Caffeine and Unhomogenized Milk

Ok, so my latte art isn’t anywhere that it should be, but to be in the middle of Norfolk County and to have, at least taste-wise, a good coffee is a special thing. Since moving to small-town Ontario, I’ve had a few culture shocks. The biggest of all being a lack of good coffee. I know it sounds elitist, groaning at the entrance to Tim Hortons, the standard of coffee in the County, but if wanting something better than Tim’s is elitist, then I guess it’s true, and I sure hope I’m not alone.

So the search began for an espresso machine. I came up with a budget for a new one, but our family philosophy has always been to buy used, and you can get higher quality for cheaper than a mediocre, brand new product.

So I started asking around and a family friend who has a beautiful Italian Elektra espresso machine helped me find another one just like it that was gathering dust at a local restaurant. It had been run on city water, which if you look at the tubes below, you can imagine how they would scale up quickly like any kettle and give the machine a heart attack, or in this machine’s case, a pump attack.

Our friend helped me take it completely apart, descale it and diagnose the pump problem. I was quoted $350 for a new pump out of a espresso repair shop in Toronto, which seemed high. I was ready to order one for $150 U.S. online when I had a long think about it and thought, there has to be a place that supplies pumps, the most replaced part in an espresso machine, to the dozens of repairmen that criss-cross the province fixing cafe machines every day.

My email was answered by a nondescript Mississauga industrial park “beverage pump distribution” company. They were the main importer of these Italian pumps to Canada. They quoted me $63, and I was in the car within minutes.

It took no time to put it back together. The spiderweb of pipes was actually not as intimidating as it looked. They either fit or didn’t, so unless you were bending one, it was only a matter of time before you found where it went.

Before we knew it, we were pulling lots of espresso test shots, and things got really caffeinated. I brought it home, and since it’s a commercial, cafe machine, it doesn’t have a water reservoir, instead is meant to be plumbed into the water supply. I have it running out of and draining into a pair of glass gallon jugs until we’re happy with the spot and are ready to run the water supply and drain lines.

The only issue is that I want to show off the awesome logo plate on the back.

I’ve been using Detour Coffee Roasters‘ Punch Buggy espresso, and Harmony Organic’s unhomogenized whole milk for steaming. We’re so lucky to be a 20 minute drive from Hewitt’s Dairy, where they process the milk for Harmony Organics, so we can get the freshest milk at a great price. The unhomogenized milk for some reason tastes so much better. It’s one less of an industrial process, and homogenizing has been blamed for some of the difficulty in digestion. The taste alone is worth it.

As for the latte art, next time I’m available for one of Geoff, from Detours’ barista classes, I’m there.


  • As someone who loves coffee and is quite picky about it, I totally “get” the frustration of living somewhere without a good coffee place. Here in the small town we moved to in the UK, this has been a big issue! So, I am very happy for you, and that is a really beautiful machine!

  • beautiful machine! I loved all the pictures. I also agree about non-homogenised milk, it tastes way nicer. I read in Sally Fallon's seminal “nourishing traditions” that it's to do with the homogenisation process making the fat molecules smaller which is less natural and our body processes them differently. Something like that. We drink raw milk that's produced primarily to be consumed raw (ie not from a big farm, the guy only has 20 cows max), and I will hopefully never go back to pasteurised stuff!

    happy to have discovered your blog! x

  • Raw milk isn't totally legal in Canada, so for now unhomogenized is the best we can do until we have our own cow. I'd really like to taste a raw milk cappuccino! I don't know for sure how homogenization affects health, but I know the unhomogenized tastes “fresher”… whatever that means. Might have to do with the fact we pick it up from the dairy so it doesn't sit through the distribution chain.

  • Nice, I gotta find some un-homoginized milk and try it. I've been getting organic homo milk, it's tough to find un-homoginized around it here it seems.

    Sucks that raw milk is illegal here in Canada, yet GMOs, toxic pesticides, irradiated foods, and processed chemical foods are totally fine it seems.

  • Yes raw milk from an organic supplier that treats animals well is probably at least as safe as heavily-processed 'factory milk' from medicated, sick cows, and b) statistically far safer than eating at a lot of take-out food and restaurants in general.

    It's all optics and market control. The powerful, large dairy companies don't want it to appear they are screwing with our food too much or making it less 'healthful' than the small milk producers selling from farms. The rules are made FOR the big dairies who in fact should not be selling their recklessly-made product in its raw form. Processed, non-organic milk tastes awful when compared to 'real' milk in its least-corrupted available form.

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