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The Pragmatism of Alton Brown

In one of the currently showing versions of "Good Eats," Alton Brown spends a good bit of time narrowing down his choice of espresso machines to one with "just the basics" that really won him over by it's small footprint, thereby requiring minimal counter space. Next he explained it requires fifty pounds of manual pressure to properly pack the "puck" of ground coffee. So how does he do that? By adding a BATHROOM SCALE to the countertop so he can be sure he's actually applying fifty pounds! How about that for conserving counter space!

LOL! Sometimes the best humor on his show is unintended.

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  1. That's fantastic. Love me some AB.

    However, it seems kinds silly to worry about footprint size and then put a kitchen scale on the counter.

    1. Not sure if I've seen that episode, but the mental image does sound funny. Though, I'd assume he is encouraging his viewers to use the scale so they can get a feel for the amount of force they need to apply when packing the coffee grounds. After one or two trials I think the scale could be returned to it's lonely corner of the bathroom floor.

      1. maybe I am just "duh" but he only used the scale to test the manual pressure and to do it in a way that was easy for most people to see. I REALLy don't think he was keeping a bathroom scale on the counter. but then, your milage may vary.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          Yes, of course, you both must be right. My joke was both repetitive (since the OP made it) and based on what must be a distortion of AB's intentions.

          (p.s. Hey, Quine. I guess I'm not the only philosopher around here...)

        2. I mentioned this on an other post but Alton in his pragmatism once did something that I thought was absolutely revolting.

          He was going on about oatmeal and how he has to eat it even on the road. He then showed how to make oatmeal in the coffee pot that is provided in the hotel room. clean and hygienic are not the first words that come to mind when I think of those things. But at the very least it is a good way to have coffee flavored oatmeal.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Withnail42

            And after you've checked out, the cleaning lady will clean your dried up oatmeal out of the pot with Windex so the next guy can use it to make oatmeal/Windex flavored coffee.

            1. re: southernitalian

              I always wonder what they guy before me used the pot for.

          2. that was in the outtakes for feasting on asphalt. and he probably washed out the coffee pot before using it. using a hotel coffee pot is revolting now? if i were you i wouldn't even think of stepping into a hotel bathroom then--much less watch one of those reports on 20/20 where they turn on the black light and show you that there's a layer of leftover fecal matter all over the bed sheets.

            1 Reply
            1. re: beelzebozo

              Yes the concept of eating out of one turns my stomach.

            2. I thought about making that multi-storied "lotus" device he made to steam his chicken wings to render out excess fat. All the parts cost more than I was willing to pay, and I didn't want to have to store 3 extra steaming baskets. It turns out a colander which fits in a stock pot worked just fine, even though the wings are not on a single layer.

              1. This quite common when training barristas to make espresso properly in the coffee business. Generally a shipping scale is used, not a bathroom scale. I've trained hundreds of people this way.

                2 Replies
                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  Oh, I have no problem with the methodology. Makes sense. Just didn't make a lot of sense after he spent so much time going over espresso machines, then embracing the small foot print of the model he chose. Especially after turning up his nose at super-atuomatics with the comment that they make great coffee if you can handle the payments. Has he added up the cost of one cup of espresso at Starbucks (or any coffee emporium) per day for a year? I love my superautomatic, and in the long run, it's cheap! And it perfectly packs the coffee puck for me! '-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Well, that's the point. The espresso maker will occupy the kitchen counter forever, or nearly so. The scale is very temporary, just to give yourself some training. It's surprising how quickly one internalizes the right amount of pressure and then does it automatically.

                    And screw Starbucks. Their coffee sucks anyway, never mind the ridiculous expense.

                2. At least he didn't eat anything on this show, didn't his mother tell him not to eat with his mouth open and not to talk with his mouth full

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dolly54

                    I find it difficult to eat without my mouth at least partially full. ;)

                  2. I was surprised that he suggested a french press as an alternative for an espresso machine but did not suggest a moka pot.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: amethiste

                      Can't really do much else with a moka pot. A french press can be used for tea, coffee, broths or any other similar straining application.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        I find that once you use something for coffee. Everything else you put in it afterwards tastes like coffee... even after bleach

                        1. re: amethiste

                          I agree with you; but from Brown's "no uni-tasker" perspective...

                          He also uses his electric kettle to heat up chicken broth, which I wouldn't do.

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            You can also foam milk with a French press.

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              That would be a real pain to wash.