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Centrifugal Espresso, Anyone?

Q: I just picked up a Cuisinart Iced Cappuccino maker, thinking that I might enjoy a nice iced cappa when the warm weather returns (okay, I bought early). I notice that it also claims to make 8 one-ounce servings of hot Espresso at one time. You put the ground coffee into a somewhat funnel-shaped plastic basket, and then it spins around at a fairly high speed, and the hot water is forced through the grounds. No pump needed. Seems like it would be handy for a party situation - steam up a pitcher of milk with the Gaggia while brewing 4 double shots at once - it might speed things up considerably. I have my doubts on the quality of straight Espresso made with it, but in the spirit of scientific inquiry I am undertaking an experiment to see how it compares with my pump machine. I will let you know what I find.

A: TASHA in a kitchen: "This is Tasha Brewmore at a home in Cafe Park, an upscale neighborhood in suburban Cappa outside Chino. I was met with a terrible scene when I entered the home on Overroast Boulevard this evening at half past ten. A Mr. Fulcity met his death when a centrifugal Espresso machine evidently failed and a funnel shaped portafilter was thrown through the side of his machine at an estimated 475 miles per hours, impaling itself in Mr. Fulcity's forhead, killing him instantly. Neighbors said Mr. Fulcity was a 'tinkerer.' He could be found most evenings in his garage building this or modifying that. This was apparently true, as this centrifugal Espresso device, which was at one time a Cuisinart iced cappuccino maker, was equipped with a 125cc two stroke Yamaha dirt bike engine, which was set up with its exhaust pipe out Mr. Fulcity's living room wall. Services for Mr. Fulcity are scheduled for the downtown Starbucks next Wednesday at 3:00 P.M. Back to you in the studio."Ok, Royce, what's the verdict on this thing? I'm embarassed to admit I've looked at this thing off & on for the past couple years & found them on clearance for $23 at macys.com & snagged one. (Dunno why I'm embarassed to admit this - it's not like I see you folks in real life.) I see where one has a bid of $16.50 on Ebay and another one is up to $19 so I figure I can probably unload it after the newness wears off and only be out a couple of bucks. I've been busy the last couple of weeks and haven't had time to do the extensive research I'd like to, but a few experiments have produced some first impressions of centrifigal Espresso. Quoting Calvin Trillin's proposed State Motto for New Jersey: "Not as bad as you might have expected." A decent amount of crema with a reasonably good color, although somewhat "whipped" looking. Underneath that, some pretty good-tasting strong coffee. Not nasty, but not quite Espresso, either. And it's a little on the lukewarm side by the time it hits the cup. I think making sure the pitcher is thoroughly pre-heated will help with the temp. And there's always the microwave. There are only two variables to experiment with, the amount of coffee, and the grind. I definitely need to play around with this some more. For milk drinks, I think it's overall OK. Espresso, I'm still working on it. Stay tuned...