I should have been a yard sale scientist…

What is a yard sale scientist? Oh, I invented it. How cool? It’s someone who goes to yard sales and buys stuff and then tries to figure out what the hell to do with it. In this case, my investigations involved coffee.

Beauty. This is what's on top of my fridge. If you wanted to kill me, all you'd have to do is poison the USA's coffee supply. (You know who you are.) How times have changed. Used to be South Africa's red wine supply. It's almost sad.

Anyhow: Yard Sales. Love them. They’re one of my favourite things about America. Americans are so capitalist that they can’t even give their junk away. They have to sell it. But of course, once you get there you usually discover these sales are really just an excuse to socialise – and if you get on, half the stuff is really free. But I paid $5 … for this:

What IS it? I asked Facebook (nobody knew, although suggestions included a milk frother and "moka pot") but I was meant to be rewriting my feature so of course the only way to find out for sure was to try it out myself.

And this is what happened:

METHOD: I packed coffee into the hollow bit where the filter was under the top screw on bit. Then I lit the gas under it, and it started smelling funny and making weird noises... and more weird noises... and then it shuddered and blew out steamy air from little hole at the end of the long thing... and then SUDDENLY it sprayed espresso all over my kitchen for about 20 seconds. And then it fell asleep.

Only about a teaspoon of the espresso made it into the cup – as you can see from this photo. But it tasted great. I just need to figure out how to get it to go into the cup instead of all over my kitchen next time.

Some people need to drink the coffee first. I don't. I can achieve stupid shit just by trying to avoid getting round to the stuff I need to get around to.

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7 Responses to “I should have been a yard sale scientist…”

  1. Jannie Says:

    It is a “StoveTop Milk Frother/Steamer” – and I’ve never used one. This site sheds some light on the subject: http://www.creativecookware.com/milk_jugs-frothers.htm

  2. jeanbarker Says:

    Thanks Jannie. So in conclusion: You’re not meant to use it to make coffee. But as I proved… you CAN if you’re insane.

  3. Jannie Says:

    “But as I proved… you CAN if you’re insane.”

    You mean, like craving a bottle of wine, but having no corkscrew, only a screwdriver…

    I’m somewhat familiar with the industry you are involved in, and yes, it can drive you nuts. But in the end, it’s all good.

  4. Kay Says:

    Hey Jean, I too seem to have the scientist gene. I have the very same moka pot. It is indeed a coffee maker/milk steamer and not just a milk steamer. It looks very similar to steamer (only) out there.
    I didn’t have quite such disastrous results as you but it is definitely a finickie pot. Usually these combination pots have 2 outlets, one for coffee and one for steam, but this one all comes out the same hole. You have to guess through trial and error, when its ready to boil, lower the heat and then gently push down on the black lever on top. You will get a beautiful foamy dark espresso like brew. Once the coffee coming out starts to lighten, you need to get another cup and keep it coming till you get steam only. The internal water level has to get below the coffee filter insert. Then you are ready to steam. Make sure you keep the nozzle below the surface of the milk. You might want to take it off the flame or a minute till some pressure is relieved from your steaming. Just pop it back on if you need more steam.
    All in all its not the best combination pot out there but it is a beautiful unique pot. Even if its only used for steaming (just be sure to fill only below the bottom of the filter) it does a great job once you get the hang of it.
    Happy experimenting. k.

  5. Kay Says:

    update to my last comment. I’ve been experimenting again. If you put the black lever on top in the straight up position when you start your brew, the coffee will just start to come out as soon as it is ready. That way you don’t have to guess when its ready to erupt. Just make sure you have your cup at the ready. Push the leaver down when your coffee is coming out light as desired.

  6. Alan Douglas Says:

    Found your blog after doing a google image search for stovetop espresso pots. My mum bought one mail order in the mid ’80s. It made great coffee but I think it was only me that ever used it. My mum later gave it to my cousin while I was at college.
    Also very good for making hot chocolate and weirdly scrambled eggs. It came with a matching stainless milk jug that I use with our La Pavoni machine.


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