"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2004 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at EspressoMyEspresso@gmail.com
Poor Planning, Good Coffee
When I was training to be a teacher, one of the things we were taught was that if you are going to do something new in front of the class you should rehearse it first to be sure it is going to work. Here's what happens when you don't:
The group for which my wife works (a local FireSafe Council) ws having their year-end party and I volunteered to make coffee. I figured I would bring my Senseo and the Cafe-filter and make some decent coffee from a batch of Colombian I had roasted. I also packed along the remaining DE pods I still had just in case there were a lot of people and I ran out of coffee. As I set up and folks began arriving I knew right away I was in trouble. There were probably about twenty people thee and as the night wore on a few more arrived. I knew that I would be busy, and that the Senseo would get a workout.
To add to the delightful workload the mobile in which we had the party was unused for some time and the water was somewhat rusty so the hostess said not to use it for drinking. I brought my own water in a large jug with a pouring spout, so I had to refill from that. The Senseo's small water container meant that I would be refilling quite often.
I pulled one shot into a coffee cup and tasted it for myself before serving it to others. It was actually quite delicious. I removed the Cafe-filter, knocked it out into my knock box (which i remembered to bring) and refilled it for the second pull. I had evidently over-filled it because there was very little flow and when I turned the Senseo off it was vacuum locked. This was the second time that has happened using the Cafe-filter. The manual states that it can take as much as 24 hours for the vacuum to be relieved, and until it is the machine cannot be opened.
Looking back, it probably was NOT a good idea to use the Senseo. My original timings showed that it has a pretty fast every time, but in these sorts of situations it is just not fast enough. I probably would have been better off using Silvia and making Americanos to order.
Still, this was no time to sit and document my bad planning. A solution must be found. I saw that on the stove was a large pour-over cone sitting on top of a serving carafe so I filled that carafe with my good water, poured that into a metal pot, and put it on the electric stove to boil. Probably would have been brought to a boil a lot faster if the electricity had been turned on to the stove. Now what?
Another attendee noticed that there was a blue Gevalia drip machine sitting on top of the refrigerator. Earlier, the hostess had offered me two packages of Gevalia coffee (pre-roasted and ground.. uchhh), which I turned down, and this was evidently the free machine that came with the Gevalia offer. I figured it was either use that, or cart boiling water from the main home to the party mobile.
I found some paper filters in a cabinet, measured out some coffee, did the same for an amount of water I guessed would be appropriate for the amount of coffee I used, and started the thing up. I watched from across the room and was quite amazed at how slow the Gevalia machine brewed. That was a good sign. I suppose it was slow, but compared to my Bunn everything else brews at a crawl.
The coffee must have been OK because the pot emptied fairly quickly- good thing too because there seemed to be no switch to turn off the coffee burning hot plate under the carafe.
So I brewed a second pot. I found that the basket into which the paper filter sits has a little fold-down handle making it very east to remove the old filter and dump the grounds, so in a short time I had another pot done. I poured myself a cup from this second batch and it was actually quite good. Even though the whole beans had been sitting, sealed in a glass jar, for about two or three weeks, they still made a very nice cup. I can say with some assurance that it was probably a lot better than what most of the people there were accustomed to drinking.
I did not get a chance to actually put a thermometer in the Gevalia to check the brew temp, but for free, it just might be a pretty good coffee maker to keep around.
ADENDUM - 11/7/2004 I looked at the Gevalia website but the coffee maker featured in the above story is no longer available- the new models have electronic controls and a thermal carafe instead of the traditional glass pot, and so I have no idea if anything else in them has changed.
I was about to sign up for the current Gevalia offer and get the current model for $8, but I talked to the hostess of the party and mentioned that I liked the coffee maker I used that night as it brewed slowly and seemed to be of the correct temperature. I asked if I could borrow it because I have been put in charge of coffee for our annual extended-family Thanksgiving dinner and food fight. *1
She told me that I could HAVE the coffee maker because she hated it. It is now sitting on the dining room table, and tomorrow I get out the digital thermometer and roast up a batch of Colombian to do some testing.
*1- It isn't mush of a food fight- we just toss a few olives at each other and wait for Mom to say, "O.K. That's enough," timidly, fearing that we might reach for the pumpkin pie.