After more than 15 years of faithful service, my coffee machine gave up the ghost. Made in Switzerland, the Jura Impressa C5, which had been a present from my sister, produced cup after cup of hot coffee, both tall and short, at the push of a button. It had always responded well to my request for caffeine. All I had to do was provide the beans and the water. Even my Italian friends said that it made good coffee…well, decent coffee, according to them.
After a brief mourning period, I was faced with the decision of a substitute. “Of course, an Italian coffee machine,” said friends without hesitation. “And Gaggia is the best brand.” At the push of another button, I ordered a Gaggia with all the bells and whistles. From Milan to my house, via Amazon Prime, she was on her way!
That night I woke up in a sweat. Did I do the right thing? Swiss or Italian? Was I too impulsive? Was I testing my luck ordering another Italian machine? After all, I already owned a Fiat and a pizza oven made by an Italian. I really wanted a coffee machine that worked like a Swiss clock.
But when she arrived, all my doubts flew out the window. I fell in love with her elegant design, one that only the Italians can do. And everything seemed so simple—buttons for espresso, short coffee, tall coffee, cappuccino, latte, and “clean.” This lady could do everything.
And, in fact, she did do everything…for about a week. Then one day, nothing. She wouldn’t even turn on. Had I offended the coffee gods when I requested a cappuccino in the afternoon? I called my Italian friend Giuseppe who made the pizza oven; he is an engineer and a coffee expert. He is a machine whisperer. And this lady responded immediately to him. I’m sure she likes Italian men (I understand). It was as if she discovered that I was a pseudo Italian and that she didn’t have to take orders from me, especially if I requested caffè lungo (essentially American coffee) so often.
But who take orders from whom? It seems that after every other cup, I receive a command in Italian (without an “excuse me,” without a “please,” without a “thank you”): Fill the water tank, empty the grains container below, close the coffee bean door, descale the machine, place the milk carafe in the housing, etc.
By now we have reached an understanding. She is the brains of the outfit and I am the slave. I am no longer a slave to coffee; I am a slave to La Signora. But I must admit, the lady makes great coffee…especially if I give her only Italian coffee beans to work with.