I would rather bungy jump naked from the wing of a Tiger Moth than settle for instant coffee. If you consider I’m scared of heights, tigers and the crazy folk who fly old planes you’ll understand how much I detest the foul, loathsome stuff.
Freshly ground espresso, on the other hand, is the liquid expression of all that is good and proper in the world. At least it is at 7am when I’m dragging myself away from a perfectly good bed. I’m not alone in my love of the bean – it’s the second most widely traded product in the world. The first being oil, which tastes horrid with or without frothy milk and two teaspoons of sugar.
When we renovated our kitchen I was mad keen to have a coffee machine installed. I used to spend an exorbitant amount of money on coffee – around $3000 a year! Put into perspective, that’s nearly one hundred cartons of beer. Clearly my coffee drinking was severely limiting my potential for increased alcohol consumption.
You have to pay big for good quality, right? We got our Miele coffee machine secondhand for $1300 – new they were $3100. I’d done my maths and worked out at three coffees a day it would pay itself off in less than a year. Thereafter, cheap coffees.
You might think this was a lot of money to spend. I know I did. Tracey, too, took a lot of convincing. Especially as I balked when she wanted a dishwasher – looking back I can’t believe I tried to come between my wife and a dishwasher and survived to tell the tale. I’ve grown smarter since then.
The good sense of quality over price came home to us one day when we were purchasing a candle holder in Silly Solleys and it had broken before we made it through the checkout. Buying cheap junk is akin to investing in a pyramid scheme – you might get lucky, but you probably won’t.
So we have this awesomely (expensive) coffee machine and for three months I was constantly standing in front of it, thinking to myself, “You lucky son of a beach. You have THIS! You’ve made it. You can die a happy man.” With all the love I was feeling, you might imagine my shock then when I went to a friend’s house and he produced a better result with his bottom of the range Sunbeam. Not just a better result – the quality his Sunbeam produced was head and shoulders and upper torso better than my Miele white elephant.
Needless to say, after many years tweaking my Miele, we last July gave up and purchased a $200 Sunbeam coffee machine (I figure it paid itself off in twenty days) and although the Miele has the advantage of freshly grinding the beans, I haven’t made a cup of Joe with it for about a year. Now when I happen to glance at the Miele I think to myself, “You unlucky sod. You have THIS! You wanted it. It was dead money.”
It gets worse though. We’d twice needed to repair the Miele machine since it was installed five years ago, both times costing us about $400. I could have bought four Sunbeam machines or ten cartons of beer for that.
Tracey and I have changed our thinking over the last 15 years: We always try to purchase quality, even if it means we have to wait longer to save up the extra money or if we have to go without something else.
Our coffee machines prove, however, that spending bigger bucks on something isn’t always a guarantee of a better end result.