Twigs and branches

by John Quiggin on August 26, 2021

Another open thread, where you can comment on any topic. Moderation and standard rules still apply. Lengthy side discussions on other posts will be diverted here. Enjoy!

{ 47 comments }

1

MPAVictoria 08.26.21 at 4:47 pm

I am curious if there are any home espresso drinkers among the readers of Crooked Timber? I have gotten more and more into coffee over the past year or so and am considering getting a little setup to make espresso at home but I am a bit intimidated at some of the prices and the variety of options. Any advice on finding a decent grinder that won’t break the bank would be especially appreciated! They just seem so ridiculously expensive.

2

nastywoman 08.26.21 at 5:20 pm

does ‘Australia’ still exist?
I mean – nobody can go to Australia anymore.
(not even my Australian friends who live in Zürich)

So if you can’t go to Australia anymore – what’s the point of pretending that it still…
exists?
(or any ‘Australians’?)

3

TheSophist 08.26.21 at 7:06 pm

I put this in the photo thread, but I’m re-upping it here: CT got a shout out in the current issue of the New Yorker. In Joshua Rothman’s “Why is it so hard to be rational?” We find “I read a collection of rationality blogs—Marginal Revolution, Farnam Street, Interfluidity, Crooked Timber”. I’m not sure if CT would claim to be a “rationality blog” – in the context of the article, I really don’t think it fits, but hey…

4

Delacaravanio 08.27.21 at 5:44 am

@MPAVictoria, I have a DeLonghi KG79. It’s a great value grinder that although is not designed as an espresso grinder, you can turn it into one in five minutes using just a philips-head screwdriver and a YouTube video to instruct you.

Highly recommend.

5

Will 08.27.21 at 7:10 am

@MPAVictoria, my blade grinder died a few months ago. When I found that a burr grinder with good reviews could be had for not as much as I expected I decided to give it a try. I bought this one: https://baratza.com/grinder/encore/ and it’s made my coffee so much better. I was really surprised how much of a difference it makes.

So I’m 100% team burr grinder. I don’t make espresso at home (just pour-over) but I’m sure it would make a big difference there too. I’m sure many people will have more serious coffee-making equipment than this but realistically I’m not that committed to it :).

6

Gorgonzola Petrovna 08.27.21 at 7:51 am

“Defunding” (and “deplatforming”) is the modern western equivalent of sending enemies of the people to the guillotine (or the Gulag or re-education camp). If you’re a journo, or a college professor, and you at some point in your life made an unacceptable joke or expressed an unacceptable opinion, then you’re fired: ‘defunded’. Politicians unacceptably questioning the 2020 election or supporting the unacceptable Georgia election law are literally defunded by Coca Cola, AT&T, etc. The police is probably the least woke non-political institution, and thus: defund the police!

7

Trader Joe 08.27.21 at 11:16 am

MPAVictoria

Unfortunately if you’re serious about good quality home espresso, there’s no real short-cut on the grinder. When I started out I used a simple bean grinder (KRUPS) and ran it on the finest setting a couple of times. That was about US$50. It was ‘good’ but not great. Might be better than what you’re doing now, but not as good as you can get. Given the manageable investment it was a decent toe dip.

I now use OKO Brew Conical Grinder which was around $250 (US$) and this is noticeably better though whether you’d call it $200 better is kinda down to how much of a coffee ‘snob’ you’ve already become. I find it worth it but its not a cheap toy particularly when you then load the output into a machine that can cost a few hundred dollars besides.

8

Ingrid Robeyns 08.27.21 at 12:10 pm

@The Sophist – thanks for sharing – that’s a very interesting description, “Rationality blog” – not sure what it means, but let’s just take it as a complement :)
But this raises an interesting question: What would be the best description of this blog? As one of its writers, I experience it as giving me ultimate intellectual freedom – there is literally no-one telling us what to write or what not to write (or indeed whether to write). Whatever it is we ultimately write about, I think that is a very important thing that we should protect.

9

Jake Gibson 08.27.21 at 12:24 pm

@nastywoman
Some of my best friends are Australian.
My family met a nice couple from Australia on a trip to Ireland. My wife and daughter still keep in contact with them on Facebook.
One of the few reasons for FB’s existence.

10

J.Bogart 08.27.21 at 3:56 pm

I think not what was requested, but: I have a Jura E8 espresso machine. It grinds and brews. Tells you when to add water, add beans, and to clean. US retail is about $1,000 or $1,200. Lasts decades. Turn it on and press the button, first rate espresso, machiatto, capucino, etc.

11

Harry 08.27.21 at 7:36 pm

1 for the Oxo conical grinder. I found it in the US for $100 (https://www.oxo.com/conical-burr-coffee-grinder.html) and it has markedly improved coffee for us.

12

nastywoman 08.27.21 at 8:27 pm

@9
Some of my best friends are Australiens too –
that’s why it’s so… so difficult? – to… deal with the situation – that… it seems to be… that Australia doesn’t exist anymore?! – which could… could bring US to @6 and the funny idea that: “Defunding” (and “deplatforming”) is the modern western equivalent of sending enemies of the people to the guillotine (or the Gulag or re-education camp).

Don’t worry guys – as I have proof that “Defunding” and “deplatforming” are two completely different things – and when some platform doesn’t want to publish anymore some Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Misinformation anymore – there are always all these other Right-Wing Racist platforms who will publish anything you want to have published Petrovna.

So NOBODY ever can ‘deplatform’ you Petrovna –
(which is something completely different than ‘defunding’ the police –
or not)

Right?
(Wing-Winky-Winky…)

13

nastywoman 08.28.21 at 5:32 am

and about ‘coffee’? –
I drink tea!

14

Brendan P Johnston 08.28.21 at 9:25 am

Unfortunately Espresso depends on an accurate grind. I have a Baratza Preciso which is now replaced by Baratza Sette 30. They are horribly expensive, but very good. Cheap hand grinders make good coffee but take ages. I use them camping, and on holidays, because I am an addict.

This must be an area where this is an opportunity for a cheaper product.

Once coffee is ground there are many cheap options from Aeropress, StoveTop to Gaggia Classic.

15

Ralph Giles 08.28.21 at 3:52 pm

My understanding of coffee is that there isn’t much to be done about the price of grinders. One rule of thumb is to spend as much on the grinder as you do on the espresso machine.

The idea with burr grinders is to achieve a very uniform particle size, so the espresso process extracts a more controllable flavour profile. That requires precision manufacturing, hence the price. On the other hand, it can depend what you like; my partner uses a blade grinder to reduce the coffee to a very fine powder, almost Turkish style. That’s not the typical recipe, but is what she prefers.

I also highly recommend the aeropress. Its argument is that most of the flavour in espresso comes from the pressure, not the heat, so using a manual plunger with ordinary kettle water works about as well. In the meantime it’s fast, much cheaper, gives you a lot of control, and is easy to take along with you. It makes a great cup of coffee, and can be a good place to start for home experimentation. You need something else to foam milk if you want cappuccino, though.

16

MPAVictoria 08.28.21 at 10:24 pm

Thank you everyone for the reply’s! I think I am going down a real rabbit hole on this one….

17

J-D 08.29.21 at 2:39 am

Some of my best friends are Australian.

I can go you one better; all of my best friends are Australian.

18

Ray Vinmad 08.29.21 at 4:07 am

Reading NYT ‘The Biggest Crisis of Biden’s Presidency’ etc.

It is amazing how quickly a crisis arose out of the end of the US’s longest and possibly most futile war. If followed by greater military disentanglement it makes handling other crises much more possible.

But the more things change, etc.

I was wondering if Americans–and maybe people in other countries–have close to supernatural beliefs about their leaders.

Do we believe they create good or bad eras though their vibes and we must hope that Biden’s vibes are good?

For the media, this means the economy is good, the country has ‘confidence,’ and it’s morning in America. Generally things the president has minimal effect over like most things the government does.

Is something primitive underneath ‘the country’s mood’ like a tacit belief in the astrological effects of a president on highly complex causal systems his actions affect indirectly or not at all?

Or this is just self-fulfilling prophecy media baloney?

Hasn’t it just been resoundingly proved that the capacity to handle an actual crisis and preventing crises in the future after president is out of office is maybe a better bet than never making people feel like there is a crisis.

Does he make us feel ‘confident’ or ‘unconfident’?

Oh no now there is a terrible crisis. How will I feel after this commercial for increased military spending?

The pessimist would say shall keep doing this over and over again I suppose until humanity is altogether subsumed by crises.

In the meantime, now is the moment for every American to exorcise their discomfort with the forever wars until they fall down the memory hole again.

19

David J. Littleboy 08.29.21 at 6:17 am

“Some of my best friends are Australian.”

ROFL.

“does ‘Australia’ still exist?
I mean – nobody can go to Australia anymore.”

Let’s hope that that continues. Between melting Greenland and distributing new exciting pandemic viruses, air travel is stupid in the extreme.

But if you still think going to Australia is a good idea:

20

Neville Morley 08.29.21 at 7:49 am

@MPAVictoria: oh, the rabbit-hole goes so much deeper… Assuming you stick with the espresso plan, rather than Aeropress or stove-top Moka, you’ll have to decide if you want a manual machine (you control the steam going into the ground coffee and everything else), semi-automatic (you do the grind and tamping, it controls pressure) or automatic (it does everything). The first two need practice but you can produce much better coffee by the end, the latter is reliably mediocre.

You can spend stupid amounts of money – but you can also get a very good espresso from quite reasonably-priced equipment, with practice. My home set-up is a manual Elektra, a magnificent bit of kit that enhances any kitchen, with a Rancilio Rocky grinder; my office machine is a cheapish DeLonghi Dedica that came bundled with a grinder (the KG79 mentioned above) for less than 20% of the price, and it reliably produces excellent espresso. It’s not up to the standard of the Elektra, but it’s vastly better than the espresso I’d get in most professional establishments.

Definitely worth trying lots of different beans to find ones that are your taste; it took me a while at the beginning to realise that a rather bitter espresso was not me grinding it wrongly or getting the pressure wrong but just the way the beans had been roasted.

21

Gorgonzola Petrovna 08.29.21 at 8:07 am

@12, a small nitpick if I may:
I have proof that “Defunding” and “deplatforming” are two completely different things

Actually, quite often they (and of course I should add: “demonetizing”) are exactly the same thing, as for some enemies of the people their youtube videos are their source of income. Plus, as we say: “without publicity there is no prosperity.” Enemies of the people deprived of their income are harmless. And, with any luck, might even get reformed, which is unlikely when using the guillotine.

22

John Quiggin 08.29.21 at 8:17 am

I have used just about every coffee technology known. I agree with J Bogart @10. If you don’t need portability and aren’t tightly constrained for cash, Jura Ena 8 is the way to go. I have an older Jura which started giving problems (non-fatal but not easily fixable) after about 10000 cups (turns out there’s an internal counter) and Jura offered me a demo model for $A900, about $US600.

Aeropress is the best portable choice, though it’s a bit pernickety.

23

Gorgonzola Petrovna 08.29.21 at 9:18 am

You can’t go wrong with a decent Nescafé machine + capsule.
I heard on good Balkan authority that reproducing, at home, the right combination of all parameters is nearly impossible, or, at least, extremely expensive. Therefore, a good capsule machine is the best solution.

24

Seekonk 08.29.21 at 2:15 pm

There is a strict MSM convention that US foreign policy, although sometimes inept and routinely unappreciated by the benighted locals, is always well-intentioned.

The US debacle in Afghanistan is attributed to an ‘intelligence failure’.

Apparently, the spooks failed to inform the policy-makers that the government which Uncle Sam had been supporting for two decades was thoroughly corrupt and widely hated.

One hopes that these incompetent intelligence professionals will be named and shamed, and that their advice will not be followed going forward.

25

engels 08.29.21 at 2:19 pm

Just noticed that CT posts don’t have thematic tags anymore; I was going to suggest this discussion should be filed under “How To Spend It”.

26

nastywoman 08.29.21 at 2:48 pm

@19
But if you still think going to Australia is a good idea’:

and it’s not that I not enjoyed the video –
BUT there is a certain Austrian Bakery in Sydney and some really cool places for surfing…
AND who has said something about ‘flying’?

27

nastywoman 08.29.21 at 2:55 pm

@21
‘Actually, quite often they (and of course I should add: “demonetizing”) are exactly the same thing, as for some enemies of the people their youtube videos are their source of income’.

What?

As I’m fully aware that I could make a lot of dough by posting Right-Wing Dreck on the Internet – but is that really… in any way of form comparable to something like ‘defunding the police’?

28

engels 08.29.21 at 4:09 pm

Nescafe Gold Blend is well worth the extra imo.

29

LFC 08.29.21 at 6:07 pm

Scanning this thread has made me glad that I don’t care that much about coffee, of any sort, and never have. I used to drink one “real” (as opposed to decaf) cup of coffee in the a.m., via a package of already-ground-up beans and a French press, a v. inexpensive thing. Then, for reasons that I will not go into, I stopped drinking the one “real” cup in the morning. Now I have a cup of tea in a.m., and if I feel the need for a little additional caffeine (which sometimes do), I’ll go out and buy a hot chocolate (w/o whipped cream) or a decaf coffee of some kind. So I’ve never spent money on any kind of grinder, b.c I’ve never ground beans, or on any sort of espresso machine, and when I was drinking one cup of coffee in the morning I did it pretty much in the least expensive way possible short of buying old-fashioned (but still sold) “instant” coffee, spooning it into a cup, and pouring boiling water over it.

30

Gorgonzola Petrovna 08.29.21 at 8:04 pm

@27,
Yes, definitely. Conceptualized via my humble attempt at holistic analysis, designating a property of cognitive informational content transmitted through linguistic expressions.

31

nastywoman 08.29.21 at 8:43 pm

BUT – I think it’s truly –
GREAT!!! –
that one time in history the Anglo-American World discovered
THE ‘Barista’
and NOW –
(as this thread undoubtably proves) –
Italian Coffee Machines are running America -(and also Australia?)

I’m REALLY proud –
JUST!! don’t drink any Cappuccino after lunch, guys!

32

anon 08.29.21 at 9:29 pm

MPAVictoria,

Previous posters gave you wonderful suggestions on grinders.

As for espresso machines … if you are merely curious and not sure how automated you want your espresso experience to be … an excellent starter machine is the De’Longhi EC155. You can use it to learn any of the techniques you’re interested in.

After that … John’s suggestion of the Jura Ena 8 is a perfect next step.

And then … you’ll know enough on how to proceed.

Good luck!

33

engels 08.30.21 at 4:27 pm

Personally, I only drink this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_luwak

34

Tm 08.30.21 at 4:33 pm

Claim: If you’re a journo, or a college professor, and you at some point in your life made an unacceptable joke or expressed an unacceptable opinion, then you’re fired: ‘defunded’.

Evidence: “The spokesman for a major evangelical nonprofit was fired for promoting vaccines on the MSNBC “Morning Joe” cable news show, Religion News Service has learned.
Daniel Darling, senior vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters, was fired Friday (Aug. 27) after refusing to back down from his pro-vaccine statements, according to a source authorized to speak for Darling.”

https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/08/cancel-culture-is-out-of-control-2

Fact check rating: partially true, insofar as it applies to Russia and the US right wing universe.

(Friends, I’m not feeding the troll ok? I’m not! And neither should you!)

35

Tm 08.30.21 at 4:35 pm

P.S. Concerning Russia, it’s a bit of a whitewash – defunding is by no means the worst that journalists etc. must expect.

Exile or Jail: The Grim Choice Facing Russian Opposition Leaders
Experts say the current exodus of journalists and dissidents is the biggest wave of political emigration in the country’s post-Soviet history.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/30/world/europe/russian-opposition-leaders-exile.html

36

J-D 08.31.21 at 12:44 am

There is a strict MSM convention that US foreign policy, although sometimes inept and routinely unappreciated by the benighted locals, is always well-intentioned.

How often do mainstream national media in any country ask ‘Are we the bad guys?’?

One hopes that these incompetent intelligence professionals will be named and shamed, and that their advice will not be followed going forward.

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

It does seem to me, though, that this question merits serious reflection: why is this not a thing that happens? I feel as if I could speculate about the outlines of an answer, but there must be better informed people than me with more insightful observations to make.

37

J-D 08.31.21 at 12:51 am

Claim: If you’re a journo, or a college professor, and you at some point in your life made an unacceptable joke or expressed an unacceptable opinion, then you’re fired: ‘defunded’.

Is this a claim that was made by somebody commenting in this thread? If it was, then I guess it was written by one of the people whose comments I don’t read, which makes me feel that I was probably right to decide not to read that person’s comments.

Anyway, whoever the claim originated from, there are two relevant and appropriate responses. The first is that if this is a claim about what always happens then it is, straightforwardly, a lie. The second is that if this is a claim about what sometimes happens, then it’s true, but so what? Sometimes people being fired for things they have said is exactly what should happen; the proposition that nobody should ever be fired for saying things is indefensible.

38

nastywoman 08.31.21 at 4:33 am

@34
(Friends, I’m not feeding the troll ok? I’m not! And neither should you!)

that’s impossible if your friends start to believe that they are –
‘a horse’
and as I just read that in my homeland the US more than 88000 prescriptions were written for a ‘Pferdekur’ in the week ending August 13, an increase of 2400% over the weekly average prior –
WE HAVE –
to ask Petrovna if she thinks too – that she is ‘a horse’?

39

nastywoman 08.31.21 at 7:05 am

and about@30
‘Conceptualized via my humble attempt at holistic analysis, designating a property of cognitive informational content transmitted through linguistic expressions’.

that’s what I always do – BUT focusing on ‘Crazy Right-Wing Racists Science Denying Idiots’ – as they really have become… become? besides ‘Trumpy’ also ‘Horsy’ – lately…

40

Petter Sjölund 08.31.21 at 7:22 am

Engels, thanks for reminding me of this:
The luwak, as far as I could see, is a small, fluffy, pissed-off-looking doglike animal, which spends its days in a small cage consuming coffee beans and shitting. This reminded me uncomfortably of my civil service career.

https://crookedtimber.org/2015/01/12/the-world-is-squared-part-5-balinese-interlude/

41

Gorgonzola Petrovna 08.31.21 at 9:02 am

@34,
Why should my holistic analysis be limited to one particular (non-western!) country and one subjectively defined political affiliation in America? You sound like you’re trying to tell us something about yourself, and nothing else.

@35,
Oh, wow, is it nytimes.com itself? You REALLY schooled me there, sistah.

42

Gorgonzola Petrovna 08.31.21 at 7:58 pm

@37 “Sometimes people being fired for things they have said is exactly what should happen”

And who said it should not? Certainly not me. Also, sometimes, perhaps under different circumstances, they should be sent to prison, or treated from sluggish schizophrenia. Or even sent to Afghanistan. When they are Enemies of the People, Crazy Right-Wing Racists Science Denying Idiots.

43

engels 08.31.21 at 11:49 pm

WE HAVE –to ask Petrovna if she thinks too – that she is ‘a horse’?
@[TM] Oh, wow, is it nytimes.com itself? You REALLY schooled me there, sistah

Petrovna and TM are female?

44

Kiwanda 09.01.21 at 2:39 am

Most Americans now think the government and/or tech companies should protect us from false online information. Sounds great to keep all those falsehoods suppressed, but those who think that such censorship will never stop speech they agree with are likely to be bitterly disappointed.

From thefire.org, many incidents of speech punished at colleges; some points:

Over the past five and a half years, a total of 426 targeting incidents have occurred. Almost three-quarters of them (314 out of 426; 74%) have resulted in some form of sanction.

The number of targeting incidents has risen dramatically, from 24 in 2015 to 113 in 2020. As of mid-2021, 61 targeting incidents have already occurred.

Scholars were targeted most often for speech involving race (e.g., racial inequality, historic racism, racial slurs, BLM, DEI).

In addition to race, targeting incidents tended to involve hot-button issues such as partisanship, gender, and institutional policy.

In almost two-thirds (269; 63%) of the incidents, scholars were targeted for expressing a personal view or opinion on a controversial social issue.

Half of the targeting incidents have occurred because of a scholar’s scientific inquiry (106 incidents; 25%) or teaching practices (107 incidents; 25%).

Targeting incidents have occurred most often in the disciplines that are at the core of a liberal arts education: law, political science, English, history, and philosophy.

Targeting incidents have come from individuals and groups to the political left of the scholar more often than the political right; these targetings have come more often from those on campus, have been more organized (i.e., the online petitions have considerably more signatures), and have typically been aimed at scholars who are tenured, White, and male.

Campuses where the most targeting incidents have occurred tend to also have severely speech-restrictive policies, and are unlikely to have adopted the Chicago Principles guaranteeing the preeminence of free speech.

From The Atlantic, a discussion of a variety of mob justice incidents.

And another list of incidents.

J-D:

The first is that if this is a claim about what always happens then it is, straightforwardly, a lie. The second is that if this is a claim about what sometimes happens, then it’s true, but so what? Sometimes people being fired for things they have said is exactly what should happen; the proposition that nobody should ever be fired for saying things is indefensible.

Another fine logical parsing. I imagine J-D could similarly note that to say that “black people are shot by the police” is always true would be a lie, and if it happens sometimes, so what? Sometimes black people being shot by the police is exactly what should happen; the proposition that black people should never be shot by the police is indefensible. Right? That’s the nuanced, every-logical-arm-stated perspective?

45

bad Jim 09.01.21 at 2:58 am

It’s odd that a discussion of espresso has gone on so long with no mention of the choice of coffee, the largest single influence on the taste of the drink. At an intersection in San Francisco’s North Beach there is a cafe on every corner, each serving a distinctly different brew.

Perhaps this is taken as given; if so, apologies for bringing it up. At the moment I’m using the same inexpensive Capresso burr grinder for both filtered coffee and espresso and deem the results acceptable.

46

Tm 09.01.21 at 6:30 am

J-D 37: “I guess it was written by one of the people whose comments I don’t read, which makes me feel that I was probably right to decide not to read that person’s comments.”

That is a reasonable inference.

47

J-D 09.02.21 at 12:11 am

Of course, vaccination against COVID-19 is a good thing, nobody should be fired for saying so, it’s bad when this happens even once and much worse if there’s a pattern of it (which there could easily be, although I don’t know that there is). ‘Our organisation has a policy of neutrality on vaccines’ is not a good reason for a firing; no organisation should have such a policy.

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