I’m the coffee machine killer

I go through filter coffee makers the way some people go through smartphones, if those people’s phones exploded a few days after the end of the warranty period.

I’ve lost track of the number of Kenwoods that have committed hara-kiri in my kitchen, so when the latest one packed up it wasn’t a huge shock. This year’s replacement was different, though. Instead of buying another filter machine with a huge jug, I bought one of these:

Nice, isn’t it? You half-expect to find a V8 engine under the drip tray, although while it’s a noisy bugger it’s not nice-noisy like a good engine is.

It’s a DeLonghi Icona espresso maker, and there are two key things to know about it: the coffee it makes is wonderful, and it’s an enormous pain in the arse to use. Each time I want a fresh cup I have to carry on like some sort of dressing gowned barista, running water through pipes, tapping coffee grounds with a tappy thing and doing that scooshing thing with the steam and the milk. The results are superb, they really are, but it’s definitely not a machine for the impatient.

I’ll let you know how long it lasts.

Update, October 2012: It lasted four months. It sprung some kind of internal leak, so it’s back to Currys for a replacement.





0 responses to “I’m the coffee machine killer”

  1. I’m a cheapskate so I have one of these:


    There’s nothing to break and it still makes lovely tasty coffee. I bought it because work decided that we weren’t allowed to bring in our own electric devices in, and it does a great job. Not really that faffy either

  2. Gary

    That looks really clever :)

  3. g24

    Good move. I am a confirmed espresso coffee bore and I apologise in advance for my sad obsession…

    Getting a decent coffee machine is money well spent; for years I have been using the same stainless steel Gaggia classic – fairly basic but beautiful and very robust. It makes great coffee, if you know how to use it. The only gizmo it has is a solenoid valve which dumps excess water out of the puck when you switch off the pump.

    Unlike many people who buy these things, I use my Gaggia most days despite the considerable faff involved. I am still learning that barista magic after years of coffee making; it’s a process for which all the ingredients and environmental parameters need to be just right: the coffee grind is particularly critical, with tinned illy being the perfect blend and grind for a pumped espresso machine. In fact, you should try Waitrose own brand espresso coffee in the silver can – it’s so close to illy it probably is, and half the price.

  4. Speaking as a 15 cup a day, caffeine intolerant man, having something like this in the office would push me over the edge. My working days end with me looking like a crystal meth abuser as it is.

  5. Only heard of those aeropress things about two weeks ago. Thought it looked interesting. Since then about three folk have told me they bought them and I (liyterally) tripped over an unused one in a cupboard at work

  6. Gary

    I’m not near a Waitrose, but I’ve just given the Illy a go. Wow. Not cheap, but bloody lovely.

  7. Gary

    I’m imagining Jesse from Breaking Bad, but super-caffeinated :)

  8. Gary

    Did you relocate it to somewhere it’d be appreciated?

  9. g24

    illy is the best. But yes, the most expensive too which is why that half price Waitrose illy clone is such a good catch.

    Also, you need to get your milk steaming spot-on for that perfect cap/latte: a good dense even microfoam can turn tremor inducing strong coffee into a wonderful smooth sweet nutty delight.

    Of course, this is for lazy amateurs – you need to be a home roaster and grinder to really qualify as a coffee geek.

  10. Gary

    My urgent need for morning caffeine means I wouldn’t have the patience for that. Isn’t it awfully noisy too?

  11. Squander Two

    Looks impressive, but can it defrost things?

  12. Gary

    Just found a cool thing: amazon does the illy coffee on Subscribe and Save, so if you commit to a monthly delivery it’s £10.42 for two tins. That’s not bad, actually – my usual stuff’s Starbucks, and that’s four quid a pop.

  13. I nearly bought an Aeropress, but while browsing ground coffee at Waitrose I decided to give the Starbucks instant a go. It’s ludicrously expensive (8 quid for a tiny 24-serving tin) but the coffee is really pretty amazing. And a lot easier than buying beans from a roaster, grinding them, etc. as you are apparently supposed to do to get the best out of an Aeropress.

  14. g24

    If the Waitrose illy clone is up to scratch for you, that’s £3.29 if you can get a delivery deal.

  15. Gary

    G24 – Tesco’s doing Illy really cheap at the moment – about four quid a tin. My house is full of the stuff now :)

  16. Gary

    I’ve been using starbucks house blend (the ground stuff) for a while and it’s really nice, IMO, and the instants are OK too.

    If you’re ever flying EasyJet, don’t assume their starbucks instant bears any relation to yours, btw. I’ve never tasted liquid shit, but I can’t imagine it’s significantly worse…

  17. Gary

    I’m glad it doesn’t. I’m not sure I could handle the internet fame.

  18. g24

    I’ll definitely check that out – never seen illy on offer before.

  19. Gary

    Sainsbury’s too.

  20. Hunnymonster

    You coffee-lovers (not me, rather have a loose leaf Earl Grey myself, not too perfumey thanks for asking) need to hang around somewhere like http://coffeeforums.co.uk/ – they take it to the limit (and beyond) there…

  21. Life is too short for bad coffee, so enjoy your new investment. Loading and cleaning it is just part of the experience.