The coffee unsnob

December 02, 2011

The coffee unsnob


I have a friend who prides himself on being an unsnob about coffee and more or less about everything in general.  There is only one small problem - he has a La Pavoni lever machine, lives in a nice house, with a Viking stove…  Okay perhaps he can get by the stove since his wife is the one who does the cooking and he has no qualms with her being a snob if she wants to be.  (Although there is no question that they are about as down to earth and friendly as it gets so it should be clear that in this context I am using “snob” in the usual coffee snob context of one who has very high standards not the more generic snob context where one looks down on others).


Anyway he is in some sense an unsnob.  He buys a relatively generic brand of coffee at Costco and is perfectly happy with it even though he recognizes there are better coffees out there.  (He does grind it with a midpriced burr grinder).


He also loves to add milk to his espresso and steam them together.  He also gives me credit for making him one of the only undrinkable cups of coffee he has ever had.  It was one of those moments that launched me down the path to being a coffee snob myself.  We were going to the beach with them and he was bringing his Pavoni.  I did not yet have an espresso machine and had never really had any espresso, but I had always admired his machine.  I bought preground Illy coffee to bring with me as a generous gift (I figured it was expensive it must be good) not realizing that it mattered how the coffee was ground and just because it said espresso grind on the tin did not mean it would work for espresso, not to mention I did not realize all the other reasons why preground fails for taste.  Anyway, it was impossible to use this coffee for espresso in his machine the result was vile.  Far worse than the it would have been if we had a decent grinder and whole bean Illy and that in turn would have been far worse than the good microroasters coffee available here would have been like Klatch and Veltons.  


Anyway, I am proud of having served the unsnob his worst cup of coffee!  Now my question is can you be an unsnob and own a Pavoni?  I think in this case the answer is yes, but perhaps that is just because I am so snobby that I grant unsnob status to almost everyone else.  


By the way I like a few of his lines including “I’m not looking for the best coffee, just the most.”  And one I used to use “I am a gourmand not a gourmet.”



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