When I was a teenager, the huge status symbol was to have a stereo system worth more than your car. This was the definition of coolness. These days, if you’re searching for such cultural indicators, how about a coffee machine worth more than your life-insurance policy?
When I was a teenager, the huge status symbol was to have a stereo system worth more than your car. This was the definition of coolness.
These days, if you’re searching for such cultural indicators, how about a coffee machine worth more than your life-insurance policy?
Pardon me, it’s not a coffee machine. It’s a “home espresso machine.” La Marzocco recently rolled out the GS/3 in Seattle (big surprise). The price is $7,500.
This might fly in Seattle where a cuppa joe is worshiped as a religious icon. But elsewhere, people are waiting for the Wal-Mart model.
A lot of folks judge coffee by their machine (instead of their beans), and the manufacturers take advantage of this. We are seeing a flood of premium coffeemakers and a tsunami of promises of great cuppas. Americans are now as gullible about coffeemakers as we are about golf clubs.
Spending a lot more has to be worth it because, you know, we’re spending a lot more.
Italian, French secrets
If you could Google Earth your way to Italy and see through roofs, you’d find almost every kitchen has a Bialetti Premula Express (made in Venezuela). It’s the top-rated espresso-coffee maker. Do you know how much it costs? Twenty-four bucks U.S.
Let us zoom over to France and turn on the X-ray vision. The most popular coffeemaker? It’s the Bodum French Press. Cost? Twenty-four bucks U.S.
Maybe they’re trying to tell us something. Oh, and both of these never wear out. You can put them in your will.
I’m a materialist, so I have both. I enjoy laying in bed on weekend mornings debating whether I want to Bodum or to Bialetti. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but then she hates coffee -- more for me.
Both of these makers share one thing: They make coffee that raises the hair on your neck. If you don’t like coffee that screams, well, you can always dilute it and still have the status of a world-class maker.
Other than that, they are the yin and yang of the coffee world.
The stovetop Bialetti sends a jet of hot water up a tube and into the coffee basket, where it drips through and repeats the process. Only experience tells you when the coffee is done (mostly aroma). There are no idiot lights. The longer it circulates, the stronger the brew. This feature makes it perfect for espresso, which not only raises the hair on your neck.
The Bodum is more tame. You load it with coffee, fill it with boiling water and screw on the top. Press the handle and a wire screen thing compacts the grounds into the water and filters them at the same time. The lack of heat makes a mellow but strong brew that gets every molecule of flavor out of the beans.
Joy in sweat
Both of these guys make coffee that does not taste like that stuff we get in plastic drip machines. Neither is appropriate for office settings requiring gallons of tepid, muddy stuff. Neither is set it and forget it, something we’re accustomed to. Still, there is joy in sweat when you’re producing art.
The Bodum and the Bialetti are more than humble compared with the La Marzocco.
So why do they have so many customers? Forget the price. It gets you out of bed fast knowing that one of the best cups of coffee on Earth is as close as your kitchen.
Send food questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.