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I bought an espresso machine

11 Jun 2024

I like a coffee... but I'm not dependent on it nor addicted.

Fortunately, if I end up going without coffee I don't feel deep cravings, have headaches or any of the other symptoms associated with withdrawal.

The effects of Parkinson's have stolen much of my sense of taste, due in no small part to the loss of smell that comes with it so I really treasure the few tastes that remain strong enough to register with my brain -- and very bitter, strong coffee is one of them.

Quite some time ago I also noticed that my hands were actually steadier after a good strong brew. This seems awfully counter-intuitive but it was a valid observation so I have used this to my advantage and will often have a strong coffee before I need to engage in anything requiring fine motor skills. To be fair, even with the help of coffee I still move like the maraccas player in a latin band much of the time.

As with many of the discoveries I've made while trying to manage the symptoms of Parkinson's it seems that science has caught up with my observations and I read an interesting piece this week that confirms -- coffee stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain and it's a lack of dopamine which is responsible for Parkinson's symptoms. I win again!

Add this to the list of things I worked out for myself before the medical community "discovered" their efficacy. Things such as exercise -- which releases endorphins that go on to stimulate the release of dopamine.

Anyway... back to the subject of today's column: I bought an espresso machine.

This is a purchase I'd been contemplating for quite some time but I'd been put off by the horrendous prices associated with a half-decent unit. Some of these things cost *thousands* and, since I drink but two or three cups a day, that seemed like an unjustifiable expense.

There was the option of something like a Nespresso capsule-based system but although they're cheaper up front, the cost of the coffee capsuals is a major ongoing expense.

So I started doing my research and discovered that much cheaper espresso machines are not good but they're "okay", according to reviews.

Since my sense of taste is utterly stuffed anyway, I figured "what the hell" and decided to take a punt on a $100 machine from KMart. All I'm after is some caffeine for the dopamine hit and a taste so strong that it reminds me that I still have some sense of taste left.

The machine arrived in a day, I unboxed it, read the short instructions, watched a few YouTube videos and gave it a go.


To be sure, it doesn't produce the mind-blowing strength of bitterness that a professional barista can create using a $3,000 commercial machine but it's "near enough for a mallow-puff" as far as I'm concerned.

I can actually taste the dark brown liquid with the rich crema that issues-forth in two little streams from its underbelly and the caffeine hit is just right -- not to much, not to little.

Now that I've got the variables dialed in and found a couple of good pre-ground coffee blends (apparently not grinding your own beans is blasphemy but I don't care) I'm doing really well.

I have to admit that day after day with no sense of smell and very little sense of taste can make you feel quite dull. Taste and smell are not the most essential of senses but they do add a huge enjoyment to life. My sense of smell is never coming back but so long as I can remind myself what taste is like a couple of times a day and so long as the caffeine still works to calm my shaky hands I'll be happy.

Life is what you make it and sometimes it's the little things (like a $100 espresso machine) that make the difference.

Carpe Diem folks!

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