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    How to be middle-class: the importance of discussing coffee-makers

    The first visit to a new friend's home is always a nervous occasion for the middle-class person. Will you be able to think of enough to talk about? Will you spill or scratch something? And, horror of horrors, will they be such accomplished hosts that you will be intimidated by the idea of inviting them back? Of course, there are upsides; the promise of an intimate friendship, interesting conversation - and the chance to see what their house is like. 

    The nerves and the excitement often coalesce around this second point, so that the potentially awkward period of conversation after the initial greeting, coat-taking and direction-discussing can often be dealt with by the fixing of attention on the host's kitchen (which is usually where you are at this point) or, even better, the detailed discussion of a conspicuous design feature or gadget ("I really like how you've painted that wall,", "Is that a bottle opener? Wow - I see!" etc etc). The gadget chosen for discussion should not be too big or fundamental to the house (eg cooker) as that can seem a little covetous, nor should it be too small (eg novelty egg timer) to make extended conversation seem forced; ideally it should be small-ish, but one of many different variants so that it is reasonable to have a long, slightly arch, discussion of its features. 

    All this means that the current number one status gadget (having edged out, I would argue, the barbecue) is without doubt the coffee-maker. Earlier this year, I visited a new work friend who had a built in Neff ("we designed the kitchen around it!"), and we discussed it, and coffee making, for at least 20 minutes - and by the end of it, we we were ready to sit down with the Pinot Grigio. Similarly, last week I called round to see someone quite trendy, who made quite a show of using only a Bialetti Moka Express 3-cup Espresso maker; quite predictable really, as for the modern middle-class person, the choice of coffee-maker is an important statement. You can more or less get away with any brand -allegiance I think, although of course you should at all time hide, and never ask for, the instant. 

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    Reader Comments (4)

    If there is no coffee-maker, I suggest looking for the toaster. There are loads of feature-decisions to make when choosing a toaster - number of slices, toasting time, willingness to pay high peice for Dualit etc. A neglected item of kitchenware, I say.

    September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPete Petite

    I'd like to have a conversation about all the stuff in the cupboards or loft that we buy and use about three times before giving up because cleaning it is too much trouble. Anyone seen their juicer lately?

    September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Batty

    Why on earth is everyone buying those capsule coffee makers and thinking they are cool? Those machines are noisy, unhygienic, deeply wasteful and phenomenally expensive.
    Bring back the teapot and have a nice cup of tea.

    September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

    The Jura is the king of coffee machines. Like a BMW car, it is a machine for the user, not the admirer. It is phenomenally ugly – with its long proboscis extending into the external milk container – but its Swiss quality and sturdiness is so comforting.

    November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

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