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The Kitchen Cabinet

Two Coffee Makers Perk Up the Perfect Cup for Serious Brew Lovers

January 16, 1986|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

In search of the perfect cup of coffee, serious coffee drinkers continue to express interest in trends involving this universal beverage, whether it be a new coffeemaker, a new bean or some special blend of roast.

Seemingly unaffected by the caffeine scare or the stiff price of beans and coffee machines, the coffee fancier has been contributing to the increased sales growth of coffee goods in recent years. In fact, coffee bars have perked up sales of some specialty cookware shops, enticing customers with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans as well as with occasional samplings.

For some, including non-coffee drinkers, owning a good coffeemaker, particularly an electric espresso machine, even helps build status. One of the newer machines added to the already-crowded market comes from Vivalp USA, the V50 Espresso Plus. It's a compact espresso bar that combines an espresso/cappuccino maker with a coffee grinder.

Makes 20 Cups

The 1,200-watt espresso maker features a professional pump system with 122 PSI and a water reservoir that has a two-liter capacity to make about 20 demitasse cups. The unit also has two filter attachments for brewing one and two cups of espresso. The removable drip tray is convenient for easier cleanup.

The steamer, which consists of a valve, a steam button and a nozzle, efficiently froths milk in about 60 seconds for cappuccino. Hot water from the steam nozzle also allows you to make tea, instant soup or hot chocolate.

Aside from fresh beans and the correct amount, one of the factors crucial to producing a good cup of espresso is getting the right grind of beans. It is not wise to buy pre-ground roast for the freshest espresso.

Since climatic conditions affects how the beans pulverize and the amount of water absorbed during brewing, the grind may have to be adjusted daily.

Vivalp's Espresso Plus features a fully adjustable coffee mill (150 watts) with 15 different settings from fine for espresso to coarse for drip coffee. A dispensing reservoir automatically measures the correct amount of ground coffee for each serving. Another stores as much as 1/2 pound of ground coffee.

A compact unit, the espresso bar measures 9 3/4 inches wide, 11 7/8 inches high and 10 3/4 inches deep. It is available in white or black and comes with an instruction and recipe booklet and a measuring spoon.

One of the Best

The simplicity of the European plunger or the French-made Melior pot has often misled customers into thinking that it will not produce good-tasting coffee. The Melior press pot is nothing more than a heat-resistant glass beaker encased in a metal frame with a domed lid through which fits a rod attached to a plunging disk filter, but it has been proved by the test of time. The French-made coffee maker is accepted in this country as one of the best available.

The operation is fuss-free: Place the desired amount of ground coffee into the cylinder, add the appropriate amount of boiling water and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes (depending upon taste for weaker or stronger coffee). Then slowly depress the plunger to the bottom. The fine-mesh screen separates the coffee grounds from the drink, which, by this time, has all the flavor and aroma you would want in your coffee.

"Sales success of the French coffee press has resulted in various reproductions from other European, American and Asian sources," said Bob Blansjaar, sales manager for San Bri Imports, Division of Melior-U.S.A. "Some of them look remarkably like the authentic French product."

Blansjaar provided the following guide to identify the real Melior:

"First of all, the product carries the protection of the French government. The box it comes in is clearly marked: 'Made in France, by its maker, Martin, S.A., Paris.'

Special Glass

"The glass beaker, also made in France, is so marked. Fabricated in thick borasilica glass, the glass conforms to rigid specifications and quality control to insure safety and longevity in use. The frame, manufactured of messing (yellow copper) and plated with nickel/chrome, rhodium or gold is cleanly welded without stress points and stamped Melior on the inside, near the handle," he said.

"The filter pack, encased by two pressure plates, consists of a nylon screen and a 99%-pure nickel mesh for optimum coffee extraction," he said.

Although the Melior produces excellent-tasting coffee, any coffee left in the pot will become cold and somewhat bitter. To prevent this, make only enough coffee for immediate consumption and if needed, brew more. The Melior comes in 3- to 12-cup sizes with your choice of nickel, rhodium and 24-carat gold-plated or plastic framing. The coffee maker should be washed by hand.

The V50 Espresso Plus from Vivalp U.S.A. has a suggested retail price of $185 and is available at Tea and Coffee, Glendale Galleria, Montebello Plaza and Polly's Gourmet, Westminster and Long Beach.

The Melior French press coffeemakers from San Bri Imports, San Francisco, have a suggested retail price ranging from $30 to $150, and are available at Williams-Sonoma stores, the Coffee Merchant, Westside Pavilion, Mr. K's Coffee and Tea, Farmers' Market, Los Angeles, Martinel's, Los Angeles, the Coffee Crinder, Tustin, and Faire La Cuisine, Malibu.

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