Thursday, November 8, 2012
Ok, so my latte art isn't anywhere that it should be, but to be in the middle of Norfolk County and to have, at least taste-wise, a good coffee is a special thing. Since moving to small-town Ontario, I've had a few culture shocks. The biggest of all being a lack of good coffee. I know it sounds elitist, groaning at the entrance to Tim Hortons, the standard of coffee in the County, but if wanting something better than Tim's is elitist, then I guess it's true, and I sure hope I'm not alone.
So the search began for an espresso machine. I came up with a budget for a new one, but our family philosophy has always been to buy used, and you can get higher quality for cheaper than a mediocre, brand new product.
So I started asking around and a family friend who has a beautiful Italian Elektra espresso machine helped me find another one just like it that was gathering dust at a local restaurant. It had been run on city water, which if you look at the tubes below, you can imagine how they would scale up quickly like any kettle and give the machine a heart attack, or in this machine's case, a pump attack.
Our friend helped me take it completely apart, descale it and diagnose the pump problem. I was quoted $350 for a new pump out of a espresso repair shop in Toronto, which seemed high. I was ready to order one for $150 U.S. online when I had a long think about it and thought, there has to be a place that supplies pumps, the most replaced part in an espresso machine, to the dozens of repairmen that criss-cross the province fixing cafe machines every day.
My email was answered by a nondescript Mississauga industrial park "beverage pump distribution" company. They were the main importer of these Italian pumps to Canada. They quoted me $63, and I was in the car within minutes.
It took no time to put it back together. The spiderweb of pipes was actually not as intimidating as it looked. They either fit or didn't, so unless you were bending one, it was only a matter of time before you found where it went.
Before we knew it, we were pulling lots of espresso test shots, and things got really caffeinated. I brought it home, and since it's a commercial, cafe machine, it doesn't have a water reservoir, instead is meant to be plumbed into the water supply. I have it running out of and draining into a pair of glass gallon jugs until we're happy with the spot and are ready to run the water supply and drain lines.
The only issue is that I want to show off the awesome logo plate on the back.
I've been using Detour Coffee Roasters' Punch Buggy espresso, and Harmony Organic's unhomogenized whole milk for steaming. We're so lucky to be a 20 minute drive from Hewitt's Dairy, where they process the milk for Harmony Organics, so we can get the freshest milk at a great price. The unhomogenized milk for some reason tastes so much better. It's one less of an industrial process, and homogenizing has been blamed for some of the difficulty in digestion. The taste alone is worth it.
As for the latte art, next time I'm available for one of Geoff, from Detours' barista classes, I'm there.