I don’t buy it.

I was remembering recently, a day when I walked into the test kitchen at Gourmet, where a stylist was preparing an espresso machine to be photographed for the magazine. It cost more than $1,000. When I pressed the stylist to explain to me how an espresso machine could possibly be worth that much, all she could say is that it could make you espresso super-fast, because it kept hot water in its own tank. And that’s all it made—1 cup at a time.

I told her then, and I’m telling you know, that that is utterly absurd. In all my years traveling and living in Italy*, and having grown up in an Italian family in a huge Italian-American community, I never encountered a household with anything but a stovetop espresso pot. My family has a whole cupboard full of them, a tiny scrapyard of metal parts to make pots of coffee of various sizes. It is all you need, and it never costs more than $50, unless you opt for those with bells and whistles, which, in my experience, typically don’t work as well as the simple pots. It is expected that this home coffee tastes a little different from what you buy in a coffee bar—but this is desired, the same way you want your sauce at home to taste different from what you get in a restaurant. Both have wonderful flavor—they are just different. And, in case you’re wondering, you can make yourself a cup super-fast—the pot that makes one cup produces in about 1 minute.

If you want the trusted brand of Italians and Italian-Americans alike, look for this dude: 

*Granted, I’m not running in the same circles as this dude. (Thanks, Guardian.)

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5 thoughts on “I don’t buy it.

  1. Couldn’t agree more, we run this pot three times a day despite owning all the more expensive versions. A true classic.

  2. It’s so funny, when I saw the photo of the little espresso pot on your blog I thought, “this is going to be an anti-espresso machine blog entry.” I confess I own one of these contraptions. I got it as a gift and would never have bought it for myself. But, now that I have it, I love it–even though I have to endure people (and in particular, a friend from the Netherlands who calls it ‘utterly pointless’) inveighing against it. The thing is, I don’t like little cups of espresso that much. I like latte’s and cappuccinos (even though I can’t spell either). So the appeal of the machine is its ability to froth and steam milk. Because of it, I can enjoy these luxury drinks at home, and for much less than they cost out. I was just today, in fact, thinking that if the machine ever wore out (I’ve had it for six years now) I would buy another without hesitation.

  3. There is actually also a very low-tech, cheap device for making frothed milk. A good idea for a future post! P.S… is Liberal Latte really your email name, or was this created just for things like commenting on coffee-related blog posts?

  4. I actually just made up the name to go with my blog post. I really enjoyed your blog entry on tomato sauce, and am anxious to try it. Does it work as a pizza sauce? I’m sticking to my guns on the espresso machine, though. I remember when electric garage door openers came on the market. My family and I used to laugh hysterically at people who bought them. Who, we wondered, would need such a ridiculous extravagance.

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