Saturday, August 2, 2008


Went down to the local thrift shop today to pick up this stovetop espresso maker someone had won in the auction but hadn't come to claim. It's a pretty good sized one, couple sizes up from those little ones that do enough for one or two people. The bid on it was ten bucks, which I thought was a nice deal already, but it turned out the lot included one of the minis as well. Excellent. I am thinking that this is a good strategy for getting good deals in those auctions too: you are just paying the highest amount someone else bid instead of having to go a step higher than that, plus there is no worry of being overbid. Another bonus at that place I dicovered today is that the lady is happy to take rolls of nickels as payment.

I already have a plug in machine that works on the same principle as the new ones — steam pressure pushes the hot water through the grounds, so I guess it's not technically doing espresso — but that one is pretty clunky and its plastic exterior makes the new ones look pretty shiny in comparison. Too much junk. I'm thinking I might pass the plug-in one on to a friend who got me onto the stuff in the first place but only has a drip setup going right now.

I think a good way to look at junk is to say it's something that is so bulky or inconvenient somehow that it may be hard to say whether it's worth keeping around. Those coffee machines are a good illustration of this: the stovetop ones are compact, versatile (you could bring them camping) and they work so simply that there isn't too much that can go wrong with them. The cheaply made plastic version I picked up at a small town garage sale also for $10. It makes good coffee, but the internal heating element is an unnecessary extra, making the unit bulky and susceptible to breakdown.

The stovetop machines represent compact value: they are small, durable and well-designed. They also sell for a fair bit new, and I think they could probably easily be resold for at least as much as I paid for them if not more; in other words their value is also liquid. I'm trying to get away from the bulky useless junk as much as I can, small useful things are the way to go. The plastic machine was great to have around when it was the only thing going, but if I am going to be keeping around extra coffee makers they might as well be small, well made ones.

1 comment:

kate said...

you may be the only person who is happy to discover that the lady takes rolls of nickels as payment!