Caffé: Rage Against the Machine

It’s mid-October and Gia is in town. Gia, like the rest of the world, drinks coffee. I, like the one person alive that time forgot, don’t. My parents were visiting the week before Gia came. They are also coffee drinkers. They bought an Italian coffee maker and coffee in a can for their breakfasts. It is this machine that Gia now wants to use to get her morning joe. She’s never used this kind of machine before. I’ve never made a cup of coffee in my life.

Deceptively simple, this contraption. Two halves. No moving parts. I seem to remember my father saying something about putting the coffee grounds in one half and water in the other, then setting it to boil on the stove.

So we try that. I put the water in the top and the coffee in the bottom. I turn on the gas tank outside and set the flame alight. I tell Gia: And now we’ll have coffee!

Except we don’t have coffee. We have boiling water that’s tinged with dirty flecks of brown. Gia and I stare into the top of the machine. This is not coffee, we say. We boil it a little longer. No coffee. We boil it some more and the water starts to evaporate s we add more. Still, no coffee.

This is war.

Day Two

The breakfast of champions:

Leftover pizza, bucaneve, and slices of prune crostata. Add a glass of acqua frizzante and I’m set. But Gia needs the Morning Giuseppe, so we try again. It’s Gia’s idea to put the coffee grounds and the water in the same chamber, so we do that. We set it to boil. When we open the lid, the liquid inside is brown. I’d be no judge of whether or not it’s coffee – all tastes like turpentine to me – so Gia goes for it. Is it coffee? I ask. She grimaces. It’s not coffee.

Day Three

We cut our losses. We ballet dance on the seashore:

We take a bus to Gaeta:

We try the coffee again. The Day Two method seemed to be the ticket, so the coffee and the water go back into the same compartment and we boil. This time, for some reason, what escapes from the steam valve appears to be coffee fumes. Gia tests. Gia drinks. Is it coffee? I ask. It’s brown. It’s liquid, but slightly viscous. Gia says: Eh. I say: What’s wrong? She says: It’s coffee. I say: Is it good? She says: It’s… drinkable.

Day Four

We go to the caffé at the edge of town, by the pier.

There are kitty cats everywhere. We smell the Tyrrhenian Sea. Gia gets a decent cup of caffé. And neither of us – me, with a Master’s Degree and she, with a PhD from Columbia in Statistics and Management – can figure out how to use a two-chamber coffee machine.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. First let me say two chambers doesn’t sound right. There is a filter insert that should go into the bottom. So it is water up to a line or where the value release button on the outside is. Then the filter piece with the coffee grounds which hopefully are for that kind of machine. Then screw on the top. Set on stove making sure the flame is not going out on the sides of the machine and wait until you hear it gurgling. Then stop and pour should be like coffee, but depending on the coffee she is used to she might or might not like it.
    Though I have to say this one made me laugh.

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      Filter… that sounds kind of sort of familiar. The next time I have someone in my house who drinks the stuff, I’ll try that. Thanks!

  2. Kao says:

    That sounds like an interesting device… Now I vaguely want one, but I want it to be cuter… Wait! I take that back. I don’t want one, for then I will be the only one to make coffee ever and that would make me sad.

  3. Paul says:

    As I was reading this I was shouting OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? THE WATER GOES…NO! NOOOOOOOO!!!!

    Maybe you don’t drink coffee, fine. But I mean you have to at least like Pocket Coffee right?

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      Paul! I was hoping you’d chime in. HOW THE HELL DO I WORK THAT THING? I mean, not for me. For the poor souls who come to my house and want coffee.

      Pocket Rocket? I probably couldn’t even get off the wrappers. Caffeine and I do not mix.

      1. Paul says:

        Water in the bottom – fill it up to the little valve hole near the lip. Cofee goes in the center filter thingy, top screws on. And when it makes the “chchchchchoooo” sound, and steam comes out the top turn of the stove.

        I yell because I know someone who forgot to put water in the bottom and went to wait for the steam sound and the thing eventually just burst into flames…


      2. ieatmypigeon says:

        Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That sounds deceptively simple. I’ll have to sucker some coffee drinker to coming to my apartment some time and use them for a guinea pig. Yes. Evil plan a-forming.

  4. Moe says:

    Just because I like diagrams with my instructions and think other people might be the same:

    Definitely need the filter in there.

  5. radbadchad says:

    Lemme just chime in as a coffee drinker who has successfully used one of those machines many times. Yes, you put water in the bottom half, then coffee in the little, porous filter, then screw on the top half. Turn on stove, place machine on flame. When you have brown liquid in the top, you have coffee. Very simple, once you know how it works.

  6. Erica says:

    I really loved the narration in this post. Good luck with the coffee maker!

  7. Kerry-ann says:

    Next time I have a coffee drinker come to my house I will invite you to help me out. My friends have resigned themselves to knowing when they visit they have a choice of wonderful different flavoured teas. If they are desperate they bring their own drinks. Otherwise… for their own sanity they drink tea with me!

  8. Marie says:

    My husband is addicted to his little coffee pot like that one. If only I hadn’t been waylaid for yonks in catching up with blog reading, I would’ve been able to help you out. Alas, you now have a slew of little coffee fairies with excellent advice. Be sure and post when the next part of the saga begins.

  9. stacy says:

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

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