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Flavia espresso

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Normally I work at home, but one day a week I go to one of my client's office to do some in-house work. Rather than have my own coffee before I go, I have theirs when I get there. Yes, I could buy some on the way, but I'm a cheap bastard. Anyway, they've got one of those newfangled Flavia machines, which if you haven't seen one is supposed to be an 'improvement' over ordinary institutional office coffee by making individual cups of coffee from little packets of instant coffee. Or at least I assume it's instant--it brews too fast for real coffee. It is, as a former boss used to say, not good. One of the worst things (of many) that's bad is that the coffee is very, very weak.

But the packets come in all sorts of blends, including tea, 'choco' (hot chocolate, I guess), espresso and even cappucino. So I get a bit bored and think, what the hell, I'll try the espresso. You take the 'espresso blend' packet, put it in the machine, and select 'espresso shot' from the menu. A few selects later you have a cup of dark liquid that tastes, well, dark. Sort of vaguely reminiscent of espresso. It's probably about 3 ounces. No crema or actual coffee taste. Not even bitter, really, just dark. It's not really fair to compare it to real espresso, even not very good but still real espresso. Is it fair to compare it to instant espresso from a jar, such as Medaglia D'oro? Actually, no. It does not even compare to that.

I am disappointed, but of course not surprised. I haven't tried the cappucino. The cappucino is made in a two-step process that involves first making a packet of 'creamy topping.' I am afraid of the creamy topping.

However, this morning I have my brilliant flash. Will it work to use one of the regular blend packets with the espresso shot setting? Yes! it does! Making the coffee with half the water brings it up almost to the strength of coffee-cart coffee. I can use two packets to make one cup of coffee. Yay!

I realize that this does nothing, really, to advance the state of the art in coffee-brewing, but I wanted to share my little victory over office-coffee technology.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Aw, shucks, it's a whole other story. Espresso is so much more than strong coffee.

The @#$% of it is, no one really cares about the loveliness of a straight espresso shot. Big Green only sees espresso as a component of lattes and frappacinos and tall caramel latinos, and where will you find a place that bucks the trends imposed by Big Green?

A low-cost option: Bialetti now makes a stovetop moka named, oddly enough, the Brikka (a brikka is the chingadera used for Turkish coffee, which is another animal entirely) for about $50. Check out your various coffee chingadera websites for the best deal. It uses a pressure-cooker type valve to shoot out a smooth, crema-laden shot that most resembles the head on a pint of Guinness. This is close as you can reasonably expect to get to real espresso without blowing $400 on one of the stronger home-pumps. It does take nearly-constant tweaking and seasoning, though.

A real espresso only gives you the essence of the beans without including the harsh oils and acids. Only the most conscientious barista (oh shamefully misused term) will try to pull this essence out of their equipment. Check out that chingadera, and figure it out for yourself!

Nam Pla moogle; Please no MacDougall! Always with the frugal...

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Huhhuhhuh...back off the passion and onto the subject, though;

What you're getting is fairly close to the results of a moka. The moka is the home-espresso maker of choice in Italy and Spain, and it does make some dang fine coffee. It is not, however, even close to properly pump-driven espresso. But it sure does taste better than the stuff that the other cubicle-dwellers are drinking, right? :laugh:

Nam Pla moogle; Please no MacDougall! Always with the frugal...

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