Appetizers
March 15, 2011
Making the best possible espresso without spending $1,800

By Blair Anthony Robertson, Bee Restaurant Critic
brobertson@sacbee.com

There are several coffee houses in the area now that serve very good espresso. But if you're like me and occasionally want an espresso at home, you have probably obsessed over all of the options out there. You read, you compare, you read some more. And what you may have concluded is that if you want to make coffeehouse quality espresso in your kitchen, you have to buy a machine that costs $1,200 to $1,800.

Until now.

A few months back, I wrote a review of the Mypressi Twist. Maybe it was a big hint, too, because my girlfriend got me one for Christmas a few weeks later.

The Twist is a handheld device that doesn't use batteries or electricity. Instead, the pressure is created by small cartridges of nitrous oxide, the same thing used for whipped cream canisters (and the same cartridges ravers use for an underage buzz).

I have been making espresso with this machine ever since. Sometimes, "pulls" are close to perfect and sometimes, as in this video, they are just pretty good (the espresso came out a little fast on this one, prompting me to adjust the grind and tamp pressure for subsequent shots). To watch, click the link below.

espresso.MOV

This thing costs around $150, does a really good job and I no longer obsess over how to explain why I've just spent $1,800 to make a 3-ounce beverage I can buy for $2 around the corner. Yes, it's still important to have a good to excellent grinder. Those tend to cost $100 and up.

The cartridges for the Twist, by the way, last for about six shots. I bought a new box of 24 for $15 at a local restaurant supply store, but not before the salesperson grilled me about what I wanted to do with them. I told him I was into nice wine, not N2O.

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