Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2004 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
How To Make Bad Espresso

      Go to any website that has to do with making any sort of coffee beverage and you will find reams of information on how to make good coffee. Listed in detail will be the proper this, correctly measured that, accurately time it all, and voila! Coffee. Even my website- this very website, is filled with more information on technique and methodology than I can remember- and I WROTE IT! But finding information on how to make bad coffee is not so easy to locate. Sure, you could go to any of a number of local coffee shops and get bad coffee, but the reward of making it at home, yourself, with your own hands, holds a reward that can't be thoroughly described in words. I am about to make it a little easier for you to make and understand the process of bad espresso.

      After that build up, the revelation of the details showing how simple the process is, you might be in for a bit of a let down, but I'll take my chances.

      Equipment needed- any decent espresso setup will do, but the best results can be had using a machine equipped with a PID. You will see why.. Here we go, step by step:

      1) Prepare to make espresso as normal. All the usual steps are to be followed. Allow the machine to warm up, grind, dose, tamp, all of it, just as always.

      2) Lock and load. Get ready to hit the brew switch.

      3) Here's what you have been waiting for: For this next step it is best to be making the coffee with a number of things on your mind (like publishing a newspaper, finances, etc.) and attempting it all just a little earlier in the morning than that to which you are accustomed will also help.

      When you reach over to hit the brew switch, restrain your best judgment, override what your brain is telling you, and hit the hot water switch instead.

      4) The next fifteen seconds will seem like a eternity, and the urge to remedy the situation might be great, so to distract your better judgment, imagine that you have choked the machine and are just waiting to see if anything will issue forth from the portafilter while the machine is actually pumping water past the pressure relief valve and back into the water tank.

      5) After the time has elapsed, and it is clear that the machine is choked (or so you keep telling yourself if you are following the letter of the instructions) turn off the hot water switch.

      5a) Optional- so no one around you thinks you are unskilled, mutter aloud, "Oh, man! I hit the hot water switch instead..."

      6) Without thinking about the consequences, hit the brew switch. Wait five seconds then look at the temperature readout (here's where the PID comes in handy) and verify that the brew temp is about twenty degrees too low from having all that cold water pass through the boiler in step 4.

      6b) Optional and not recommended- Using a demitasse spoon, sample the brew about mid-way through the brewing process. Note the lingering, industrial aftertaste that will faintly remind you of overheated plastic scraps.

      So there you have it. With one simple, extra step when making espresso, you can make bad coffee! Not that I would try it myself, mind you.

Coffee Cup
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