A smooth Espresso for beginners

Dear Reader

As you know from following diablog, Glynsky and I love espresso. He prefers illy and I usually buy from a local roaster, their house blend.
Glynsky uses a French press often, I use real espresso machines and sometimes a Moka pot. The best way to make espresso you can find here.

Once in a while I try espresso from the “big brands” like illy, Lavazza, Segafredo, etc. And recently I found one, that I would like to recommend to newcomers. It comes from Lavazza and is called:

Lavazza Crema e Aroma
You can get the beans at Amazon, Brits can also get it here. I am sure there are plenty of other sources. You can do Glynsky a favor and buy it in a store.
 
The espresso is a mild one, not bitter, with a very slight hint of cocoa. It is a nice blend for beginners. It isn’t too strong and still tastes a lot better than any normal coffee. It is also nice for late evening, if you don’t want a strong espresso anymore.
So, whether you want to drop that coffee habit, get rid of the nasty Starbucks shit, or just do your taste buds a favor, give it a try. You are unlikely to go back to regular coffee after drinking freshly brewed espresso.
And, please, stay away from those pads and capsules. You are being robbed, when buying the shit (do the maths), and ecologically they are a nightmare. Just look at the garbage they leave behind.
Enjoy,
Engine Room 

Moka pot – an Alternative to an Espresso Machine

Dear Reader,

Earlier on diablog I wrote about my love of espresso, here and here.

The main difference between coffee and espresso is water versus pressured steam. Only an espresso machine extracts the delicious coffee aroma with steam, which is pressed through the coffee powder, ideally at ~9 bar. The other methods use hot or – wrong(!) – boiling water.

So what do I use to feed my passion for coffe, whenever there is no espresso machine around?

If a gas stove – an open fire – is available, I am a big fan of the Italian caffettiera, or macchinetta del caffè or going by the brand “Moka“.

With a Moka you can produce a great cup of coffee, it is a low cost machine and easy to use. This is the classic pot, made from Aluminum:

Moka1

as invented by Alfonso Bialetti, founder of the Bialetti company and – funny enough – grandfather of Alberto Alessi, owner of Bialetti’s biggest competitor. Which makes its own caffettieras.

The machine is so successful, that you find it and variations in many design museums including the MoMA in NY. The Moka Pot is stylish, an honest, simple and affordable product.

The story goes, that Mr. Bialetti was inspired by an old-fashioned device called Lisciveuse, a cauldron in which the women washed their laundry of the place. If the Water was boiling, it rose in a tube top and poured, together with the detergent on the laundry.
And this is how the Moka pot works (from Wikipedia):

The bottom chamber (A) contains water. When heated, steam pressure pushes the water through a basket containing ground coffee (B) into the collecting chamber (C).

At first the lower container was not bulged conical, and the
upper reservoir had wooden handles.

But there are a few things to keep in mind.

Continue reading “Moka pot – an Alternative to an Espresso Machine”

Bad luck – good luck

Dear Reader,

My love for espresso is well documented here on Diablog. A few weeks ago my espresso machine died. First the gasket went. I had pushed too much, my fault. Yet, after some hustle I bought a new gasket from a small lovely store. The gaskets I had ordered online previously never arrived. So much for that.

Nevertheless, replacing the seal was easy and things were fine again. I was back on my drug.

And then the machine died for good. The on/off switch did not work properly anymore, and steam was coming out of strange places. This was far beyond my repair capabilities. And after almost six years of constant use, I was not too sad. Remember, I had paid a mere $20 for it.

When I had bought the gasket, the shop owner informed me, that what I thought was an AEG machine was in fact a DeLonghi. It seems, DeLonghi is selling its espresso makers under various labels, like Krups, AEG and what not.

So this time DeLoghi machines were included in my flea market hunt for a new/old machine.

And my luck, I found:

a DeLonghi ECP31 at a bargain of $25.

It is dead simple, easy to use, has high pressure of 15bar, and most importantly makes absolutely delicious espresso.

Bonus, when a friend dropped off the old machine at the recycling center, one of the employees asked to have it for repair.

Consider me a very happy camper again, going to make an espresso now,

Engine Room

Sunday Morning Classic

Dear Reader,

At diablog we play a lot of music, and from various genres. With one exception, there are not too many pieces of classical music.

In ‘meat space’, aka offline, I like to start my Sunday mornings with classical music. Usually I have a glass of orange juice, a glass of pineapple juice, my first cup of espresso, the first cigarette, all in peace. And along I listen to classical music.

One of my favorites for that is the overture of Mozart’s Le nozze de Figaro, as mentioned here. Granted, it is a very popular piece, but I have it with a twist sometimes. There is an arrangement out there just for wind instruments. Similar to this one:

Sorry, the quality isn’t very good. But you’ll get the idea.

Have a sunny, relaxed, peaceful Sunday,

Engine Room

Small French meal

Dear Reader,

When I feel like celebrating with a little meal, the choice of food places is tremendous. Always a safe bet is one of my three favorite brasseries. And a good selection for a small meal is

foi-gras-avec-pomme

sautéed Foi Gras with a slice of an apple on brioche as an appetizer, with a nice glass of cidre. Follow that with

steak-au-poivre

Steak au Poivre with French fries as a main course, with a nice bottle of red wine. And

crepes-nougat

Crepes Nougat with caramelized banana as dessert.

Finish your meal with a delicious Calvados and an espresso, and you are pretty close to heaven.

On cloud #9,

Engine Room

Europe the American way

Dear Reader,

By now you know, everyone at diablog is somewhat nuts.

To fit in properly, I did a typical American thing. A European tour, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Tirol, Italy and France in a bit more than a week. You want crazy? We got crazy. Four countries in one day, usually that is reserved for our beloved

smiles

Smiles. He does that on a regular basis.

Anyways, it was great fun. It confirmed, I do not like mountains and narrow valleys. I need an overview and the sea. It also confirmed, I do not like the French.

Almost all of them pretend to not speak or understand English. And their prices are plain robbery. Ten Euro for an espresso? You got to be kidding me. 100 Euro for 1,000 km on the highway? Do I want to buy the damn thing?

But the worst was a hotel manager, again claiming not to speak English, also claimed 120 – 107 = 3. When I insisted on getting all my change, he had to consult a calculator. Yeah, right. Never mind that my room had been paid in advance and the whole procedure was a scam anyway.

Yet, I had a tremendous time even in France. Partially because I was allowed to stay in a 11th century fortress:

chateau-1

freshly restored, and refurbished to maximum luxury. The outside of the building isn’t what you would call pretty.

But have a look at one of the bedrooms:

Continue reading “Europe the American way”

Going south

Dear Reader,

As you know from here, Glynsky traveled again, for pleasure again, to Vienna again. Did he invite his slave? Of course not.

As Pete Townshend sings: “Give blood,

and there are some who’ll say it’s not enough.”

Luckily, there are people who appreciate my work, and – strange enough – seem to enjoy my company. Hard to believe, I know.

One of them invited me to a trip. After the miserable and long winter down in the engine room I could not say no to a few days in warmer and sunnier climate. Little did I know, that I would be treated like royalty.

Where did we go? Hopefully the owners will allow me to write a bit more in the near future. Already I can say, it is pure luxury.

A big suite, marble floors, antique and bespoken furniture, a brilliant view, balconies, friendly and attentive staff, delicious food, great wine, a very nice bar, a pool with jacuzzi, and a Turkish bath. Did I mention the espresso? Enjoying those with a cigarette on the terrace, in peaceful silence, feeling very close to heaven.

To the good things in life,

Engine Room