Thanks to a gift from our friends the Yaremas, we've been making coffee with a stove-top espresso-maker for about 6 years. We've had many memorable moments with our stove-top espresso coffeemaker over years, most of which involved great cafe-con-leche with good friends around our dining room table. (Once it also involved a espresso maker explosion and a kitchen hosed with coffee grounds when some fool forgot to put in the filter plate... but we're not here to talk about that.)
Some science for you: stove-top espresso makers employ pressure built up by heat in order to force the pressurized water through the coffee grounds. It produces poor-man's espresso. If you have a burning desire to read more about this, feel free. If not, just look at this fancy little picture on the left and you'll get the gist of how this complicated device works. If you don't know how this device works and you don't care to read or look at the picture, then you may not understand what I explain next but hey, that's your problem.
One day I wanted stove-top espresso and I wanted it fast. In my pursuit of a faster cup of espresso an idea dawned on me--what if I use hot water instead of cold water? "You're brilliant," I thought to and about myself.
And so I began to run hot water into the "water tank" part of the stovetop espresso maker (see diagram if you are confused at this point.) My wife saw me performing this brilliant time-saving adjustment and asked me what in the world I was doing.
"What in the world are you doing?"
"Making espresso faster (duh). That's why I'm using the HOT water." I want to say that I said this (especially the "duh" part) in a generous way but then I'd be adding a lie to an already complicated situation.
"Well your going to have some bad coffee." I think she may have added "[comma] Bubba" onto the end of this statement but my memory is a little fuzzy.
"Whatever," was the thought that ran through my head. But as I was internally scoffing and continuing my espresso expidation (no idea if that's a word but it sounds good) she went on to explain (quite kindly and generously, I might add, considering my attitude)...
"You have to use cold water." Right. That must be the rules, right? The redhead is a big one for rules. Rules and instructions. I'm a fan of neither.
"...because the cold water allows the right amount of pressure to build up so that the water gets forced up through the coffee grounds. Hot water will make bad coffee."
[cue the Queen and Bowie.]
I was going to argue but then I realized quickly that I was undeniably wrong and she was undeniably right (and husbands, that is not a good time to argue with your wife.)
"Oh," was all I could muster. I moved the faucet handle to the blue zone while she smirked behind my back (after 15 years of marriage I don't need to see the smirk--I can feel the smirk).
And my little stovetop-espresso-maker-hot-water-experiment is a pretty good metaphor for how bad coffee can be made in church leadership (not that I have any personal experience with bad church leadership coffee... but I can imagine.)
Lesson? Use the cold water.