November 28th, 2004



For once, a very charming dream. I'm with my mother and we're continuing our clearout of household objects. We drive off to an aerodrome where there's a plane. I've never known that we owned a plane, or that my mother could fly. My mother takes off quite casually. We don't soar at an acute angle into the air off the end of the runway, but rather slowly lift from the ground to achieve a height of no more than a hundred feet or so.

The plane is gorgeous. I have the impression that it belonged to her father although she says no. It's a little like an enclosed Austin Healey with short wings, although it appears to be made mostly out of wood. Everything in the plane is made out of wood, leather and metal. Maybe it's a bit like the Cambridge that my grandfather had his entire life, that ended up being stolen from a car park in Newbury years later. It certainly accelerates with the same alacrity. Ah, back when someone would buy a car and that was it. It wasn't traded in with each change of model or new feature. Back when they built cars like boats. And the policemen were younger.

It's sad to wake up and realise that we don't own such a plane. My mother makes it clear that I am soon to inherit this. I picture myself cleaning spark plugs and changing oil filters, travelling the country. Towards the end of the dream, Endoige comes aboard and I look at him with a sense of how ridiculous, and enjoyable, this situation is. After all these years of being driven around, I'm finally going to fly him somewhere in a Do-Easy style.

Wow, dude, that dream's kind of gay! You betcha...

Back to coffee. Somewhere over the years, I can probably date it to moving to this flat, the idea of waking and not drinking a cup of coffee has become untenable. Clearly there's an addiction at work here of sorts. The habituated association of waking, dawn and the stove. Mind you I don't drink much coffee. It's not about volume. I don't drink more than two cups a day. Nevertheless, those rare mornings when I awake and find there is no coffee to make. Oh dear. Those mornings are a little flat. Yes, I can concede that drinking green tea would offer a milder and healthier lift to the day, but there's a habit here. Now, if I was ever to stay in your house and be offered instant coffee, I'd try to hide my distaste. I'm not even that comfortable with coffee made in a French press, to be honest. I have become unbearable and need to be resocialised in the coffee-drinking world. I don't want a watery or milky drink, I want this dark, black syrup that sustains more or less every journal entry. Without coffee, this journal really wouldn't exist. The habit is to rise at around six, make coffee, sit down and write (privately, publicly) until around 11 o'clock. Then I dress and think about going out into the world. Prior to this point, I'm pretty much dressed in Japanese writerly attire, sitting at a low table, and like to think I'm Nagai Kafu (this site is frankly as disturbing as I have ever found, but I like it!) or a well-behaved Dazai Osamu, if such a thing were possible.

Here are some other forms of coffee I have enjoyed from time to time:

1. Ice Coffee. By which I mean aisu kohi. I love watching the creamer dissolving and tumbling down through the ice. It's theatre. The drink's pretty lousy though.
2. Vietnamese coffee is quite pleasant with that bed of sweet condensed milk. It has a theatre of its own.
3. Ethiopian. I'm not being honest here. I've never drunk it, but I've seen it being made. That could be the best part. Supposedly Ethiopian cuisine is one of the very oldest and most distinct in the world. A sore gap in my culinary, and coffee, knowledge.
4. Most coffee of the Mediterranean/Latin variety: Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian, Italian (I'd make that your last, mate), Greek, Turkish and so on.
5. Camp coffee. I haven't drunk it in years, but I liked it when young. Nothing like coffee though.

Coffee that really annoys me:

1. I'm endlessly disappointed by the coffee on offer at the ubiquitous Starbucks-and-alike chains. In particular, I get very worked up at their frequent misunderstanding of cappuccino. To me, cappuccino is a shot of espresso set against a delicate balance of swirled milk and foam. It's not a "latte" with extra foam drunk in half pints. The beauty of the cappuccino is that relationship between coffee and milk. The milk dissolves into the coffee, but the coffee itself retains its character. Well, unless you sit there nursing it for twenty minutes.
2. The coffee at Tapestry Goes West. This needs to be rectified.

That's enough opinion for one morning. I really don't like sounding this way, I find it quite unappealing. So here I go again...

So, the challenge ahead now is to obtain a decent coffee machine. Where to start? And how much am I going to be ripped off? Since my mum has a long standing habit of shopping for household appliances at John Lewis, I'll start there. I automatically discount anything with spurious electronics (maybe that's a mistake? I could activate the machine via Bluetooth from the bed...) or those colourful X1 models. Jamie Oliver had one in his series. Neither do I want anything that uses pods or mills the beans in some internalised delivery system. This Gaggia might fit the bill, it has 15 Bar of pressure, not to mention a burr grinder, but it's out of stock. The machine does come separately though. Mmm, that means you're paying £150 for the grinder. Lordy, lord, lord. Magimix is out. That name just doesn't ring right. Krups is too associated with National Socialism for to be comfortable allowing anything in the house with its name on it. And I think a coffee machine can only really be Italian. Where else might be worth looking? Divertimenti, maybe.

This Bugatti is £495. It seems to want to express its Futurist credentials just a little too much and looks rather like an upturned version of Tatlin's Monument to the Third International. Now I think about it. And it's ugly. This Pavoni is almost sluttishly utilitarian and also just shy of £500. It looks like a coffee machine for life. I could love this machine... flicks through various sites... This Isomac is £965 and looks like it should come to life. It's even uglier than the Bugatti. This one's not much better either. This is tolerable and would fit in the kitchen quite conveniently, but I'm not sure I'd want the grinder integral to the machine.

The problem with all of these is the price. I suspect I could buy it much cheaper abroad. The dollar price for most of these machines matches the UK one, although the Italian price for the Pavoni looks close to £350. The saving would pay for the flight. Hmm, I did get an invite for New Year's Eve in Rome. Can I last that long on Turkish coffee though? I like the idea of the manual Pavoni. There's a skill there to master in the timing of the pump and I'd enjoy that ritual. It's more slow food. There's also the chance to mess up most royally. Kinky Friedman uses a Pavoni. I could get the eagle to put on top. I'd have to build a special extension to house it. I'd have to start roasting, blending and grinding my own beans. Hell, I'd have to buy my own plantation to ensure quality control.

Anal, but then, so it would seem, is this entire entry also.