19 June 2009

My new Gaggia

Caffé in America

I’ve said it before and nothing has changed…I am a coffee snob. I don’t shy from it, I embrace it. After living in Italy and having real caffé how can you not be?!

I knew when we came back to the US that finding a good caffé would be a struggle based on our previous visits. First, a so called “single espresso” is actually equivalent to two shots. I asked once for a single and the lady responded “such a shame I’ll just have to pour out the second one”. More is not always better! Many shops first make the espresso in a small metal pitcher then pour it into a cup, thus losing most of the crema. Oh yeah, did I mention they use paper cups?! Then you dish out around $2 for this mucky water. ARGH!

When we lived in New Mexico I had purchased an espresso machine from Capresso and it was satisfactory at that time, but now it just wasn’t producing a comparable caffé. I quickly began looking for a new machine when we arrived in Cleveland.

I like the process of making caffé so I didn’t want an automatic machine and there are budgetary restraints to consider. After doing a lot of internet searching I had narrowed my choices to a handful of machines. Based on the quality of caffé available at coffee shops in America I had little confidence in on-line reviews, what I wanted was to actually try a couple of these machines but I found that the availability of machines at any stores in our area was very limited…mostly pod machines. Sorry but I never saw a true barista in Italy use a pod!

There are four main ingredients to making caffé: the machine, a grinder, fresh roasted quality beans and the barista. I eventually chose one of the Gaggia machines as it met all of my requirements with a commercial grade portafilter, controllable brew time, frother as well as designed and made in Italy. I ordered a burr grinder with the Gaggia and both arrived a few days ago. I bought some fresh roasted espresso beans and have since been working on my barista skills.

The first few cups left a lot to be desired but as I adjust the grind and tamping the results are improving. After one day I was beyond what I can get in any coffee shop, my goal is the liquid gold I came to love in Italia…sto provando!


Anonymous said...

We gave up the search on electric models and stick with a few favorite stovetop ones - here in Florida the water is atrocious so aluminum is out! Weusually use one of our stainless steel models - but then we also play with mixing the brands of beans - a couple different ones together to get a flavor we prefer!

janie said...

Good luck! I am constantly on the search to discover that one place that can make a real cappuccino-not an easy feat!

Bryan said...

Bonnie - For me a moka pot is a step above brewed but not the same as a caffe'(espresso). Water is also important, when people talk about Napoli having the best caffe' they talk about the water.

Janie - That is a frustrating search!

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Anonymous said...

Senor Barista,
When will we be invited for a caffe?

And, as you hone your skills, I know of an empty coffee shop just crying out for a barista who knows his stuff, and can educate the Italo-Americans in northern Ohio!

Bryan said...

The Gaggia is always ready!

Unfortunately Starchucks has ruined good caffe' for many Americans.

Valerie said...

I can attest that the Gaggia makes a pretty fine espresso (and cappuccino). Definitely better than any we've had in a coffee house thus far. :)