I pressed the start button. In less than two seconds, I knew something was wrong. The machine was honking like a furious goose. Nothing adds an extra kick in the pants to a morning than a jammed coffeemaker.
But I deserved yet another goose attack, because I was the one who, years ago, let a Williams Sonoma guy talk me into buying the fancy brewer. I remember walking into the store with just one caveat. I repeated to myself, over and over, “Do not get a machine with a built-in bean grinder. Do not get a machine with a built-in bean grinder.”
I bought a machine with a built-in bean grinder. Great salespeople are everywhere.
So I faced two options that caffeine-deprived morning. Either give up by reaching for some lemon chamomile tea in a dusty tin canister, or tackle the problem head-on. I was not in the mood to drink mulled potpourri. It was time to roll up my sleeves and fix the stainless steel monster. The lure of Colombian Supremo, combined with a challenging day ahead, turned me into a warrior. A mechanic. A budding engineer. Okay, a shameless coffee drinker.
This was not my first brew battle. Nor was it the only time I cursed myself for acquiring an LED-level coffee maker. May as well pass along some wisdom: An LED screen on any gadget that is not a TV, computer or phone is actually a glowing warning label that you paid too much. It’s a high-tech reminder you are destined to encounter trouble. Glitch-y, unnecessary trouble.
But I knew what to do, because I had already surpassed the Malcom Gladwellian 10,000 hours with this particular Breville. The thing had to be dismantled and gently tweaked. After gathering tweezers plus several pliers to unlatch the stubborn grinding chamber, I threw on cheap reading glasses. Then I wrapped my head with a miner’s headlight — my java lamp — to see the innards and work with two free hands. I looked like an old-timey, hunched-over Swiss watch-maker. It was a scene of desperation.
As I lined up machine parts along the kitchen counter, a strong coffee scent permeated the room. Coffee, coffee, coffee. I reached the point where the thought of any old cuppa joe seemed gourmet. A watered-down church basement Folgers in a Styrofoam vessel? Oh, yes please. A Jiffy Lube waiting room Sanka mixed with some rogue cigarette ashes? Give me one venti of that. No, make it a double.
But I forged ahead with the delicate technical work. I did not see a stuck bean or any other obvious problem. It was time for some ingenuity. With steady hands, I turned the whole thing upside down — it’s the size of an office printer. I shook it over the sink and gave it a few martial arts chops. Pulverized coffee and half beans flew everywhere.
I reassembled that Heimlich-ed contraption, fed it some fresh Supremos, filtered water and encouragement. Sure enough, the brewer worked. I knew it would. My Breville knows me, understands me. This is why, awhile back, it stopped flashing that “please de-scale” message I had ignored for months. It was as if the machine caught on. The sudden end of daily electronic nagging was its way of saying, “OK, OK, I get it. Won’t bring THAT up again. Whatevs. Enjoy your scales.”
We’ve been together for quite a while now. Crazy, but I’ll never give up my coffeemaker, no matter how much time it takes to maintain. The saying, “What you own, owns you,” even applies to a small kitchen appliance.
Denise Snodell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DeniseSnodell