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What a Difference a Week Makes

January 06, 2012

Last week, I announced the arrival of my new espresso machine. Granted, the Espressione Squissita Plus doesn't rank up there with the Pavonis and Elektras and lovely high-end machines that others have managed to acquire, but it IS the first real espresso machine (read pump-driven) that our household has owned. I expected that I'd make a few espressos a day for myself in it -- but that's not how things turned out. The new Squissita has started a quiet coffee revolution in our house, and it's all good.


 



First, you have to know the household. Allow me to introduce you to the usual coffee profiles here:



There's me. I love coffee. I love nearly any kind of coffee, as long as it's good. For example, I can drink a cup of coffee made in our cheap automatic drip coffee maker -- as long as it's poured immediately after the coffee finishes brewing. After 15 minutes or so -- and the coffee maker doesn't have a warmer plate -- it just doesn't taste good anymore. 



Then there's Jid, my 19 year old son. He likes instant VIA and Nescafe. He drinks his coffee with sugar and milk and mostly for the caffeine content.



Peyton, my 18 year old son, likes sugary coffee shop drinks with whipped cream. He also likes to make coffee more than he likes to drink it. He's the one who wanted to bring our espresso machine to grammy's when he was 11, so that he could make everyone espresso after dinner.



And finally, there's Steve, my roomie of about 10 years standing. His three requirements for coffee are hot, black and bitter. He cut his teeth on Navy shipboard coffee and never minded drinking the dregs of the coffee made three hours ago at the office. He has been known to reuse K-cups for a second brew because he can't stand throwing them away if he can exract a little more flavor out of them. He easily sucks down 10 to 15 cups of "coffee" a day, but I wouldn't always call what he drinks coffee. Three years ago, he suffered a stroke that left his right hand weak and unable to grip things well. Shortly after that, he decided that he's unable to make coffee in the coffee maker and for the last three years, he spends a lot of time asking other people to make a pot of coffee for him. He'll generally sit in his room and complain that no one will make him coffee rather than make himself a pot. 



Enter the Squissita Plus and the stovetop espresso maker, both of which arrived last week. My sons fell in love with the moka pot immediately -- and essentially stopped making coffee in the ADC. They were even more enchanted with the Squissita -- especially Peyton, a budding engineer, who immediately started experimenting with grinding and tamping. Jid likes the stovetop better. If I ask for someone to make me coffee, Peyton will always make me an espresso. Jid will always make me a moka pot coffee. They both discovered that actually, the LIKE coffee, especially if they make it with the Sumatra or Honduras beans. They've both gone from drinking one or two cups a week to one or two cups a day. 



The biggest change, though, has been in Steve. A couple of days in, he asked plaintively why it was that everytime we get a new coffee making appliance, everyone stops making pots of coffee -- which means that he can't just get a cup of coffee from the pot whenever he wants. He caught me at an irritated moment and I just snarled, "If you want coffee, learn to make it yourself!" The next thing I knew, he was calling Peyton and asking for a lesson in making espresso. I stepped in and showed him how to grind, pack and tamp the filter basket and explained why you really couldn't just use regular ground coffee. He stood there, absolutely fascinated, as the espresso started dripping then streaming into his cup. He asked why it was brown instead of black, how come it looked a little reddish and what was that foamy stuff -- and he listened to the answers. 



I figured that would be the end of it... until I woke up at 5 am yesterday morning to the sound of Steve shuffling around the kitchen. I think it's the first time in 3 years that he has actually made his own cup of coffee other than with the Keurig we bought him last year for Christmas. Since then, he's made several more shots of espresso. He's started being critical -- and not in a bad way. He'll sip then ask me to try it and tell him where he went wrong because it's not as good as the last one, or as good as mine. He's even -- in just one day -- learned to distinguish the difference between the Sumatra Mandehling and the Honduras Bourbon. Yesterday, he asked me about other coffees and the differences in taste. He didn't even blink when I told him I'm planning on spending almost $200 on a grinder. He even asked for a lesson in frothing milk yesterday -- even though he drinks his coffee black. He just thought it would be cool to know how to do it.



Frankly, I'm amazed. This is the same man who, less than a month ago, asked me to warn him when I made specialty coffee in the morning so he'd know not to drink it and was so helpless that his only contribution to his coffee habit was to heat up yesterday's coffee in the microwave for his first cup in the morning and whose only complaint about cold brew coffee was that it was full of grounds (he poured himself a cup out of the brewing pitcher instead of the finished coffeee pitcher.) If I knew an espresso machine would have made this much difference, I would have invested a LONG time ago.






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