Making coffee - back to basics

After a brief flirtation with a Beko bean-to-cup espresso machine, which made pretty good coffee (not up to proper espesso, but maybe 4/5), which broke (inherently complicated machine, I suppose) …

I’m back to using the old (stainless steel, not aluminium) cafetera/moka/stovetop maker, with a heat diffuser because we now have an induction hob. Works great.

Advantages: cheap, straightforward, punch-you-between-the-eyes coffee

Disadvantages: no crema, a bit bitter

Has anyone any better idea for making espresso at home?


I’ve been using a La Pavoni lever pump machine for about 30 years and it consistently produces the best coffee I’ve ever drunk.
One of these:


:rofl: :rofl: you got me looking-up Expresso… as coffee is just coffee as far as I’m concerned (yes, I admit to being totally ignorant on the subject).

But, having done some research… now I understand why I might enjoy some coffee more than others.

If you’re finding it a bit bitter… it might be your choice of coffee beans…
I think OH prefers Blue Mountain…

I hope you find the right machine for your taste and your pocket…

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My perfect cup of coffee :wink::yum:


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I bought a Lavazza pod machine in the Lakeland sale for £60.
Pods around £5 for 16 here in UK
Advantages - it’s not a Nestle product. Pods are compostable in industrial process.
Disadvantage - pods not as easily sourced as Nestle in shops here but probably easy to order in EU
Coffee is very nice and the machine in red is pretty and takes up little space.
We also use a mokka pot which is okay but a faff knowing when it’s ready.
I did look into buying a fancy Gaggia Classic machine but realised it would need a grinder of similar cost and a degree of maintenance.

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I made the mistake of looking up prices …

I could call it an investment, I suppose, especially if it lasts that long. I’ve bookmarked the page. Coffee porn!

@MichaelL , I have a decent (but not expensive: DeLonghi) burr grinder which produces a good espresso grind. It was about £40

I might reinvestigate pods. What put me off last time was the waste materials; I liked the coffee very much.

Yes, they have increased in price s bit over the last 30 years.

I bought mine when on holiday in Italy in 91. Exploring San Gimignano we passed a proper old fashioned electrical shop which had a display of coffee machines in the window. Captivated, I entered the shop - and a discussion with the owner who was a proper coffee aficionado.

Somehow, I let him have my credit card and walked out with a gleaming copper and brass machine that anticipated the arrival of steampunk - and a bill for close to a million lire. However, that was less than £300 in sterling and it’s been well worth £15 a year!


Amortisement was my argument with the pasta machine :slight_smile:

And they are so beautiful … my precioussss

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Morning. Last year I bought this machine for the guests to use:

You can buy many types of coffee pod flavours to go in it and they can then be tossed into the reclying bin to use in the garden. Easy as :slight_smile:

If you push the two cup button it fills up a standard sized mug.

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High altitude beans, freshly roasted, hand ground, 90°C water and an Aeropress -

Now that’s what I call coffee!

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I couldn’t remember, and was too lazy to look up, who had given me the advice about using an Aeropress.

I never got really good results with mine.

I had to get me a Gaggia, a connection with all those coffee bars in Soho, where I worked for some years, Italy itself, of course and everywhere else.

I got one directly from Gaggia UK, £120, a customer return some 60% the retail price, 12 month g’tee. I have no other use for milk unless to make capuccino, so that aspect is rather wasted. I s’pose I could make ‘ice cubes’ with milk. Another addition to the ritual.

I got a burr grinder on ebay for £40. It’s got to be a burr grinder. The ones with blades spinning in a bowl don’t get anywhere near the ‘powder’ needed for anything other than cafetiere.

It makes a fantastic racket. You would be in trouble doing a grind while others are still a’bed.

As the Gaggia is still in amongst all the other stuff yet to be unpacked :slightly_frowning_face: I use a stove top, like a Baletti but superior. It’s a Milu. German precision engineering. Stainless steel far better than the aluminium Baletti and it comes with a scoop.


The men renovating my garage and barn rooves asked me one very cold icy morning if I could make them some hot coffee. I did tell them that I was English and coffee wasn’t my cup of tea.

Instant coffee, milk and honey was all I had, but they were OK with that. The next morning, equally cold, I asked if they’d like some coffee. “No thank you!”

Was it the instant coffee or the honey, or that I don’t know how to make coffee?


this earlier link might be useful… as it talks about bitter coffee…

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I was told I would need to spend at least as much on the grinder to get the benefit. I have a cheap burr grinder.

Nespresso…? :flushed:

Oooh that’s a pretty thing :slightly_smiling_face:

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you can get your own reusable pods that fit the Nestlé machine and others, and fill them much more cheaply with your own chosen ground coffee. It’s presumably much less wasteful too.

I think Melitta does them, and also Fackelmann I believe.

I do get crema on my Moka - maybe it depends which coffee? Though the number of Bialetti-type Moka machines I’ve lost due to being distracted and leaving them too long on the hotplate, doesn’t bear thinking about. Currently I’m Melitta cone filter with their Gourmet Intense paper filters as the most Karen-proof equipment.

Cold press coffee can be surprisingly good and I might start doing this in the summer.

A good crema needs fresh beans, the right temperature and the right pressure - and the drive to machines give you no real control over the latter two.
Some bean varieties produce a better crema than others - high altitude Arabics tend to be good but I’ll stick with my monsooned Malabar :kissing_heart:

I never got really good results with mine.

Sorry’bout that - of course it depends what you’re aiming for. I think they’re very easy to use, but if we’re making coffee for several people at once, we use OH’s cheap espresso machine and her already ground coffee (she buys decent coffee and has it ground in the shop, but then spoils it by adding milk!)

My tastes have changed over the decades. As an undergrad fifty years ago I had an aluminium stove top percolator, Fortunately I cannot imagine how awful its coffee would taste today. One morning as we got the train into Manchester’s Oxford Rd station, My girlfriend asked, “Are you sure you switched the gas off?” ''Course I did!" was the scornful reply. Fortunately when we got back that evening, the house was still there, but the percolator had become a silver puddle, while the smell of its transformation lingered for weeks.

Over the following years I gradually acquired a full set of Bialettis and still have ,them quietly oxidising in a box. Meanwhile Lavazza, then Lavazza Gold became the coffee of choice. Mid-nineties bought a half price ex-demo Gaggia, then (like many other SF posters?) explored the Algerian Coffee Store. Later found a very good coffee roaster in PE on the Eastern Cape and discovered Ethiopian and Rwandan coffees. When the Gaggi got broken by a visiting Italian artist (to his great embarassment) I went lo-tech with a piston and became aware that subtle African coffees weren’t intended to be blasted in an espresso machine.

Sometime in the noughties hipster little brother in Brighton gave me an Aeropress for Christmas. Was sceptical, not least because I scalded my hand the first time I used it. Nevertheless persevered, discovered the inverted brewing technique and bought better and fresher coffees online from Union Coffee | Speciality Coffee, Fresh from the Roastery (

'When we moved to France I discovered a coffee roaster in nearby Figeac who has a wonderful 1950s copper roaster at the front of the shop, so you can observe the actual process. So now I was getting back to basics with a better, fresher coffee a shorter supply chain and a simple coffee machine. Then I read in the C19th book, Our Home in Aveyron: With Studies of Peasant Life and Customs, in Aveyron and the Lot that each household in the next village to us (where the author was visiting) used to roast their coffee beans every evening so they’d be ready for breakfast.

So, not quite back to basics yet!