It seems fitting that my wife bought me a lever for my birthday... the Flair Signature. I bought her a Gaggia Classic back in 2012 for her birthday. Back then I didn't even drink coffee and she drank hazelnut flavoured Folgers brewed in a Zellers plastic coffee machine.
Neither of us knew what good coffee was until we made it... iterating better and better. It was more that my bad coffee was better than what she was already drinking. And my next shot was better than the last one. And so on.
Somehow her simple request triggered an obsession, always trying to improve a shot. We upgraded from a whirly blade grinder. I modified an Encore multiple times. We bought roasted beans from the market and struggled with them until I asked the roaster to make me a shot and it was as bad as mine. We tried mail order coffee. Then I got a Pharos and my wife thought I was nuts but it elevated everything. Then VST baskets, PID, Silvia wand. And a string of manual brewers for my birthdays. I bought a used Bunn G1 which was insanity again, hulking on the counter but tasted better. Then Greenbeanery, Sweet Maria's and hot air popper roasts on the balcony. Then my Quest M3, my treat for completing my Masters, more insanity my wife now appreciates.
Now I am roasting weekly with several beans and roast levels that I mix myself for balanced shots, tracking roasts wirelessly with a TC4, Orange Pi and ipad. I automated my Gaggia with an ESP8266 to provide a web interface for preinfusion, soak and pour times. It featured in a makerfaire at my university. And yes, I bought a Sette to make shots easier on my Classic when grinding so fine for my VST baskets. Lots of technology. But...
...but I've been checking out the levers for awhile now, reading threads, watching videos. She noticed and managed to navigate away from the ROK and choose a signature Flair and she brought it home from the office where she'd had it delivered.
I was so surprised and delighted.
I'm a bit caffeinated right now having pulled four shots to dial it in. Finally seeing a stream of crema coming out on the fourth. I ground by hand with my Pharos, a 100% manual exercise, and unlike my VST baskets for the Classic, I don't need to go so fine. It's surprisingly easy to set up, use, clean, and run again. And quiet. And so much control on that lever... and I can take it travelling... or on a picnic like we used to do with the aero press and Hario mini. It's so well thought out... everything fits together nicely and I blow the pucks out of the portafilter.
My wife is so delighted to watch me excited like a kid. I told her we didn't need another espresso machine a couple weeks ago when she was asking me about levers. But she bought it anyway.
Thanks HB. A great community shepherded by Dan and the team.