espresso or rather the lack thereof

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This isn’t exactly a food post, but it is somewhat related. However, if you’re a tea drinker or a person who has never felt a small bubble of joy rise up inside of you at the smell of fresh coffee, read no further for the the following will probably sound like only so much whining and drivel. See that cute little red guy on the counter, my Francis Francis espresso maker? He broke last weekend. I was steaming milk when I heard a little pop and saw a red flash reflected off the metal of the steaming pitcher. It kept working  at the moment though, so like with anyone we love, I thought I had just imagined it and ignored the signs of trouble. However, the next morning when I turned it on, the light lit up as usual, but when I went to make my espresso, it started coming out all wrong. I felt the machine and noticed there was no heat, none, it was cold as a rock. Hmmm, this I could not ignore. So, even though my husband and I were on our way out to snowshoe, I ran Francis up to the local espresso repair place, Home Espresso Repair, which, luckily, happens to be open at 8 a.m. on a Saturday (we do live in Seattle, one of the coffee meccas of the world). I had been through this once before last summer when Francis went in for a repair on the electrical system. It took 2 very long weeks, but ended up costing less than the estimate, so I had faith that they could help me. I gingerly put Francis on the counter and described my problem. The look on the repair man’s face was not reassuring. Apparently, it could be the heating element, which did not sound good for the survival of my Francis. Although I love my little machine, the idea that it might be time to look into a replacement settled into my mind and I began looking at the lovely Italian contraption I had admired last summer when I had left Francis for repair. That time I had only admired it, fairly sure that the repair to my Francis was worth doing, but this time, I took a longer look. It was a beautiful piece of chrome, a hand levered espresso machine called La Pavoni. I began asking questions about the durability of this espresso maker and he told me that these were meant to last a lifetime. My cute little Francis was my first espresso maker and I did feel some loyalty, but perhaps it was time to move on. The La Pavoni, he told me, was a little hard to figure out, but once you did, it made fantastic espresso.  Was I ready for the challenge of this more sophisticated machine? I left my little Francis there and decided to ponder this decision further. I spent the next few days reading more about espresso makers than I thought possible. I discovered there seems to be almost a cult following for the Pavonis.  One person described it as “the Jaguar of espresso machines” and I found several on sale from the 60′s and 70′s! I was still quite hesitant about the cost though until I got a latte at my local non-Starbuck’s coffee house. It was $5 by the time I added a tip. If I calculated that as a daily cost, I’d more then pay for a new espresso maker in less than a year. Then I searched on e-bay and found several Pavonis there for less than half the cost of a new one. All this without having heard the prognosis for my Francis! What a cheat I am, no loyalty at all when confronted with a shiny new option. And then there it was on e-bay, a handsome brass contraption named the “La Pavoni Europiccola Romantica” and for less that a quarter of the price of a new one.
How could I resist? Bidding began. It seemed I was the only one bidding until some sneak came in at the last moment and upped the price, but I still “won” it for a steal. (How exactly do you “win” something you’re actually paying for?) Anyway, it’s on the way, the fate of my little Francis is undecided and I’m hoping my Pavoni looks at least half as gorgeous as the new one pictured here and that its insides are in good shape. I have had a few misses on items purchased on e-bay, but by all accounts, the Pavonis are easy enough to refurbish that I’m confident I’ll be satisfied and back on my way to my morning espresso ritual soon. A few questions still haunt me though, did I give up on my Francis too soon? Will the Pavoni be all that it appears to be or was I taken in by its good looks? Stay tuned…

gretta (141 Posts)

Response to espresso or rather the lack thereof

  1. Margretta~ my dad has a Pavoni (two actually) and he swears by them. We actually just went through the process of bringing it home from Maui to have it repaired and then shipping it all the way back once it was all better. I hope you’ll enjoy yours and I’ll look forward to an espresso at book group soon ;)

    • So reassuring to hear that your dad loves his Pavoni! I actually went to the espresso repair place and got a demonstration of how they work and got to taste a Pavoni made espresso. I have to admit, it was fabulous! And now I can’t wait for my own to arrive and then I’ll happily make you an espresso anytime you like.