07 March 2011

Worth Every Penny: Bialetti Stainless Steel Espresso Pot

I'm picky about my coffee. It is a required luxury every morning, and so must be enjoyable, and of course, prepared to my own exacting (and not surprisingly pain-in-the-*ss) specifications. Only coffee prepared in an Italian style stove top espresso pot will do. My old one had a worn gasket, causing half the water to leak out at the seam, and the resulting coffee to be incredibly bitter and sludgy. Besides that, it was aluminum, and keeping up with the corrosion inside the water reservoir was a loosing battle. So, feeling flush from recent successes in the Affordable Wardrobe Shop (thank you, customers) I decided an upgrade was in order:
Still a Bialetti like my last one, but this time a four cup model in stainless steel from the "Elegance" line. It's a got a sexier look than the old octagonal number. Better still, the coffee it produces is rich and strong, but with a texture like silk. Worth every bit of $45. It's true, I overpaid. But I bought it at my local Italian shop, where I am officially the oldest customer. 31 years ago, my Nonna brought me in there at the age of 2 1/2, just a few days after they opened, and I still shop there. If you can't understand why I'd gladly pay extra to keep my money in a place like that, I'll never be able to explain it to you. 
Lately, I tend to stick with Cafe Pilon, two bucks a brick at the supermarket, but this pot may require a permanent switch to my old favorite, Lavazza Crema e Gusto. $6.99 per 8.8 oz. brick at the same store. Perhaps a little dear, but it takes more than a week to use this up. I know a lot of people who spend that much on coffee in a day.
While the coffee is brewing, I gently warm some milk in this little pitcher, being careful not to burn it. When the milk is good and warm, I add two teaspoons of sugar and stir to dissolve. The entire coffee pot fills a standard mug 2/3 full, which I top off with the warm sweetened milk. Perfect.

A hell of a lot of trouble to go to for one cup of coffee, but remember that coffee is as much about ritual as it is about the drink itself. Making it just how you like it at home, no matter how complicated, is indeed worth every penny.

20 comments:

JI said...

My ritual is to microwave a cup of water then dump two spoonfuls of powdery brown stuff in there. The philosophy behind it is that I'm too tired and out of it to care how it tastes.

I apply this to my breakfast too: half a cup of plain boiled oats.

Anonymous said...

Good to know on the stainless model of Bialetti. I love my Moka Express, but the corrosion is troubling and I do not like the idea of consuming aluminum. By the way, you can buy replacement gaskets if you want to keep the old one as a spare.

dweb said...

G-
Thank you! Any tribute to the wonderful gift of espresso is appreciated. Due to recent financial constraints, I have been forced to switch from my 4 cup Bialetti stove-top pot to a boring Mr. Coffee coffee maker. This makes getting up in the morning that much more like drudgery.

David V said...

JI: That was my morning ritual at the office for years.
For some, coffee prep is an Art.

Anonymous said...

For me, dark roasted beans ground each morning by an electric grinder (which still seems to scare the hell out of the cats) and then pressed into a Krups duo espresso machine pot is part of my morning routine.

Alain said...

Excellent post. I suspect I could say the same about your coffee.

Ever been to Cuba? We have a strong coffee tradition there. We only use stovetop coffeemakers, similar to yours, and espresso roast.

When I moved to Canada, I bought into the whole expensive "barista" equipment craze. But if
there's a difference, it escapes me.

Roger said...

Over at 'Permanent Style' and at your nemesis' blog, the posts like this one usually feature some luxury item or pastime I don't have the disposable income for. But here they are simple pleasures, almost zen-like.

Coffee...well-made and satisfying, but doesn't break the bank.

The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Best gift I ever gave my husband was his own coffee roaster. It cost less than a hundred bucks (yes, that's why one is frugal the rest of the time!) and each day he roasts the next day's beans so they are perfect when he uses them. Sweet Maria's in Berkeley is a great mail order place for green coffee beans. And our yard sale La Pavoni espresso machine is the icing on the cake!

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

GT,
You can buy all of the replacement parts at Polcari's in the North End. It will revive the stove-topper nicely. I'll give you some next time you drop by. Warning to others: don't bother buying the electric version (plug-in base) of the Bialetti espresso pot. We have had 3 at the office, and they last 6 months at best.

Giuseppe said...

YWP,

A gasket is easily enough replaced, but the corrosion on that aluminum pot is hard to fight.

Roger,

The fortunate thing about not having a lot of money is that it enables one to find pleasure in beautiful simplicity, rather than abject luxurt for its own sake.

David said...

I really like that you support the local business. Simple pleasures that much more sweet.

Jameson said...

No grinding? That's like a beaner wearing white pants after Labor Day.

Giuseppe said...

Jameson,

I have a beautiful old Kitchenaid grinder, but my house is small and that thing is awfully damn loud at 6:30 a.m. However, I understand your point completely.

tintin said...

Have you bought a new camera yet?

JB said...

Bravo Giuseppie.

I just scored a brick of Lavazza "bar". E un' caffe forte ma gentile.

Also, check out the Lavazza Qualita Rossa, if you like the Creama e gusto.

Non' e come in Italia, pero...

Giuseppe said...

Tin,

still deciding. I have a hard time parting with relatively large sums of money for new things, as you can well imagine.

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

costs 10 bucks here in milan

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

try the stuff that jl says cos if you do youll be just one of the yankees who go through life never having moments of sublimity. the yankees bombed libya this morning.lots of civvies were killed.

Giuseppe said...

Bayonet,

As for moments of sublimity: I have two beautiful children who bring me a level of sublimity in my life I never knew before.

As for the cost of goods: things are cheaper where they come from? Really? I had no idea. Thanks for shedding some light. Next time I think about supporting my local Italian shop I'll remember that and stay away. I'm sure your countryman who runs the place will really appreciate your point of view.

As for Libya: I didn't kill anybody.

Testicular Torsion said...

Love your thrifty blog. It's awesome about the treasures to be found out there.
But for such a pedantic man, I can't believe you use the imported coffee that's probably rancid by the time up open it! Please go find a local fresh roast and grind it yourself. a Cheap burr hand grinder will set you back about $30 from Kyocera and it's made in Japan. Your morning experience will be that much greater and amazing!