Friday Miscellany: Coffee And Cream

 

Breville Barista Express espresso machine. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Espresso: The Real Deal

Le Monsieur surprised me for my birthday with a gift of a serious espresso machine. And I’m not kidding when I say “surprised.” (Delighted, too.) He doesn’t drink coffee, doesn’t understand why anyone would. And prior to our kitchen remodel, we had a running battle for counter space. So I was stunned when this beast showed up at our door. This is the machine his brother (another serious coffee drinker) has and had recommended. My Monsieur, he’s a keeper!!

It took a little experimenting and tweaking the coarseness and amount of grounds, and getting the tamping right, but I’ve finally achieved the desired result: a deep, rich and beautifully balanced espresso. I also decided to up my bean game, and picked up some freshly roasted Hayes Valley Espresso beans from my local Blue Bottle Coffee. (I’ve since subscribed for home delivery.)

Because I don’t want to have to swap out the beans in the hopper when I switch to decaf later in the day, I’m keeping my Nespresso machine handy too.

And (Eye) Cream

 

All-natural calendula eye cream from Indie Lee. Details at une femme d'un certain age.I’d run out of my Ahava eye cream a few weeks ago and have been working my way through a bunch of samples to see if there was anything else out there I liked better (keeping in mind no animal testing, and avoiding parabens and such). Nothing stood out and I was getting ready to reorder the Ahava. But while waiting to meet a friend for lunch earlier in the week, I was given a sample of this Indie Lee Calendula Eye Balm. I’ve been using it since and like it. It’s very moisturizing. A little goes a long way, and it can also be used as a lip balm or even on burns or cuts (contains vitamin E which speeds healing). I don’t have issues with puffiness or dark circles; when it comes to eye cream I’m just looking for something that moisturizes, smooths, and keeps the skin supple. This one does that. And it costs less!

Dog, Accessorized

Coco wears the Cone Of Shame after eyelid surgery.

Poor Coco, she’s in the Cone Of Shame this week. She had a small mass removed from her eyelid (vet is “95% sure” it’s benign) and three teeth pulled due to some decay, which was a fairly major procedure. She’s recovering well, other than being miffed that I’m trying to take her picture when she’s not looking her best. Despite all of the dental work, she’s eating like a champ. With senior dogs, it’s always something.

Are you a coffee drinker? What’s your favorite preparation?

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25 Comments

  1. March 9, 2018 / 3:58 am

    That’s a great present! And you’ll think of him every time you use it.

  2. March 9, 2018 / 5:32 am

    So jelly about your new hardware! What a sweetheart Monsieur is! Yes, he IS a keeper. 🙂

    Now, about the eye cream … I DO have issues with dark circles and maybe a little puffiness. Any recommendations for eye creams that do address those issues? Pretty please?

  3. Phyllis Finnemore
    March 9, 2018 / 5:39 am

    We have the same machine and love it. Here are a couple of tips from our experience. Descale it about every other month with white vinegar if you use it frequently as we do. Also, sometimes the fresh oily beans get stuck in the grinder hopper. To fix this, turn the “nob” inside the hopper manually open and closed. No need to remove all the beans. This should shake loose the bean or beans stuck inside. This happens fairly frequently to us but it isn’t a serious problem. We are very happy with our machine.

  4. Linda Boardman Kerr
    March 9, 2018 / 5:59 am

    I am a coffee drinker, and so is my Monsieur. In the morning we brew up a normal pot of Eight o’Clock, having ground the beans just before. In the afternoon, around 4, we make a batch of so-called espresso, in our 3-cup Moka pot. I know this is not “real” espresso, but we like it, and I love the classic design of the little pot (fun to see it in scads of European movies). He takes WAY too much sugar in his, claiming that did that in the country of his birth, Brazil.
    My eye creme is one by Shiseido, and it contains sunscreen. I use it during the day. At night I just pat Clairins lotus oil around my eyes.
    Have a great weekend!

  5. March 9, 2018 / 6:31 am

    Love that you’ve “upped your bean game.” That made me chuckle. I’ve upped my tea game in the past year. I’ve totally eschewed tea bags for “real” whole leaf tea… all the time. Trouble is now I’m spoiled. So when I’m out I opt for coffee. Everyone makes better coffee than I do, so I am rarely disappointed.

    • March 9, 2018 / 7:08 am

      I did this ten or fifteen years ago and while my husband can happily make himself a cup of tea from a tea bag (Tetley’s), I’m completely spoiled now — the whole leaf tea is such a different experience, right? And trying to get a good cup of tea in a restaurant is usually an exercise in disappointment. . . Your approach is smart!

    • Deirdre Smirh
      March 9, 2018 / 11:39 am

      I try to use only proper tea too, what brand do you like? I like Harrodsburg Earl Grey after trying lots of other brands……Dee

    • Nicole
      March 9, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      I used to keep a supply of tea bags (Canadian Red Rose, from relatives who kept me supplied) in my purse so I could always have the good strong cup that I wanted. I’ve loosened my grip on the control since restaurants have upped their tea game it seems. Perhaps I’m a little less fussy as I am growing up. That’s not a bad thing either. 😉 Loose tea is nice, too, once I figure out how much I need for the strength I like!

  6. mary Foss
    March 9, 2018 / 6:51 am

    Hi Susan:
    Love your blog! I look for it every morning. Please, please, get your little dogs “soft” cones! They are so much more comfortable, and don’t scare our babies like those plastic ones do!. I think I got ours at Amazon, or Pet Food Express. Thanks!

  7. March 9, 2018 / 7:05 am

    Oh dear, tell poor Coco that I sympathise as a “senior dog” who’s also suffered dental work this week. Now I realize I must count my blessings that no “cone of shame” was required! 😉
    And what a wonderful birthday gift!

  8. Maggie Vita
    March 9, 2018 / 10:03 am

    Thanks for being conscious of animal testing when trying products. Big high five to you!

  9. Linda
    March 9, 2018 / 11:48 am

    My husband and I both love coffee! I’m totally spoiled, as he hand grinds it in a burr grinder and uses a Chemix with a stainless filter. We found Broadcast Coffee in Seattle to be our all-time favorite. The owner hand roast the beans and it is in my opinion, divine! Also, there are no shipping charges! Check them out!

  10. Nicole
    March 9, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    I love watching the barista make the coffee with the tamper. I love watching anybody in the process of creating. I find it relaxing. I used my Keurig for years and then I was given a gift of a French press and the smoothness of the flavor (which I think is due to temperature) changed my way of preparing it. I brought my Keurig to our new office for the break room and bring my own, homemade French-press coffee in a carafe. I always liked using the GinZing Eye Cream from Dr. Weil’s Origins line. I just looked at the products again and noticed a Mega-Bright Dark Circle Minimizer for the person who mentioned the need for one. I just re-stocked with one from Clarins-never disappointed with any of their products. Your kitchen is beautiful, by the way!

    • March 9, 2018 / 4:33 pm

      Thank you, Nicole! I’m the one who asked for skin care for eye circles. I use Clarins products already and will order this one immediately. Thank you again. 🙂

    • March 9, 2018 / 4:37 pm

      Whoops! Just realized that product is Dr. Weil’s Origins Mega-Bright Dark Circle Minimizer. Ordering it now. Thank you.

      • Nicole in CA
        March 10, 2018 / 9:01 pm

        Sorry if I confused you about the Origins eye cream, Ann. I’m glad you found it. Enjoy! I love Origins products; haven’t been disappointed with one yet. Makes me think I need to pick up Checks and Balances face cleanser again soon. 🙂

  11. Bitsy
    March 9, 2018 / 7:19 pm

    I have an Olympia espresso machine that makes wonderful expresso (although it doesn’t include a grinder), but decided I prefer the extra counter space, so recently switched to a Bialetti stove top expresso maker. I typically use espresso in a cappuccino or an affoggato, so not having the crema is not an issue for me. I stored the Olympia in the pantry, though, just in case; but the combination of the grinder and the espresso machine in the Breville would allow me to do away with the separate grinder that is still taking up counter space, so is a tempting alternative to keep in mind. I’ve already had several offers to take the Olympia off my hands!

  12. March 10, 2018 / 6:50 am

    Espresso, just moka. I have a beautiful stainless pot I bought at a yard sale (or “stoop” sale, as there was no real yard) for $8, and which is an Alessi worth at least $200. I wouldn’t bother with a real espresso machine as I live in Petite-Italie and there are good cafés close by; gets me out of the house, away from my desk. I have a small kitchen, so not much room for more gadgets.

    What a thoughtful present! And poor baby. Hope she loses the Elisabethan collar soon.

  13. Kathy
    March 10, 2018 / 8:12 am

    I am NOT a morning person. While I wait for the water in my electric kettle to boil, I put 2 tsp. of Lavazza espresso in my tiny French press and sprinkle sweetener into my coffee mug. I have put the dried espresso into my mug ,and sweetener into my French press, enough times to know I couldn’t possible operate machinery first thing in the morning. However, I do love staying with friends who have and can use these marvels. I learned to love Lavazza when my husband was working in Torino and he brought back knowledge of electric kettles from Australia. Travel is enriching. Enjoy your coffee.

  14. March 10, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    Where on earth do you live where there are no electric kettles?

    Have you tried Stevia? It is a natural, non-caloric and non-teeth-rotting sweetener.

  15. March 10, 2018 / 5:42 pm

    I have several coffee machines, from a professional (in the shop for repairs) to a Nespresso. I usually end up with a french press cup in the morning, and Nespresso in the afternoon. And I really love illy coffee!

  16. March 11, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Like Susan Burpee everyone makes coffee better than me – so we tend to go out for a cuppa at the weekend. Though we’ve just had our kitchen done and I would love a small coffee machine. I have mentioned this to Mr TNMA….

  17. Duchesse
    March 11, 2018 / 5:34 pm

    Happy birthday and may you have many, many delicious cups to come!

  18. March 13, 2018 / 6:08 am

    Coffee? Yes, thank you, in every way imaginable! I tend to rotate coffee preparation through the seasons – espresso from an antique percolator year round, cold brew in the summer (a la French press), pour over in teh winter when everyone wants different hot drinks, and regular Keurig (with reusable pods and my own grounds) on work days. My current favorite coffee is from a local roaster…the beans are aged in old bourbon barrels, so there’s just a hint of whiskey and smoke.

    There are some days, though, when I could be tempted to just toss a shot of bourbon in with the coffee…

  19. MARLA
    March 13, 2018 / 5:21 pm

    I’ll be over by 10 AM!! Fire that bday gift up!!! Lovely of your darling!! My 10 yes old bichon too. Growth removed from head and 5 teeth pulled!!

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