Caffè Interruptus

mumblings coffee

We’ve just caught up with the latest series of Borgen to be shown on BBC Four. We enjoyed the previous series, but for some reason it took us a long time to catch up with our recordings of the current one. Of course, being a drama about politics, there are many little details in it that you can obsess about, but for some reason the thing I became obsessed with was the espresso making. Or rather, the lack of espresso making.

Let me explain. Borgen features a pair of journalists — Katrine and Hanne — who at the beginning of this series work for a tabloid newspaper called Ekspres, edited by the loathsome Michael Laugesen. The pair make a rather wonderful team, as Katrine is young and ambitious while Hanne is older, more experienced and has seen it all. Hanne has had her problems (a troubled relationship with her grown-up daughter and alcoholism), but she still has a great deal more class than most of the other journalists.

During a conversation between Katrine and Hanne about the fact that the pair of them don’t really have a life outside of work, Katrine mentions that all she’s got is a flat and an espresso machine that she barely uses. An espresso machine, you say? You interest me strangely… Now, I can happily watch YouTube videos of people pulling shots of espresso on various machines until the cows come home, or longer if it’s a lever machine1, so I was hopeful that at some point, we might actually get to see this espresso machine in action.

Sure enough, in one episode, Hanne comes around to Katrine’s flat, and we get to see the fabled machine, which appears to be a Rocket of some kind, perhaps a Plus V2, but I didn’t really get to see it for long enough to tell. Certainly it’s a nice machine with an E61 group. Hanne gestures towards it and asks Katrine to make her an espresso — yes! Katrine duly sets to work grinding the coffee with a decent espresso grinder. Again, it was hard to tell the make and model, but it was obviously a doserless burr grinder. It looks as if she’s under-dosed it a bit, but I think, well she knows best as it’s her machine. She tamps and locks the portafilter into the group, then flips the lever. Nothing. She throws a puzzled look at Hanne and says that it seems to be broken. Hanne, comments wryly that it would probably help if she switched the machine on. If that machine is anything like my Silvia, they would be looking at at least an hour for it to warm up thoroughly and reach a nice stable temperature. So no espresso for Hanne today. Hanne is a trooper, because instead of hurling the tamper at Katrine’s head for being such a muppet and denying her a coffee, she just shrugs.

On our next espresso encounter, an episode or two later, Hanne again visits Katrine’s flat. They are waiting for the arrival of a rent boy they have hired (purely for research purposes!2), and Hanne very sensibly offers to make the espresso herself this time. Her practised actions show that she definitely knows her way around grinders and espresso machines, and for a moment, my hopes are raised. Perhaps this time we’ll actually get to see some coffee action. But no! The wretched rent boy turns up just as Hanne is about to pull the shot, and she abandons it to question him. Noooooo!

I’m sure that the makers of Borgen did that deliberately, you know. It is — if you’ll forgive me mashing together Italian and Latin in a cavalier fashion — a terrible case of caffè interruptus, I tell you.


  1. No, you have a problem.
  2. They suspect, correctly, that the slimy editor Laugesen hired him to act as a honey trap to entrap a closeted gay politician.
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