The pandemic, the blogger and the espresso crisis

You can survive a pandemic. With patience, discipline and a little sensitivity. But it gets difficult when the right espresso is missing. Then everything becomes a problem, and performance and well-being are at risk. The minutes of a crisis. Almost car-free.

Very archaic - coffee maker from Bialetti
Very archaic - coffee maker from Bialetti

It started with the first lockdown. Restaurants and bars closed. The breakfast at the Italian and the traditional espresso were from now on out of reach. Pandemic is one thing. To cope with it without a good espresso is entirely different. It was clear to me that all fully automatic coffee machines within my reach would not be able to replace espresso at Italians.

A solution was needed. Fast, because the espresso withdrawal was already showing the first effects in the form of bad temper.

The drama takes its course

My job is digital. For over 30 years - before the word digitization even became popular. This is probably the reason why I prefer analogue things in my private life. Analog cars for example, which means that this article is not car-free again. Of course I'm looking for an analog portafilter machine. One without AI that optimizes my espresso.

I find one that suits me. Analog, designed by architect Luca Trazzi. The FrancisFrancis! X1 is offered cheaply on a large platform. It is red, striking, brings color to life. I can't say no and hit the order button.

What I did not suspect at this point in time and which is probably only documented somewhere in the blockchain: the machine is not new. It has already been repaired, repackaged and sold as new. But I don't notice it until much later.

Perfect espresso

Everything goes well in the beginning. The X1 conjures up an espresso in the cup that couldn't be better and a smile on my face. This is how a crisis works, and what can happen when the supply of caffeine is secured? I like my little analog machine that doesn't even have a cleaning program. Yes, it takes time to heat up, but the conscious preparation of espresso is by nature an archaic, decelerated affair.

FrancisFrancis! in red and the beginning of the espresso crisis
FrancisFrancis! in red and the beginning of the espresso crisis

The crisis begins after a few weeks. It will go down in the annals of my life as an espresso crisis. The X1 causes trouble, short circuits and blows the fuse. Then she kills her manometer, but continues to conjure up perfect espresso.

In the hope of an exchange, I contact the platform from which I purchased the machine. There they no longer have an X1 in their range, but they offer the return and full reimbursement of the purchase price. That's fair, because I've been making my espresso with her for six months. On the other hand, I'm attached to the machine. And notice that there are no more red FrancisFrancis X1s for sale anywhere.

Illogical action

I'm usually very structured and pragmatic. If something is close to my heart, then unfortunately I tend to act illogically. I don't want to give up the X1 and am considering repairing it. So I call Illy Kaffee, the home of FrancisFrancis! I find a phone number in Munich and I find out first hand how a large corporation works.

Because, no surprise, nobody answers the phone in Munich. Illy is also outsourcing and optimizing. Processes and profits, of course. I land, a positive surprise, in Italy. The Italian contact is warm and positive. Illy will fix it if I want it. Without costs. I will receive an email address for my repair request and, just as security, another Munich phone number.

While waiting for feedback from Illy, I prepare my replacement plan. Because even in the espresso crisis, supplies must be secured.

De Longhi - can the espresso? Not really!
De Longhi - can the espresso? Not really!

A mistake

The plan is simple. A small, cheap machine should bridge the time without X1. Then I have another use for it. A De'Longhi Dedica Style EC 685.BK is ordered, and already when unpacking I suspect the mistake. Plastic wherever you go. How is this thing supposed to make espresso?

The De'Longhi is programmable, but so is how to set it - it just puts a terrible mixture in the cup. She doesn't survive with me for 24 hours. Then it is packed and on the way as a return.

Analog coffee

What do you do in an emergency? There is still the tried and tested coffee maker from Bialetti. Italian tradition, and now the preparation becomes completely archaic. But it works, slows you down and is a pleasure. Of course, the result is not an espresso in the real sense of the word.

In the meantime, Illy's repair service has called. Of course he is outsourced too, not in Munich and not in Italy, but around the corner from me. In fact, reason has now returned to me. I waive the repair and send the X1 back for credit. Somehow I lack confidence in repairing a machine that has already been repaired.

The Spanish idea

It looks like 2020 is my Spanish year. Looking for a replacement for the X1, I'm already back in Barcelona. After a Saab from Catalonia also an espresso machine? Ascaso manufactures portafilter machines whose concept I like. Stainless steel instead of brass, a separate brewing group instead of a boiler.

There's one not far from me Ascaso partner. Shopping in times of the pandemic works - at least in theory. There are other reasons why it will fail in practice. Ascaso Partner Hommel has a sophisticated hygiene concept, advice is given by appointment.

The team is motivated and oriented and likes Ascaso. The espresso tastes great, the advice is intensive, and I quickly find my preferred machine. The prices are good, just like on the internet. I'll take the machine with me, I say.

But fail immediately.

Corona hits some industries hard. Others benefit. RVs, for example, sell extremely well. Kitchens too. And also devices such as espresso machines. A new Ascaso 2020? No chance. The warehouses at Hommel are empty, as are those at the German importer. Delivery date sometime in 2021. I leave disappointed.

The second attempt - in black and with a fantastic espresso
The second attempt - in black and with a fantastic espresso

Because at this point it is the end of October, and I cover my espresso needs with my Bialetti coffee maker. It won't last forever. My wife has followed my espresso crisis and at some point she can no longer see the crisis. She advises me to order another X1. Another color, she says.

Women can be so pragmatic

Yeah yeah Why not? Then just black, the main thing is analogue and perfect espresso. I still have an Illy voucher, the machine will be a little cheaper. A few days later a black one lands here FrancisFrancis! X1. A very different serial number than the old machine, and it behaves differently from the start.

Yes, it has a long preheating time. And she can only do espresso, you have to make everything else yourself. But the espresso is perfect.

Espresso crisis overcome. And we'll manage the pandemic too.

16 thoughts on "The pandemic, the blogger and the espresso crisis"

  • @ Ebasil,

    difficult topic. A lot of culture also follows. 70 years for one generation is 100 for the next and so on. Loriot is still irreplaceable and unequaled. Older semesters still mourn Karl Valentin, who had a great influence on Loriot, is irreplaceable and is still unmatched ...

    What status would Astrid Lindgren have today if one Wilhelm Busch had said everything for all time?

    It is also good and right that every generation exercises its right to contemporary topics and cultural protagonists again and again, creating new classics for tomorrow.

    The interesting question is how a constantly growing cultural heritage should be conveyed with limited (reception) capacity or at least remain available and tangible?
    And what role could the ÖR take on and perhaps should have taken on long ago?

    After all, teachers are only human. The fact that they are often no longer able to honor or even recognize the children's creative work probably says much more about our society as a whole than about any professional group in particular.

    And it is all the sadder ...

  • Volvaab - tauric carnival

    Yes that is sad! In two ways: 1. That unfortunately all just throw away plastic costumes based on the same Hollywood characters and the like. buy (what do the Fridays for Future Kids actually say about that?) is really very regrettable. Also the pedagogical failure of the teachers.

    We don't celebrate carnival here, but of course as children too. As a very little girl, I went there once as a little red riding hood in a self-made dirndl dress and red cap with a small wicker basket, homemade juice and homemade cake. It was a nice thing. Like my later appearance under a self-sewn sheet with spider figures on it etc. and rattling chains. Besides the fact that a little boy cried terribly in fear, it was also a great costume. At that time nobody bought ready-made costumes - and in any case in the flat north German country there was nothing to buy.

    But I also find it very sad 2. that the younger generation, including the teachers, don't know Tintin. Her parents evidently did not introduce her. What's worse is that the same goes for Loriot. Generation 30 and up hardly know it at all. What a loss!

    When, for example, I think of the fact that as a child I naturally devoured all of the Wilhelm Busch albums - even though he had been dead for 70 years and came from a completely different era and society.

    We lose a lot! But maybe it has to be like that? No, at least it can't be with Loriot!

  • @ Tom & Ebasil,

    A few years ago, Tintin actually went to Carnival in the Saab.
    I have a good photo of Tim & Struppi that I am happy to email the blog.
    Tom's articles are always surprising and maybe it would fit by chance?

    No teacher recognized the costume and my son - creative between cowboys, supermen and batmen, storm troopers and Darth Vadern - had to explain himself repeatedly ...

    ... with a tip of Tolle on your head, knickers on your legs and an original Struppi under your arm.

    It saddened me that nobody recognized and honored his own work, his idea and his wish. The following year, Haddock was considered, but discarded for a lightsaber and plastic mask. Both and a cape in the trash long ago. Isn't it sad?

    Of course he still has Struppi.

  • There is a very interesting side:
    The auction prices achieved are listed there for many car brands and for years. You can stay there for almost hours and be amazed at the prices that have been achieved in some cases. It should be noted that these are actual prices and not some kind of fantasy. You can also see which lots were not sold, they are then marked with “unsold”.

    The most expensive Lancia was auctioned on August 21.8.2016, 2.007.500,00 in Pebble Beach. An Aurelia Spider Amercia achieved the record price of USD XNUMX!

    Unfortunately there are no Saab listed 🙁

    But Koenigsegg does. On September 29.9.2019, 4.600.000,00, the Koenigsegg one achieved a price of CHF XNUMX! (whether you can or want to move such a vehicle at all?)

    Happy Advent to everyone and stay healthy!

  • Hans S., Volvaab, Lancias, Tim, Struppi, Haddock etc.

    Before the beautiful Lancia Appia Lusso Vignale (what a wonderful color combination!) Has to leave, the promise to Tom has to be kept, right? 😉 And we, the curious Saab blog fan base, would like a few photos of it ... 🙂

    When looking for the above mentioned Lancia from Hans, I came across the fast Hergé car (with the rattling “Haddock valves” :-)) from the Bienlein case, the fast wine-red model identified by Volvaab as the Lancia Aurelia B 20 GT . A silver-gray brother (or sister) now costs around 160.000 euros. As I had to (or was allowed to) discover with astonishment, there are still several much more expensive Lancia Aurelia from the 50s, up to about a quarter of a million euros! Well, that's the Italian way of life and beauty ...

    PS to Tom: Will it work with the Saab Tintin contribution? I'm curious like a speed bow! 🙂

  • @ Hans S.,

    truly a fine car. I am with you there. Overall a fine brand. I particularly like the classic fronts. Or that and how innovative older Lancias were technically.
    The list of world premieres in chassis and engine construction is very, very impressive. Really nice cars.

    Have a good weekend.

    Suitable: I'm making lasagna. And while doing so I think about whether and when I should convert and upgrade my P164E to three 45 mm Weber carburettors ...

  • @ebasil, the Lancia is advertised on, so it is for sale.

    Light blue metallic and a white / beige roof, inside red in fabric and synthetic leather, white wall tires round off the beautiful look.

  • Hans S. - Lancia

    The vehicle was not known to me before (it was also before I was born), so I thought it was… what a beauty !! Madness! 🙂

    What color is the piece of jewelery? And also with a different colored roof? It was very fashionable back then and I like it very much - even though or precisely because it imitated a convertible or hardtop look.

    PS: According to the photos given, I would clearly tap “Coupé” here. 😉 😉

    Best regards and have a nice Swedish-Italian weekend! 🙂

  • @Volvaab Driver, Lancia Appia Lusso Vignale built in 1960, is neither a coupe nor a sedan, something in between. Very rarely, with only around 470 vehicles built, they have almost disappeared today. They have the fine Lancia technology of the 50s / 60s on board. There is the small V4 engine made of light metal and there is Lancia's own front wheel suspension, like the one used in the beautiful Aurelia Coupes. And of course equipped with a Weber twin carburetor!

  • Espresso - a great topic! Especially in these times, which are a bit modest. That warms the heart and is what I would never expect on an autoblog! Thank you and continue with the surprising topics - please!

  • @Hans S. Yes, Hans I want to. How could I say no to that too? In the better times that I hope will come. I have a known weakness for Italian cars and I can't get some of them out of my head. It could be possible that there will be growth in this direction in 2021. 😉

    Spoiler alert: Italy will be on the screen again tomorrow. In the late afternoon - it's worth reading it!

  • @ Hans S.,

    you aren't serious, are you? Beautiful …
    Can we maybe swap our fleets? I currently offer 2 cars and 9 bikes ...

  • Stories that life writes are simply the best! Quasi analog!

    And Tom, if you'd like to drive up to the Italian in a beautiful old Lania, I'd have one, not Italian, but a Lancia, called Appia Lusso Vignale!

  • Saab and espresso just go together!
    I'm glad that others seem to see it that way too! 😉

    I have had an intimate relationship with two "hot" women for years:
    - my SAABine (that's what a few buddies call my dick ship from 2011)
    - my Rancilio Silvia (my little espresso machine, always accompanied by her friend Rocky, the Rancilio mill)

    By the way, my favorite espresso for years has been the “Paradiso” (as a bean; contains Kona) from Fausto Kaffee (
    And I'm currently thinking about replacing “Beloved Silvia” with a younger, newer one soon.
    You can choose between her “big sister” Rancilio “Silvia Pro” or a Xenia from Brandenburg ( 😉

  • I have many years of good experience with one Isomac mill and one machine each ...
    Both very pragmatic Italian mechanical engineering. The housing is bevelled and drilled for switches, pressure gauges, screws, etc. stainless steel. Curves and angles other than right angles can also be found, but only where an omission would have led to an aesthetic impertinence.

    These are not design objects. But good, analog and apparently handcrafted tools for good espressi ...


    A PS for tea drinkers
    My kettle is also an Italian of a similar character. I don't know the brand. Bought at Manufactum 14 years ago, it seems indestructible. None of its numerous predecessors was nearly as durable, although the last ones had already cost the same money. With them, the form probably exceeded the function, the function only slightly exceeded the guarantee. Bella Italia. There are still analogue brands and products. It occurs to me that my stove is also an Italian of a similar character. There is nothing like good tools and nothing helps better against the throwaway society ...

  • An unexpected article that made me smile and go to the next coffee ...

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