anodized)
- Auto-suction pump, maximum working pressure, 18kg/cm2.
- Boiler, filter-holder and hoop in brass.
- three way electro-magnetic valve.
- hot water
- steam for warming up liquids, and foam milk for cappuccino
- water container easily removed. Visible water level
- Super Crema Filter.
- Coffee can be made from single (one-cup) dose of coffee (cialda-pod).
with the optional accessory M-630.
- Power: 1000W.
- Dimensions: 40x40x47.5cm.
- Weight: 12.9 kg.
- Boiler in Stainless Steel. Capacity 250 cc.
The quality of the coffee from this machine is good. The machine only
makes a modest noise.
- The machine was factory delivered with a pressure of 11 bar. It
was impossible to balance the grind, tamp and amount of coffee to get
the ideal (25-30 second extraction time for 7g coffee per
cup). Moreover, the grinds in my portafilter never formed a dry puck.
This was in fact easy to remedy. The machine can be opened by removing
the single screw attached to the backside. Inside, attached to the
pump, is a tunable OPV (Over Pressure Valve). Loosening the nut on
this valve tuned down the pressure. The manometer in front of the
machine makes it easy to tune to the desired pressure (approx. 9 bar).
- The bottom of the portafilter does not have a crescent shaped
outlet, but a small, flat plastic disk with two holes. This means that
it's difficult to see where to put the cups when brewing for two.
- After making coffee, some coffee remain between the portafilter
and this disc. In as little as a few weeks, a layer of burnt coffee
will cake onto the bottom of the portafilter.
Since I only make single shots, I simply removed the plastic disc.
- The filterbaskets are held very losely in the portafilter. The
portafilter does come with a little piece of rubber to hold it while
knocking, but this is highly inconvient. Very often, the basket joins
the hot, messy grounds in my knock box. The solution is to take a
drivel and hammer and to make small dents in the basket, which jams
the basket into portafilter.
If you intend to do this, take the basket out of the portafilter, and
use a piece of wood below the basket while hammering.
The drip tray is rather shallow, and has to be lifted out of the
machine to empty it. When lifting the tray, it easily tilts causing
the stale coffee remains to spill onto the surface underneath.
- The boiler is well insulated, meaning that the surface on top the
machine is not usable for warming cups. It simply does not get hot.
This could also be construed as an advantage. This machine doesn't
leak heat much, so it uses less power. Cups are heated quicker and
more easily by putting them in the microwave, upturned on a saucer
with some water.
- The steam wand leaks bits of water when the machine is making
coffee. Apparently, the steam valve does not close completely.
- Upon delivery, the manometer was not working, due to scale
buildup. Although this was quickly fixed under guarantee, it makes you
wonder about Demoka's QA efforts.
I have been rather dismayed by this machine's abilities in terms of
milk frothing, especially since my clunky Quickmill produced better
froth and was quicker and easier to use.
Here are my irritations
- Boiler size/heating power: to heat the boiler for steam use, you
have to switch the thermostat for the heating element. Heating the
boiler for steam takes approximately one minute, which is long enough
for any espresso shots to cool down.
The steam switch is spring loaded, meaning you have to hold it
down for a whole minute.
- Steam quantity: the amount of steam is limited, and is just enough
to froth and heat milk for one or two servings. It's possible but
rather awkward to open the valve and depress the steam switch at the
same time, while frothing.
- The design of the steam wand: the steam wand swivels, but due to
the size of the hood, it always stays under the hood and over the
drip-tray. Hence, it is impossible to use a large pitcher for
steam. Normally, keeping a wand clean is easiest to do by soaking it
in a glass of water. The M821 needs a tall glass for that, and it's
very easy to spill water while placing and removing the glass.
Van Pommeren claimed to have brought this problem to demoka's
attention in 1996 (!). Given this knowledge, I wonder why he is still
selling them. Of course, I'm miffed that he sold one to me as well.
- The design of the wand tip: this tip is the standard Demoka steam
wand. It features a so-called "easy to use" frothing aid, which has a
small hole in the side. This aid is good enough if you like cappucino
with hot milk and soapy bubbles. Given the design faults of the wand
mentioned earlier, I would recommend an aerolatte for that.
M821 soap bubbles
My solution so far has been to stuff the airhole with a tiny piece of
cork. This produces a foam which has reasonably small bubbles, and the
required taste and texture.
I'm still looking for a replacement steam wand tip (diameter 4.7mm),
but my vendor could only deliver me larger wand tips for larger
Demoka steam wand tip, with side-air hole visible. Click to