Throwing Money in a Cup

new-espresso-maker

Christmas came big to my house this year.  I have a boyfriend who spoils me rotten. Have you ever been on the receiving end of being spoiled rotten? It’s not as easy as I always thought it would be. It’s downright difficult. I’m a sputtering mess on how to receive graciously. I feel like I need to reciprocate and when I can’t, it’s just worrisome for me. I stress out about it. But I’m learning to accept and be grateful. Maybe I need more practice. Just kidding!! I don’t need more spoiling! Seriously.

I better give you some history before I unravel the whole story of spoiling though. A while back, on a whim, Payam (that’s his name, said like Pie – Am or Pay-Am) bought me a $50 espresso maker. He was at Best Buy or some such place and he knew I liked lattes (since that’s what I drank on every single date we went on, and maybe it might have been somewhere in my online dating profile, cough cough.) so he picked it up. It was no biggy to him. Like throwing a few candy bars into the basket on your way to check out. Crazy! I’m not trying to say he’s loaded but you know, things are different.  To me an espresso maker was a BIG. MAJOR. DEAL.

I have a HISTORY with coffee. I’m a snob of all snobs. I don’t just drink any old coffee. I obsess over coffee. I have very particular tastes (Strong, with milk. No sugar, unless it’s bad and then I need sugar but I hate flavored creamers…and so on). I always wanted an espresso maker but I couldn’t settle for just any old machine. I’ve had coffee machines in the past but not a real espresso maker with the steam I needed to make the best latte.  I figured I needed the best of the best espresso makers and since I couldn’t afford that, what was the point? My French Press was doing the job and I like to go out to coffee, so it was all good.

When he showed up with the cheap Mr. Coffee espresso maker I was delighted yet skeptical. I’d never had one of these home jobbies before. What could it do? I immediately put it to the test.

I tested it EVERY DAMN DAY. All in the name of research of course. This little Mr. Coffee espresso maker kicked butt! It made a pretty good latte. So good that I never used my French Press again and if you know French Press, then you know that’s kind of a big deal. French Press coffee is delicious!

I made latte after latte after latte after latte. I made lattes for everyone! I tried to create latte art on top like the barristas do at fancy coffee shops but I had no luck. Flop after flop after flop. I made interesting art but I never quite mastered it.

failed-at-home-latte-art-1

Payam said that if I mastered latte art on the little Mr. Coffee espresso maker that he’d buy me the real thing someday. Hmmmm! Now that’s a challenge worth taking seriously.

And so I aspired. I really did. I tried and tried and tried. But I never quite got it. I’d make progress and then fall back into foamy messes. One step forward two steps back. But it was fun. I sipped delicious failures every day. Sometimes two and three times a day. They all tasted pretty great.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that the little machine just didn’t have enough steam power. It couldn’t make the creama espresso that’s just the right dark color and the foam often was just super airrated and not really thick foamy milk like it needs to be. Your latte art foam needs to be the consistency of house paint to get the pour just right and I couldn’t get it there.

So guess what I got for Christmas?

A super deluxe Mr. Coffee Maker!!! Ha Hah!

Wait, what?

Oh man. A Mr. Coffee Maker again?!!  A super-size version?  I tried really hard not to be disappointed. The sad fact was that I just don’t love Mr. Coffee. He’s like a Dodge Neon on his best day when all I really wanted was a fine Italian Lamborghini. I’m not a snob! I’m just smart!! Or am I?

Of course not everyone can afford a Lamborghini. I fully expected to wait twenty years for the espresso maker of my dreams. That’s what you do. I tried really hard to be happy with the super deluxe version of my Mr. Coffee espresso maker. It was big and it made any kind of sweet drink at the touch of a button….but you know what? I couldn’t fake it. The kicker was that it didn’t even let you make latte art! The milk came out in a compartment that you couldn’t even pour. It was stuck in the machine like a vault. I was so sad.

Payam was even sadder. What crappy way for me to ruin Christmas. Why do I have to be such a snob? I was fed up with myself.

We made the best of it and found joy in the kids unwrapping their many presents.  But deep down I had a monstrosity on my counter that I wasn’t sure what to do with. Later we talked about it and I admitted to him that I really just wanted to send it back. He understood. At the end of the day I really liked my little $50 espresso maker better. I just like making latte art. All the bells and whistles on the other machine didn’t excite me.

But you know the story doesn’t end there! Of course not!!

Breville-espresso-maker-1

Black Friday, or maybe the day after, came around and Payam talked me into going shopping with him. I don’t really like shopping in general and I don’t really like crowds so a bit of coercion was involved. But I figured I’d tag along for the fun of an outing with him. We walked and window-shopped and somehow ended up going into Sur La Tab, the most expensive of all kitchen stores. OF COURSE we ended up looking at the espresso makers, FOR RESEARCH, right?!! That’s what I was saying. We might as well see what they offered so that someday I could save up for what I really wanted. And maybe he’d even help me buy it…

You know what happened next. So much for saving up. Mr. Boyfriend had to go and be a sugar daddy and bought the top model right there on the spot. Oh my goodness.

Breville-espresso-maker-3

Yes, I am the proud new owner of a Breville espresso maker.  I like to call it my boat. As in it’s a close-your-eyes-and-throw-money-in-the-water kind of hobby.

Espresso making is such a crazy expensive hobby!! Did you know that? There are so many variables! Just to create the perfect espresso you have to have the best beans (which I don’t), the best burr grinder (which I don’t) and the best water (which I don’t). If you want to create latte art you have to practice about three-thousand-and-eleventy-three times before you get it right. So that’s where I’m at. I’m working on extraction and pre-extraction. I’m working on double-grinding my grocery store beans and I’m learning. It’s going to take a while. But I’m making progress. This new espresso maker blows doors off the old $50 Mr. Coffee Maker. Unfortunately it blows out all the doors and windows and floors and everything else too. So I’m pretty much starting from scratch with my new espresso making skills. It’s a game changer.

In the meantime I’ll be creating lots of latte flops! You should come try some, they’re delicious!

Breville-espresso-maker-2
1. All the filters and date night make up., 2. When all else fails, break out the toothpick. , 3. Coiled snake of micro foam. I don’t seem to be making much progress. , 4. Oh no it’s another cat butt! I seem to have mastered the cat butt latte pour art. , 5. Sloppy love. , 6. One step forwards, two steps back. , 7. Afternoon Taliban latte., 8. Maybe I need a bigger cup. , 9. Getting there… This is toothpick art but I sure have a lot more variables to play with., 10. Well, it’s pretty! Still have a ways to go… , 11. Attempt #3 radio antennae! , 12. Try number two. It might take a while before I get it but this new machine is a game changer!, 13. First work of latte art from the new espresso maker. I think we are in BUSINESS!! , 14. Latte in a cup from Lubna. Thank you @lubna_lola99 ! , 15. An ornament on the tree? , 16. Lips with spots. , 17. It’s not always all about the pour., 18. , 19. Twee to go latte. , 20. Steaming ñ with a side of “Do not even think about eating ONE cookie!!” So that means I’m fine if I eat four or five? , 21. B as in “I love it when you call me Big Poppa (latte).” , 22. Two birds in one…latte! , 23. Two birds in one latte. , 24. Rock me like a subtle hurricane. , 25. Six-toed bear paw? , 26. Brachiosaurus in the sky with sprinkle stars which is sort of like Lucy in the sky with diamonds but with more caffeine and less LSD. , 27. Crack o’ dawn Whirling Dervish Latte., 28. Looks prettier stirred up. , 29. Looptiloop P or something… , 30. Not impressive but I’ve almost got it… I’ll call this “kissing swans” #failedathomelatteart #brendaslatteartcollection

8 Comments Throwing Money in a Cup

  1. Sarah

    I’m probably focusing on the wrong thing here, but I think it’s admirable that Payam understood that the super deluxe Mr Coffee just wasn’t to your taste (pun intended).

    Reply
  2. Yara

    Can I come over for a lesson? Except, I only have a little Mr. Coffee, which I got for Christmas. I almost haven’t bought a latte since Christmas (once, just once). I also only have a cheap coffee grinder from Target (possibly also a Mr. Coffee. It seems I am Dodge Neon all the way.)
    I just saw the consistency of your milk & have decided I will clearly never be able to make a perfect latte.

    Reply
  3. Cathy

    I almost thought you were going to give away your $50 Mr Coffee espresso maker to a reader….but after reading I think I’ll stick to my french press! ;-) Actually, your lattes look so yummy I’m pretty certain you could open your own SAJbucks!

    Reply
  4. Dee

    I’m excited for you, but I’m gonna be kinda bummed (perverse, I know) when the instagram feed goes from failed latte art to success… there’s a charm about the experiments!!

    Reply
  5. islandmummy

    I have a Breville Cafe Roma and I hate it, I was so disappointed. It spits water out of the steamer, even after it’s had ages to warm up. It does sometimes make a nice crema, but never great foam. My Christmas present was a Cuisinart burr grinder that I love!

    Reply
  6. Kate

    I was already loving this post and that you have a man in your life who is so sweet when I got to “Oh no, it’s another cat butt!” and decided this is the best blog post ever.

    Reply

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