Of course to prepare espresso you need an espresso machine. Bizarrely enough these are not so easy to find in Paris! If you go to Darty or Galleries Lafayete you will certainly find a bewildering variety of coffee machines, but in fact all of them should be avoided. There is also the fashion these days for espresso machines with disposable capsules, made in a variety of interesting shapes, but these only make espresso like you would find in a bar - in Paris. Not what I wanted. You can also decide to spend thousands of euros and buy something which has more transistors than the IAP computer room, but I didn't want that either. What I really wanted was a Gaggia, one of the oldest brands of Italian espresso machine. In fact, it was mister Achile Gaggia who invented the electric pump-driven espresso machine back in the 1940s (I would really have loved to have seen his laboratory! Did everyone spend all day tasting espresso?). Their most popular espresso machine model, the Gaggia Classic, has been in production for decades. Finding such a coffee machine proved to be impossible in Paris and in the end I bought it from these folks, along with a grinder.
That was around two years ago now. Since then I've been making around 10-15 espressos per day, in the morning and in the afternoon. My office has become somewhat of a mecca for coffee at the IAP. The ritual is always the same: the first thing that I do each morning when I arrive is I turn on the espresso machine, and heat the filter holder. This takes around ten to fifteen minutes (the gaggia has a super-powerful 1200W element). Then I grind the coffee. Then I heat the cups with hot water. Then I tamp the espresso down in the now toasty-hot filter holder. I empty the cups. Then I push the button! This is what happens! (The coffee images are courtesy of mr. J. Seagull):
Look at that lovely crema! It takes about fifteen or twenty seconds to make two excellent espressos. That's a cup from one of my favourite coffee brands, from Bologna, Caffe 14 Luglio. (The coffee I am using here is Caffe Trobetta, from Rome).
Here's what the crema looks like (mmmm):
And here are some satisfied coffee-drinkers:
Until the next espresso!