I have a co-worker who spends obscene amounts of money on computer hardware. I mean, since I’ve known him I’d say it’s a figure that is easily approaching six figures. No one really knows exactly what he does with all this stuff, just that he has his own little data center running in his apartment. I suspect the reason is mostly “because I can”, and so that if any of his little side projects take off he doesn’t have to bother worrying about scaling – it’s already built out to his best-case scenario. Lean startup this is not. Whenever new shipments of hardware show up at the office his somewhat joking refrain is usually “Hey, it’s a one time expense!” The application is wrong, but the theory is to buy the best up front so you don’t have to deal with the consequences of not doing so in the future.
Let’s get this out of the way: making espresso is not cheap. You can make espresso for cheap, sure, but your upside will be severely limited – quality, reproduciblity, reliability, etc. It’s a finicky art that is extremely sensitive to changes in variables so naturally the better you can control them the better your results will be. Beyond that though, I think espresso may be one area where it really is too expensive to buy cheap. It’s a pretty brutal way to make coffee, really. High pressure and high temperatures are not the friends of cheap materials, and a pile of finely crafted metal may very well outlive you. It’s tough to stomach, but for this hobby I’m invoking The Creed of the One Time Expense. (more…)