Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Quest

     Anyone out there who is a real coff-a-holic will understand why my quest has been so all consuming. I’m now, as we speak, drinking a cup of perfect cappuccino. How long did it take me to figure out how to make my cappuccino and how much did it cost? If I stop to figure it out, I may choke.
My husband and I often develop obsessions--thank heavens our obsessions usually coincide. We once traveled cross country in an RV and were consumed by our search for a van to use as a tow vehicle. No Disney World for us, sorry kids, we went from dealer to dealer on our quest for the perfect van. We’ve been obsessed over the years (there have been 48 of them) with motor homes, trailers, motor scooters, boats, mango trees, llamas, fish for our pond, you get the picture

All those searches ended up in a purchase of one kind or another except the llama. We’re lucky we nixed the llama because we moved to Miami where it’s really too hot to easily house llamas as pets—they’re very nice animals but really too big to live in our air conditioned house.
Along with all our ephemeral quests, one has been a constant, the search for the perfect coffee machine. The search took us all over Montreal, New York City, San Francisco, and even South Florida. He likes cappuccino and I drink plain American coffee, no flavors. 

     My husband hates flavored coffee so much that one morning, when I had run out of plain coffee and tried to sneak in some of the chocolate kind, he lost it. When he stormed out of the house and angrily backed his car out, he hit one of the children’s cars. We still laugh at his reaction: “That car’s a God-damned magnet.” 
I’ve been through the usual coffee makers: electric drip, old percolator, Chemex (the one that looks like a glass beaker with an inverted funnel on top and has wooden handles tied together with leather), stove top espresso machines, a really expensive shiny brass non-automatic cappuccino machine along with an equally expensive Italian grinder (both of which have since broken beyond repair).    
     Recently we spent $250 to fix our $1000 automatic machine, the behemoth in the picture. When it stopped working again, we gave up. It seems, I have since discovered, that anything that grinds coffee will get gunked up and the grinder built into the machine wasn’t up to the task.

Recently, I did a real non-scientific taste test to compare the coffee from all my current and working models: a miniature travel electric drip, the electric espresso maker, a small, inexpensive cappuccino machine and, lo and behold, my old reliable French press.
And the winner was………the French press. So I proceeded to buy more French presses in all sizes and colors. The last one I bought is my all-time favorite, a bright red $20 French press/coffee cup combo. Amazing little gadget, I just make the coffee and drink it from the same cup.

So much for my plain non-flavored American coffee.

Cappuccino is another story. The little electric espresso maker works fine as long as it’s slated to be combined with milk--no crema--but my husband doesn’t really know the difference. Crema is important when you drink your inky espresso black, as I do, but I can get my real espresso at any Cuban restaurant. I live in Miami, so there are plenty of those.

The steamed/frothed milk is another story. I’ve recently gone through no fewer than six battery operated milk frothers. Most of them broke. Yesterday I bought what I thought would be the ultimate, a hand held electric whisk, really heavy and powerful. I had to froth the milk in the sink because the machine created a tsunami that splashed hot milk all over the place.
My quest ended in my own kitchen cabinet. Years ago, before all the cappuccino makers occupied valuable real estate in my kitchen, my daughter presented me with a hand operated, metal thing that she said was supposed to froth milk. Desperate, I tried it.

It resembles a French press, but has only one disk with a fine screen and doesn’t have a spout. I measured out my normal amount of milk (the only milk that really works is fat free), heated it in the microwave, and pumped the wand up and down. 
The simple, hand operated thing was amazing. It tripled the volume of the milk with only a few swishes of the wand. I guess sometimes simple is really better, at least when it comes to coffee.

No comments:

Post a Comment