· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (618 Words)

I drink less coffee (and Red Bull) now than I used to, owing to the fact that I no longer pull the 70+ hour weeks which used to be par for the course for me, and on the whole I feel a lot better for it. It’s one of those things where you don’t really realise just how much you’re trashing your body until you stop and get a bit of balance back. However, I do still enjoy good coffee, as opposed to nasty instant stuff, so I generally drink it for pleasure now more than the caffeine kick (although that’s also a bonus, in moderation). As such at home I tend to grind my own beans and enjoy fresh coffee most of the time - although of course tea is still served at breakfast. Rules are rules. 😉

I’d noticed of late that the filter coffee from my home machine was starting to taste worse than it used to, and concluded that it’s probably down to its age - at 7 years old with an aluminium boiler it’s pretty much past its best. So, I decided to go out this weekend and replace it, but this time I went for an espresso machine rather than a filter machine. The idea here is that the coffee tastes better because hot water is filtered under high pressure rather than just boiling water being passed through it, which tends to ‘burn’ the coffee somewhat. Whilst I don’t typically drink espresso itself, I do love capuccino so given that most machines come with a milk steamer that was just fine.

Now, there are some seriously expensive espresso machines out there. I had no idea, but a ‘home’ machine can easily set you back a few hundred quid if you aim at the really good ones (and semi-pro ones can edge up to a grand). Local choice was fairly limited, with the market being depressingly dominated by those Tassimo and Nespresso machines, which strike me as the Hewlett Packard of coffee machines - you buy the machine, then they screw you by forcing you to buy those little foil packets ever after. That didn’t appeal to me on any level - I like trying different beans from a variety of places, freshly roasted wherever possible, I don’t want some neutered, shrink-wrapped, preservative-laden experience. I was initially going to go for a mid-priced one, but found that none of the online places would ship to the Channel Islands, so in the end I went for a relatively inexpensive little machine that I could find locally, and figured I could at least see what it was like. I’d heard that learning how to make good espresso can take a while anyway so I’ll treat this one as a learner. I can always upgrade to a Gaggia or Jura later on if I decide to go nuts 😉

Well, I still have to get the hang of steaming the milk properly and I’m not sure I’ve figured out exactly how fine to grind the beans or what blend to use, but it makes damn good coffee. I need to get some proper espresso beans to really evaluate it but the coffee already tastes better than the old machine, and the advantage versus keeping a pot of coffee on is that every cup is always fresh. I can see my consumption is going to increase a little in the next few days - perhaps not a bad thing as I’m increasing my hours on the project I’m on this month, since I’m away on holiday from the end of the month. If you see me in the street and hear a barely audible high-pitched whine, that’s just my cerebellum oscillating. 😀