"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
18* Be ready to dedicate a good portion of your kitchen's counter space and at least one shelf in a cabinet to the production of coffee. You will need to locate your espresso machine, grinder, roaster, cappa cups, espresso set, latte bowls or mugs, bags of green coffee beans, storage containers of roasted beans, thermometer, steaming jug, and more. The machine will want a permanent home, particularly one as heavy as Silvia, and when it is full of water, it won't want to be moved. Be prepared to re-arrange things around your espresso machine. You will start to think things like, "It can't go there because the sink will splash on it and leaves stains. It has to be on this side because I need easy access to the steam wand. If I put it there I won't be able to get to the water resevoir."
Some Things I Learned During the First Few Hours
* It is amazing how fast the milk burns to the steam wand. It is almost impossible to wipe it fast enough to get it clean. It's a good thing that the wand has a good chromium finish which makes it fairly easy to get it clean. When choosing a machine look for one that has a steam wand that is smooth, without nooks and crannies where burnt-on milk would be difficult to remove. A shiny, polished or chromium-plated surface would also be of benefit here.
* Silvia's steam production is quite impressive for a home machine. Once the boiler is bled of a little excess water and the heat is allowed to build, more than enough steam is produced to quickly froth up a pitcher of milk in about twenty or thirty seconds- I haven't actually timed this yet.
* The two variables over which the operator has control- grind and tamp- are more than enough to keep you busy searching for great shots for many years. Slight changes can make a difference.
* Espresso tastes wonderful- a food that more people should learn to enjoy. If brewed properly it can easily be appreciated just as it comes from the filter basket, but I still recommend using a cup of some sort. Placing your mouth directly under the portafilter is to be avoided.
* When your mother told you to chew four food before swallowing she also meant espresso! The swishing in the mouth allows the many different tastes to be experienced. It becomes something completely different when consumed in this way.
* What in the world were the folks at Rancilio thinking about when they included that ridiculous plastic tamper with the Silvia? I take the inclusion of such a thing to be an insults. Not only is it flimsy but it's the wrong size!
* There is nothing in the world of coffee that compares to a fresh roasted, fresh ground, properly brewed espresso. It certainly is the method that brings your palate all that coffee can possibly be.
* It's been at least five hours since I shut down Silvia on this first day and I can still smell the coffee and am already looking forward to tomorrow morning! Early the next morning the aroma of the roasting process from the night before can still be sensed in the far end of the house. It is clear that I need to create some better form of exhausting the output from the Precision roaster other then the Jennair exhaust fan.
* I am already looking forward to tomorrow morning so I can start all over again!