Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Coffee central: the Faemina, with (beyond it) the coffee roaster and grinder
Eastside Road, October 10, 2012—
TODAY IS FAST DAY, typically Tuesday, when we have our usual Spartan breakfast, then nothing until a handful of almonds and cashews with tea in the evening.

But breakfast this morning, ah, breakfast! The Faemina is back from the shop!

Lindsey found the Faemina in the middle 1960s in a second-hand shop — remember those? — on Grove Street in Berkeley. We borrowed twelve bucks from Mom, put thirteen of our own with it, and bought the machine, which was brand new, still sporting its European plug. Our old friend George Craig replaced the plug, and we've used it ever since. Over the years it's needed gaskets from time to time, and once it needed something more: on that occasion I actually shipped it to New York for refurbishment, and it returned lacking some of its parts and, while working, not really working quite the same.

Last month it stopped working, and I suspected the heating elements had given out. I'd had to replace switches on it twice — you see one on the base; there's another, similar, on the other side — and my wiring was largely guesswork. The switches had been arcing, and now and then you smelled hot insulation on the wires. Time to take it to the shop.

I took it to my old friend Mr Espresso in Oakland. Soon came discouraging news: the elements were burned out and needed replacing. Much research on line. Then, just when I'd found someone back east who'd supply brand-new handmade replacements, at a hefty though honest price, happier news from Oakland: after removal, clean-up, and reinstallation, and complete rewiring, Faemina was as good as new.

Well, not quite, of course. There's some play in the lever: in fifty years, moving metal parts inevitably wear down a bit. Some of the chrome plating is showing its age, too.

But the machine works. We have our caffelattes again, after weeks of substitutes from our daughter's Atomic, and one or another Moka from the top shelf, and even a cheap plastic Krups fake espresso maker we bought years ago for use in a rented vacation house.

Ah, Faemina, how fond we are of you! How grateful for these long years of devotion! I promise to take good care of you…

1 comment:

John Whiting said...

Some of us oldies are still going . . .