Sunday, 28 December 2008 by kinakoJam
I'm still not sure if this Bialetti stove-top coffee can, seen at Habitat in Neumarkt, is supposed to be taken seriously - but in terms of volume it might represent my daily coffee consumption quite well.
When serious baristas talk about the ideal ratio of coffee grounds to liquid extracted, they're obviously talking about real pump-driven espresso - not these stove top abominations. So let's not bother to try and figure out just how overextracted the grounds in this Bialetti would become.
One of the first 'articles' I wrote for our school newspaper The Flannel was about the characteristics of proper espresso and the history of coffee-drinking in New Zealand's capital city.
It was a tumultuous saga of Swiss, Polish and Italian immigrants, of a hard-bitten lamington-serving cafeteria called the Matterhorn giving way to dutiful Italian espresso machines embraced by hordes of government employees and academics.
Sure, a teenager writing about espresso is 'just a tad' pretentious. But being a student at the inner city Wellington High School is all about skipping school, hanging around Cuba St when you're supposed to be in biology class, snacking on apples and Cookie Time cookies, then bumping into your mates and getting coffees, 'cause you're too old for shoplifting now.
Early on I was dragged to cafés with my mother, where we would look at expensive import magazines or read library books (one of Wellington's good spots used to be the Lido opposite the Civic Square and public library).
Later, when working at a café with a punk chef, a horny gallerist and a gay linguist, I learned to take due care with each cup. A flat white with corn fritters or dark Whittaker's Sante chocolate bars, a heaping spoonful of kiwi familiarity and a dollop or two of sarcasm, please.
I would honestly rather drink a strong stove top coffee or even a strong cup of plunger coffee than a weak espresso. Other forms of coffee can be appreciated on their own merits, I feel, though I am not really down with the cult of Bodum drip as practised in the USA and Japan.
As defined by Lord Jeffrey Steingarten, the predominant flavours should be "caramel, flowers (including jasmine), fruit, chocolate, honey, and toast - but only if you do everything right." (i.e. two tablespoons of 192 degrees fahrenheit water forced through seven grams of finely ground coffee under nine atmospheres of pressure for 25 seconds).
Otherwise, as Jeffrey notes: "One false step and you are totally doomed. One false step and you will never taste the jasmine."