Many years ago, I bought myself an all-in-one espresso machine—a Delongi Magnifca. I’ve used it all the time since to make myself café au laits. Several years after I bought it the grinder broke. I took it in and had it repaired. Just a few years ago the milk frother unit broke. I decided not to get it repaired that time—as I didn’t want to be without it—so, instead, I bought a standalone Breville milk frother. It worked really well.
When I was still working in the office, I’d have a couple of café au laits each Saturday and Sunday—and just regular coffee when I was at work. Now that I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home, my drinking habits have changed. I have a café au lait once each morning and another one at night a little while before I go to sleep. (I’m lucky enough to not be affected by caffeine in the same way as most people—it either never affects me at all or it actually acts as a bit of a sedative.)
Over the years, the frother unit would beep 3 times occasionally when I tried to start it. After either wiping it or reseating it, it would work normally. I’d read about this in Amazon reviews but it didn’t bother me that much. Until a couple of weeks ago. No matter what I did it just kept beeping. I finally discovered the problem wasn’t with the unit itself (which costs around $130) but the little frother “disc” that sits inside—and which only cost me $6 from the Breville website (the cost of shipping was $12, if you can believe it).
This is actually a disc used for cappuccinos. If you pour the milk as soon as the machine is done, you’ll get a café au lait. For a cappuccino, you let the milk sit a bit—so you pour a thinner milk at first, and thicker foam ends up at the top. While I waited for the replacement unit, I swapped this disc out for a latte-producing disc, that essentially just heats the milk without frothing it nearly as much. I’m not really sure if there is some method of cleaning these things that would have let me prolong its life, but I figure buying a new one of those little discs every 2-3 years isn’t so terrible.
Here is a pictorial version of this story: