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How Your Home Machine Can Cut the Work At Home Monotony

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.

Store the Coffee Beans Used in Your Espresso Machine For the Whole Winter

As the weather becomes more brutally cold, we all think about purchasing as many groceries as we can in bulk, including coffee, as a means of avoiding frenzied trips to the store through snow and ice. When you get everything home, you’ll wonder which items should be stored where in order to keep them as fresh as possible for use whenever you need them. Coffee beans used in your espresso machine can go bad whether they’re whole or pre-ground so it’s important that you store them properly. When you do, you’ll be able to enjoy a hot, fresh cup of espresso in your home while you watch the snow fall through the window.

Whole Beans vs. Pre-Ground

Storing coffee beans is a lot easier when you purchase them whole instead of already ground up. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy pre-ground beans at all. If you’ll be using the grounds right away, pre-ground coffee can save some time and some coffee shops will even grind up a bag of whole bean coffee right there in the store for you. There is an argument among espresso enthusiasts that flavor is affected by the choice to use pre-ground beans but in the end that’s all a matter of personal preference. The bottom line is that long-term storage works better if your beans are whole instead of pre-ground.

Keep Your Beans Dry

Once you get your beans home, it’s important to decide which ones will be used quickly and which will go into storage for some time. It may be a compelling choice to simply toss sealed bags into the freezer but this could end up destroying the integrity of the beans and their flavor after they’re put through your espresso machine. Unpack the beans and put them into an airtight container that is completely void of moisture. This factor will keep the beans fresh because even in the freezer, moisture can compromise your beans. When even small droplets of moisture freeze in the container, they’ll melt as the beans unfreeze later and that can cause mold or other bacteria to form.

Another option is to use a vacuum sealing food storage machine. This is the best way to store any food in the freezer and coffee beans are no different. Lay them in a flat layer on the material and then use the machine to pack them with a vacuum seal. When you’re ready to use them, defrost one packed layer at a time for grinding.

Invest in a Premium Grinder

If you’re going to be freezing or storing whole beans long term, you’ll need a grinder that does more than chop up the beans into different sized particles. An espresso machine needs finely ground beans that pack together tightly into the brew basket in order to get the bold flavor associated with gourmet level espresso. The coffee you try so hard to keep fresh is likely to suffer some diminished quality if you don’t use a good grinder.

The main difference when it comes to purchasing a new grinder is between the burr grinder and the blade grinder. The blade variety will chop up the whole beans into tiny pieces of inconsistent sizes while the burr variety will grind the beans between two surfaces into more uniform particles. The blade tends to cost less and is easy to operate and clean and the burr grinder lasts longer and performs better even though it costs more and can be more difficult to clean. The choice is once again a matter of preference but espresso machine lovers will always tell you to choose the burr grinder.

Storing Flavors

The winter is the perfect time to brew up a drink with your espresso machine that comforts and soothes using your favorite flavors. Sometimes you’ll use spices, other times syrups, and in some cases you’ll use both. If you’re purchasing any of these things in bulk, the simple answer to storage is to look at the instructions on the packages. Different brands and ingredients have varying storage requirements. Generally speaking, they should be put in a clean and dry place that will not incur much heat or cold above that of room temperature. It’s a good idea to check on those ingredients you don’t use as often on a regular basis to ensure they’re not clumping, crystallizing, or otherwise going bad.

Milk and Creamer

One of the best ways to enjoy your espresso machine is by making lattes using steamed milk but milk is not something you can purchase in bulk to be stored. There are some alternatives that can be substituted and will still give you an excellent latte. Almond milk and coconut milk are sold in boxes that can be stored for far longer than cow’s milk or goat’s milk. You’ll have to refrigerate each box after it’s opened but you can still purchase several boxes at once to be stored in the cupboard or pantry for use when you need them. As with any ingredient, refer to the package for expiration dates and storage instructions.

The other alternative is powdered creamer. This can’t really be used in the construction of lattes but it will serve as a flavoring and lightener for any kind of espresso drink. The advantage is that powdered creamers last a very long time and have minimal maintenance requirements in storage.

Warm Your Mood

A gourmet beverage from your espresso machine will warm more than your hands and your mood. The aroma and feeling you get from the familiar and delicious concoctions you love can warm the moods of everyone you serve in your home. Use these guidelines to store coffee beans and you’ll always have fresh espresso to create the beverages that make winter feel good again. Watch the bitter cold melt away from the comfort of your kitchen and never worry about having to go without a hot cup of gourmet espresso no matter how much snow is on the ground.

Let Your Espresso Machine Help Clear Your Sinuses and Lift Your Spirits

The new year has brought some brutal weather to all kinds of areas and we’re all feeling the winter blues set in, as well as sinus pain, headaches, and the hopes that we don’t catch a cold. If you own an espresso machine, you have an advantage over everyone else because you have the power to make hot drinks that boost your energy, mood, and (with the right additions) maybe even your immune system. Explore the ways that home remedies for sinus issues, headaches, and getting over a cold can be incorporated into the drinks you make using your machine in your own kitchen every day.

The Obvious Solution

When the cold weather really begins to bite, you know that the obvious solution is to seek warmth. Holding a hot cup of coffee or tea in your hands is one way to achieve this, as is the warm steam that comes up from the mug, the aroma that comforts, and the feeling you get when you sip your brew. This is, of course, the simplest way to beat the cold when it comes to using your espresso machine to help but it’s actually just the beginning of the ways your beautiful machine can give you respite from the winter blues.

Spice it Up to Relieve Sinus Pressure

Even if you don’t catch a cold, the freezing weather is likely to dry out your sinuses and cause your nose to run. No matter what we do to combat these issues, they seem to always come back to get us. There a few spices you can add to your coffee grounds before adding them to the brew basket of your espresso machine that, along with the hot beverage produced, can help relieve sinus pressure. These ideas are taken from home remedies that others have tried and may offer a good alternative or supplement to other ways of dealing.

Cinnamon, ginger root, turmeric, mint leaves, cayenne pepper, and curry are all spices that have been used to help relieve sinus pressure. If you don’t want to grind up the spices yourself, you can use the ready made powdered versions but the organic whole herbs are likely to be the most effective. Some of the spices might be an acquired taste but once you find something that works, you’ll be able to combine your love of espresso with a boost for your day to keep your nose from running and your head from aching.

Skip the Sugar

One of the things that many people don’t realize is that refined sugar can be quite taxing on your immune system. Instead of adding the sugar or any other artificial sweetener to your espresso, try an alternative sweetener. Dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa or more, cinnamon, nutmeg, or sea salt will cut the bitterness of bold coffee without compromising your ability to fight off all the germs and sickness flying around at this time of year.

Caffeinate Your Headaches

There are many over the counter medications for headaches that include caffeine as a major ingredient for a reason. A cup of espresso when you feel a headache coming on can be just what you need to stop it from ruining your day. A touch of mint leaf or some cinnamon can serve as an extra boost that makes you feel energized and pain free throughout the day. Since these spices may also relieve sinus pressure, an espresso drink made with them can work for you in more ways than one.

Brew a Tea Latte

Your espresso machine probably includes a hot water spigot that is perfect for quick hot water that you can use to brew tea. There are all kinds of herbal tea out there to help you fight a cold, relieve sinus pressure, or get rid of a headache, or you can use herbs to create your own. The steamer wand attachment on your espresso machine allows you to brew your tea and then add steamed milk for a tea latte that not only assists in healing but also comforts. Try using raw honey, almond milk, coconut milk, or fresh squeezed lemon in your tea for an added boost.

Tools For Healing

If your plan is to make up your own herbal blends, there are a few tools you may want to employ to keep things simple. First, a mortar and pestle is excellent for crushing up herbs that go directly into a strainer for brewing tea. Next, a burr grinder will make adding herbs and spices to coffee grounds an easy task. You can put the additions in with the whole coffee beans to grind everything into uniform particles that pack into your espresso machine’s brew basket as tightly as they should. Next, a good blender will make all kinds of drinks that you may not have even thought about yet but will inevitably want to try once you get going experimenting with different recipes.

Lastly, a few good travel mugs are invaluable when you are on the go but want your own homemade brews available wherever you are. If you plan to bring more than one beverage with you to work or a long day of any kind, invest in a large thermos. There are varieties available that plug in to heat up the brew when you’re ready to drink it so your beverage is always hot without having to deal with searching for a microwave.

If You Can’t Beat the Cold, Join It!

This might sound insane, but a good shot from your espresso machine poured over ice or mixed with ice can be a good way to beat the cold. Many establishments overdo the heat to try and keep their customers comfortable and we can all be guilty of the same in our homes. Going from the heated areas to the cold outside can be the worst way to overtax your immune system and make it work extra hard to keep you fighting whatever is out there to catch. A cup of iced coffee may not seem comforting but it can work wonders when you’re inside, you need a boost, and the cold has you wishing for summer sun. Either way, when it comes to beating the winter blues, your espresso machine has all the answers you need!

Enhance Your Breakfast with the Product of Your Espresso Machine

Coffee with breakfast is a given for any enthusiast but there are also many kinds of recipes that use the products from your espresso machine baked right in to the foods you love. You can use espresso, lattes, and used grounds to create healthy breakfast alternatives that are easy to grab and go when you don’t have time in the morning for more. Learn how to utilize your machine in ways you never imagined and never again go without your espresso or breakfast because you think you don’t have time.

Basic Chemistry

You can use your espresso machine to make ingredients that work with nearly any kind of baked good but if the original recipe doesn’t call for it, you’ll have to remember that you’re adding extra liquid or extra dry ingredients and compensate accordingly. It all comes down to basic chemistry. Adding extra liquid makes a batter runny and adding extra powdery ingredient or wet used grounds will also change the consistency of both the batter and the finished product.

Don’t let this extra work stop you from making the attempt at new and wonderful baked goods. Try out recipes that call for “espresso powder” or brewed espresso to see how it all goes together before you try to make your own. After that, the process will require some trial and error. Let that part be fun! You may find that a brand new mix that is better than any recipe out there.

Recipe Research

Before you start any kind of trial and error process, fire up your espresso machine and do some recipe research. First, look for recipes you know you can follow, things you already understand how to make. You don’t have to stick to baked goods and can try other things like smoothies and breakfast beverages that are enhanced by espresso. When you have that down, go for more challenging recipes or try altering the ones you’ve already perfected.

Ask friends for help or for recipes that they’ve also tried and perfected. Look at social media and blogs in your recipe search or on websites that cater to high-end espresso machine users. Cafes and chains sometimes have recipes available and don’t underestimate the power of a general search. When searching for recipes online, be sure to look through the comments as well for alterations to the recipes that others have tried. Most recipe sites have sections where people who have made the recipe before have advice for others that plan to try it as well. Use those tips to make your own alterations.

Extra Flavors

We all know that coffee and chocolate are a beautiful combination but there are other flavors that also work well when adding espresso or coffee to your breakfast recipes. This is where a grinder comes in most handy. A burr grinder is best because it grinds particles into uniform pieces but when you’re cooking with coffee grounds instead of brewing them in the espresso machine this isn’t always a necessary consideration. A burr grinder is also excellent for ensuring the shots you pull from your espresso machine are super concentrated and flavorful, which makes them perfect for adding to recipes. You can grind dried fruit, spices, and other flavors in with coffee grounds to create more dimension to the espresso in your recipes. This will not only enhance flavor but may also provide opportunity for healthy additions.

Make it Healthy

Especially at this time of year, we’re all trying some new diet or meal plan that’s supposed to add nutrition to our food. What better way for that idea to be employed than baking it into breakfast foods or adding to smoothies? Ingredients like chia seeds, chopped and/or ground almonds, hemp seeds, and other ancient grains will enhance the flavor and nutrients of your recipes and they’ll combine nicely in the grinder with coffee beans.

Recycle

The used coffee grounds from your espresso machine make an excellent ingredient in many baked goods that will still retain caffeine content. From cupcakes to iced cream, glazes and sauces, you can recycle already used grounds to create culinary masterpieces that stun guests and give you treats, snacks, and breakfast options to take on the go. You can even make homemade coffee ice cream that tastes great added to other espresso drinks and smoothies.

Night Before Prep

Enjoying a shot from your espresso machine in the morning means you have to brew it when you wake up. Unless you want your shots cold, they won’t taste the same unless they’re fresh and you know that. When you bake things the night before or put together the ingredients for a smoothie to be blended, you can cut your morning prep time by several minutes. You can have extra time to get ready, leave for work on time or a little early, and make sure you have everything you need before you go.

You won’t have to worry about a frenzy to get things together because you’ll have one last thing to remember. Simply grab the treat you prepared the night before and you’re all ready. You can also prepare a large batch and store the portions to be used all week. This saves time and, in the long run, money. Find out what you can buy in bulk and how to store prepared recipes in the freezer.

Espresso and Breakfast

After all is said and done, there are many different ways to prepare espresso and use your espresso machine that you have yet to realize. Give yourself time to explore every function and try out new things so that you can get the most of your machine and the most of your breakfast. Feel good and be energized all day long when you include espresso as a staple in the food you cook every morning.

Make a Whole New Latte With Tea and Your Espresso Machine

Owning an espresso machine is a wonderful thing because not only do you get to have gourmet espresso whenever you like but if your machine has a steamer wand attachment you can also make lattes. When you stop at a café with friends, the choices there will never be the same as the custom brews you can make in your own home. You may have noticed items like “matcha tea latte” and “chai latte” in the mix on the menu at the coffee shop you frequent. Your eyes dismiss this at first, thinking that nothing can be better than the espresso in your own machine at home but there is something to be said for the tea latte and you can make one in your machine with all the same benefits of custom additions and mixtures. All it takes is your espresso machine, a steamer (standalone or the steaming wand on your machine will work), a grinder, and the ingredients for the latte.

The Home Machine Difference

Aside from the freedom to use whatever recipe you desire, there is another major difference to the tea latte you’ll get from your home machine and what you’re likely to be served at a café. Most tea lattes you’ll get when you order out are made with brewed tea and steamed milk poured over with syrups and/or spices added for flavor. When you make a tea latte at home, you can use a grinder to get fine tea particles that you pack into your portafilter like you would do with coffee grounds. The product in this case is a concentrated brew that takes seconds to steep.

Espresso is the process by which the coffee is brewed you can do the same thing with tea. This gives you the base for your latte and it becomes a superior tea product, much different than what you’d order at a café or coffee shop. Add your flavorings, then carefully pour milk from the steamer over the base you’ve brewed and you have your latte. It’s easy to do, especially if you’re well versed in operating your espresso machine. The process is basically the same as a coffee latte, but the grounds in the portafilter are made of tea instead.

Clean Your Brew Head

Brewing tea in your espresso machine will cause the tea that you put through your grinder to get all over the brew head and the basket that goes into the portafilter. If you plan to brew coffee in the machine as well, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the brew head, portafilter, and basket to prevent flavors from mixing. Consult your user manual or call the help line for the manufacturer before you detach any parts for cleaning and make sure that you re-attach everything securely.

If you don’t get all of the ground up tea out of the brew head and basket, it’s not going to do any harm to your machine so don’t go crazy getting every tiny particle out. The issue is that the flavor of the tea you brew, especially if it’s a strong fragrant blend, will linger until all of the tea is cleaned out.

Exciting Flavors

There are many ways to add flavor to the coffee you brew in your espresso machine but the benefit of using tea is that the flavors are already right there in the grounds. Chai is a popular blend to use for tea lattes with exotic eastern spices and a warm flavor that smells delicious and it’s a good recipe to begin your tea latte experiments.

Another excellent point about the flavors of tea is that you can serve over ice and the flavors remain strong. When the weather turns warmer, trade in the tea latte for simple brewed tea using your espresso machine and serve it over ice or use a mixing glass to toss the drink with ice before serving. The concentrated brew will still have tons of flavor without having to add sugars or syrups, making it a refreshing treat that you can include into practically any diet.

The Matcha trend

You might have heard about the “special” green tea called matcha and wondered what makes it so much better than regular green tea besides that it costs a little extra. For one thing, the tea is not really a leaf form but more of a powder and this means that when you brew it in your espresso machine, you can skip the step of putting the leaves through the grinder. You may have a more difficult time during clean up but it’s well worth the extra work.

The flavor is something that may take an acquired taste because it’s not the same as the green tea you’re probably used to but in the end you get an antioxidant boost that many other teas and hot beverages won’t be able to deliver. It’s another blend that is also good served over ice, with some honey, or all by itself. Pair it with steamed almond milk and you have a drink that will pack a serious punch in the morning or give you a good boost to avoid the mid-day slump after lunch.

The Decaf Advantage

At the end of the day, you may long for the warmth that will lull you softly to sleep but you know that if you use your espresso machine for coffee or even make some hot chocolate, you could be cursing yourself to a sleepless night. Try using your machine instead to make a tea latte with herbal tea that is naturally caffeine free. Vanilla, chamomile, and lavender are aromas and flavors that can have the relaxing effect you need to unwind and get to sleep. The steamed milk on top is just the perfect touch to give you a treat that makes you feel warm all over. End every day as well as you started it with your espresso machine and a tea latte.

Tips For Installing an Espresso Machine In a Camper or RV

For all the convenience in travel that most camper trailers and RVs offer, they often lack in modern and luxury kitchen appliances, including the espresso machine. While it may be possible to travel with your machine and install it in the mobile kitchen for use while traveling, it is not prudent and can result in damage to the machine that’s easily avoided. Instead, opt to install a dedicated home machine in your camper trailer or RV kitchen and never again be without your favorite gourmet experience when on the go.

Water Conservation

In a camper trailer or RV, water conservation is incredibly important. If you’re traveling to a place that doesn’t have a water hookup, you’ll have to rely on whatever supply is in your tanks for the duration of your trip. You may think that this precious supply should not be wasted on a thing like your espresso machine but there are ways around that.

Bring designated kitchen water with you in bottle or extra water tanks to be stored in the kitchen area. Do not pour any excess water down the sink to be collected in the waste tanks and instead dispose of it outside since it is all organic and biodegradable matter from your kitchen without chemicals that can damage the environment. You’ll be able to run and service your espresso machine without using up the water supply you need for other essential tasks.

Making Space

If you’re an avid RV or camper trailer traveler, you understand the importance of every cubic centimeter of space in your vehicle. You can utilize your skills or learn a few more in order to accommodate a home machine that is kept in the vehicle at all times. Take stock of your travel kitchen and decide where the best place to use your machine will be and from there you can see what kind of space can be made to store the machine when it’s not in use.

Rolling shelves underneath cabinets, or inside pantry areas are ideal for this purpose. You can roll the machine out, plug it in, and fire it up for your espresso experience. You can even plug the machine into a rechargeable battery pack made for these kinds of situations and you won’t have to worry about putting the machine near a power source. Make sure that you have easy access to the machine and that it can be operated safely. Remember that it uses highly pressurized hot water. Cabinet and pantry spaces at countertop level are best for operation because you won’t have to bend down, stretch, crouch, or use a step stool to get to the machine.

Accommodating Accessories

Several gadgets may be involved in the making of your favorite type of latte, including a grinder, stand alone pour over steamer, strainer, large spoon for pouring steamed milk carefully, and any flavorings you enjoy. Your espresso machine can give you better gourmet coffee but in order to make a latte or other beverage you need a little more than this one machine, Fortunately, these accessories are more easily mobile and don’t necessarily need to be kept on board your RV or camper trailer. If you believe you can suffice on simple espresso shots during your trip, you don’t have to bring them with you and if you choose to do so, they can be transported in a box back and forth.

The same principle goes for other extras like flavorings, milk or milk alternatives for steaming, specialty glasses and mugs, and other things you may want to bring along. You can decide to make as special corner in your travel kitchen for these accessories or you can transfer them back and forth depending on how often you travel.

Storage

Some RV or camper trailer owners may make the decision to winterize their vehicles and put it in storage during the winter. If you do, there are some things that you need to consider about your espresso machine in order to maintain its top condition. First off, you’ll want to make sure that everything, including your machine, is strapped down or stored properly in cabinets so it won’t move around or fall over during transport or while things are settling after the vehicle is safely in storage. Check what is on top of the machine or underneath it because unnecessary pressure on top of the machine can damage it and any leakage can damage things underneath.

Prevent leakage by emptying the tank and prevent mold or other bacterial buildup by cleaning all the parts of the espresso machine thoroughly before putting into storage. Unplug the machine and store the power chord safely without tangles and without winding it tightly. Although you may not be using your vehicle for several months, it’s still a good idea to check back on its contents on a regular basis. You may still be a bit unsure about the safety of your espresso machine and in that case, you can always remove it from the vehicle and store it at home for the duration of the winter months.

Enjoy Better Outdoor Entertainment

These few tips and tricks will help you travel with your espresso machine in your RV or camper trailer so you always have the gourmet experience of beautiful coffee. One of the benefits you may not have considered is also the ways you can entertain guests at the campfire during your travels using the best beverages they’ll ever taste in an outdoor camping setting. Give everyone the means to keep roasting marshmallows all night long and sing louder with the aid of the espresso you serve. A night stargazing can be made infinitely better by bringing along this experience. You’ll be able to wake up to a sunrise wherever you are with the coffee you love most every time you travel!

What You Need to Know About Deep Cleaning Your Cappuccino Machine

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.

Learn How To Add Flavors To Your Cappuccino Machine

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.

Flavoring Foam

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.

Use Your Espresso Machine to Begin Designing Your Home Espresso Bar

You love your espresso machine and you want to take it to the next level and create a whole café experience in your kitchen but you don’t have the time, the money, or the space to do something like that. You can still add some elegant coffee style with an espresso bar in your home that looks good and keeps all of your materials and ingredients in one place near your espresso machine. Use this piece as the center and beginning of your designs for a home espresso bar that makes you feel good about your kitchen coffee space and wows every guest that comes to visit.

Measure Your Space

Before you beginning designing your espresso bar space, measure the area you want to use at every angle and write down each measurement. Move your espresso machine out of the space it’s in (be sure to put it on a safe and sturdy surface while you’re measuring!) and measure that as well. You’ll need all of these numbers in order to move the espresso machine around and to plan any additional furniture, shelving, and decorative features. It will be a major convenience as you’re deciding what to get because you won’t have to go back and keep measuring over and over to find out if things will fit. You’ll have all the dimensions you’ll need to reference right there when you want to check.

Decide on a Theme

Does your kitchen have a theme? Most people decide on a simple color scheme but sometimes rooms have specific themes that you may want to stick to or deviate from when designing your home espresso bar. You can use the same theme throughout your espresso bar and kitchen, change the entire space to suit what you’d like to do for the espresso bar, or create something different to give the coffee space its own character. Decide on this before you begin designing and purchasing items for the space and you will simplify many other decisions throughout the process.

Assess Your Equipment Needs

Your espresso machine may be the beginning of your home espresso bar but are there other pieces of equipment you’ll need in order to really make the gourmet beverages you dream of making? You want to make sure you have the room for these important parts of your espresso bar before you design anything else.

Some pieces of equipment you might want to consider including are: a drink shaker for iced drinks and making up quick whipped cream, a grinder for whole coffee beans to be fresh ground, and a steamer wand for your espresso machine or stand alone steamer for foaming milk and milk alternatives. Next, consider utensils you’ll need such as spoons, strainers, and mixing and steaming cups, measuring cups and spoons, and stirring utensils. Make space for these things at your espresso bar so they’ll always be in your reach when you need them.

Additions and Extras

You know how to pull a shot from your espresso machine and you’ve decided on the types of drinks you’d like to make as well as the equipment you’ll need to make them. Next up will be ingredients, flavor additions, garnishes, and spices that you may want to keep at the espresso bar. Some of these additions and extras have specific storage requirements such as refrigeration, cool dry space, or sealed containers.

One thing you’ll have to decide on right away is the idea to put a mini refrigeration unit at your espresso bar. If it’s close enough to the main fridge in the kitchen, this really isn’t necessary but if you decide to move your espresso bar to a different room or set it up farther away in the kitchen, it will be prudent to include refrigeration at the bar. This is a major decision and a piece of the design that will take up a lot of space so it’s important to be finite and practical when making the choice to add this feature.

Include a Cleaning Station

Adding a sink to your espresso bar might be a little bit too pricey and cumbersome, especially in regards to moving or adding plumbing to the space. However, you should include some sort of area at your home espresso bar that aids cleaning and maintenance for your espresso machine and all the other equipment you keep at the bar. Instead of having to bring things back to the kitchen sink every time you make a drink, you can begin the cleaning process at your espresso bar and that will make it easier to make multiple drinks when you’re entertaining guests.

A cleaning station is easy to create and you won’t need that much space to do it. A large wash basin, a pitcher of hot water, and some clean cloths will suffice to clean and wipe the parts that you use between drinks. Use the water to rinse parts clean over the wash basin, the basin itself to hold dirty cups and utensils, and the clean cloths to wipe off the espresso machine, steamer wand, and grinder in between uses.

Get Creative

After you’ve made the practical decisions, don’t forget to get creative! The designing portion creating your espresso bar at home isn’t all the espresso machine and equipment. These are the main components, of course, but use the space to make your own dream coffee area. It’ll be a place where you can escape for a few minutes and where you can entertain guests with flair. Use colors and funky furniture or hang pictures and quotes that remind you of why you love coffee and will get you ready for the coming day as you make your drinks in the morning. The espresso bar isn’t only about convenience but is also about your unique style. Make it shine with everything you are!

Dessert Recipes for Use with Your Espresso Machine

As you go into a frenzy looking for a new way to impress your friends or in-laws this holiday season with your culinary prowess, consider that the answer might lie in the espresso machine right on your counter top. There are all kinds of dessert recipes that use coffee as a flavoring ingredient. If you substitute espresso instead of coffee, you’ll get a much bolder and interesting flavor that provides a factor to make your desserts unforgettable.

Choosing Your Menu

Dessert can be easy or incredibly complicated, depending on the rest of the menu you’ll be serving. You can combat the complicated by centering the dinner on what you’ve made for dessert. For instance, if you make a tiramisu you could try a something that will provide a cushion for the espresso and alcohol used in the dessert. A good steak, something that involves pasta or bread, and other heavier meals go well with the light tiramisu.

You can cater other menus around desserts you’re thinking about making. The general rule is that if the dessert is decadent, the meal should be lighter. This provides balance to your meals so that people feel satisfied after eating but not so full that they’re going to burst.

Grounds Vs. Prepared

Not every recipe you use with coffee will call for prepared shots of espresso. In these cases, your grinder will come in very handy and a burr grinder is the best bet at getting the consistency you’ll need for a recipe. Usually, coffee grounds are used to fold into frosting, egg whites, or other batters to provide flavor without changing the consistency of the batter. Prepared coffee has to be added in precise volumes so that it doesn’t end up changing the way the recipe comes out. If your recipe includes prepared coffee, be very careful about measuring to avoid this issue.

Snacks

Of course, you don’t have to limit your preparation of espresso machine treats to holiday dinners and events. There are all kinds of snack items you can bake up from cookies and brownies to cupcakes and the frosting that tops them. One of the most popular ways to turn espresso into a snack is with mocha brownies. Add coffee grounds to your batter before you add nuts or other additions and then bake them up for a treat that will make your entire kitchen smell like a café with fresh coffee for hours.

Go Gourmet

If you have an espresso machine capable of producing gourmet shots, why not use them to make gourmet desserts? There are many cookie and pastry recipes that call for coffee. Delicate meringues, flaky pastries, and light little cakes that are beautifully presented and taste like you’re in a five star restaurant.  These recipes will take more skill than others and the quantity and quality of the coffee you’ll use is very important. If the recipe calls for something specific, it’s a good idea to follow that exactly.

Gourmet recipes use methods that are more complicated and so the instructions are incredibly important. Be sure to read through every part of a recipe before you try it and be conservative in your estimates about your own skills. If you’re not sure, try a recipe that’s simpler and work up to gourmet later. The skills you learn from more basic recipes will ensure that your gourmet choices are perfection when they come out of the oven.

What About the Caffeine?

Are you planning to serve your dessert or snacks to children or people who are not fond of caffeine? There are ways around this issue and to make sure the kids aren’t running around bouncing off walls because they accidentally ingested four shots from the espresso machine. When a recipe calls for coffee and you’re concerned about the caffeine content, the simple answer is to use decaffeinated coffee instead of regular grounds. You can also make two batches of the dessert, one with caffeine and one without, or you can provide an alternative dessert along with the one that contains espresso. These are options that make the choice to use real espresso simple so you can enjoy the taste and feeling that comes with gourmet coffee while others enjoy the alternative. If they don’t want it, that’s more for you!

Espresso Temperature

When you first pull a shot from your espresso machine, it’s steaming hot and it’s supposed to be that way. However, when you add prepared espresso to a recipe (especially a baking recipe) you’ll need to cool it to about room temperature before combining it with other ingredients.

The best way to do this is just let it sit out or put the mug over a bowl of ice. Espresso straight without anything like milk or sugar added to it will keep without worry. Do not put the ice directly into the espresso because this will change the flavor, consistency, and measurement of the liquid to be added. Brew shots before doing anything else for the recipe and by the time you’re ready to add the coffee it should be cooled.

Other Blends and Coffee to Use With Desserts

An espresso machine comes in handy when trying to add pizzazz to your desserts using gourmet coffee but another home machine can also do well in this endeavor. Brew flavored coffees or try different blends to add different flavors to the desserts you make that use coffee. You can try a tiramisu with hazelnut or caramel flavored coffee to add a new kick to an old favorite or try peanut butter brownies with a bold espresso for a combination that brings out every flavor. The possibilities are endless and you’ll have a lot of fun trying out the different desserts you can make with coffee, espresso, and all the favorites you’ve enjoyed in your mug in the past.

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