We carefully wrapped our $1000 espresso machine, Magnifica, inside a soft wool blanket, gently loaded her into my Prius and began a three hour journey to the certified DiLonghi dealer in Northern California.

Still early morning and desperate for coffee, Thom and I looked at each other with mournful eyes as we passed a dozen Starbucks on the way to the freeway, both of us  longing for a fix quenched only by the potent burst of pure caffeine.

Yet we couldn’t stop – could we?  Not while Magnifica was in the car. Not when she so obviously needed our support, our fidelity.

In brighter days we’d been the envy of coffee-loving friends.

Magnifica had been the toast of dozens of dinner parties. Guests would marvel at the sight of her sleek steel frame and quiver with delight at the aroma of Arabica beans being ground to an exquisite consistency.

Then after a decade of uninterrupted, blissful service, having delivered unto us thousands of deftly dosed espressos, our sweet Magnifica began to falter.

At first – and I can barely utter the words – she forgot her presets.

Tempted by the promise of an expensive manufacturer-recommended chemical solution, we performed a number of lengthy descaling techniques guaranteed to clean the insides of her magnificent metal arteries.

But the presets were never to return.

Although sensitivity prevented us from mentioning the failure of the effort in front of her, we could tell she knew.

One morning, out of a frustration borne from the enormity of his grief, Thom hit poor Magnifica on the side, slamming her with his fist several times in rapid succession, as if trying to jump start her little mechanical heart…to no avail.

Soon her once-harmonic grind began to sound like the explosive sputtering of an ancient gas lawn mower. The noisy vibration caused her steel carcass to bang up and down upon the granite surface, walking her inch by inch toward the edge of the kitchen counter.

Depressed, certainly….but suicidal?

She began to short the number of beans in every grind, producing a watery substance barely resembling the robust cups of her youth.

And although Thom denied it, I could sense she no longer recognized us.

So we drive west toward San Jose, in silent reflection, hoping we’re not too late to revive our beloved Tin Lady.

Pray for Magnifica.