Something’s Brewing

After nine good years, and what we estimate was 3,600 lattes and hot chocolates, our venerable Starbucks Baristaâ„¢ espresso machine finally bit the dust. The steam wand sheared off in the middle of the shaft during a wipe-down last week. It was both sad and relieving, I must say. I am of mixed emotions since this is very much indeed the end of an era.

I bought the copper beast while working at Starbucks – Victoria’s Broadmead location to be exact, during one of Starbucks’s famous Christmas sales. Fresh out of university, and pursuing more of a social life than a career, Starbucks gave me enough employment to pay the bills. As a staff member I recall that I was entitled to something like 30% off hardware, and the Christmas-time 30% off sale further compounded my savings. I think I got the thing for about $200.

But who knew it would hang on this long.

I babied it, that’s for sure. I mastered its use, and always wiped it down and cleared the steam pressure from the boiler before shutdown. But it was a long time dying. A fully manual machine, it required making the coffee by hand – a practice Starbucks itself abolished in their cafes nearly 7 years ago in favour of fully automatic machines.

We’d been planning on getting a new machine soon anyway. I’d been talking about it for a couple of months. I wanted a fancy, new machine that did all the work for me, save for some key artisanal aspects like steaming milk (the ones that do that for you are just gross – think of the milk build up in the lines – yuck!).

And so, as I said, I was a bit excited when our old unit broke, since this entitled me to a new one. Good timing financially too, with a couple big cheques arriving these days.

Lots of research led me to Jura: a Swiss company known for pretty machines that do a great job of making coffee. I bought the ENA 5, ENA being a new line for Jura that is compact (relatively speaking), beautiful and fully functional. This is one of those machines where you pour a half-pound of beans in the top, press a button, and get a fully customizable espresso out the other end in about 30 seconds. I can program water volume per shot, temperature of the shot and the amount of coffee beans per shot. It even cleans itself.

We’ve been through half a pound of coffee since getting it last Friday, and I must say I’m quite impressed, though still perfecting the programming of each serving.

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