Post-Modern Java Man

You're looking into the deep past of a bygone industrial age of the 1920s. This is a Universal Grinder. They came in several sizes, and promised to make your life amazing and easy in so many ways.

The 1994 LA Earthquake came roaring out of the ground, the freight train from hell on January 17, 1994, at 04:31. Half the city lost gas and power. When I made it home from my girlfriend's just after dawn, my apartment was still standing. Gas, but no power. I was supposed to go to work, but that didn't happen. Jangled and suddenly very sleepy, I fell into a deep nap. 

Several hours later, I'm kind-of awake. Aftershocks are still rumbling through the city. I'd made a triple-espresso. Sitting at my kitchen table, half-awake, and watching my coffee cup dancing slowly around the table. I began to think—OK, I've got a camp-stove, Bialetti pots, water, coffee...what would happen if I didn't have any beans ground? Holy shit!

Being a swap-meet and flea-market devotee, I looked for hand-grinders. And in true swap-meet fashion, began seeing them. Then it was looking for complete blade sets. Eventually I found them— cutter blades what would grind from coarse to exceedingly fine. Score! Now I can grind espresso.

The grinders were dormant for a long time. Then a friend gave me a 2lb bag of roasted beans. So I clamped it to my Stanley folding work-bench, positioned the baking sheet under the outfeed, and set to work. Took about 10 minutes to grind about a pound. And it reminded me how much time I spend at a keyboard.


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