Friday, May 23, 2008

and the angels sang

This is my new Bialetti cappuccino maker. A stove-top cappuccino maker, you say? Does it really work? Is it any good? Abso-f**ing-lutely. Just look at that foam. That's the kind of foam you can't get from an affordable (read: cheap-ass) cappuccino maker. Trust me, I know. And the fact that it works on the stove-top as opposed to plugging in would be a definite benefit if, say, you were moving to another country where the voltage is different.

And, hey, the Italians invented espresso. If this is how they do it, that's good enough for me.

Add in the knowledge that getting a machine that can make cappuccino of this quality would usually cost you, oh, four or five times what this one cost...

This thing is the Holy Freaking Grail.

For a while I was worried about the "coffee grinder problem"; blade grinders don't produce an even enough grind for espresso, and burr grinders are just a wee bit too expensive for me...then I remembered that they sell bulk coffee beans at the Commissary, with an industrial strength coffee grinder right there in the coffee aisle. I can buy whichever beans I want (like a decaf dark roasted Kona blend, for instance) and grind it to a fine powder perfect for espresso just by turning a dial. Okay, so it won't be as fresh as if I ground the beans right before I brewed each pot, but since I'm buying in bulk, I can buy as much - or as little - as I want. Grinding once a week is good enough for me. Especially if it means not spending $100-200 on a grinder.

In other (related) news, my kitchen stuff started coming yesterday. The Fed-Ex man brought my cookware set, and the UPS man brought my enameled cast-iron skillet. That mofo is HEAVY. And pretty. And I saved a buttload by buying Lodge instead of Le Creuset. Sorry, I just don't see the point of spending $100 on a single frying pan. I can't afford to be label-conscious. I bought Lodge instead of Le Creuset; Cuisinart instead of All-Clad; Cuisipro instead of Microplane; Exopat instead of Silpat...and saved a bunch of money in the process.

Enough to buy my Bialetti. The exception that proves the rule.


Dianne said...

A work of art!



Kosher Tofu said...

ok ok ok ok ...


I just found my first cappuccino maker. I purchased it at the thrift store down the street for $2.40 (yeah there is a dot there)

Now, I am VERY new at making good coffee, but I really enjoy the over-the-top espresso/latte that I make (In an attempt to make a latte, I end up with a really big espresso that happens to have some frothy milk in it.

The cappuccino maker is a Mr. Coffee, the kind that has both a regular coffee maker and the cappuccino machine together. I make mine with beans, ground with one of those little grinders, and fresh cold bottled water. I press the grounds with a baby spoon and clean it when I can with vinegar. What can I do to make my home-brew a better experience. I don't to spend a lot, but that machine you have looks AWESOME.

Thanks! Cool new toy!

Kerry said...

Well, the only experience I have with making *real* espresso is with a crappy cheap machine and the super-industrial-fully-automatic one they had at PJ's. The one I have now doesn't technically make "true" espresso, which is defined by the amount of pressure created by the steam and blah blah blah...whatever. It tastes right and that's all that matters to me.

Okay, so...make sure the coffee is ground super super fine, practically a powder. Press it down REALLY hard...Alton says to use a tamper (search for "espresso tamper" on Amazon - and yes, I learned a lot of this on Good Eats) and use a lot of pressure, I think it's supposed to be something like 25 pounds of pressure.

What I do know is how to get a good froth going. I really excelled at that aspect of being a barista. Hold the milk at an angle to the frothing arm and get the tip of the arm just under the surface of the milk, not straight down.

(The machine I got, btw, was $100 at Williams Sonoma. The glass version is exclusive to WS, but you can get it in brushed aluminum, pink, or cow print for about $10 less at Amazon. I think I saw a cheapie knockoff at Walmart for like $30, I don't know how well it works, though.)