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.)