Jonathan Beckman in More Intelligent Life:
Every morning, I buy a black filter coffee from Pret A Manger. There is nothing refined about this. It looks and smells like something you would use to asphalt a road. But the slap of acrid liquid onto tongue is as invigorating as the caffeine itself. Yet though coffee is, ultimately, so much fuel, the means of its production are far from utilitarian: the essence of character and identity are laid bare over the decision to pop a pod in a Nespresso machine (a device whose brilliance lay in convincing Americans that George Clooney was an adequate substitute for sugar and cream) or listen to a Bialetti pot rattle and bubble on the stove top.
During the 1990s, coffee machines were hulking, chrome-clad things that steam-tortured coffee grinds into relinquishing their caffeinated liqueur. The artisanal revolution has made brewing a gentler, more tactile experience. The Rok has a multi-limbed arachnid look. Pour the water in the top, raise the levers then press them down to force out a cup of espresso. Coffee making feels like a minor triumph of competence, like changing the tyre on your car or delivering a lamb.