Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Engineering, or Michael expresses his exasperation with the Italians (again)

In the middle of 2008, I purchased myself a "bean to cup" coffee machine. The point of such a machine is that you put unground coffee beans in the top and espresso comes out the bottom, basically. I purchased such a machine from the Italian company Gaggia, a very famous brand in coffee. This machine made wonderful coffee, and I finally achieved my long term wish of being able to make myself as good an espresso or latte at home as I can get in a good cafe. It was a fine purchase, and I was very happy with it.

However, late last year, half way through making me a cup of coffee, something horrible happened to the coffee machine's boiler, and it would no longer make coffee. However, as the machine came with a two year warranty, I called the manufacturer, and they said that they would send packing materials, I could then arrange for DHL to pick it up and they would repair it for me. For the then, though, I was stuck with cafetiere coffee and occasional trips to the Algerian cafe down the road (as previously discussed).

I didn't actually manage to send the machine off to them until early February, as I was abroad for most of January. However, once I did, I heard nothing from them. A couple of weeks ago, I called them, and I was told that "There is a backlog in importing parts from Italy". This was a little annoying, but I kept drinking cafetiere coffee, shrugged, and worked on the basis that Italians will be Italians.

Today, though, I received a call from Gaggia explaining that my coffee machine was "beyond economic repair", and that rather than repairing it they would be refunding the money I paid for it. The model is superceded, so apparently the option of simply giving me another one no longer exists. I can of course live with this, but in truth my preference would simply be to have the machine working again. As I said, the machine made superb coffee. I shall just have to buy a new machine with the refund.

Having decided that, a conversation I had with Perry de Havilland a few months back (as a consequence of my mentioning how happy I was with my Italian coffee machine) came to mind. Essentially, he told me that "In Germany, the most prestigious coffee machines are Italian. After all, the Italians know far more about coffee than we do". However, "In Italy, the most prestigious coffee machines are German. After all, the Germans know far more about engineering than we do".

I think I may be buying a German coffee machine.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


On Samisdata, I have writted a piece that purports to be about the leg before wicket rule, but is actually about climate change science. I may have stretched things a bit, but I am amused that I was able to do this.

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