The Addictive Nature of Espresso Making

Published Thursday afternoon 🌗

A dream came true this week. Jeremy has been pining after an espresso maker for years. It’s just never really made sense, but then one day it did and he ordered a refurbished Breville.

Happy coincidence it arrived on Christmas Eve. A nice little self-gift that doesn’t take up as much counter space as I once thought.

For the record I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I can take it or leave it. Much how I was about smoking when I considered myself a non-smoker that smoked occasionally usually socially.

When I started my first office job I would take coffee, but then quickly counteract the dark brew with milk and sugar. About 50-50.

Fast forward a few years to when I started seeing Jeremy. I practiced taking coffee black. I forget the purist reasoning behind it, but it seemed like the thing to do. Really appreciate something for what it was not what you turn it into.

My cycle with coffee goes something like this. I drink it black. I drink it with a little almond or soy milk. I drink it with a little hazelnut agave. For two or three days. Then I stop. I’m just over it.

On the fourth or fifth day I get a caffeine withdrawal headache, I take an Excedrin, and don’t touch a cup of coffee for several months.

Then I’ll have this thought that a cup of coffee sounds really good and I’ll have some again. Repeats cycle.

The headache is what really weirds me out. A physical dependance. That then turns into needing coffee to function. Isn’t it strange that some truly need it in order to feel alive and happy? Or to push a headache off to the edges?

I myself feel more cheery when I drink it.

But, I don’t like something to have that level of control over me.

A legal drug. So strange.

But what I’ve noticed in the last week since we have this gleaming caffeine machine, is that I’ve drank more ‘coffee’ than I ever have. Ever.

It’s not just the addictive nature of the coffee bean. Making and consuming espresso combines with any OCD tendencies you might have.

Have you ever made an espresso? It’s a very scientific process for something with only one ingredient. More scientific than baking.

The beans must be ground just right. Too fine or too coarse and the water won’t flow right.

Once you have the grind there’s the weight of the grind. We’ve been making double shots, because why would you waste time with a single?

We’ve figured out 14 -14.2 grams (or .3) is what we need to achieve a close to perfect shot of espresso.

Now that there’s a mound of coffee–you have to tamper it into a puck. Supposedly using 30 pounds of pressure.

What does it feel like to push 30 pounds? I’m still not sure. I know what lifting 30 pounds feels like.

I would rather know the coffee is pressed 2 cm into the portafilter.

Too much pressure and the coffee could be too compacted and again the water won’t run through. Too loose and it won’t reach pressure?? That’s a guess. I’m not really sure.

Then as if all those things weren’t enough to figure out, there’s this little gauge that tells you you failed. Try again. Soon. Like right this second. Weee! ☕️

All the scientific measuring of grams and if the pressure goes outside of the dial’s grey zone you will get 1/16th of the espresso that you should have.

Breville Espresso RangeI just brewed one where the dial shot up, started pouring right before the first screw, then pushed to the second screw almost in the danger zone. Holds breath. It stopped just past the second screw before backing up and settling between the two screws.

I wahood! Loudly.

I did it! A ‘perfect’ cup.

For me. Relatively speaking.

What did I do differently than yesterday when I got 1/16th of a cup? Did I tamper better?

The OCD drive to achieve a perfect cup means you want to make another one even though you wouldn’t normally drink another cup of coffee.

You want to see if you can win the game and make another perfect cup.

Refining the process while mentally keeping track of each step.

Chasing perfection.


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