Y'all probably remember how ecstatic I was when this espresso machine arrived in my house back in January. We had real espresso -- yay! Even the roommate, who is a coffee Philistine, asked to learn how to use the espresso machine so he could make one for himself. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. This is a man who has broken three washing machines, two coffee makers and countless other electrical and electronic gadgets. It was probably inevitable that shortly after he learned to make espresso, the machine just... stopped working.
There was great mourning in the house. We tried cleaning the epresso machine. We called the company and a nice tech guy there walked me through priming the pump and a few other troubleshooting ideas, then concluded that it was probably something they'd have to diagnose in house. Diagnosing it in house required me to pack it up in its original box with its original packaging materials, shipping it back at my own expense and including a copy of the registration card. Did I mention that I'm incredibly disorganized and really really bad about things like filing registration and warranty cards? And that my kids love popping bubble wrap, and my cats adore big boxes and trash goes out every Tuesday around here along with all recyclable cardboard? In other words, I had neither original box nor original package nor warranty registration card.
Now, to be fair, I could probably have pushed harder on this. I suspect that if I had contacted the guys here at ROASTe, they would probably have gone to bat for me. I am, however, a natural-born pessimist when it comes to matters concerning warranties and repairs. So I just dropped the whole issue and resigned myself to having made a poor decision (letting the roomie mess with the machine, not buying it) and resolved to start saving towards a replacement. Notwithstanding my experience with Espressione, I even picked out the replacement:
The Espressione Cafe Retro
There's a lot of things I like about it, including the fact that it's RED. It's pretty. It's retro. It matches my official coffee roaster. And it's got some decent if not spectacular reviews. I'm about halfway to my savings goal for it.
Cue yesterday morning. I got up early, roasted a few batches of beans before anyone got up (gots video, which I'll post later) and put on the moka pot to brew. Now, despite the fact that my espresso machine was no longer making espresso, it wasn't totally useless. It still builds up a lovely head of steam for steaming milk for my morning cappuccino. Every once in a while, though, it does want a little priming to get started. I flipped the pump on to get the water moving and lo and behold -- for the first time in three months, it started dripping rather freely from the portafilter. Not streaming out the way it SHOULD, mind you... but definitely not the drip..... drip...... drip..... that had been the most it had done in months.
I was skeptical, but fairly flush with beans at the moment, so I decided to give it a go. I flipped on the grinder, measured out 17 g of Dean's Beans Ring of Fire, packed it into the single basket and fired up the Espressione Squissita Plus. Just about 28 seconds later, I had just about 1.5 oz of espresso. Not fabulous espresso. But definitely espresso. The crema was a little thin and taste was a little sour, but the espresso machine was definitely pushing water again.
I've done another half-dozen or so shots since then. I had a duh! moment and forgot that we'd ground coffee for meat rub last night (turkish grind, extra fine) so this morning's first shot was ... well, it was drinkable. I just pulled a second shot with the grinder dialed in a bit better and am drinking that now. Still not fabulous, but MUCH better.
Somehow, some way, the espresso machine apparently fixed itself. So I don't actually NEED that new espresso machine. On the other hand, you know... it's an awfully pretty red machine. With a solenoid. And a temperature gauge. And a lever. And I don't have a lever machine. So... I do believe that I'll keep saving towards getting it... I'll just have espresso to drink while I'm building up the espresso machine account.