Thursday, August 20, 2009

Coffee (The Machine)

Before I was married, I drank coffee once. I was at a conference in a hotel that was so boring, I needed something to keep me awake, and there were no Cokes, my caffeine drug of choice at the time.

Then I got married to a coffee addict. A lot of people like coffee, I thought, maybe I could learn to like it.

Starbucks was coming along, but I didn't get it. Then I visited Vancouver. Vancouver and Seattle are are the hub and birthplace of "culinary" coffee in North America. We visited Caffe Artigiano, when I saw my first latte art. Something like this photo. It wasn't harsh, or bitter, or weak. It was as smooth as silk, rich like chocolate. Not steaming hot, but just the right temperature to drink it when they gave it to you. It was a small drink by modern coffee shop standards--only about 6 ounces.

I had to be able to do this. I got an espresso machine. A Saeco Classico (known now as the Saeco Aroma). Mostly it could make good espresso, but it took several tries each time I used to. The bad "shots" would be bitter or sour and generally undrinkable. The good shots were pretty good, but never matched what the best coffee shops could do. It was so hard to use, and the bad shots used up so much coffee, that we could only use it on weekends.

In my perfectionist drive to make espresso like I had in Vancouver, I took a barista class from Counter Culture Coffee. For six hours a group of six people brewed espresso, steamed milk and drank and critiqued our concoctions. I knew how to do this.

When I got back to my Saeco machine, I was making better drinks. It still took a long time and I still had a lot of waste.

Then the Saeco died.

I needed a new one. After tons of research, I bought a Rancilio Silvia. Now we have espresso every morning. Not perfect. But very good.

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