practitioner Senior Member Joined: 24 Sep 2009 Posts: 3 Location: Virginia Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Posted Thu Sep 24, 2009, 5:07pm Subject: My first Latte!
Dear Coffeegeek Lurkers,
I am now enjoying my first latte at home. I used pre-ground coffee (okay, I ground it yesterday at Trader Joe's and spent all yesterday messing around with my espresso machine). There was practically no crema on my espresso. Minimal foam in my milk. It is still better than any Latte I've had at any starbucks (aka *$s)! And certainly better than any I've had at other stores. There is only one time I had something that tasted better than this...
This is my story:
I grew up drinking drip coffee leftover from my parent's breakfast and cardamom infused Arabian coffees, with occasional turkish coffee. On even rarer occasion, though much more so in my college years, I would have a cup of instant coffee -- with plenty of warm milk.
Then one time (before college), while traveling, stuck in an airport (I think Heathrow) I was craving some coffee. I stood at the counter of some coffee shop (maybe *$? Can't remember) and started making small talk with the "barista", talking about coffee and mentioned how I like turkish coffee. She suggested trying espresso as an alternative. And thus I was introduced to my first espresso. And it would be the last one I tried for a while, for over a year.
Then I got a job and started to hang out with friends to spend my money, and since I don't drink alcohol and don't like clubbing and so on, coffee shops were all that was left, which means *$s. And after going through their menu, I developed an appreciation for lattes and it became the drink of my choice, though I sometimes ventured into americano, cappuccino, and just "plain" espresso territory. Though espresso is anything but plain.
Anyways, that was all I knew of lattes for years. 2, 3, maybe 4 years. Who's counting anyways...
Then one time I was taking a vacation and found this cozy coffee shop with a name I can't remember now that had something to do with coffee that drew me in. I can't remember it because upon my order of a latte, the barista produced what is known as the "apple" formed into the froth. Wonderful! Magical! I tasted it and remarked, out loud, "wow!"
This. Is. Latte.
This is latte like you've never had it before. This is latte that tastes... ahh... maybe my romanticized memory of it is greater indeed than the latte was, but the latte was divine enough to inspire the romanticizing of the memory. To this day, I still crave that cup of latte.
I came back and tried the cappuccino. Their espresso. Americano. I tried flavored lattes. Alas, as all things in life, vacation had to end.
I'll skip some more experiences that all culminated in my wanting my own espresso machine.
So, anyways, I started looking into espresso machines. Saving up. Wanting to buy something that would last a while. That would satisfy, in flavor, and also in allowing me to participate in "coffee ritual" but without being burdensome. I ran into coffeegeek looking for reviews of machines and some guidance. I then blundered into the forums. And here I would spend 3 months looking at reviews and threads in the forums.
Finally, I got on to amazon and filled my cart with Bodum cups (from another of my forays into exploring coffee), different machines I was considering, a tamp, frothing pitcher, thermometer, and several grinders. Before finally making my purchase, I took the grinder out of the card and decided I would play with the grinders at local superstores to get a feel for how important a grinder really is (after all, you have people who would insist the tamp will make all the difference in your espresso! Come on, please!) Through the reviews here and some comments, I finally settled on the Gaggia Classic...
... And I clicked the order button. My equipment would be arriving in just a few days.
My machine arrived two days ago. I spent the first day figuring out the buttons and seeing how the portafilter heats, fill up the water, just exploring the machine. I then went out and bought some coffee ground at different settings on the store's grinder. That night I tried the coarsest grind, and by 10 seconds, the machine was practically drawing just water out. Clearly, not nearly fine enough. I had to sleep and would have to get up my first day having the machine without making a coffee.
So today after work I got home, turned the classic on, took out the second finest grind and started with that. Much better, but still, from reading on the forums here and looking at pictures, my shots weren't right. Bitter. Acidic. Light. Moved to the finest grind, messed around with applying different pressure while tamping.
Finally I got a shot that resembled what I know is the flavor of espresso, though a bit acidic still. No crema, but no matter for now.
I then got the milk out, and started "frothing" it. I saw the bubbles come up, and could feel the pitcher slowly heat up to a nice warm.
I drew some hot water into the larger cup. Let it sit a bit, then emptied it.
Poured in the espresso.
Added the milk.
Took my first sip...
Oh. My. God... if it tastes this good knowing this is just the start...... =D I can't wait to get some experience messing around with this.
If you're like me and on the fence wondering if it's worth it, and you're lurking on these forums wondering what everyone's talking about the best espresso or coffee drink, then: Stop lurking. Go purchase. Enjoy. It's worth it. Thank me later.
Posted Thu Sep 24, 2009, 8:35pm Subject: Re: My first Latte!
Welcome to the world of coffee!!!! Your grinder of choice should do you good for years to come, While I don't own one I have read many good things about them. The grinder and the Gaggia should serve you well. Good coffee to you!
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