Friday, October 23, 2015

Espresso Monster

Chad's cheery red espresso machine is pretty long in the tooth.

The drip tray and the bottom started to rust out.  No problem -- it's not that bad, and one has to wipe the counter anyway.

A thermocouple burned out.  No problem -- Chad replaced it, and added arduino PID control at the same time.  Now it's a Frankenmachine with too many brains.

Steamer won't work.  Broken/gunked up part underneath immovable bolt.

Third time's the anticharm.  No way to get stuck bolt off without destroying machine.


If it were just me, I would get an small inexpensive easy-to-use replacement machine.  However, Chad has Standards, with a capital S.  He researched, and it was clear that it would be best for me to just specify that it needed to fit in the existing spot without taking over more kitchen space and then stay out of the way, averting my eyes from the price.

Of course the machine he wanted is picky, and necessitated a new grinder too.   Even the old tamper won't work (wrong size), so one also needed to order a new one of those.

Just avert one's eyes...

I eventually mumbled something to the effect of "I guess that's our anniversary present a bit early -- this year is brass, and surely there is brass in the espresso maker somewhere."

We thought the machine would take about a week to show up, putting it on our doorstep after we got back from Downieville.  It came early -- in the brief 1-day window between when we went to the rocket launch and when we went up to the mountains.  Needless to say Chad was compelled to fire it up that night, despite the sleep deprivation.

First one must measure the beans.  With a scale. (Note dead espresso machine behind Chad's arm.)

Grind beans and put them in cup.  Stare at machine.

Carefully tamp ground espresso.


Study tamped beans.

Decide tamping is inadequate and do it again.  Harder, this time.

Once more for good measure.   (Note I have been leaving out the part about spouse cackling in the background during every step.)

Study the whole thing again.

Oooh -- put beans in machine and press the button.  Carefully count "One potato, two potato, three potato..."

"...fourteen potato, fifteen potato, Darn!  It stopped."  Supposed to take twenty-five seconds.

Repeat entire process about fifteen more times, altering degree of grind, amount of tamping, and magical incantations.  Proudly display large volume of "reject" espresso.

Tasting has occurred throughout the process.  To my plebeian palate and eye, reject espresso is just fine.  Tastes good and has crema on top.  Still wrong to Chad.  Supposed to take twenty-five seconds.

One more try.

Twenty-five seconds.  Mmmm.

This one was finally deemed good, and mornings are no longer sad.

That is, except for the part that he has to remember to go turn the machine on before taking a shower, lest it not have time to warm up to the proper temperature before use.

In my thrifty way,  I've been using the reject espresso in a variety of ways: in chocolate desserts, mixed with milk and poured over ice, and as a flavoring agent in sauces and marinades.  Because, well, I'm creative, not picky, and hate wasting things.  It's perfectly good reject espresso, after all.  And, I have to admit, even better non-reject espresso.

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