Doesn’t Everyone Have One of These?

Turn of the century espresso maker

Nope. Not a miniature robot with one arm. Good guess, though.

What Is It?

Espresso maker from the 1930s

How Does It Work?

I’m not really sure that it still does. I’ve never actually used it. But please notice that my grandmother—saver of all things, dutiful organizer, and a historian’s dream—tucked the instructions along underneath the machine. The original scooper is tied to the top, God bless her. This makes four shots of espresso and runs on alcohol fuel.

You unscrew the top, and pack the ground coffee into the basket. Then, add water to the area underneath (similar to a percolator… and, I know all about those because my parents still have [and use] theirs from the 1970s). Light the wick at the bottom (the fuel is underneath). This heats up the water and the pressure forces it up through the coffee. The brewed espresso comes out the crazy arm spout at the side. Put your cups underneath and huzzah espresso.

Do I Really Need It?

I think the real question is: Do you need an espresso machine? If so, you should probably consider buying a new one. You know, that plugs in with that modern thing called electricity. Or, if you are opposed to the tom-foolery of Edison, you can get a modern-day stove-top version which I will review in a later post, because yes, I own multiple espresso makers. In fact, Paul and I have this antique version, a stove-top model, and an electric one. I will also admit that in my freezer right now, I have instant espresso. That’s right, folks, I have been known to make espresso Sanka-style by adding boiling water to a wee bitty cup. I heart caffeine.

Where Can I Buy My Very Own?

You should be able to find one on Ebay or other antique markets. Last I checked, the going rate was between $50 and $100, depending on quality. Mine is made by Stella, an Italian company that still makes stovetop espresso machines today.


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