Coffee Hacks

Ex Machina: thoughts on coffee machines

Published on 16 March 17

French press, moka, Chemex, the modern coffee machine. And so on. The tools we use to extract the exquisite beverage we call coffee are as numerous and varied as the occasions for its enjoyment.

The choice of one’s tool is almost an ideological matter. Italian ‘traditionalists’, for instance, embrace the comfort of their beloved mokas, resisting the spreading popularity of the latest coffee machines designed for home use.


Some celebrate the new coffee pods, seen as the apex of individual enjoyment—tailored to taste and delivering a rich cup of bar-quality coffee in a matter of seconds.


Others prefer the slower, pondered charm of the French press, or the Chemex—the iconic coffee pot designed by a German chemist in the first half of the 20th century (its stunning design has earned it a place in New York’s MoMA).


We also attach sentimental value to these fascinating instruments. In Naples, for instance, the local Neapolitan coffee pots have often been in the family for decades, handed down from generation to generation. They extract coffee and encapsulate rich family histories.


Think about it: just like the sculptor’s scalpel, or the painter’s brush, the coffee-making tool you pick will shape your experience, as well as the end product. Using a French press? The secret is in the slow, confident movement of the plunger. A moka, on the other hand, requires a special understanding of time.


An espresso made with a Lavazza A Modo Mio coffee maker will provide an entirely different form of enjoyment from that of a Turkish coffee made in a cezve.


Coffee is all about the experience—why not try something new? If your thing is the swift pleasure of café-brewed espresso, perhaps venture into the unhurried joy of a French press. Or vice-versa.


Whatever machine or pot you use, enjoy your coffee. You deserve it.

This article is based on content from “L’observatoire des saveurs”.

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