Girl Genius
Girl Genius

In context, there are two or perhaps three (depending on how you look at it) coffee makers in the story of such significance as to deserve the Sparky label Coffee Engine. All appear in the coffee shop in Mechanicsburg, and all play an important role in the story.

As Carson von Mekkhan is trying to make sense out of the mystifying "Heterodyne" whom he's met (in fact, a real Heterodyne, i.e., Agatha) and her entourage, he drops into the coffee shop for a word with his grandson Vanamonde. Van, we learn, is serious about his coffee -- there are claims that he wrote the coffee textbook "Bean There, Done That" -- but he's having to make do with a second-string coffee engine (the one in the image to the right), as his preferred one has broken down. This device barely qualifies as any kind of "engine," but it does produce a brew strong enough to have a pronounced effect on Agatha, when (at Zeetha's bidding) she tries coffee for the first time ...

... And indeed, before you know it, Agatha is in the madness place, not just hyperfocusing the way a Spark does, but doing it at warp speed courtesy of her first-ever caffeine jag. A Heppler wrench here, an old washtub there, a raid on Van's personal stash of coffee beans, and some big-time Sparky influence on innkeeper Rinja and artisan Herr Mitrant among others, and presto , she's Heterodyning, and well on the way to turning Van's broken-down engine into a Heterodyne original. (Van demurs that this was "a genuine Bugatti coffee engine, imported from Milan at great personal expense" that she's messing around with, but that doesn't faze Agatha in the least.) It's soon ready to make some coffee, which Van, as her Seneschal, feels obliged to test ...

And voila! Spark Roast coffee is born .

Even though the party is rudely interrupted by Captain Vole, the brand new coffee engine has done its work by this point, not merely transporting Van to raptures of coffee love, but also getting the townsfolk of Mechanicsburg well on board with the notion of Agatha as Heterodyne -- for the time being. Even though many of the townsfolk are still under the spell of Zola "Heterodyne", Agatha has made one very important, if still not totally believing, convert: old Carson, who's now willing to conduct her to the Heterodyne family crypt, where the next phase of our story unfolds.

Sadly, however, the level of perfection of the engine was too entrancing and had to be taken down a notch for mere mortals....

Possibly Relevant Outside Information[]

The entire incident bears a certain resemblance to the miracle of the wine at the wedding at Cana.

Bugatti is an on-and-off supercar brand currently owned by Volkswagen. Although the car company is based in Molsheim, France, Ettore Bugatti himself was originally from Milan and worked as an engineer there before emigrating to France.

In the Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle science fiction masterpiece The Mote in God's Eye (1974), the first live Motie (sentient non-human native to the Mote system) the humans encounter is an Engineer (and female) whose first act upon being brought aboard is to repair the coffee machine.