There will be some people who see your beautiful and shiny espresso machine in your kitchen and scoff over the prospect that you get to enjoy as much espresso as you want, whenever you want, saying that your habit is unhealthy and overly expensive. These people might try to tell you that you spent too much on your machine or that you’re wasting your money on the coffee you drink as well as the equipment to brew it. Learn how to arm yourself with an arsenal of facts and information in order to defend your beloved coffee over those who tell you that soda is the better caffeinated option or that it’s cheaper.
Purchasing soda or “pop” might seem simple but there are several different varieties, including diet, flavors, and all natural or hand crafted versions. On the other side, there are even more varieties of coffee beans, espresso beans, coffee pods if you choose to use a pod machine, whole bean varieties, flavors, and fair trade organic coffee as well as machines in addition to the pod machine like an espresso machine, fully automatic versions, or a cappuccino machine. Choosing the type of home machine you’d like to purchase, learning to use it, and deciding on the coffee beans you love most might seem like a much steeper cost than simply purchasing a few bottles of soda for your caffeine intake every week. However, there is more to consider besides money and flavor variety when it comes to what decision you make about which is better for you.
Each type of beverage has its own specifications on caffeine content, sugar content, and other ingredients that contribute to your health and happiness. While you might be looking for simplicity, the idea of purchasing and drinking soda on a regular basis might be more complicated than you realize after you consider these factors.
Depending on the type of coffee beans you purchase and the way you brew them, coffee tends to have a lot more caffeine than soda and many people view this as a negative characteristic of the beverage. If you look at it in terms of simplicity, though, the fact is that you’ll have to drink less coffee than soda to get your jolt throughout the day and the effect on your health can be positive. If you plan to have a beverage you can sip all day, a home machine is still a good idea as you can purchase decaffeinated coffee to use in your machine that has barely any caffeine and, unless you add it to your beverage, no sugar content, carbonation, or artificial ingredients. Clearly, that is better than the artificial sugar in diet sodas!
Sugar and Flavors
In nearly every variety of soda, there exists a very high sugar content or some sort of artificial flavoring that makes it taste so good. Granted, there are fruity flavors in addition to the vanillas, chocolates, and cola flavors but all of them have this one flaw: excess sugar content. Even the varieties of soda with labels that indicate zero sugar include artificial sweeteners that may be damaging to your health, especially when consumed in high contents. Many people who have the habit of drinking soda consume at least a couple bottles a week and, unless you’re adding a lot of sugar or artificial sweetener to your coffee several times a day, will amount to much more than the recommended amount of sugar you should be having on a daily basis. There are many studies that show that excess sugar intake is damaging to the immune system, kidney function, and pancreas function, which can lead to the development of type two diabetes. Some of these studies also indicate that soda is the cause of these issues in many cases.
Another factor in choosing between owning an espresso machine or other home machine and purchasing soda on a regular basis for caffeine intake is learning to operate the machine you decide to install. When it comes to a professional or commercial grade espresso machine, there might be a lot to learn before you can use it in your home with any efficiency. However, there are other varieties of home machine including fully automatic varieties, or a pod machine that works simply by dropping a pod in a reservoir and pressing a button to get a delicious cup of gourmet hot coffee. With all the different flavors to choose from, there are all kinds of options to provide ease and variety in your day-to-day consumption. The big difference is that the flavors don’t have to be achieved by excess sugar, syrups, or artificial chemicals.
The Organic Option
Some kinds of soda are hand crafted and use no artificial ingredients and swap out syrups and artificial sugars for all natural cane sugar and organic ingredients. While these varieties are still better than the commercially produced soda you’d usually find on grocery store shelves, it still has a lot more sugar content than is considered healthy and in many cases these hand crafted organic options have no caffeine content at all.
On the contrary, coffee has its own organic option and any home machine can handle these varieties. Organic coffee often includes “fair trade” labels. This means that the coffee beans were farmed on a plantation that pays its workers a fair wage and trades with companies that adhere to specific regulations.
In the end, the matter of using an espresso machine or other home machine vs. buying soda on a regular basis comes down to personal preference. Judging by the facts, coffee is the better option but if you can’t stand the taste or you’re still averse to learning to use even the simplest machines, the home machine option may not be for you. Weigh all the options and do your research before you make a decision. After you find out more about the different kinds of coffee and soda, choose wisely and remember the positives when defending your choice to those who still believe that soda is better.
For many work at home professionals, the dream of freedom is alive but at the same time monotony sets in after doing the same thing in the same place day after day. You go to book stores and coffee houses to break up the week and sitting at those tables all day compels you to make purchases out of mere courtesy. The result is a brain hopped up on caffeine and sugar that can’t concentrate and a sizable dent in the wallet. Your own home machine can solve this problem by creating a positive atmosphere and adding a delightful activity to your daily routine.
Set The Stage
The first step to ending the monotony of your work at home life is to create a space that you can move around your house or apartment. This way you can switch around which room you work in and achieve a change of scenery without having to leave the house. Dress up the shed or garage to make a separate office space where you can meet clients, film videos for your blog or website, and have room to keep your things organized or store inventory for your business.
If you are moving your work around the house, your home machine will probably be in the kitchen and this forces you to get up and go to the machine for your next caffeinated beverage. If your space is away from the house in a shed or garage, you should still keep your home machine in the kitchen because this provides a real change of scenery when you get up for a coffee break. You can feel like you’re taking a walk to your very own café every time you go back to the kitchen in your house for the hot beverage you love.
Your Coffee Space
An espresso machine, cappuccino machine, or other home machine can take up a decent amount of space. Utilize this to dedicate a piece of your kitchen to a home café. You can use a couple of decorative touches and coffee cart or accent table to make the space look like something you’d find at the coffee shops or book stores you used to frequent for a change of pace. You can even add a high table with bar stools or a separate folding table to use as a café table and make your home café one of work spaces you rotate through within the house.
Take It Out Of The Kitchen
When you own a business that you operate out of your home, it’s likely that other employees are at your house on a regular basis and you’re meeting clients there as well. Your home machine can be a part of the professional and positive environment that you hope to convey to every person that comes through the business area of your home. An espresso machine or cappuccino machine not only adds ambience but is a good incentive for anyone working with you in your home to do better and feel good about what they’re doing. The luxury of a gourmet hot beverage instead of the average drip coffee makes them feel more appreciated and will make all of your clients feel like VIPs. It cuts the monotony of a regular work at home space simply by the aroma, sounds, and actions of operating the machine. You can’t help but be happy with those sounds and smells filling the room while you work.
Accessories and Sharing
Not every home machine comes with a built in steamer or grinder, which are accessories that give you more beverage options and make constructing beverages a lot more fun. If you don’t have your own steamer or grinder for your home machine but you work with other people, inquire within your team about who might have the accessories or if they’re willing to pitch in to buy them. You can work together to widen the pool of beverage options and teach each other about making new beverages.
As you share equipment or invest together, make sure that the home machine and accessories you’re using are all operated correctly and cleaned appropriately. If you’re the only one working from home and you use your machine often or use it with clients when they come to visit, make yourself a schedule to clean the machine on a regular basis. You might find that working with the parts and caring for your machine can be a zen-like activity that clears your mind.
Your Home Machine Is A Benefit
Purchasing, operating, and maintaining a home machine can be time consuming and expensive but that shouldn’t be a reason not to purchase one of your own. With all of the other benefits of working from home, a cappuccino machine or espresso machine is definitely another reason your job is a luxury. Take the time to get to know your machine and to learn about how it works and the ways to clean it. Once you’ve really gotten to know your machine, you’ll be able to use it for all of its functions, not just pulling shots and foaming milk. Discover new recipes and the ways you can personalize your beverages in ways that a coffee house never would.
Connect With The World
Your work from home life as well as the way you utilize your home machine can be an inspiration to others. Share photos, beverage recipes, techniques, and the ways you’ve decorated your home café space with other coffee lovers and work at home professionals. Connecting with others and the use of social media can be an excellent way to cut the monotony of a day-to-day routine when working from home. You can learn from others who have been at it longer than you and teach those who don’t have a home machine how to use their own new acquisitions. With a few simple connections, your world will get a lot bigger and your home café enjoyment will be better than ever.
A hot beverage from your cappuccino machine with all of its beautiful layers can make even the bitterest cold day seem a little warmer. Your hands around a tall mug of flavored coffee and foam and the aroma of everything from the spices and beans you used to the garnish at the top helps to chase away frost and snow to keep all of its properties outside the windows instead of in your moods. Pair this beverage with decadent baked goods and not only will your oven warm your home while your treats bake but will also fill the place with the smell of anticipated tastes you’ll get excited to eat.
It Starts With Cappuccino
Before you can go pairing decadent pastries and other baked goods with the beverages that come from your cappuccino machine, you first need to have an excellent cappuccino. You might be an espresso and steamer newbie who just started learning how to pull shots or you could be an experienced home barista who knows how to make a top notch brew. Either way, there’s always more to learn that will make your skills and the results of your efforts even better.
Take a look at your cappuccino machine and reacquaint yourself with its parts and how they operate. Pull a few shots, steam some milk, make it foam and learn everything there is to know about the steamer on your machine. Experiment with your favorite spices and flavors. Discover everything you love most and put it together into one perfect cappuccino that will pair with the decadence of baked goods and provide the aroma to compliment whatever you decide to make.
Cookies and Brownies
Crunchy or soft, cookies are the best way to share the decadence you make with your cappuccino machine. They’re easy to serve and great for gatherings and parties that include a lot of people. Cookies also come in “bar” form, which is a sort of cousin to the brownie and still easy to serve but tends to be softer and use more ingredients than most cookies. Choose carefully, according to the type of cappuccino you plan to serve or the theme/mood of the event where they’ll be served. You can also use crushed cookie crumbs as a garnish for cappuccino beverages. Try cookie straws that are served in the cappuccino. They’re crunchy and best for dipping, as are mandolins and the classic chocolate chip.
Brownies are one of the most decadent baked goods available to bake. Pack them with chocolate chips, use coffee grounds as flavoring, or top with foamed milk or coffee infused whipped egg whites before placing in the oven for a cappuccino themed twist. A lighter blend of coffee with chocolate shavings as a garnish on top of the foamed milk is a wonderful pairing with any kind of thick and gooey brownie. On the contrary, brownies that are chocolaty and very sweet cut the bitterness of the boldest brew. No matter what, you can’t go wrong!
The Beauty of Cake and Coffee
There’s simplicity and graceful elegance that comes with serving cake with coffee and using your cappuccino machine is only different in that you get to take the concept up a notch. You can bake up a light and airy angel food cake or embrace the decadence of rich chocolate or pound cake. Cater to your guests or enjoy something that only you love. There’s no limit to the beauty that you can create with cake and you can pair all kinds of cappuccino beverages with each one.
One excellent way to pair cappuccino with cake is to use icing that has a coffee flavoring and looks similar to the foam on top of the cappuccino. The harmony created will taste delicious and also look amazing on your table. A cappuccino-flavored cheesecake can be a lighter way to enjoy decadent flavors without all the calories. Explore all the ways that cakes can enhance the flavors of your favorite cappuccino and wow every guest at your next family dinner or social gathering.
Have a Storm Party
When the weather turns really brutal and your friends and family are stuck inside, battle the stir-crazy feelings and depressing moods by baking up some goodies at a storm party. Use your cappuccino machine to get the party started and perk everyone up and then start mixing batters and adding chocolate chips. Take your treats to the couch to enjoy a movie marathon, board games, or interesting conversation to pass the time until it’s safe to go back outside.
If you’re friends and family are not able to be in the same place during the storm, organize a cookie or treat exchange. Everyone bakes up their own favorites and then trades them amongst each other after the storm has passed. Post your findings on social media, use the pictures to lift everyone else’s moods without leaving your home, and let your own creations comfort you while you’re watching the snow fall. The best way to throw a storm party could be to get all of your friends together and everyone works to shovel each other’s driveways, and then bake some treats and enjoy some cappuccino to warm up when you’re all done.
Time Saving Decadence
Storms can also mean a lot of work for your home and that means you won’t have much time to bake treats or brew anything from your cappuccino machine for your friends. You can still enjoy things yourself by brewing your own cappuccino beverages and making cake, brownies, or cookies in a mug. Mug cakes are a single serve sensation that has yielded all kinds of recipes that you can enjoy with your favorite hot beverage. Don’t let time constraints stop you from enjoying decadent treats with your cappuccino. A few ingredients and a microwave will have you sitting down with your sweet snack in just a couple of minutes. No matter what the situation, you can pair decadence with your cappuccino machine every day!
Using your cappuccino machine is a convenience and a luxury that you enjoy on a daily basis, perhaps even more than once daily but as you do this your machine is gathering coffee grounds and other trace minerals each time you brew a delicious beverage. Regular cleaning is a must and you know that but it’s also a good idea to deep clean the machine every now and then. Learn about the best ways to take get at the tiny nooks and crannies of all the parts in order to keep the machine running at its best for as long as possible.
Your Unique Machine
There is more than one type of home machine that can brew a cappuccino and it matters which kind you have before you start attempting to deep clean. Fully automatic machines might have their own cleaning setting that will do the work for you. A machine with a grinder built in will need to have the grinder parts cleaned separately and dried completely. A steamer wand has a special cleaning regimen as well and the portafilter and pumps in all of these machines must be cleaned carefully since they handle a lot of pressure when being operated. It is imperative that you check user manual for your specific model before you begin any kind of cleaning. This information should tell you about the parts, how they should be cleaned, and how to remove them for cleaning if necessary. Be sure you understand this information before you begin because it will tell you how to do everything safely and in the simplest way possible.
Disconnect and Create a Cleaning Space
The first thing to do before cleaning is to disconnect the machine and bring it to a clean, dry, and stable surface away from the sink. This seems counterproductive but you’re dealing with an electronic machine that has a plug in connection to the wall. It’s best to clean the outside and the parts away from the running water and wet surfaces of the sink.
Create a cleaning space with all of the tools you’ll need to deep clean. These will include: a wash basin, a pitcher for water, clean cloths, and small brushes that will help you get into the tiny places that a cloth can’t reach. You won’t be cleaning the steamer wand at this time. You’ll do that later after the machine is plugged back in.
The Parts You Use Most
When you make a cappuccino, you’re making several different components that, when layered together, create the beverage you know and love. First is the espresso shot, then a layer of hot milk, and a topping of milk foam. This is where it differs from the latte because a late uses more milk and only the foam and not the extra layer of hot milk underneath. The result looks like a light coffee with a foam layer on top and you can see the coffee layers whereas with a latte the top only looks like foam. You might be using your cappuccino machine to pull straight shots of espresso when there’s no time for a full cappuccino or you might have an espresso machine that you use to make lattes, pull shots, and make cappuccinos. Which parts do you use most? Most likely, you’re portafilter will be the part that most needs a deep cleaning because coffee grounds are packed into it no matter which drink you’re making.
The Parts You Should Deep Clean
There are a few parts that you should concentrate on most when giving your home machine a deep cleaning. The portafilter and the brew head are among those parts and they’re tricky to disassemble and this is where the information you gathered from your user manual will come in handy.
Turn the machine on its side and make sure the part you’ll be cleaning is dry before you unscrew it. Be sure to use the right size screwdriver so as not to damage the screw and if there are any gaskets take note of how they’re placed. Clean all the parts and dry thoroughly. Use a small cleaning brush or a toothbrush to get into every place and clean it out. These parts deal with pressurized hot water and coffee grounds so you’re going to see a lot of gunk come out of them and that’s normal. Once the parts are clean and dry, reassemble them onto the machine, making sure that all the screws are tight.
Steamer Wand and Water Pumps
The next parts to clean are a little easier but should still be disassembled and reassembled with great care. Use the same caution with gaskets and screws as you did with the brew head and portafilter. You can use pipe cleaners to clean the steamer wand and use an all purpose cleaner and clean, dry cloth to clean the outside of the machine. Do not use soap and water because they’ll be difficult to rinse since the machine cannot be submerged.
Water pumps don’t get that dirty because they mostly only carry hot water but they could have mineral deposits that cause damage, depending on the type of water that you use. Combat this with a deep cleaning using a mixture of three parts water to one part white vinegar. After the other parts are clean and dry, plug the machine in again and pour the water and vinegar mixture into the water tank. Run the mixture through the machine but don’t let the water tank go completely dry. Once it’s almost empty, refill it with clean water and run that through and run one more tank of water through after that.
How Often Should You Deep Clean?
Disassembling and reassembling parts can take a similar toll on your home machine that dirt and mineral deposits can so it’s important that you deep clean only when you have to. If you use your machine on a daily basis or more, give it all a deep clean monthly or bimonthly. If you use it less than that, limit deep cleaning to two or three times annually and clean the parts without disassembling on a more regular basis. These tips and instructions are guidelines and you should always look to your specific user manual and manufacturer’s information for your specific model before performing any kind of maintenance. When you do, you’ll be able to prolong the life of your machine and keep enjoying cappuccinos, lattes, and espresso in your home whenever you please.
Your cappuccino machine is a lifesaver for you, allowing you to make café-like beverages right in your own home. You can take these beverages up a notch by learning how to add flavorings to the coffee you brew and the milk used with your steamer and spice up the beverages you drink and serve. Wow every guest you entertain and enjoy the luxury of a barista quality cappuccino with a few simple guidelines.
The Many Ways of Flavoring
When most of us think about flavoring coffee or cappuccino, we think about using syrups or mixing in flavored creamers after the coffee has already been brewed. The methods discussed in this article are about incorporating flavors in the mix that goes into the cappuccino machine so the finished product is an already flavored beverage ready to drink and looking professionally beautiful. The added benefits of these methods include being able to use the heat of the brewing cappuccino to emulsify flavors and mix properly as well as the extra convenience that comes with not having to mix in more things after the beverage is poured.
The Chemistry of Cappuccino
In order to figure out the best way to flavor the mix that goes into your cappuccino machine, you need to understand how each flavor mixes together with coffee. Temperature plays a key role in this equation, as does ratio of flavoring to coffee. Think of the flavor adventure as a sort of chemistry experiment. Use a plain cappuccino as your control and then use different flavors in trial and error to see what you like best. There are cappuccino recipes out there but in this case it’s more a matter of personal preference. You’ll have to play around with the way you add flavors to your coffee before you get it right.
The Importance of a Burr Grinder
One of the best ways to spice up your cappuccino is to add spices and flavorings directly to the coffee grounds before they’re brewed. Achieving this in a way that satisfies the taste buds and doesn’t create too much extra air space in the packed grounds is to use a burr grinder. This kind of grinder uses plates that move the particles back and forth to literally grind them instead of cutting them up like a blade grinder would. The result is uniform particles that fit together like tiny little puzzle pieces.
Grinding fresh spices will create a better and fuller flavor than sprinkling dried spices into the grounds and mixing it all up. You can also try adding dried fruit or dark chocolate for a new kind of flavor profile you may never have thought about. The idea of chemistry also comes into play when adding spices or other additions to coffee grounds. The additions must be dry before adding them or the grounds mixture may clump up before it’s ever brewed and cause issues with the way they’re packed or the way they mix together.
A cappuccino machine creates three layers for the beverage that comes from it, which consist of the bottom coffee layer, steamed milk in the middle, and foam on top. The steamer in the machine does the work for you and it is never a good idea to add anything to the machine that will come out of the steamer wand. However, you can add flavors to the milk or milk substitute that you use in order to give you steamed milk that has extra punch.
An important part of this process is to ensure that the milk being foam starts out very cold. This will help it stiffen and thicken correctly. If you decide to use flavored syrups, sugar, spices, or other flavorings, then mix them into warmed milk before chilling it again to put under the steamer wand. The warmth will help the flavorings mix together with the milk but if you let it get too hot before chilling it for steaming, it may cook or change composition so it’s important to only warm it a little bit.
Infusions and Stirring
After you’ve made your flavored cappuccino, you may decide that the brew needs a tweak before it’s perfect. This is where infusions become handy and stirring extra flavors into the finished beverage but it must be done carefully or the effect will blend the layers together and defeat the entire purpose you have a cappuccino machine.
You can infuse foam with a couple drops of candy flavoring and stir it up to distribute around the top of the beverage uniformly. It’s better to use a stirring stick instead of a spoon because it will disturb the surface of the beverage less. The same goes for sprinkling spices on top of the cappuccino to add flavor but in this case it will be easier to distribute in a uniform manner because the spices aren’t as concentrated as drops of flavoring.
Garnish and Flair
A beautiful cup of coffee is only enhanced by a garnish that shows the drinker what kinds of flavors may lie beneath the surface. Your cappuccino machine will deliver a gourmet beverage but it’s up to you to present it to any guests with flair. You can garnish the drinks you make for yourself as well to make them more aesthetically pleasing and boost your mood just by looking at them. Try something like a mint leaf for mint chocolate or a chocolate curl for anything with cocoa based flavorings. A berry sprig garnishes fruity additions and a sprinkle of cinnamon shows the spice of an autumn infused cappuccino. Have some fun adding flair to your beverages. You’ll be a gourmet cappuccino expert in no time with just a few little experiments in adding flavors in this way. Get creative and enjoy serving cappuccinos at your next event or gathering that make your guests wonder if you’ve hired a barista.
It is common practice to have coffee with dessert, especially after big meals like the ones served during the holiday season. Everyone gathers around for pie, cookies, cake, and the delicious premium coffee drinks that you create with your home machine. The question at hand is: can these beverages actually aid in your digestion or are they doing more harm than good? Learn about the pros and cons of drinking coffee and espresso after a big meal to find out if it’s the right choice for your dessert beverage.
The Beans Matter
It can be exciting to choose holiday and flavored blends when the time of pumpkin pie and gourmet baked goods comes to call and chances are that they’re different from what you usually make on a daily basis. Depending on the type of machine you have, each blend can create a beverage that caters not only to your specific tastes but also to your digestive needs.
Light or dark roast refers mostly to taste and not to caffeine content but the blends also each have their own ways of affecting your system. Light roast or blonde blends will be the easiest to take whether you’ve had a feast or a small meal. They’re good for people who have regular issues with coffee but would still like to partake in the types of beverages that are made with coffee. Dark roasts are bolder in flavor and strength. If you’re not a seasoned coffee drinker, they can be hard on your system.
The Sugar Paradox
Many types of desserts and dessert beverages contain a good deal more of sugar than one should ever consume in a single sitting. We tell ourselves that it’s okay because it’s the holidays and we’re not going to eat like this all the time but these kinds of foods can still be damaging to the system. According to Harvard Medical School, the antioxidants in coffee can help minimize the absorption of sugar.
A good shot from your espresso machine or a light blend from a different type of home machine can aid digestion in this way during dessert, acting as a sort of extra filter for the added sugar. However, herein lies the paradox because the common practice is also to put sugar in coffee, brew something delicious and sweet from your cappuccino machine, or add other flavorings that compliment dessert foods.
There is another side to this argument that has some sense but is often spouted by those who are opposed to coffee in the first place. Some of the issues that can be caused by frequent coffee consumption will not aid in digestion no matter the size of the meal you’ve eaten. What it really comes down to is your body chemistry, your tolerance to the acids and caffeine in the coffee you drink, and the beans that you’re using in your home machine.
While it’s true that coffee consumption can lead to acid reflux, anxiety, dehydration, and other issues, these things are often caused by over consumption and not by having a cup or two a day or with your dessert after a big holiday meal. If you are sensitive to these effects and notice them in your own body after having coffee, then it’s likely you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits. The bottom line: know your body, stay in tune with what’s happening inside it, and consume everything (including coffee) in moderation.
Gourmet Coffee Beverages As Dessert Replacement
Combat the sugar paradox by brewing up treats only from your cappuccino machine or other home machine instead of also pairing them with desserts. Some of your guests may be disappointed but if they’re watching their sugar and calories, they’ll thank you for not forcing them to make a choice between coffee and dessert. With a large meal behind you, many times we’re all wondering how in the world we’ll be able to get dessert in without feeling like we ate a planet but with coffee as a dessert replacement, everyone will get a treat and also feel energized enough to take a walk around the block rather than fall into the familiar food coma that can happen after a very large meal.
Save the Best for Last
Another way to battle the exhaustion that befalls us at the end of holiday dinners is to serve coffee after dessert is over. When your guests are sitting at the table hoping the buttons on their clothes don’t fly across the room, pull some shots from your espresso machine and serve them straight or with a little cream and sugar to cut the bold flavor as desired. The espresso may aid digestion but the main benefit is the energy boost that guests who have to drive to travel home will receive. If you served wine or other alcohol with dinner or people are simply too full to want to move, espresso can be just what they need to help bring them back to their cheery selves and drive home safely.
Note that espresso or any coffee beverage is not an alternative to waiting after drinking alcohol but can be a good energy boost after the waiting period has already passed.
Bring the Gift of Beautiful Coffee
Your home machine may be an excellent way for you to brew gourmet coffee beverages at home but if you’re not the host of the occasion, its benefits will be lost on those with whom you’ll be sharing your holiday dinners. Bring the gift of beautiful coffee by brewing up a large batch of your favorite beverage and putting it in a coffee urn or samovar that can travel to your destination with you. Instead of the usual pie or other item that your host already has tons of, you’ll be contributing something unique as well as delicious to the meal you plan to enjoy with friends and loved ones.
We’ve turned back our clocks and the days are shorter, giving us less sunlight and more cold weather. When the clouds and the frigid air get you down, you might turn to a hot cappuccino to make your day better. If you have a cappuccino machine at home, this concept is a lot easier. You’ll be able to brew your favorite hot beverages in your cozy home any time you’d like and you can find recipes that will perk up even the gloomiest of days.
Many kinds of coffee grounds come in seasonal or holiday blends that are created to enhance the happiness of the season and warm you from head to toe. Next time you’re at the neighborhood coffee shop, look for or inquire about their holiday blend and if you can purchase a bag of grounds for home use in your cappuccino machine. Some places will even grind whole beans right there in the shop so you can use them as soon as you get home.
Flavors That Warm You
This season often reminds us of pumpkin pie, cinnamon sticks, and spiced apple cider and these are flavors that you can include in your cappuccino machine recipes to warm you more than the average beverage. Let your mood be lifted with the temperature and aroma of one of these drinks in your hand. A few additions and toppings will make your beverage look and taste like warmth with every sip.
Add a little nutmeg to coffee grounds before brewing for an aromatic experience and a bit of a spicy taste. Compliment the grounds with a pinch of cinnamon and you’ll have a beverage akin to the taste of spiced cider. You can take it further with some vanilla or caramel syrup to your liking, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle some extra cinnamon on top. For a real cinnamon treat, stir your cappuccino with a cinnamon stick.
Flavors That Perk Up
Warmth and spice can be comforting, but sometimes in the cold weather, you are looking for a drink that will make you feel like you’re joining the season instead of fighting it. Cool flavors or ones reminiscent of spring and summer can give you this kick while still allowing you to enjoy a hot beverage from your cappuccino machine. Mint and raspberry are compliments to cappuccino that will be a sweet way to perk up your day.
Use mint or raspberry syrup to flavor your cappuccino after it is brewed for an easy way to get the taste you’d like. You can also try some combinations of the two that will be sweet and cool for a multi-level experience you’ll really love. Some raspberry syrup garnished with a sprig of mint on top of your cappuccino is a wonderful way to achieve this combination.
There are a lot of different types of chocolate that you can add in many ways to give your cappuccino a richer texture and a warm flavor. Each type has a different reaction to the products of your cappuccino machine and can be added in certain ways that enhance flavor and texture.
Milk chocolate and white chocolate have a low melting point and a smooth texture. These varieties are excellent for adding to finished cappuccino for a velvety rich chocolate flavor and texture. Add a few small pieces to the bottom of the cup before brewing and it will melt when the cappuccino hits it. Combine this variety with cinnamon or caramel for a premium drink. Add sea salt to caramel for a real treat!
Dark chocolate varieties are more brittle and take a little more to melt. For this reason, they’re perfect for adding to grounds before brewing. Grind the chocolate or shave some off of a block using a very sharp knife or cheese grater and mix it into the grounds before adding to the cappuccino machine. The mix will be sharper than milk chocolate or white chocolate varieties but will still produce a rich flavor addition. This addition combines well with mint or raspberry because the sweet and cool flavors cut the bitterness of very dark chocolate.
A cappuccino is already topped with foam but you can add other garnishes to really create an out of this world beverage. Whipped topping is probably the most popular of the bunch, adding a burst of cold to the hot beverage that is smooth and not enough to cool it down to lukewarm. You’ll still have a hot drink but when it comes through the cold whipped topping it will be just the right temperature.
Cinnamon sticks aren’t the only garnish you can use to stir your cappuccino and add flavor. Try a candy cane or old-fashioned stick of candy in a complementary flavor to the ones you chose for your beverage. It will look great and enhance the taste in ways you never imagined! You can also top finished cappuccino with a hint of spice such as nutmeg, sea salt, mint sprig, cinnamon, or even crushed up dried fruit.
The Iced Option
Iced cappuccino drinks are probably the last thing on your mind in cold weather, especially because your cappuccino machine isn’t going to support brewing over ice. However, you might be surprised that the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy sometimes works when the bitter cold seeps in. Shake your cappuccino in a drink shaker with some ice to get a blended option that tastes delicious.
Premium Machines for Premium Beverages
All of these ideas are recipes and additions that will deliver beverages to improve your mood and make you feel good about winter coming to stay, but none of them will come out very well if you have a sub-par cappuccino machine. Don’t skimp on your equipment! A little research will go a long way and you’ll have a machine that you can use for many more winters to come. Make sure the machine you choose is premium quality so you can enjoy premium beverages.
When you look at the menu at a coffee shop, you see all kinds of beverages offered in all different varieties but it’s likely that you go for the same handful of choices that you know and love each time you’re there. We all like our routine, the things we understand, and knowing that the first sip to the last drop will be worth every penny spent. However, there is an entire world of coffee, espresso, and mixtures that you could be missing out on simply because you don’t really comprehend what each kind is and how it’s made. Learn about these varieties and the ways your home machine may be able to deliver them to open your eyes and taste buds to new textures and flavors you never believed could be better than your favorite order at the coffee shop.
Black Coffee and Espresso
These two are often confused as the same thing, with very strong black coffee being served in tiny cups to be passed off as espresso. If
you own your own espresso machine, you already know that the difference is in the brewing process and that properly made espresso is nothing like regular black coffee. The drink is rich, velvety, and goes well with milk steamed correctly from the milk steamed from a steamer wand. Fully automatic steamers are particular useful in this respect but a lot of espresso machine models also have steamer wands attached. Black coffee is still an excellent base for many kinds of drinks. Premium beans and a good grinder (most connoisseurs prefer burr grinders to blade grinders) are your best friends in this endeavor.
The Infamous Latte
The Dainty Cappuccino
Cappuccino is another combination of milk and espresso but the major difference between a cappuccino and a latte is that
a cappuccino has more layers. The bottom is a shot of espresso, the next layer is steamed milk, and the top layer is all milk foam. The top layer is usually also garnished with a bit of spice or something flavorful and decorative. This drink is most popular at social gatherings due to its stylish look as well as wonderful taste. A standard cappuccino machine will usually deliver a cappuccino with the push of a button. Most models are fully automatic. You can use the steamer wands on your espresso machine to make cappuccino as well but you’ll have to steam milk for the middle layer and then keep steaming it into foam for the top layer. If you have a separate steamer, you can simulate the drink using regular coffee or flavored coffee but it won’t be the same premium beverage as a traditional cappuccino.
The Mark of the Macchiato
The macchiato is actually the same name for two different types of premium coffee beverage with the same meaning: the beverage is “marked” which is the literal meaning of the word “macchiato.” An espresso machine will make both varieties of the beverage easily. Depending on your preference, your macchiato will be either espresso with a little bit of steamed milk or steamed milk with a little bit of espresso. In most cafes, it means the latter more often then the former as well as syrups and other additions that make signature drinks similar to the way lattes are served.
Explore Your Machine
Now that you know how these different varieties of premium beverages are made, try making a few with your own home machine. This may take a bit of trial and error but have fun with it, try some variations you wouldn’t see at a coffee shop, and make each drink your own. Invite your friends over and serve your creations for other opinions and ask them what kinds of drinks they make using their own home machines. Share your explorations on social media and coffee connoisseur websites to get tips from others who have tried the same before you. These endeavors will help you learn from your mistakes and make better drinks every time you try again. Learn everything about how your machine works so you know how to use, clean, and maintain the parts throughout this trial and error process. Who knows, you might develop your own signature drink to make at home and you’ll never have to wait in line or hope someone else makes it correctly for you!
People have written songs about their love of lattes and depend on them for a source of energy and mood elevation on a daily basis. This is arguably the most popular form of espresso and milk throughout the world. Here in the U.S., the drinks are even considered artistic in many coffee shops and the foamed milk is mixed with the espresso in such a way that a pattern forms in a controlled manner.
The latte is, in its most basic form, espresso with milk that is steamed into foam poured over it. In many cases spices, syrups, and other additions are added to make signature drinks. You can use recipes of these additions to make a latte in your home. The best way to do this is with an espresso machine and a steamer wand or fully automatic steamer.
These descriptions will certainly assist you in creating premium beverages with your home machine but it’s also a good idea to go out and try them the way the professionals make them as well. By doing this, you can get a good baseline for how each beverage is supposed to look and taste. Go out to different coffee shops and cafes and order the drinks you’ve never dared to try, then go home and try them with your own machine. Have fun with it and don’t forget to enjoy every drop of your beautiful coffee.
You may have heard about ways you can use coffee in your compost pile or recycle it in other ways, but with pod machines this is a lot more difficult. K-cups and other single serve coffee pods are an increasingly popular type of home machine, as they allow the user to brew one single cup at a time. The convenience of these machines comes at a price, though, because all those used coffee pods are thrown in the trash to add to the amount of waste incurred by each person. You may not realize that you can recycle used coffee pods and the grounds inside them. A few simple steps can reduce the damaging environmental impact and still grant you the convenience offered by brewing one cup at a time.
- What Are Pod Machines?
If you aren’t already aware, a pod machine is a type of coffee maker that uses a tank of readily heated water to brew coffee one cup at a time. The tank holds the water and the user places a “pod” with just enough coffee for a single serving into a special reservoir, then closes the lid. The lid pierces the pod with a small needle and the hot water is sucked up through a mechanism and pushed through the grounds in the pod. The machine sits with the water ready to use at any time so all you have to do to brew your coffee is put a pod in the reservoir and press a button. This is especially convenient in a home where several people like different kinds of coffee. One person can have their bold blend and the next can have a light decaf without having to brew an entire pot of each.
- The Ugly Side of Coffee Pods
Many will argue that the convenience of single serve coffee pods is not worth the damage they have on our environment. The different kinds of pods are made of paper and plastic but instead of recycling the grounds and the pods, most people throw them out. With millions of people brewing more than one cup of coffee using their pod machines every day, that’s a lot of recyclable material being thrown in the trash. There’s a way to fix this! A few extra steps keeps the convenience of your favorite home machine alive without putting extra guilt on your conscience.
- Recycle Your Coffee Pods
You can recycle the used coffee grounds in the coffee pods you use in many of the same ways you’d recycle coffee grounds that come out of a regular filter. Instead of throwing out the coffee pods when you’re finished with them, you can open them up and remove the grounds. Recycle the empty pod in the proper receptacle and then use the grounds as you see fit. You can use them in compost piles, to enrich soil, and in several other ways. You don’t have to sacrifice your single serve convenience or your love for the environment. With these extra simple steps, you can have the best of both worlds.
- Encourage Others
Once you’ve implemented coffee pod recycling in your own home, you can encourage others to do the same in order to further diminish the damaging impact that pods can have on the environment. If your office uses pod machines, talk to your supervisor or higher ups to find out about making recycling a priority when it comes to coffee waste. If there is a community gardening or compost program, the used grounds can be brought there on a daily basis. If everyone pitches in and does their part, implementing these recycling measures will be easy and before you know it, opening up used pods to empty them for recycling will become second nature.
Many coffee connoisseurs are adverse to pod machines because they believe that the water goes through the grounds too quickly and valuable flavors are lost in the process. In addition to environmental impact, these people are of the opinion that the bad outweighs the good when it comes to these machines. If you’ve decided to share this opinion, there are alternatives to pod machines that still offer convenience. You can find a cappuccino machine or espresso machine in the fully automatic variety that will deliver gourmet beverages to the most enthusiastic of coffee lovers.
Environmental impact and convenience aren’t the only considerations to be thought about when purchasing a home machine. Cleaning and maintenance offer their own issues in both of these areas. For most pod machines, you only need to refill the water tank, wipe the outside of the machine, and put clear hot water or another solution through the machine once in awhile to clean the system out. However, if you don’t use the machine often enough, you’ll be wasting water because you have to throw out what sits in the tank too long and if you use the machine too much, you’ll be flushing the system to clean it often enough to waste a lot of water as well. A fully automatic cappuccino or espresso machine may need more maintenance than a pod machine because it has more complicated parts and often uses more ingredients. Take these things into consideration when you’re making a purchase and you’ll find the perfect machine for you!
Social Media Awareness
Knowing the environmental impact of pod machines and combating the damage on your own is wonderful, but there is a power in social media that allows you to spread the word quickly and to many different kinds of people. Be positive in your posts and share your own experiences with recycling your coffee pods to show how easy it can be for others to do at home. With a little effort and a lot of love for coffee and the environment, you can make a big difference.
Give it a Shot
When you think of “shots” it’s likely that you’re not imagining tiny cups of dark roast, concentrated coffee unless you’re around some big espresso enthusiasts. Now, mention to them that these shots will be coming from your stove top or other machine instead of an espresso machine and you’ll incite a debate with which you’ll never be able to keep up! You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just coffee.” As you think this thought, millions of baristas around the world know and have made a collective gasp. Before you try the alternatives, go to your local coffee shop and order a straight shot of espresso. Sample a few varieties of the good stuff made with a professional machine by someone who knows how to use it. This will be your baseline for seeing what the alternatives taste like and if they’ll work for you.
- What is Espresso?
For those of you who are still wondering what the big deal is about espresso, it may be that you don’t know exactly what is espresso. The classification is not in the type of coffee that is being brewed but in the method. The parts on an espresso machine make it a lot easier for this method to be executed and deliver you a gourmet shot of espresso the way you’re expecting it to turn out. Each piece is responsible for a different function. The portafilter holds tightly packed grounds and is attached to the machine in such a way to hold it in place while water of a specific temperature is pressurized and pushed through the grounds. Duplicating this process is difficult without a machine but there are methods that have been attempted.
- Look for the Crema
Any well brewed, high quality coffee will have a thin layer of “crema” on the top, which is a fine foam that looks a little like many bubbles. When brewed with an espresso machine, the coffee’s crema layer will be thicker than when brewed with a regular machine or through other methods. This is the mark of good espresso! If you try any of the alternative methods of brewing, look for the crema on top of the espresso once it’s brewed. This will tell you that you have a high quality shot.
- Steamers and Milk
You can purchase a machine that has only milk steamers on it or a cappuccino machine with attached steamers. The wands on the steamers emit hot, pressurized air that steams milk into foam. There are some alternative methods of brewing espresso that suggest you can use steamer wands to brew espresso similar to the way an espresso machine would do it but these methods appear to be very dangerous. Do some research on your own if you’d like to try it but it is not recommended for safe espresso brewing.
- Coffee Strength
Any espresso machine users will tell you that you need premium and strong coffee beans in order to get the best product. While this may be true, there are others that suggest brewing strong coffee with alternative methods including pressurized steam without a machine can yield the same results. You can try making your lattes or other espresso drinks with a super bold blend of coffee beans but the fact is that probably won’t be the same. Strong coffee is not a substitute for espresso.
- Other Machines
After you’ve tried the alternatives, you may come to the conclusion that there is no substitute for the espresso machine. However, you should also consider how often you want to brew espresso and if it’s necessary to have a machine at home at all. There are fully automatic varieties, cappuccino machines, pod machines, and others that may all suit your home brewing needs better than something you’re not sure how to use. Look through all of your options. Talk to people that own the different machines and find out what will be required of you to operate, clean, and maintain the machine. You may find that you love espresso so much that you have to have a way to brew it at home whenever you want it but you should also take into account that you’ll have to learn to operate the machine expertly before you can get the beverage you desire.
- Researching Your Options
There’s a lot of information out there that makes learning about all your options overwhelming. Limit your search to the types of machines that will get you the beverages you want and research those. Ask yourself “Will I be able to use these features properly?” If you don’t think you can, then move on to the next options and ask yourself the same question. If you try to research all of the different kinds of espresso machines, cappuccino machines, pod machines, and others all at once, you’ll get overwhelmed fast and you might end up purchasing something that is not at all satisfactory or that you can’t learn to use.
The original question we were asking is “Do I really need an espresso machine?” If you’re looking to make quality espresso at home or lattes and other beverages that require espresso then yes, you do need a machine. The alternative methods may work to produce a beverage of lesser quality but many of them are unsafe and while an espresso machine may be costly, it will allow you to brew the drinks you want safely and with a lot less hassle and cleanup. The choice is yours in the end, because other machines can still give you a premium coffee beverage but to get that really good shot of espresso, the kind you’ll find in a coffee shop that will satisfy your taste buds and deliver the jolt you’re looking for, an espresso machine is the way to go.