Story submitted by Ken Carl
This story began as a review of the Pasquini 90 and Mazzer Mini grinder but there is a classic Internet story leading up to the purchase that needs to be told. This is a good Internet story that can be shared with small children and happy dogs.
Twenty-five days ago I had never heard of www.coffeegeek.com, Pasquini, limited edition espresso cups, "God shots" or $40 tampers. Now I am hooked like a big mouth bass.
This does not mean I was unacquainted with espresso. I have been fortunate enough to share wonderful cups of espresso with my wife Cindy in Paris, the Italian Alps, Germany, and in many coffeehouses here at home. I own a "real" machine and grinder. I was satisfied with my daily shot or two.
Satisfied... does not always equal happy.
It all began with a little late night web surfing. I was looking for something else and got poured into the coffeegeek.com site. Being an isolated espresso novice here in Chicago I soaked up all the information and stories. The big hook was "Artistry in a Cup" by Mark Prince. Within hours I was ordering a set of Illy Alien Cups. (I have since ordered two more sets for gifts and the future). At this time I should have felt the hook being set but the bait was too good.
Next begin a few e-mails with Mark and many hours reading reviews, stories, and visiting related espresso web sites. I became obsessed with finding/creating a "God Shot". My trusty Faema Family machine and grinder did not seem to be up to the task. The grinder was old and the settings were frozen. The espresso machine worked well, yet not quite well enough. As I looked at the plastic tamper, still in it original wrapper I realized my simple, naive espresso world was about to change forever.
The next e-mail exchange with Mark brought me the edge of true danger. He introduced the idea of the Pasquini Liva and the Mazzer Mini combo. But it did not stop there. Chris Coffee (website) and Aaron De Lazzer ( a regular coffeegeek.com columnist) were added to this life-adjusting curve.
Now I am dealing with people I never met, thinking about products I never heard of, and ideas I never thought about. Let the good times roll!
My next e-mail was to ChrisCoffee. Thus begins the Pasquini hunt. It was a short safari.
I must say a few good words about Chris Nachtrieb, the guy who runs that company. He is a good man who knows his business. He called me to answer all of my questions. He made me a deal I could not refuse. No pressure, no hype, just freely shared information and a straightforward business transaction. It was Tuesday, January 22. I had the Pasquini and grinder in the house on Friday January 25. (ed.note: wow, he got his Pasquini on my birthday!)
Next Aaron De Lazzer plays his hand at this coffee table and spills the beans. From across the country Aaron directs me to a coffee roaster in my backyard. A place I must have passed a hundred times: Intelligentsia Coffee, (website) is a well-noted Chicago coffee house and roaster, but I never visited before.
A mere bicycle ride from my house is a fresh bean source and classic pre-chain coffee house. I made a quick visit to score a pound of beans and enjoyed a complimentary espresso. I was now ready to beginning the next stage to espresso Valhalla.
The weekend took some unexpected turns and did not allow me to dedicate proper attention to Pasquini. Like the Buddha it waits without question. This morning (Monday January 28) I gathered the puzzle pieces together. Using espresso instructions from Mark, beans by way of Aaron, and tools supplied by Chris, I began my journey.
The photo you see at the top of this story is a record of my first good step on this new quest.
Next, frothing for cappuccino. It really is more then just a short latte.
Ken Carl was born and raised in Chicago and still lives there. He's a photographer and national championship bicycle race director. (see www.sportsgrandprix.com ) Carl worked a bit in a local Chicago coffee house and counts himself as being very lucky to have shared espresso drinks with his wife in many parts of the world. And of course, he has just been handed his handbasket :)