I'm insanely proud of the coffee I make at home. I have the usual assortment of coffee machines, some slowly decomposing in cupboards, others gathering dust by the kitchen window. All at sometime have been urgent, necessary purchases and all have been superseded by the next stovetop, filter holder, french press or espresso machine that was going to revolutionise the way I made coffee at home. Then I gave up. There's no point, I figured. I can just get a cup of joe from the experts and drink tea at home, or wash the mould out of the bottom of the stovetop if I'm desperate. Unusually for me, I didn't plunge myself deep into penury and buy some semi commercial unit thinking of all the money I'd save by doing so. I just left it, happy in the knowledge that someone else was making my daily dose.
Until Christmas day last year, when my mum bought me a simple chrome espresso maker. Nice, I thought, it'll look good alongside all the others, but I ought to try it out, run it through, you know, get it up and running to show some willing. First couple of espressos to come out didn't look bad. The grind was wrong, but hey, there was a respectable crema and it looked like as near to 2 fl oz in 25 seconds as I was ever likely to get, so I mucked about some more. It's a pretty modest machine, yet, with some careful research, aka a couple of hours on coffeegeek.com, a plentiful supply of the right grind care of Monmouth coffee and a few gallons of milk I've managed to conjure up some pretty darn good looking espresso and a pretty flat white or two. I'm not talking latte art here, but something that looks the part and something I wouldn't be ashamed of giving to someone else to drink.
Central to this success, I'm sure, is a coffee tamper. I have my very own black and silver one now and the weight of it in my hand and the tactile grip of it reminds me of a Ducati Monster (a motorbike). I can't afford, ride or even spell the name properly, but, this little puck of shiny metal and rubber reminds of me of one, which is the surest sign that it's a necessary and integral part of the semi decent coffee coming out of my kitchen. It's a dangerous thing though. It's a gateway drug, my little black and silver enabler. I'm already nonchalantly reading reviews of some very shiny bits of kit and pondering the wisdom of re-plumbing my entire kitchen.