Saturday, October 29, 2005

Matt Makes Espresso part 1

I've been searching for a way to take things to the next level. I decided it was time to learn more, so for the past few months I've been reading, researching, trying to find new ways to enjoy coffee. I've learned a lot and I'll share it with you in time. One of the results of this research was that it instilled within me a desire to make espresso.

Quite frankly, I'd never been impressed with espresso. It just seemed like a yuppie drink. Overpriced for a small amount of strong coffee that still had a fraction of the caffeine of a real cup of coffee. But then I read all sorts of people waxing poetic about espresso, and the transcendend experience it can be when done right. But there are a lot of conditions to doing it right, and somehow I don't think the stoned teenagers that staff the coffee shops where I'd gotten my espressos before really put the time and talent into doing it right.

So I decided I'd have to do it myself. It might take years of practice, but ultimately I'd be able to "pull a God shot," as the espresso fanatics refer to it as.

I did some more research and ultimately settled on the Rancillio Miss Silvia espresso maker and Rocky grinder combination. They have such a cult following. There are even websites devoted to modding the Miss Silvia, and people write eloquently about how much they love the pair but...

I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Miss Silvia, I'm sorry to say, is butt ugly. There's no design going into the exterior. Just a big ugly cube of stainless steel, trying to be osequious and hidden in spite of the general ostentatiousness of espresso. And the cult following and people anthropomorphizing their devices was a turn-off, even if the idea of a community I could go to for more information was nice.

Then I found it. The Francis! Francis! X5. It was at TJMaxx for almost $400 less than the retail price.

It is heavy. It is really ugly in an almost beautiful awkwardness like a Stealth bomber painted pink. Pink! This color does not exist anywhere in my house for a reason. But for $400, I'd deal with it. And you know? It isn't bad. Somehow the fact that it doesn't try to blend in makes it easier to ignore. And pink is the new black anyway, so I can just pretend.

Still, there's something I like about the Francis! Francis! in-your-face attitude. Not many companies manage to work two exclamation points into their name. Not many company owners would have a picture of their daughter sticking her tongue out as their company logo.

I've only tried making "real" espresso twice. I've been using up the free package of Illy pods that came with it. The pods are disgustingly convenient. They're little hocky pucks of coffee, ground, compressed and wrapped in a paper filter. You pop it in, make the espresso, pop it out and throw it away. The espresso made this way doesn't taste nearly as good as the shots I ineptly made using my own freshly ground coffee, but they're soooooo easy. Soon, I'll have a proper tamper though (the tamper was missing from the box, unfortunately, so I had to order a new one) and I'll start working on that "God shot." I'll let you know how it works out.


Hot Tubs said...

That is the cutest espresso machine!

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