Inspired by conversations with enthusiasts on alt.coffee, about two years ago I bought a tiny air-roaster and a sampler-pack of green coffee beans. I wanted to dabble. To experiment. To see what the fuss was all about.

I have to admit, I was warned. Home-roasting is addictive, I was told. It would lead to increasingly obsessive behaviors. Some folks bit by the coffee bug start collecting curious coffee paraphernalia: scouring eBay for vintage vacuum pots and brewers of all shapes and sizes [except percolators… nobody wants percolators.]

Others choose a path of perpetual upgrades: a whirly-blade grinder is replaced with a cheap burr grinder, and then an expensive one. A steam-driven espresso machine is upgraded to a model with a boiler and a pump. And then one with a heat exchanger. And a rotary pump. And PID temperature controls. The road to espresso Nirvana is paved with gold, and while the journey probably never ends, on the bright side it is a path of ever diminishing returns. Heaven help the pocket-book of the espresso purist.

While I’ve picked up some toys along the way [two vacuum pots, one Neapolitan, two coffee grinders –one dedicated to espresso– a decent espresso machine, and two percolators… yes, they were gifts, and no, I haven’t used them] for me, really, it’s still all about the coffee. Which explains why, despite the techno-toys, I most often brew with a two-dollar manual-drip filter cone.

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