I am deeply committed to caffeine, but picky about the mode of delivery. Until it's possible to get a direct IV drip, Diet Coke and espresso are the only ways I'll take it.
For my birthday, the SO gave me a Gaggia espresso machine to replace my cheapo Krups. He's trying to make up for being out of town for my birthday three years in a row, even though he knows he doesn't have to. This is the way our relationship works: He has a job he loves, despite all the travel that puts him in places like Fargo in January and Hades in August. I miss him when he's gone, spoil him when he gets back, and never complain about him being gone for birthdays, Valentines, or other special days. He, in turn, tells me I'm wonderful and makes sure we have fun when we are together. It's a simple plan for domestic bliss, but it works for us.
The Gaggia is quite the step up in home espresso brewing technology from my Krups. I'll admit to being a little intimidated by a machine that came with an instructional CD. The short films on the art of a perfect 30 pound tamp, a perfect pull, a short pull and a long pull (so you could see how it looked when you screwed up) were narrated in terse, authoritarian tones. There was a short essay on the importance of a perfect grind for your coffee beans. If (the voice almost sighed) one were to resort to pre-ground beans, there were also rules for storage and handling.
The espresso gauntlet was thrown.
My first pull was declared better than the Krups machine produced, but not the almost syrupy brew I wanted. We set aside my pre-ground coffee (LavAzza espresso) and tried the sample of LavAzza in Blu sent with the machine.
Not only was it dark and intense, both in flavor and texture, but it sported that elusive sign of a perfect pull - a light brown froth of crema on top.
The only problem was that my regular coffee cups, which weren't outsized mugs, didn't fit under the two nozzles. Sticking my head directly under wasn't an option - if a cup wouldn't fit, neither would my head, and I didn't want to scald the inside of my mouth. Worse, it would be damn near impossible to count out the perfect twenty-one second pull while holding my mouth to the burning spigot.
So I went in search of true espresso cups. I thought they would be easy to find. Like Big Foot though, pictures may exist, but it's a little harder to put your hands on the actual thing. I went to Starbucks and Gloria Jeans, where I found a single demitasse that seemed ridiculously expensive. Macys had the right sized cup for a little less, and they had four, but the cups were delicate china rimmed in gold filigree. Apparently I'm a bit of a minimalist, because to me, that gold ruined the look of the cup. Besides, I'd have to wash them by hand, and treat them with kid gloves, and I'm not that kind of a girl.
I finally found my perfect plain cups in restaurant quality porcelain. They came with saucers. All demitasse cups come with saucers. Who uses saucers? Anyway, the new cups, as you can see from the picture above, fit perfectly under the nozzles.
They're too small for my spoons. I can't stir in sweetener. There may be muy papi (to mix my languages) Italian men who can gulp down a shot of espresso without adding sugar, but I can't. Yet, I can't bring myself to buy special spoons just for that.
I see this as the slippery slope to becoming a total girl.
First I buckle in and buy dainty demitasse spoons that fit my tiny espresso cups. Then I rearrange my cluttered silverware drawer so that I can find my tiny spoons in the morning. The next thing you know, I have hand towels in the bathrooms, scented candles through the house, and we end up replacing the kitchen appliances to match the stainless steel facade of my lovely new espresso machine.
I'm thinking about asking the SO to return my Gaggia machine to the store. We simply can't afford the lifestyle it demands.
Just let me pull one last shot.