CI cultivates antiquity

February 11, 2009 – 11:16 pm


and suddenly, half-nuked water began to gush from the grouphead of our ancient lever espresso device, which, ever since the monumental refurb, had thus far continued to run with the alacrity of a spanked porker. no longer. to blame: a set of three obscenely worn gaskets around the spring-loaded piston that drives our antique shots of tiny italian spro.


thanks be to komos, there still exists in this country a be-all, end-all wizard of all things ancient and italian and lever-driven and espresso-related, the san francisco shop owner christopher cara. we just bet that if someone took pictures of the work space behind this man’s storefront and sent them to us, they’d be haphazard and dionysian and oily and artisan-like. just a hunch.

alas, cara has ceased to traffic in riviera grouphead gaskets, or the supplying manufacturer has. which left only a half-hour of genial commiserating talk and a free shipment, on a whim, of gaskets belonging to a different type of lever machine. “try them out,” says he. “if they don’t fit, never call me again!” or something to that effect.

and that is how this blog became a whittler, in the grand southern redneck whittling tradition: penknife in hand, evening lamps burning, pieces of whittled material flying all around the elbows. the inner surface of the gaskets fit perfectly on our piston, but the outer edges flared too far and failed to, ah, facilitate efficacious insertion.

but as you might imagine, suthin’-style whittling isn’t the best way to ensure a tight rubber seal:


and so, we turned to the fine norwegian art of rubber filing! donned a furry cap, grew a face full of morrissey hair and grabbed a cup of mellow glogg, hunkering over the offending projectile and swishing into the barren night …

we have no idea what we’re talking about. still, the result was not unserviceable!


our hack job reassembled, we discovered that the new and beefier gaskets now cause the piston to move up and down with all the dispatch of mellow glogg. which has, in turn, necessitated the double-pump brewing method, in which we yank on the crucial lever twice in the course of the a single espresso shot. turns out people have been doing this for many years — in the movies anyway. and that perhaps we are now operating our riviera treasure as it was initially intended.

but this seems like a WAY too fortunate turn of events for this lowly blog.