Due to the many comments and questions I got lately about the decision to buy espresso machine and grinder, here is my story. I hope it will help all you lovely people to evaluate for yourselves the rational and the money to invest in your decision.
Note: in the world of coffeegeeks, the recommendation is always to get the grinder first. Then if you have money, go for the espresso machine.
Why grinder first? Well, to enjoy good coffee, you can do so without an espresso machine. The french press is a coffee brewing device you can find easily in shopping malls and they cost between RM50 to RM100. The Bodum has some very nice french presses.The grinder is most important because freshly grounded coffee tasted the best.
A note about roasted coffee beans. Unlike tea, let me assure you that aged coffee beans are worthless. The roasted coffee beans aroma and taste peaks between 5 days to 2 weeks from the roasting date. After that, it started going downhill. No technology in the world today are able to prevent the deterioration of roasted coffee beans. It is like preventing human aging. In fact, you can prevent human aging better than coffee beans.
Therefore, I can say all the coffee beans you see on the supermarket shelf are practically stale. Whatever they state on the “expiry date” are nonsense. The first time you open the package, you’ll get the whiff of aroma. After that, it is over. Now, I’m not saying that there is really no more taste and aroma in the coffee. It just meant that you are merely enjoying maybe only 30% of what could have been 100%.
And I can assure you, none of the coffee you see in Starbucks and Coffee Beans are fresh. I define freshness as coffee that is less than 4 weeks from roasting date. (in Malaysia, I stretch it to 2 months due to lack of supply)
What is worst than coffee beans that is not fresh? Ground coffee. Even if you have a batch of fresh coffee beans (say 1 week old), after you grind the coffee, it will lose its potential within 30mins to an hour.
That is why you need a grinder. If you grind your coffee and use them immediately, it has higher potential than grounded coffee.
Therefore, if money is an issue, get a decent grinder and a french press and you will be able to start enjoying decent coffee at home.
One big concern and one big question.
The big concern = It is notoriously difficult to get fresh roasted coffee in Malaysia.
The big question = How much is a decent grinder?
That depends on the brewing methods.
Coffee press (french press) and drip coffee = About RM 300++
Espresso type = RM 2,000.00
Summary: If all you want is nice coffee via presses and drip, just RM 300++ and a french press. If you want espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, mocha… those types that you pay RM10+ at Starbucks… It is a long term investment. Go to Part 2 of my story.