Monday, 12 May 2008


For over twenty years I’ve been happily drinking instant coffee and liking it. The smell of that wondrous ‘fresh’ coffee bursting out of the can or jar from the day you opened it was most satisfying. Most of us don’t notice the way it gets staler by the day. It’s coffee, that’s the way it tastes and that’s the way it is.

If you’ve ever had a cappuccino down the shops and seen the massive, expensive machine seemingly necessary to make a fantastic coffee, you resigned yourself to never being able to do that at home. Let’s face it, nobody wants to screw around ordering special beans, grinding them properly, working out how to get the crema to come out right, and then make the milk micro-froth.

My wife did. Or more to the point she wanted me to know how to. I blame her brother Mark for this. He put us onto ‘good’ coffee. Admittedly the difference is startlingly superior even to a mug slurper like me. At first we tried the stove-top pot that involved getting very hands-on with your coffee. I don't like to fiddle fart around in the morning when merely boiling the kettle is a trial so the wife had to do this. Next we tried percolated and then steeped coffee. There’s good and bad points to these methods.

When I realised the other half had set her mind to ONLY drinking exceptional coffee, and would no longer drink our perfectly mediocre range of instant, I started looking for a machine that would do all the hard work and spit out a cuppa on demand.

We found one on eBay that does almost everything automatically. From the noises it makes everything is happening under maximum duress. It grinds the beans, (1 thousand decibels), packs the coffee, (ram, smash, clunk), slams 5 million PSI of steam through the grounds and then fills your cup if you remembered to put it under the spout. We got one with a separate wand to do the milk manually. I don't remember agreeing to that. Why would I want to do my milk manually? Isn’t there a machine that will do it for me as well?

The machine that would do this was more expensive than ours. We’d already paid several thousand dollars for the technology to get us most of the way there so I had to shut up and froth the milk.

When handing over this sort of money you’d want to feel confident your machine couldn’t possibly fail, right? Wrong. And the bit that stuffed up was the MANUAL milk frother. Coffee without micro-frothed milk is totally unacceptable to half of our household. The manufacturer screwed up though, the machines self destruct device went off too early. It was still two weeks inside the warranty period. That's so rare it’s worth a mention.

I packed the bloody thing up and took it to a repairer. They’d just landed the contract and not long after wished they hadn’t.

I picked it up again 6 MONTHS LATER.

I got the heavy bastard home and made an experimental cuppa. The milk STILL wouldn’t froth. It was EXACTLY THE SAME as when we left it there half a freaking year ago.

Straight back to the shop. What’s the bloody go? To be fair he had a look straight away. The steams blasting out and he’s looking at me as though I’m a retard. It took some time to convince him that the steam pressure might LOOK fine but it wasn’t frothing the fucking milk. They didn’t even have any milk to try it with and no benchmarks to test what pressure was supposed to come out. THEN he tries to tell me that I’m frothing it wrong. Now although I didn’t really want the machine in the first place, I made sure I worked out how to use it properly. I probably sounded like a coffee snob, and I felt like one as I explained the difference between big billowing bubbles made by jerking the wand in and out of the milk and lovely creamy micro-bubbles that is an essential requirement to properly frothed milk. If our positions were reversed and someone said that to me, I would call them a wanker. In the end I wore him down and he rang the manufacturer. They said I was right. In your face pal. Confused at being wrong my repairer did a bit of record checking and realised he’d forgotten to de-scale that side of the machine. There are two circuits with two thermo blocks and he’d only done one. At least he was honest about that. Wanker.

(Like it? See – The oldest can of peas and carrots in the world)


SuzyQ said...

That's hilarious. Even your coffee machine is funny.

Girl of LA said...

Ha ha, oh man. This is why I go to Starbucks for my coffee needs. :)