Josh and I have shut down Frassle, a blogging system we built in 2003 and 2004. Now at frassle.net there is a static mirror of all blogs having 7 or more posts. (A new frassle blog came with 5 posts explaining the system; if you made two additional posts, you qualified for inclusion.) We also set up some redirects so that URLs registered in search engines or linked from other sites should still work reasonably.
I’ve imported my posts into this new blog, and will continue blogging here. Welcome!
A couple of weeks ago I bought myself a little stovetop espresso maker. Since then, I’ve acquired a coffee grinder and some beans that don’t suck, and have been drinking pretty good, wicked strong coffee every morning. So this morning, like many before it, I went downstairs, cleaned up the various steel components, added water, added coffee, screwed the pieces together, and set it on the stove.
Ahh, I thought. With this latest adjustment to the grind setting and the correct water level in the pot, I will be getting the best coffee possible from these beans. I tasted a bean… hmm, not bad, but something a teensy bit darker and possibly more fresh might reduce the bitterness of the final result. I paused to reflect on my sophistication in conjecturing subtle relationships between inputs and outputs in a process executed daily by millions of Italian households.
The stovetop espresso maker is a cool little device. Water goes in the bottom. A funnel with a filter at the top holds the coffee grounds. As the water in the bottom chamber is heated by the stove, steam is produced. The steam, having much lower density than liquid water, creates pressure in the bottom chamber that drives the coffee up the funnel’s narrow end and then through the coffee. Then another funnel in the upper chamber leads the coffee into a holding area where it awaits trial by special coffee tribunal. Er, I mean, where you can pour it into a cup and drink it.
The whole brewing process takes about 5 minutes. Most of the time is spent waiting for the water to heat up; it only takes about a minute to gurgle through the coffee once it gets started. And here I struck on the finest, most sophisticated revelation of them all: now that I’m a certified stovetop espresso guru, I don’t need to stay in the kitchen, waiting for the first signs of incredibly dark liquid pouring to the top chamber. I could go do something else, and as long as I came back within about 3 minutes, I’d be just in time to let the brewing finish and pour myself a delicious cup of lighter fluid for my mind. So I went upstairs to read “just a couple of things” on my computer.
After about 30 minutes, I became aware of a faint burnt-coffee smell. Whoops. Perhaps I’ll be less absent-minded after I get my morning caffeine.