Monday, February 27, 2017

Homestead Espresso

Twenty-five years ago, I bought an extravagant Christmas gift for Sir Knight - a La Pavonia Europiccola espresso machine.  I had saved my pennies for months and was so excited to walk out of the boutique coffee shop with a treasure that I was positive my husband would cherish for a lifetime.  And cherish it he has.

Sir Knight has always been a coffee aficionado.  He remembers Starbucks when they only had two trucks (delivering coffee to businesses - no retail locations), Star Ship 1 and Star Ship 2.  But, even then, he wasn't interested in sitting in a coffee shop sipping on a Grande Macchiato, no Whip, with a beret jauntily positioned on his head and a copy of Mein Kampf in his hand.  He was more of a double-shot mocha, extra froth, sitting in a club chair in his living room, kind of guy.  Because of that, the La Pavoni was his kind of machine.

La Pavoni Europiccola

This machine is 25 years old!

Steam escaping the relief valve

Heating/frothing the milk

Pressing the espresso


We've used the Europiccola heavily over the years, however, it fell into disuse when we moved into a "shouse" in the middle of a prairie with no electricity.  After we installed solar panels, we dusted off the espresso machine and reveled in the luxury of an occasional coffee.  As our off-grid systems have improved so has our ability to enjoy espresso.  Not only does Sir Knight enjoy a mocha from time to time, hot chocolate, made with Hershey's syrup and steam frothed milk has become a special treat for our children.

The one downside of the Europiccola is that it requires electricity.  We really wanted an espresso machine that would work on a gas range and especially, on a wood stove, without requiring any electricity.  Stovetop espresso machines are easily obtained, however,  we really wanted to be able to froth milk as well as well as make espresso.

Perusing Craigslist one day, I came across a Bellman CX-25 stovetop espresso machine.  Not only did the Bellman make espresso, it also steamed milk!  We snatched it up for an embarrassingly small sum, brought it home and proceeded to put it to the test.  What a wonderful little machine!  It is the perfect addition to our off-grid homestead!

Bellman CX-25

Frothing the milk


The making of a mocha!

Grated chocolate on top!
After watching a youtube video, we fired up our gas range and gave it a try.  The little machine worked wonderfully, with a yield of two 2 ounce shots of espresso.  It also frothed a full pitcher of milk relatively quickly.  We did use boiling water in the tank, which cut down on the heating time, and were careful not to overfill the tank, which could block the relief valve.

The real test came a few days later when we decided to use the Bellman on the wood cook stove.  Again, we used boiling water to fill the tank, put the Bellman over the woodbox and waited for it to heat.  After about 15 minutes, steam began flowing out of the relief valve indicating that it was ready to go to work.  I steamed the milk, using gloves (that cook stove was hot!) and quickly heard the low rumble of heating milk.  After the milk was heated, I removed the Bellman from the cook stove and cracked open the espresso knob, releasing perfect, steaming coffee.  Success!!

On the wood cook stove

Frothing the milk
The Bellman CX-25 will be going to live at Caer David.  Now, we'll be able to enjoy espresso both at home and at our home-away-from-home.  Although nothing will ever take the place of tea in our lives, an occasional coffee can be good for the soul.


  1. Welcome back! We have missed you. Hope family is well.

  2. Enola Gay,

    Once you get started drinking espresso or cappuccino's it's hard going back to regular coffee. Enjoy!!!

  3. So glad you're back posting. Can't say it enough!! SJ in Vancouver BC

  4. I'm with you-there is coffee and then there is expresso! And once you have had expresso, mere coffee will never again suffice. I have been without my beloved expresso for over 3 years now and still I suffer withdrawal. I had no idea that you could buy stove top expresso machines, so will look up that Bellman.-Stealth Spaniel