This is an unabashed love note to my new favorite home companion: The Breville Barista Express. It provides me with a level of satisfaction not dissimilar from a pet. It fuels my creativity, it warms my heart, it daily gives me tremendous satisfaction. Perhaps it is its anthropomorphic shape — it just looks so cute and friendly for a robotic machine. Maybe it is the speed with which it creates the espresso. Maybe it is the just-right amount of manual interaction that makes it so satisfying. I don’t really know, other than this is love.
It takes a few tries to get the grind and amount right. I have it set on a double shot, grind amount ¼ open, grind size 8. It also took a couple of tries to get the correct roast type. When we were doing pour over, in the past, we were using a dark roast. But with my new machine, it seems a medium roast is better. Being a science sort of guy, I love a repeatable outcome. This is what the Breville does: precisely repeatable coffee each and every time. No errors. Machine perfection.
My personal favorite is the double espresso with additional hot water making an Americano, then add some oat milk and a bit of steam. Heaven. Happiness. The warm inner feeling that can only be love. Perhaps the affair is more intense because, for the last decade, I have been experimenting with a range of semi-failed coffee making processes. The main issue was the time involved — I would forget and melt down the French stovetop type. I would get impatient with the pour-over and it would be weak. I would not grind the beans long enough or too long, and the coffee would suffer.
Satisfying Manual Interaction
Not with this guy. Nope. he grinds it the same each and every time. The pressure is always the same. It is about 45 seconds to make a cup once the basket is locked in. And how satisfying is the tamping of the basket with the solid steel tamper? Or the locking of the heavy steel basket into the machine slot? Delightful. The engineers who designed this machine get a gold star for customer experience.
We paid about $480 for the machine, which you too can do if you hunt around. My local coffee shop sells a latte for about $5. If I do 2 cups per day from the Breville, buy a couple of bags of beans, then in 3 months, I am ahead of the game. But the wondrous feeling of this happening in my kitchen, by my hand, entirely when I want it, is absolutely delightful.
Coffee Feels Good
I once read a story that in Ethiopia, travelers would leave the house in the morning with a bag of green coffee beans, a primitive apparatus for making coffee, and if you can believe it, a tool for roasting the beans en route. I get it — going to any length to make a great coffee.
Maybe coffee is bad for us? Maybe it causes undue stress, perhaps it is compromising our biome? Maybe. But what I know for sure is that my life would be dramatically impoverished if I didn’t have it. Sometimes it is just about doing what feels good.