The Old Sprawler has had something on her to do list for a couple of months. However, it wasn't until this morning, when her double shot of Lavazza tasted like Starbucks that she realized that task could wait no longer. Time to clean the coffee machine. Oy. Wotta tragedy! A necessary evil to maintain one's standard of coffee.
I took apart the wand and scoured what I could, soaked some pieces and swished some pieces in the soapy dishwater. The whole time I dug crud out of the little crevices, I thought about the year Big Kitty gave me this fine machine for Christmas. I was so excited! Anna had one and it was so much easier to use than those stupid Krups things. To be sure, I can make great espresso in a stovetop moka, but the machine was the sine qua non of the Italian coffee drinker. It came with a video to show how to use it, and as I poked fresh holes in the coffee basket, I thought back to what a better machine maintainer I was back in the day.
These days, I taste my coffee and when it takes on that telltale Starbucks old cigar taste, it's time and there is no more procrastinating to be done. Lazy, but then again, I don't drink my coffee like Zia Marta, either. (The traditional Zia way is to just toss that puppy back like a shot of whiskey.) I also don't swerp the foam off the top like Anna does. Just sip it, but not slowly. It gets cold faster than a mug of joe, y'see.
So, I brushed, poked, picked and otherwise got the crud out. I ran a couple of batches of water through the Brita and refilled the nice clean tank. Hit the button and when the boiler was ready, I started the machine. Whenever the tank and the filter tube part ways, the result is a vapor lock. The trick is to run the steam wand until the bubble works its way out. Pssshhhhhht!
The last picher of Brita topped off the reservoir and I polished the case. Readied the machine and my little cup for the morning and felt all kinds of virtuous.
So, yeah, you can go to the coffee shop and get an okay cup of coffee, or you can take the time to make your own. The chain stores overroast their beans and the result is a burnt taste like, as I said, an old stogie. Bleah! The local guys roast well, but their barristas insist on dumping in enough steamed milk for a latte. Why do we have to request a cappucino "dry"? Why don't they just make it right without all the extraneous directions?
And do not get me started on the cutesy names for the sizes. Tall for small? Puh-leeze. Or all the permutations of pretend coffee...a grande half soy mochachino low fat whipped cream no cherry.... I have a little chalkboard thing near my coffee machine: "Latte is Italian for you paid too much for that cup of coffee." And it's true. While I was waiting for the vapor lock to get unstuck, I was reflecting on that and chuckling to myself.
I guess there are as many different kinds of coffee drinkers out there as there are gimmicks for getting them to drink it. Still, the best coffee is the stuff you make freshly in your own kitchen. Sometimes, the zen of do-it-yourself is really the most satisfying. Once you get the hang of it, you breathe in the scent of the brew as it's doing its gurgly thing, stir in fresh additives and, ahhhh. I'll leave grinding beans freshly vs. buying it ground for others to debate. I can go either way. The only requirement for me is Lavazza for my espresso and Columbian for my drip maker, but I do like a nice Ethopian Harrar as a treat.
Wishing all of you a fresh cup of your favorite brew in the morning, a year of zen experiences and the good sense to enjoy them when they roll around. Happy 2014!