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.