SAM Haymes loves only one thing as much as a good book - a good cup of espresso coffee
But very few people would go to the lengths this Kingscliff book seller has to gain one.
He heard a vague rumour via the proverbial grape vine that there was a very special espresso coffee machine handcrafted by Italian cane workers lying abandoned in a sugar mill somewhere near Innisfail in Queensland.
That was enough to start an investigation worthy of Sherlock Holmes to track down the amazing huge coffee maker crafted from bits and pieces in the 1930's.
"The Italians take their coffee very seriously," Mr Haymes said.
"These men went to great lengths to make the perfect cup of espresso.
"They used items like tool boxes and electrical fittings to construct the machine.
"It's quite an engineering feat, considering the lack of available material at the time."
Mr Haymes spent six months working to restore the machine to working order with his father and brothers.
"It was worth the effort," he said.
"It makes a great cup of coffee.
"Added to that, I have a very special piece of history."
The unique machine is truly a one-off and looks like something out of an H G Wells novel, with its levers and taps.
It features belts of copper and brass, the metal favoured by the workers for their culinary task.
Espresso originated in Italy.
In fact, the word espresso is the Italian word for "fast."
Espresso is a drink that results from forcing water through finely ground coffee resulting in a full extraction of coffee flavour.
This result was not always easy to attain, however, as espresso machines have come a long way since their beginning.
Espresso, as we know it today, originated at the beginning of the twentieth century.
In 1901, Luigi Bezzera built and patented a coffee machine that had a boiler and four divisions.
The machine forced steam and boiling water through coffee and into the cup.
This machine is considered the beginning of espresso.
For a group of cane workers to build such an awesome version of the original is quite a feat.
It gives the machine a uniqueness and charm, not to mention a rich and textured history.
There must have been many an interesting conversation during the construction of the machine and many a satisfying sigh as they drank the fruits of their labour.
"If only it could talk," Mr Haymes said.
"What a story it would tell.
"I always wanted a coffee machine.
"But I never imagined I would get one as unique and special as this."
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