A few days ago, I came across an article titled “Making Espresso at Home Is Kind of a Nightmare—But If You Insist, Here’s How to Do It Well” by Wirecutter. Back when I started thinking about making espresso at home, I thought to myself that espresso would be hard but the challenges were ones I could overcome. I still concede that I could address the challenges associated with making espresso at home, but I now have a new question on my mind: at what cost?
I started brewing espresso at home with the Flair NEO lever espresso maker, a cheap entry into the world of home espresso. I thought the Flair would be a good way to dip my toe into espresso and I now feel glad I purchased the Flair instead of a more expensive machine, lever or otherwise. The Flair made me realise that making espresso at home is a bit much for me.
There are three factors that are causing me to take a break from home espresso:
- Home espresso is hard.
- Home espresso is expensive.
- I can make excellent brewed coffee without as much equipment, expertise, or as large of an investment.
Let me talk about each of these factors one by one.
Home espresso, unlike brewing coffee with pour-over devices or most non-espresso methods, requires quite a bit of knowledge. So I spent a few weeks learning about espresso. I read quite a bit about making espresso at home, extracting espresso, and how to make the most of the Flair espresso maker. Learning knowledge was the easy part: putting into practice what I had learned was harder.
I was pulling bad shot after bad shot and I realised that my knowledge was not the issue: my grinder was holding me back. But to upgrade to a suitable hand grinder, I had to spend quite a bit of money, after which point I realised that grinding for espresso by hand was less than ideal. An electric home espresso grinder would have cost much more than my hand grinder, more than I was willing to pay.
I then realised, after chatting with someone about making espresso at home, that I can make really good brewed coffee at a much cheaper cost. I make good coffees almost every day, if not every day, using my non-espresso equipment because I find them more intuitive. Making a cup of coffee with the V60, for instance, does not require as much precision (and thus precision equipment) than pulling a shot of espresso at home.
This reads somewhat like I am giving up on home espresso and I do not think that is true. Instead, I am taking a break and focusing on enjoying the coffee that I make already. There’s plenty I can do with brewed coffee (as I am continuing to realise) and ultimately I see coffee not just as something to drink but as a fun hobby. Espresso was a bit much for me, so at least for now I am going to take a break and only consume espresso when I can get one at a cafe.