My Espresso isn’t Your Espresso

The holiday season is a time to reconnect. It’s a time to join with friends and family who, over the intervening year, you might not have spent as much time with as you should have. It’s a time for togetherness and its a time for thankfulness. It is also a time for parties.

The hallmark of any good holiday party isn’t the buffet, or the wet bar, or even the desserts. No, the hallmark of any holiday party is the coffee. I’ll explain. No matter how fun the party is, no matter how long it lasts, no matter the size of the bar or the quantity of the food, at some point it must come to an end.

When it comes time for the end of any holiday party coffee is key. The important reason for this is because its hopefully the last drink that someone will have for the night. As such it both helps to ground the over imbiber and it helps wake up the unenthusiastic designated driver who has been dozing on the sofa for the past two hours. That is, of course, unless you’re at the holiday party I recently found myself attending.

So this was a yearly gathering. It’s grown over the years from a small gathering of five friends from high school to a group of about thirty people. The additional people being the addition of college friends, significant others, and graduate school friends. This eclectic group likes a good party.

So, it was with no small amount of anticipation that we all got together this year for the annual party. I was particularly excited this year as I knew our host had just purchased a new espresso grinder after relying on the quality reviews on The new grinder would, undoubtedly, grind the fresh espresso beans into the perfect coarseness for the espresso machine. I’ll be honest, the espresso that this espresso machine kicked out was my personal highlight of the party.

So, as the party slowly began to draw to a close, I looked forward with an ever growing sense of anticipation for the farewell espresso from my favorite espresso machine. The buffet was put away, some of the guests had already left, the wet bar was nearly dry and it was going on towards three in the morning when the new coffee grinder finally made it’s appearance.

The espresso beans went into the grinder. The grinder was fired up and ground the beans into the pert consistency. The grounds weren’t too small, nor were they too course, it was, in other words, the perfect consistency for what was sure to be an excellent cup of espresso.

Those of us still at the party, or still standing, gathered around the espresso machine and awaited our cups of perfect coffee. The grounds were scooped out of the grinder, they were slotted into the brewer and damped down with the metal pestle.

We waited in patience as the espresso machine went to work heating the water and using pressure to force that water through the grounds as it pulled out a shot of espresso. The first shot collected into the cup below and I’ll be honest, I thought it was a little more foamy than was normal. But, since it smelled alright, I ignored the extra foam and watched as one of my friends took the first glass.

It only took a few more moments for the other shots to be pulled. Soon, the seven of us left, all held hot cups of espresso in our hands. It was, undoubtedly, sure to be an absolutely delicious cup of espresso.

We toasted the holiday season, we toasted good friends and strong traditions and we all took our first sip of what was always the highlight of the holiday party. Sadly, this year it was not.

You see, that extra bit of foam, the foam that I commented on earlier, turned out to be soap in the espresso machine. Now, soap, of course, has no business being in an espresso machine. Unfortunately, my friend’s boyfriend didn’t know that. So, before the party had started, indeed, while my friend had been out doing the last minute shopping, he had run soapy water through the espresso machine trying to clean it. And so that was that.

That espresso machine, that had helped to make so many fond memories over the past six or seven years, has sadly now been retired. Hopefully, there will be a new espresso machine next year, one that will never feel the touch of soup coursing through its important parts, one that will never taint the perfect espresso it should be producing, one that will make many more new and lasting memories.

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