Stovetop Espresso: Ingenious

My love affair with coffee has evolved substantially since my freshmen year of college, when it began in earnest. I had only a 4-cup coffeemaker in a friend’s dorm room which I raided for refills every other day, but it wasn’t until the following year that I started making it mornings daily, using only a one-cup cone filter over my travel mug so I could go straight to class with it. That stage lasted a year before I had access to a 12-cup normal sized coffeemaker, and by then my habit was in full swing. I studied with coffee, went to class with coffee, and simply drank it year round. Ironically, it was a tragic event that led to my first coffeemaker purchase, when I overheated and broke my roommate’s pride appliance by misusing the auto program function. That sad day necessitated a trip to Target, and I didn’t even put much thought into which coffeemaker I would buy. Similarly, I received an espresso maker for my birthday, the most basic model with  no fancy features, just down to business. While I loved both coffee brewing wonders to death, I had always been more interested in the coffee itself, rather than the machine that made it. This Christmas, that all changed. As a present, I received the Bialetti 06853 Moka Express Stovetop Espressomaker. Just like the now infamous Red Ryder Bee bee gun of the movie A Christmas Story, I had fantasized about such a gadget every since my power went out in Boston a year ago and my electric coffeemaker was paralyzed with uselessness. But just like the hidden peril associated with a child’s toy, so my first attempt at using the beautiful coffeemaker proved hazardous.

Sleep deprived from my 6-hour red-eye flight earlier that morning, I over-zealously unpacked my espresso maker and filled it high with both coffee and water. It is worth mentioning that I probably overfilled both areas, and while the water part has a fill line, I could locate no such thing on the coffee chamber in my delirium. I put it to boil and got immediately distracted, leaving the thing  unsupervised. Not until some choking noise began emanating from the kitchen did I realize that my water was boiling so violently that it was leaking out the sides and going all over the place. As a result of filling the coffee too full, the leaking water began mixing with  grounds and some combination of the two was bubbling into the upper chamber. I panicked, but when the fiasco was over and the coffee had calmed down a bit, I still sat down to drink it, and goodness gracious! It was still amazingly good.

Despite my trial and error learning process, I’m confident I’ve ironed out the kinks in my approach and next time the coffee will be even better. Mostly, I think the best thing about this ingenious design besides making wonderful coffee and being stovetop, is the ease of cleaning. All pieces are removable and able to be thrown in the sink and ready in a jiffy! I can keep it looking shiny and new use after use, whereas my conventional espresso maker is looking a little worse for wear and it is impossible to clean the water chamber. I look forward to many more uses and much less drama!

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