When my in-laws were visiting the States, mama gave me her espresso machine.
Every afternoon mama would walk down the street to my house for coffee.
“It tastes better when someone else makes it.” she reasoned.
Mama and my father-in-law drank their coffee scalding hot. My father-in-law’s one indulgence is a spoonful of sugar in his espresso. Mama just tilted back the tiny cup and let the bubbling liquid slide down her throat.
My mother-in-law was a stirrer and sipper of her sugared coffee with a splash of milk. I fell somewhere in between, sipping my black espresso.
When my in-laws returned to Spain, mama told us to keep the espresso maker until their next visit.
Mama had always advised if you are going to have a party – have two - the house was clean, and you were already in host-mode.
After my in-laws left and after my husband and I had returned to our hectic routine with two children under the age of three, we invited friends over for dinner on a Friday.
I brought the espresso maker upstairs and then got the children ready for bed.
The next evening, we had Mort and Esther over. My husband made a special dish that his mother made during the town’s fiestas. We soaked bread in the brandy, garlic, meat sauce. We drank some red Protos.
Amid protests of, “Oh no more!” we decided it was time for an after-dinner coffee.
I went to the espresso machine and saw it was loaded with grounds. I marveled at my husband’s attentiveness to have it ready to go.
We set the tiny white porcelain cups in from of Mort and Esther along with the sugar and some steamed milk. My husband and I finished our wine as our adored guests drank. Their lips tightened with each sip, and I attributed the carefulness to the brew.
The next afternoon we had a birthday celebration at our house. Cakes and cookies filled plates and the espresso maker was in full swing.
I came up behind Mort and Esther and heard Mort whisper, “Do we dare have coffee?”
It turns out that my husband had not been so attentive, rather he had been quite careless and had not checked the machine before putting it away in the basement.
“It looked clean to me.”
I assured Mort and Esther that this espresso was freshly made with new grounds, and they happily sipped their coffee down.