Saturday, March 14, 2009

Coffee Advice?


You've probably read the bit of financial advice that says that if you don't buy a Starbucks cappuccino every morning before work, you can save a whopping $812 a year.

Well, the coffee machine makers seem to have heard this as well, because $812 is almost exactly what the newest models of cappuccino makers cost. Upwards of EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS for a consumer grade coffee maker! I don't know about the rest of you, but Robb and I don't live in a world where we can justify such a purchase.

Oh Sure. We love a good cup of cappuccino in the morning. But even love has its limits.

While I was in France, our trusty Krups cappuccino maker bit the dust.

Robb did his research, reading all the geeky coffee-boy discussions online, and bought a refurbished Breville coffee maker. (This thing retails for $250, but he found one for much, much less.) The coffee maker showed up at our apartment a few days after I got back from from France, and I immediately hated it. Robb and I have a lovely apartment, but a woefully tiny kitchen, and this machine was a BEAST. I would not be exaggerating if I were to say that it hogged up a quarter of all our counter space. This machine, like most of the newer cappuccino makers was pump (not steam) driven, and it made horrible thumping noises while brewing. It was also ridiculously complicated. If you weren't careful, it would burn you. I did not love this machine.

And so it got boxed up, to be returned.

In the mean time, we hauled out a vintage machine that we had bought at a thrift store on the border of Baltimore and Towson. My memory is that we bought this the same day that we bought a great cappuccino maker that someone probably got as a wedding or housewarming gift. The vintage coffee maker was purchased because it was really cheap, and because it was so unbelievably beautiful. It looks like a stainless steel marine mammal, but it made shockingly undrinkable coffee. We kept is as Kitchen Sculpture, not because it was terribly functional.

Yesterday, Robb went out shopping again. He brought home another Krups. Apparently, the coffee makers are chasing after the $800 coffee maker demographic, and are trying to get American consumers to buy the expensive models by discontinuing all but the crappiest of their other models. After one day of use, Robb doubts that this flimsy rickety machine be bought will last us for three months.

So, now we're asking blog readers this question:

Have any of you recently purchased a decent apartment-sized cappuccino maker that brews from fresh grounds (not those little sachet things), is built to last for a couple of years, and doesn't cost hundreds of dollars. I know there's got to be such a thing.

Failing that, do any of you have a used machine that's been collecting dust in your basement that you might want to sell us?


Gramatrick said...

Good luck with that and I will be interested in the results.

It reminds me of my never-ending quest for the perfect drip coffee maker. I want one that puts coffee into a carafe to keep it warm and not overbrew on a burner after its brewed. And most importantly, the coffee must be so HOT when it comes out that my husband feels compelled to put an ice cube in it before he can sip.

Right now I am using a simple Braun which I bought as a stop-gap 18 months ago until I could complete my research into the perfect drip coffee maker.


cath said...

My husband is the coffee person in the family--I'm into oolong tea. He has a Rancilio Silvia, purchased refurbished a few years ago from wholelattelove. It is somewhat large (13.5”H x 9”W x 10.75”D) and expensive ($519), but he loves it. It has cranked out a coffee (or two or three . . ) every day for the last 3 years with no trouble.

Anonymous said...

I actually brought back with me to PA many antique oddities in the kitchen department from Wyoming. Please post a photo of the old fashioned coffee maker that you guys have- it may be identical to what I have. Coffee was/is very popular with the ranchers out there in cowboy land, as they seemed to drink it more to mask the smell of all the beer they drank, rather than drink coffee to keep awake.

The things I have probably will not make cappachino, but they are cool looking none-the-less.

You make be interested in knowing that Krupp has to -BY LAW- make domestic items, as they were also the nazi company that made Krupp Guns that were used to attack Europe in WW2. So if you by a new one, you are still part of a "war reparations" effort. We have a Krupps ice cream maker, which works fine, but we have to hide it from Gary's mom (she's British and was heavily bombed when growing up) when she comes to visit.

Make sure your old time coffee maker has all it's parts in case you try to use it.


Kaaren said...

Wowza, those are some expensive cappuchino machines. We in Florida are not as advanced in that area. I'm serious. The one I got for Mother's Day 2 years ago is...I think a cheap Mr. Coffee. CHEAP. Makes it from grounds, not bad, but that's coming from zero-experience lady here, and I almost blew myself up the first time I used it, not understanding the "under pressure" thing. :)

shiloh said...

I know it's really spartan but how about one of those Bialetti(not sure if I spelled it right) espresso makers? That's the way the Italians do it. Make the espresso then make the capp. from that.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at restaurant supply places? There are a lot in SF and in Oakland, I am sure. There is a place that does Italian food machine serving in SF- I think it is called Italian Imports? My ex worked there. Serviced espresso/cap machines and pasta machines. They might well have a used one for sale.

What about getting creative with storing The Behemoth. On a lower shelf of a chopping-block cart that has microwave above and can be moved into a closet or something? In a corner cabinet with pull-out drawer? (bet wou can find someone to make one)Does it even *have* to be in the kitchen? Got a little porch or balcony or something?

Grumpy Grinch said...

Can't you get a $50 stovetop expresso maker and just add milk or cream?


BuffaloTony said...

I think that if each of you would buy at least one capuccino a day, you would spend $1,624 in a year. So knowing that, I think it justifies the purchase of an $800+ machine for your home. IT PAYS FOR ITSELF IN JUST 6 MONTHS! My dad has one that he loves. I'll ask him. If I'm making coffee I usually boil the grounds in a cast iron pot on my stove. and then pour it through a strainer into a mug.

That may tell you how much I make (or drink) coffee. I'm a tea man.

Anonymous said...

Right, it pays for itself.

After all, the coffe beans, the milk, the sugar, and the utilities for the electricity and water are FREE when you buy a thousand dollar coffee maker

Anonymous said...

I received a Krups Il Primo countertop espresso maker as a Christmas present in 1997, and it still works! At the time, it only cost about $100. It isn't high-volume - not good for parties, and I never used it more than once or twice a month, which is probably why it still works. My parents have a 2000 model that still works, too, but they only use it once in a blue moon. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

My dad bought a La Pavoni (low profile, pump handle) in Milan in 1977. He still uses it all the time, and it's great. It would totally fit the bill If you could find one.

Zaz said...

we use one of those primitive machines that holds a pyrex jug, the steam wets the coffee from the plastic filter and it drips slowly into the pyrex. the only switches are on off. then you have thewers(?!) at ikea for the milk to turn into mousse in each individual cup (a euro?), we keep tasting different coffees :-)


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