"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction, Disclaimer, and Warning
This entire document is filled with opinions- it is dripping with them like the dregs off a portafilter left overnight, still attached to a group head after brewing an espresso. This opinion problem is particularly true when it comes to choosing a machine, beans, water, grinder, or any other of the myriad of things that it takes to brew and serve coffee whether it be espresso, cappuccino, or whatever you drink.
None of this diatribe is meant to bend or influence your past present or future decisions in purchasing. This story merely documents what I have been through in my personal quest for the perfect espresso (or at least one made at home that doesn't taste like it was brewed in the radiator of a '67 Impala). Feel free to quest on your own. If you have any criticisms to send me concerning my choices or obsessions, save your keyboard- I already have a wife, and so far (after nearly thirty years of marriage) she is handling the job just fine and tells me she doesn't need your help. If you send me a rant I may post it here and make lots of fun of you for not reading these introductory paragraphs! This is my story and not your story so don't take it personally.
My intention on posting this is to help those who are, like me, on the same quest for a home espresso machine. It is also to help those about to begin the quest to decide whether or not it is something that they really want to do. Much like in "Monty Python's Holy Grail" you have arrived at the Bridge guarded by the Old man:
"He the perfect espresso shall see, will answer me these questions three. What is your favorite beverage?" the shabby Old Man asks.
"Espresso," you answer.
"What is your quest?"
"A perfect espresso brewed at home," you firmly reply.
His third question comes, "What machine do you want?"
"The Gaggia Coffee. No, I mean the Rancilio Silvia!" And with a whoosh and a flash of light you are hurled into the abyss.
It is that abyss that into which we all fall, hurtling into it faster and deeper as we search for our first machine- or at least our first serious machine. It is the journey onto that abyss that is documented in this novelette.
Finally, a word of caution- brewing espresso at home is a messy job that, and if not done careful and cautiously with knowledge and understanding, can cause damage and injury. You will be dealing with a machine that can produce water heated to nearly 200 degrees and force it out at around 180 pounds per square inch. For those who were art majors or were on the football team in high school and didn't frequent too many science classes (I was an art major), that's enough heat and pressure to kill you!
Don't freak out. It's not necessarily a deadly business as long as you aren't drilling holes or such in the boiler while the machine is operating, but the dry steam produced by these machines comes out heated to the point that it can cause deep tissue burns which can be quite nasty. These machines are not toys but serious kitchen appliances. You would no more let a child or a stranger use one than you would let them "play around" with your new table saw or pet alligator.
All the information contained here-in is not meant as a guide and none of it is intended to be used to guide you in using an espresso machine. This article is intended for entertainment value, and is educational only in that it documents what I went through in my Espresso quest. I have posted it here in the hopes that it can help you decide if Espresso is for you. In other words, use this information at your own risk- I ain't responsible!