"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
14By this time my "worthy" bookmarks relating to coffee had grown to 50 and I felt like I was swimming in a pool of espresso with my head just above the crema with all the information I was ingesting. I suppose that was predictable, Whenever you research something that possesses an enthusiast base such as this it is bound to become a communication snowball. Site A leads to sites B and C, "Look at all the links on site B!" and so on. All the better! Sometimes. With most of the information, most people are in agreement. The basic recommendations are about the same: Thinking about spending $150 on machine number 1? Why not spend another $50 and get machine number 2 which has a better boiler? Oh, you are spending $200 on Machine number 2? You should really look at machine number 3 that has a larger dinklebonger for better crema. But wait_ machine 4 has a standard filter handle without the crema enhancing system which is more professional. And so it goes. If you talk about getting a $400 Silvia then there will be folks who say that you should consider the Pasquini Livia 90 which is "only" about $1100.
How to Shop and Maintain Your Bank Account
I wish someone would have helped me with that when I started.
Start by searching through all the websites you can find. Using your favorite search engine look for espresso, cappuccino, and coffee. Also look for coffee roasting and coffee brewing. Check my page of links when available.
Once you have some basic knowledge, decide how important coffee is to you and how much total you are willing to spend (or at least, how much can you afford?). If married, put a price on the value of your marriage as well, just in case.
From there I would say shop backwards. Start with a roaster, choose a grinder, then use the remains for a machine. Figure:
Based on that, with all the little extras you will need, figure spending from $225 to around $800. The reason I said to shop for a machine last is that there are definite ranges for grinders and roasters meant for home use. Sure, you can spend many times more on an institutional grinder, but it is not at all necessary. The same with a roaster. Pump machine prices go from around $110 to about $1100 for home and semi-pro units. Professional espresso machines start at around $1500. The range of prices makes it daunting, with dozens selling in the $200 to $500 range. Shopping with a definite price in mind makes it a bit easier.
Once you have a wish list of the devices you think will work for you, hit alt.coffee and see what the folks there think. Be aware that this is a group of very knowledgeable snobs, many of whom use machines worth well over a thousand dollars in some cases, but they are good natured and helpful in the extreme. Then call a few suppliers and talk to them on the phone and see what they have to say about your choices. For assistance on shopping online, how to stay safe, and what to look for, take a look at my Online Security Learning Center where you will find a few articles on the subject.
Did I say one last step? I spoke too soon. There is still left to us a discussion of water. Being that it makes up the greatest percentage of coffee, it must be taken into account. I live on well water. It's nice because we have our own well pump that pumps our water right up out of the ground. The problem is that we pump our own well water right up out of the ground. It flows through who knows how many hundreds of feet of rock and soil forming the water table from which we drink. The water picks up all kinds of minerals and such, and develops a taste. It's not necessarily a bad taste, but not one I would necessarily want in my coffee. It also has a lot of lime and/or calcium in it and forms white deposits on all our faucets. Over time those same deposits can be harmful to the workings of an espresso machine. Because of that we now begin our quest for bottled water.
We found one of the markets at which we shop has one of those drinking water machines, and it sells purified drinking water for $.25 a gallon. We figured that we could get two, 2 gallon containers and rotate them. When one is empty we would still have two gallons left for brewing while the empty awaits a re-fill.
In the meantime we also need something from which to drink our brew so it was off to E-Bay. Searches for latte,
cappuccino, and espresso cups and mugs brought more choices than maybe we would have liked, but some careful surfing
brought us some very good deals ona set of espresso cups that I merntioned earlier as well as a nice set of heavy, ceramic cappuccino mugs. If you are looking for new glasses and such, also take a look at the Libbey Glass Company's website. I particularly liked the 15 oz. Corvino mug that would be great for lattes. I will probably order a couple of these when the initial shock of the first credit card invoice passes.