As a coffee lover, specifically an espresso and latte lover, a home setup is quite important. The unfortunate thing is that the prices of machines here are prohibitively expensive. Getting fresh beans is also a difficulty but I’ll blog about that in another entry in the future. When I started evaluating machines, I aimed high as usual. After some search and investigation, one has to come to terms with reality. I drink plenty of Starbucks (or used to) and obviously wanted coffee that is fresher and tastier than the relatively mild and stale coffee they serve. Now, before you crucify me, you need to really try some freshly roasted and ground beans and you will have taken the blue pill and you will see how deep the rabbit hole goes! I’m also usually the only one drinking coffee in my house. If only I owned a little cafe by the beach. Kitchen counter top space is limited and no matter how large a kitchen you have, it’s never enough.
With all the reality checks, it doesn’t make sense for me to get a machine costlier than US$300. There’s also the other thing where paying double the price may not result in anything much better. There were machines producing superb espressos but at US$1,000, it doesn’t make much sense for me, producing about 3-4 cups of espresso and latte a day at max. I settled for the Gaggia Evolution that produces fine results. Like any good photographer knows, it’s not always the machine.
So, for good espressos, the other important ingredient is obviously the coffee. Yes, water’s important and I used filtered water that has chlorine and other impurities removed but coffee is one big ingredient. Freshly roasted beans are best and they need to sit for a week generally so the next addition to my setup was a grinder. An Isomac Professionalle to be exact. I got it from KF Chan, our local coffee connoisseur. Again, it’s a burr grinder which means no blades to heat up your beans as they grind and it grinds fine enough to pull lovely shots of espresso. It’s other feature is that it’s really compact and pretty stylish so it can sit on your kitchen table top next to your espresso machine. Of course I also have a stainless steel tamper along with a knock tube and mat which I bought from Highlander in Singapore.. I’m pretty happy with my current setup and will blog more about the beans and the grinds soon enough.
The past three weeks have been kinda strange as I’m been mostly in my home (and home office and home studio too!).
Obviously, that meant that I’ve lots of time to work on my espresso pulling on my Evolution. So far, I’ve found that fresh beans will produce superb crema and obviously, taste and aroma as well. Starbucks beans are nicely roasted but are weeks old when you buy them at their stores. Even this pricey tin of espresso from Illy wasn’t fresh enough.
For regular people like me who love their coffee but aren’t too anal about 100% freshness, Coffex provides the easiest solution. As the beans are roasted in Australia and air-flown, you are mostly guaranteed some semblance of freshness. How fresh? No beans I’ve tried (Boncafe, Illy, Starbucks, etc) provided me with instant lovely crema right out of the Evolution and the aroma is absolutely fantastic. My house smells like a little cafe after pulling a couple of shots.
Here’s 18 grams of Coffex Superbar tamped nicely and ready to go!
And of course, the results! Look at that lovely crema!
And my morning double-shot ready to get me started!
I’m pretty much a coffee person. Personally, coffee can sometimes make or break my day. Bad coffee stinks and is pretty much undrinkable. This is sadly the average coffee scene here in Malaysia. We don’t really get fresh ground beans and many cafes serve instant coffee powder anyways. So far, I get an acceptable cup at Starbucks or Dome. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a forgettable cup. Of course if you’re after the local brews of robusta beans then I find the ones in Yut Kee in KL and Bentong pretty respectable. For arabica bean coffee, it’s a rare cafe that serves up anything fantastic.
You know what they say… if you want it done right, you do it yourself! Easier said than done considering the high import tax this country slaps on Espresso machines… Since I’m pretty much making shots for myself, I decided that an entry level machine will suffice. I’ll splurge on a good grinder and freshly roasted beans instead.
So, the new addition to my kitchen counter top was a brand new spanking Gaggia Evolution. It’s pretty much the “kancil” of espresso machines. I would really love a Nuova Simonelli Oscar (in red) but it doesn’t really justify the cost at this time. Maybe when I’ve perfected the art of pulling shots with perfect crema and latte art will I upgrade my Evolution.
More to come once I’ve gotten some practice in 🙂
p.s. if anyone’s looking for a gift for me, a nice knocker would be a lovely gift 🙂