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The Convenience of Espresso Pod Machines During the Holidays

On a day-to-day basis, espresso pod machines can reign superior over more standard espresso machines because they offer the convenience of less cleanup and easier drink preparation. The disadvantages fall with the lack of control over what you’re brewing and there aren’t any extra accessories like steamers or grinders because they aren’t exactly necessary when brewing from pods. During the holidays, when there is extra chaos, guests, and traffic in your home, espresso pod machines are ideal.

User Friendly

When more people are using your machine, there is more of a chance that it could be damaged by overuse or incorrect use. This is where pod machines can be your savior because these machines are easy for anyone to use. The person who wants a cup of espresso needs only to drop a pod into the reservoir and push a button to get the brew they’re craving. All you’ll have to worry about is filling up the water tank when the indicator light tells you it’s necessary.

Space Saver

Traditional espresso machines may be bulky and take up a lot of valuable counter space that you’ll need to prepare and cook your holiday feast. Pod machines are smaller and easier to install and move around and this makes them perfect for holiday guests. You may have a lot of people staying in your home or simply coming over for the day and they all take up space on their own. This way, you’ll still be able to serve delicious espresso throughout the day or throughout the entire time you’re guests are visiting, however long that may be.

Is It Really Espresso?

There are some enthusiasts that argue about the authenticity of pod machines and the brew they deliver because they say that the method of brewing is not the same as with traditional espresso machines. The pods are packed coffee and finely ground coffee but they’re not packed the same as they would be in a portafilter and the pressurized water is not pushed through the same way. Others argue that the light foam known as “crema” present on the top of a pod-brewed espresso shot is proof that it was brewed in the correct fashion.

Unless the guests that will be attending your holiday celebrations are extremely particular about their espresso, you’ll be able to pass with espresso pods. Most people will be impressed by the gourmet quality of the brew either way and they’ll feel as if they’re in the lap of luxury as you host them.

Create a Space

Don’t be afraid to dress up your machine a little for the holidays with some festive ribbon, decorations around it, or on the surface where it’s kept. Add some holiday themed flavors to the table as well or keep some flavored creamers in the fridge for use with the espresso pods. There are also flavored pods that may attribute to the mood you’re trying to create. Keep the season alive in everything you do, including brewing espresso, with a few extras that let each person enjoy their favorites in their own way.

Accessories

Pod machines lack the accessories of traditional espresso machines and so you can’t really create lattes or cappuccinos. There are a number of pour over and stand alone steamers that are available to use alongside pod machines and you can try setting one up with your personal machine. As with the issues that come with other people using your standard machine, if people unfamiliar with steamers attempt to use one, there is a risk of the machine being damaged.

Consider employing a “family barista” to help with accessories like these. This person can be assigned to the machine and operate it for all those who don’t know how. If you have some willing to volunteer for the position during your holiday celebrations, you won’t have to worry about who else is using the machine and you won’t have to do it all by yourself.

Gift a Machine

Pod machines can be excellent gifts for people who love espresso but don’t want to deal with the complications of using a traditional machine. They tend to cost a little less, last a bit longer (depending on use), and require less maintenance. Espresso pod machines are an upgrade from the average product you see on the shelves and produce a more gourmet type of brew. The recipient of this gift won’t have to learn about the best types of beans for espresso or learn about grinders in order to fill up the portafilter for the machine since they’ll simply have to drop a pod in the reservoir.

Stock Up

You use a certain amount of espresso pods in your machine and you know how many you need but with extra people in the house, you’ll need a lot more pods than usual. Stock up on a variety of different flavors and strengths so that your guests will have plenty of options to choose from or stock up on one particular type that you usually use and if they’re not consumed, you’ll have extra when the holiday is over. Be sure to also stock up on things like sweetener and creamers that you think people may use but be wary of expiration dates. If refrigerated items are not empty when everyone’s gone, you’ll be left with the excess.

Encourage Variety

If your friends and family are familiar with pod machines or use them in their own homes, encourage them to bring different flavors for everyone to try. You can create a grab bag of sorts, do an exchange, or put the different flavors together into gift bags for each person to have a stash of their own. Enjoy the wonders and varieties of pod machines with all of your friends and family members as well as the convenience!

Discover The Different Types of Premium Beverages You Can Make With Your Home Machine

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.

  1. 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.

  2. The Infamous Latte

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Professional Opinion

    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.

Do Espresso Pod Machines Sacrifice Quality For Convenience?

When one thinks of a «convenient latte», the idea is probably a latte from a café. However, there are other ways to enjoy the convenience of a fast and easy espresso drink without having to deal with paying an extravagant amount and waiting in a line for someone else to make it. Espresso pod machines offer this convenience, but there are many connoisseurs who view this method as incomplete and debate that it delivers a sub par product that isn’t worth the added convenience.

  1. The Espresso Process

    Espresso is often misconstrued as a type of coffee when actually the process of how it’s made is where it gets its name. Espresso must be tightly packed into the portafilter portion of the machine, and then pressurized water is pushed through the grounds to create the espresso shot you love. Fully automatic espresso pod machines use a prepackaged packed portion of espresso in a pod that is dropped into a reservoir for the water to be pushed through. An espresso pod machine uses powdered condensed milk to automatically steam for the latte topping and a more advanced espresso machine uses milk steamers that steam fresh milk.

  2. Quality Beans

    One of the best components of a truly excellent espresso shot is using quality beans and quality grinders to add to the portafilter for production. Espresso pod machines use pre-ground and pre-packed capsules so there is less autonomy for grinding and packing the beans the way you’d like. You also have to look for the flavors and strengths you want in capsules and the selection is not as vast as it is with whole beans. Some pod machines employ the use of empty capsules that allow you to grind the beans as you use them for each serving and pack them yourself.

  3. Froth and Foam

    There are many types of fully automatic steamers that will steam fresh milk for you as well as the steamer wands that come on many espresso machine models. Fully automatic espresso pod machines use a different kind of process with powdered condensed milk. The main issue among espresso connoisseurs is that the foam from this process is not really foam but more of a milk froth. The finished product isn’t as smooth as a latte from a more professional espresso machine or from a café but the taste is similar. The big difference is in texture.

  4. Flavorings

    Syrups and spices are often used to spruce up the average latte and spices added directly to the grounds are the best way to infuse the finished shot of espresso. Since espresso pods use prepackaged espresso, it’s a lot more difficult to add spices before brewing. It’s possible to open the pod and make additions but since they’re packaged specifically, it’s not recommended that you do so. The milk froth that comes from an espresso pod machine has a different consistency than the fresh milk foam from steamers. Infusing this portion of the latte with flavoring or adding syrup will be a bit of a trial and error process if you’re not used to making it this way.

  5. Alternatives

    When you consider these factors, you may side with the connoisseurs and decide that pod machines sacrifice too much quality to enjoy the convenience. You may also not be willing to spend the cost of an espresso machine that doesn’t operate using pods. There are alternatives to both options that you can explore but the bottom line is that none of them are going to give you a café quality latte without a lot of time and work. Any of them may still work for you if you don’t plan to make lattes at home all the time. There’s also a good chance you’ll still have to purchase some equipment to make these options happen.

  6. Learn a New Skill

    Pod machines allow any person to brew espresso at home without having to learn about how an espresso machine works. It would still be advisable to learn about how espresso is made, how your own machine works, and the recipes used to create premium drinks. You’ll learn a new skill and be able to make the most of your home machine, whichever model you decide to purchase.

  7. Know Your Machine

    When considering a home machine, espresso pod machines are appealing because they require a lot less cleaning and maintenance than a more traditional espresso machine. Pod machines are also user friendly but no matter what, you need to know your machine well before you purchase it and use it daily. Ask questions of espresso machine owners that you know and find out what will be required of you to use and maintain your machine. Doing the research allows you to choose a machine that you’ll get the most use out of. Be sure to also measure the space where you’ll be putting your machine so you can determine if the one you want will fit. Check outlets and find out how to install the machine or if you’ll need someone to do so for you.

The Verdict

The facts about espresso pod machines show that you won’t get a café quality latte at home but the sacrifice to quality is not too great that you should dismiss the idea all together. It all depends on the time you’re willing to take to maintain the machine, to learn to use it, and to make your drink. Once you answer those considerations, you’ll be able to better determine if a pod machine is right for you. There are several other models of home machine to choose from so if your desire is for something more advanced or of professional quality, you’re sure to find what suits you with a little bit of research. Make sure your machine is right for you and not simply the next fad. You’re the one who has to operate it and will enjoy it for several years.

Understanding the Chemistry of the Brew That Comes From Your Espresso Machine

A Profound Love of Coffee

You have to really love the art of brewing and coffee itself to want to know what it’s made up of but if you do and if you’re a true enthusiast, then this exploration can open up all kinds of new avenues for you and your espresso machine. When you learn about how coffee behaves chemically with other substances, you can make new beverages and better versions of the ones you already enjoy. Not only will the taste be something different, but the presentation and effect on your energy can also be exponentially improved with this knowledge.

  1. The Basics

Do a little experimentation with the ingredients you already have. Pull a shot from your espresso machine and take note of how it looks when it pours, how fluid the stream is into the cup, and what kind of density it has when it’s done brewing. Use a glass mug and you’ll be able to see what sugar looks like when it’s added and the clouds that form from different kinds of milk. Let yourself get particular about these details and learn from them. Knowing how each ingredient reacts will show you how you layer, mix, and flavor your beverages to create better ones.

  1. Steamers and Milk

Milk steamers go hand in hand with your espresso machine because steamed milk is so often added to espresso. Using the steamer wands on your own machine can be tricky, requiring a lot of trial and error, but if you explore how the process happens a little bit further, you might be able to do it yourself with more flourish. It’s a pretty simple concept that’s precise and so that makes it a little more difficult to do right. Hot air is added to the milk, bringing it to a state that’s part steam and part solid. If you add too much or at too high a temperature, it will cook but if you don’t add enough, the milk will remain thin. Start with very cold milk in a cold cup and you’ll see how much faster and easier it is to get the consistency you desire with flawless moves every time.

  1. Sweeteners

Different sweeteners will mix with your beverages in different ways depending on what they’re made up of and the temperature of the beverage to which you add them. You’ll notice that granulated sugars and other sweeteners don’t mix well in cold beverages and some taste strange when mixed into hot beverages. If the sweetener you normally use isn’t mixing well, try adding it to your beverage at a different temperature. For instance, you could try mixing sugar into your espresso before adding milk or sweeten coffee before mixing it up with ice. There are more complicate ways to explore this avenue, like using liquid stevia or agave syrup after pulling a shot from your espresso machine. If you’ve never tried these options, though, be prepared for something you may not like. Don’t give up after one taste. The mixture may need some other additions before it’s exactly the way you like it.

  1. Grounds

Grinders play a big role in your espresso machine’s finished product and they’re the first step in getting the best brew. Many people neglect the way the portafilter is packed and that can be the first and biggest mistake when making an espresso drink. Burr grinders deliver a particle that is uniform and will pack into the portafilter more closely. The grounds won’t have little spaces that allow air and water to flow through without going through grounds first, which gives you an espresso shot that is richer and has a fuller flavor profile than if you used grounds from a blade grinder. Try it and you’ll see the difference on the first brew!

  1. Machines

An espresso machine is a precise piece of equipment in itself. Every part of it works together to put perfectly pressurized and heated water through grounds and into your cup. If the machine is not top notch, one of these components may not work as it should and you’ll get a sub par shot instead of what you expect. In addition to purchasing a professional quality machine, always make sure that the parts are cleaned and well maintained. You can consult the user manual for this or call customer service. The manufacturer’s website may also have videos, tutorials, or an extra help section that will give you step-by-step instructions about how to get the most out of your machine. It’s not enough for the equipment to look good. The shiny machine you bought on sale at the local big box store might look beautiful but that doesn’t mean it works well. Do your research and find out about the parts and use before you decide on which machine will grace your kitchen counter. This is important to the rest of the chemistry of your brew because if you’re pulling a shot that’s not good to start off with, you’ll be working off a base that doesn’t work.

Share and Listen

These are just a few tips about the chemistry of your brew and how to use it to get the best beverage from your espresso machine. The real chemistry is a lot more complicated and, frankly, only of interest to the most enthusiastic. That’s not to say that it won’t be of interest to you or your friends. Share what you learn using social media, photos, and videos. Use tags and other tools to try and find others who are exploring coffee the same ways that you are and they’ll be able to learn from you and teach at the same time. You may be surprised about what and who you’ll find!

A Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing Pour Over Steamers

There are many ways to create better coffee using your home machine that include different kinds of beans, grinders that give those beans perfect consistency, and syrups or spices that enhance the taste. Some people love to use flavored creamers and some enjoy the simple milk and sugar additions. What really makes a great gourmet coffee drink though is not just the way it tastes but also how it looks. Milk steamers offer the easiest way to foam milk at home that you can use to top off your coffee and create the ultimate gourmet experience without leaving your kitchen.

  1. Why Use a Pour Over Steamer?

You can enjoy lattes without the use of milk steamers but several of the methods involve complicated steps and heating milk over the stove without a temperature regulator. When you steam milk into foam, the milk must be heated and then air is added to the heated product to create foam. Without a pour over steamer, you have to heat the milk over the stove and then add the air using a whisk or other method like pumping it in a French press canister. Pour over steamers do all of that work for you so that all you have to do is put the cup of cold milk under the steamer wand and move it around as the hot air from the wand steams the milk evenly.

  1. Temperature Regulation

Steamed milk should remain at a specific temperature throughout the entire process and when you’re using other methods besides pour over steamers, it’s difficult to maintain that temperature regulation. Fully automatic steamers do this for you so that all you have to do is turn on the machine and let the steamer wand do the work. Most steamers have a temperature regulation gauge on the machine that shows you what’s happening while you’re steaming your milk. A more manual machine allows the user to adjust this temperature but in most cases, this function is automatic and you should only be using the temperature regulation gauge as an indicator to tell if something is wrong.

  1. Commercial or Not?

Your milk steaming needs may extend beyond your home machine if you run a business that centers on beverage distribution. Your café or café setup in the workplace could warrant the use of commercial steamers due to the amount of traffic that the machine handles on a daily basis. Consider the amount of people that will use the steamers and the amount of drinks each of those people will make that include foamed milk. If your business or setup doesn’t involve a lot of drinks with steamed milk, then commercial pour over steamers are not necessary. For home use, it is very unlikely that a commercial steamer will ever be necessary but use your personal judgment to make this decision.

  1. Attached Steamers

When you decide that you want to enjoy beverages with steamed milk at home, it might be a good idea to upgrade to an espresso machine with attached steamers. These machines have a steamer wand (or wands) on the machine itself. Hot water is stored in a boiler tank and is ready to steam milk at a moment’s notice. There is also a temperature regulator and pressure gauge on the machine so you know it’s working properly on all accounts. You’ll be able to pull your espresso shots, steam the milk, then put your drink together all with one machine.

  1. Steam Milk with Confidence

No matter which machine you purchase, you need to learn how to use it properly in order to create the gourmet drinks you enjoy. You can find a tutorial, refer to your instruction manual, or look at videos to find out how to steam milk with the confidence to get the desired consistency. Fully automatic milk steamers are pretty easy to use because they regulate temperature and pressure without your manual involvement.

All you have to do is measure cold milk into a stainless steal cup, position it under the steamer wand so it is in the milk, turn on the wand, and twirl the cup as the hot air is added evenly. Before you start, it’s a good idea to “clear” the steamer wand by turning it on for a couple of seconds to let steam come out before the wand is put into the milk. There will be some trial and error to the process. Your first drink will not be perfect and the second or third may leave a little something to be desired as well but you’ll get it with some practice and before you know it, you’ll be whipping up lattes just like a professional barista.

Entertain with Flair

One of the best thing about owning an espresso machine with steamers, is that you’ll be able to serve coffee drinks to guests that look better than the dessert they’re served with! Once you learn how to use your new machine, experiment with different looks and garnishes for the drinks you serve. Try adding flavored syrups, spices, or other toppings to make your drinks look as good as they’ll taste. You can find new recipes in many places or you can ask friends who also own machines what kinds of recipes they’ve tried. Share your discoveries with your friends and other coffee lovers using social media and don’t forget to take pictures of your creations to post with your recipes. Go to your favorite café and order the lattes you’ve never tried in the past and then ask yourself what you did and didn’t like about them. Use those answers to tweak the recipes on your own at home and make them even better than the ones at the café. With a little experimentation, you’ll be entertaining with lattes that are better than gourmet and your friends and family will be in awe.

Purchasing an Espresso Machine as a Gift This Holiday Season

The coffee lover in your life will certainly appreciate a gift card but why not step it up and get them a gift they never expected. An espresso machine is the ultimate gourmet experience for the one who loves coffee and something they will use (and brag about) for many years to come. Finding the right machine for a gift is not the same as buying one for yourself, though, and there are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration before you make your decision and present your gift.

  1. What Occasion is This Gift For?

An espresso machine is a formidable piece of equipment and most of them come with a hefty price tag. A holiday gift, wedding gift, or milestone birthday is a good time to present this kind of generosity but otherwise, you might want to think twice about what your gift says before you buy one for a friend who celebrates Flag Day. Either way, the coffee connoisseur will love an espresso machine but timing is still everything when it comes to big gifts.

  1. Who Will Be Using the Machine?

The coffee lover you’re buying for is likely to have specific requirements for the type of coffee they make and the kinds of drinks they enjoy. If this is the case for your coffee lover, the espresso machine you buy must be able to meet those requirements. Take your gift recipient out for coffee at a café and see what they order. Strike up a conversation about the kinds of coffee drinks they like and use that information when you’re purchasing an espresso machine as a gift for them.

  1. How Much Space is Available?

Find out what the configuration of your coffee lover’s kitchen is to see if the espresso machine you want to give as a gift will fit. Are they willing to part with the machine they already have? If your gift is a surprise, maneuvering the conversation toward this answer can be tricky but it’s still a good idea to figure out what kind of wiggle room there is in their kitchen. The last thing you want is to give them the exact machine they’ve always wanted but they can’t use it because they have no place for it in their home.

  1. Style Considerations

Is your recipient a flashy person or a coffee traditionalist? Do they like sleek and compact or machines that have several functions without worrying about sacrificing space? Everyone has a style when it comes to the machines they keep and the espresso machine is no exception. Your coffee lover might want a traditional looking machine with its nostalgic style or they might want something fully automatic and compact. You can gather this information by viewing the types of machines they already have or simply leading the conversation to this topic.

  1. Functions and Attachments

There are instances where a machine that has multiple steamers or built in grinders are optimal and there are others where all one wants is to be able to pull a shot of espresso and drink it straight. When you learn about the coffee preferences of your recipient, you’ll learn more about the functions the espresso machine you purchase as a gift will need to perform. Does this person like to grind their own beans? Are they proficient in steaming milk for a latte? These are things they’ll need to know how to do if you give them a machine that has these functions.

  1. Accessories

You may not be the only one with the idea to buy an espresso machine for the coffee connoisseur in your life. If that’s the case, you can split the cost with others and add some accessories or other coffee related items to the gift that make it extra special. Create your own basket with unique finds or purchase something practical you know will be needed with the machine. Before you look for extras and accessories, try to find out what the recipient already has in their kitchen. This way, you’ll be sure to give them something that will surprise them and be appreciated.

  1. Include Instructions and Important Numbers

Before you wrap your espresso machine gift, open up the box and make sure that all the parts, instructions, and important numbers are there. This includes the serial numbers, anything needed to register the product, customer service numbers, and any electrical connections or numbers for a professional to install the machine. Put the instruction manual on the top of the box so it’s easy to find and include a gift receipt for the product in the card. This way, the recipient will be able to learn how to use every part of the machine, maintain it and install it properly, and return it if it’s too complicated or doesn’t fit in their kitchen. Even if you’ve taken the time to get all the correct information, you never know how someone will react when you give them a gift. Having all your bases covered ahead of time will be much appreciated when the time comes to actually use the machine after you’ve left the party.`

Go Gourmet

When purchasing an espresso machine for a coffee connoisseur, it’s important to get the best. They know what a good espresso machine looks like and chances are that if they wanted a basic one, they would have bought it for themselves already. Go the extra mile and get them a machine that shows you not only know and understand their love of coffee but also that you want them them to have the best of the best. They’ll appreciate the gift more and it will be one that they can enjoy for many years to come. Don’t forget to stop by once in awhile and have a latte with your favorite coffee lover from that gourmet machine!

Ways Your Espresso Machine Will Get You Through The Work Week

Monday arrives every week and nearly every individual with a new work week beginning looks for a cup of coffee that will make the day go by faster and turn them into a productive person that doesn’t slump over in exhaustion before lunch. This is where your espresso machine comes in handy, delivering a beautiful shot of dark roasted strong coffee and possibly even some steamed milk and flavoring to top it all off. Suddenly, Monday is just another day and you’re ready to conquer it. Here a few ways you can make that feeling last and get more done throughout the day, the week, and all the time.

  1. Get Your Routine Down

One of the reasons that a lot of people don’t make use of a good home machine is because they don’t think they have the time. You can learn to use your machine like the experts and get a routine down that lets you enjoy your favorite boost and not show up late to work. Decide how you want your espresso prepared the night before and get things ready so that when you wake up, you’ll be able to get things started right away. You can also choose to trade in the machine you have for a fully automatic model or add one to the growing collection in your home café.

  1. Experiment with Options

Before you can get a good routine down, you’ll have to know the way you like your espresso best. Take some time on a weekend or day off to experiment with different ways to make a latte or pull a shot just the way you like it. Try using the steamers to get a different foam consistency or experiment with different grinders to get the perfect size grounds that pack into the portafilter exactly as you want them to. Use different milks like almond or coconut and try flavor syrups and spices you may not have tried before. This is also a good time to pair different pastries or other breakfast foods and add them to your routine for an entire breakfast experience that gets you going.

  1. After You’ve Left

Starting your day off with a great product from your espresso machine is excellent but we all know it doesn’t last. There are ways you can get another boost from your home machine even when you’re nowhere near it. The best way to do that is to bring a thermos along with an extra latte. Some travel mugs have a plug-in option that allows you to heat up your latte so you can enjoy it just as you would have fresh from the machine. You can also choose to bring an iced latte that is kept in the fridge. If this isn’t a possibility, there are other ways you can bring fresh espresso grounds from your grinder with you and improvise what your machine does. It may not be as good but it will remind you of home.

  1. Avoiding the Temptation

On those days when you don’t have time to make a second latte to take with you, you’ll have the temptation to stop at a café to buy one. You can avoid this temptation and spending unnecessary money by remembering what you have at home and keeping a few things on hand that keep you from giving in. Chocolate covered espresso beans are a delicious snack that will give you a nice pick me up, as are coffee mints, some good dark chocolate, or coffee hard candy. You can keep them in your bag or at your desk and you’ll only have to remember to get more when your stores are low.

  1. Enjoy with Friends

Not everyone’s workday ends at five and a lot of people have to stay a lot longer, well into the night. Perk up everyone at the office with a latte boost if you have some time to stop at home and whip up your specialty. You can also talk to your employer and get an espresso machine in the office. Many cafes have introduced a “coffee happy hour” but you don’t have to drag everyone out for that. Create your own coffee happiness with the creations you’ve imagined and share it with your friends at work.

  1. Wind Down

The coffee enthusiast knows that an espresso machine can do just as much to calm you down as it does to perk you up. There are other ways to use your machine besides making lattes and pulling espresso shots. Your machine likely has a spout for hot water. Use this component to brew a cup of tea or hot chocolate at the end of your day to ensure that you wind down and get a good night’s sleep, ready to conquer the next day in your work week and continue being as productive as you were on the first. Your home machine will give you the means to wake up well and go to sleep soundly. Relax at night and then wake up with the taste, smell, and feeling you love most.

Follow Through

Starting out your work week with a good routine is one thing but you won’t feel the full benefits of your espresso machine unless you follow through day after day and week after week. Find ways to keep making espresso fun like the ways you share your creations with friends and the creative options you use to bring them along. Don’t forget to clean and maintain your machine each day as well, so that you’ll be able to continue your routine even easier. Work these little tasks into the way you do things to make a flawless program that makes you want to love making espresso and putting your machine to good use every day.

Use Your Espresso Machine to Enjoy Premium Iced Coffee Drinks

These hazy days of late summer can take a toll on anyone and sometimes it takes more than a cold glass of lemonade, water, or iced tea to beat the heat and get out of the lazy mood caused by ultra hot temperatures and humidity. Brewing iced coffee at home can be a bit difficult and it never seems to come out the way the baristas make it at your local coffee shop so you resort to buying your refreshing drinks there even though you have an espresso machine at home. You can learn to make premium iced coffee drinks with the espresso you already know how to brew with a few tips that give you a product as good as the pros can make. Enjoy iced coffee in your own kitchen and serve it at every barbeque and pool party you host to give everyone a chance to beat the heat and perk up their summer.

  1. Coffee Quality Matters

There are many kinds of instant coffee sold commercially that is advertised as “cold brew” but what you get is usually a bitter tasting semblance of the iced coffee drinks sold at cafes, even when the branding states that it’s the same thing. The grounds you brew in your espresso machine are much better and more concentrated so when you add ice to the brew, it doesn’t taste watered down. Your favorite espresso might not be strong enough to shake up with some ice but the only way to really find out is to try it for yourself.

  1. Good Grinders Help

The way you grind your espresso beans directly affects the finished product. If your espresso machine is giving you a weak brew no matter which beans you use, the problem may lie in the way you’re grinding them. Burr grinders employ the use of two surfaces for which to grind the beans between instead of blades that chop them up without a uniform consistency. When you pack grounds that have been put through a burr grinder, there are less air spaces and the water goes through grounds and grounds alone.

  1. Cooling Methods

This is the place where a lot of people make mistakes that end up giving them a less than desirable iced coffee drink. The most common way to make iced coffee at home is to brew the coffee and then pour it over ice. This is easiest way to water down the shots you pull from your espresso machine. One alternative is to use a shaker to shake up the hot espresso with ice. It will get cold but the ice won’t melt as much into the coffee, causing a watered-down flavor. Coffee that hasn’t been sweetened and has no milk in it can be left out to cool and then refrigerated overnight. The refrigerated coffee can be poured into ice trays to give you a way to cool your espresso quickly without watering it down.

  1. Adding Sweetener and Flavorings

Adding sugar to cold espresso won’t do much for what’s in your cup because it won’t dissolve much. If you’re drinking espresso that has been cooled overnight and you didn’t sweeten or flavor it, you can use flavored syrups or liquid stevia to add the flavors you like. The best way to sweeten your iced coffee is to add the sugar or flavoring while it’s still hot. The heat will dissolve the flavoring, helping it adapt to the coffee so that it sticks even after it’s cooled. If you want to add milk, whether it’s cow’s milk, soy, or nut milks, it’s best to add that to the cold drink when it’s already finished. Milk added to hot espresso shortens its shelf life so you won’t be able to make a large batch that you can cool overnight and drink for several days. Try a few different recipes and decide what you like best, then write down what you did and you’ll be able to enjoy the same drink again and again.

  1. Dressing Up Your Drinks

Iced coffee drinks don’t exactly look right when they’re served in mugs and it’s always a bit of a dilemma to find the right vessel for the brew you love. The tiny cups that fit with your espresso machine are perfect for pulling shots but after that, you may want to sweeten your drink, then cool it and drink it with milk or lots of coffee ice cubes. Invest in a couple of pretty ceramic or other heat resistant pitchers, shaker cups, and tall glasses so that you’ll always be able to enjoy your premium iced coffee in style. Aesthetic matter even if you’re making iced espresso for one. Glass and ceramic are best for any kind of coffee drink because metal tends to leave behind a sliver of its own taste.

  1. Serve with a Flourish

Your own style of glasses and pitchers will dress up your iced coffee and adding the right accents will also help you serve your guests in a way that they’ll never forget. Serve your iced coffee and then pour the milk at the table to show it twisting and turning around the ice in the glass. The effect is beautiful as well as interesting. Garnish the straw in the drink with a curl of chocolate or add a slice of apple to cinnamon spiced coffee drinks. There are a million ways to serve beautiful coffee. All it takes is a little bit of creativity.

The Best Equipment

If you want premium coffee drinks that taste like the pros make them, use an espresso machine that is similar to what the pros use. A gourmet machine will have a portafilter that gives you the perfect sized reservoir to pack espresso grounds, regulates water pressure and temperature, and can handle heavy use so you can enjoy iced coffee as much as you want until the weather cools.

Should You Purchase a Single Serve or Commercial Grade Home Machine?

Your Home Coffee Use

There are a lot of ways that people enjoy coffee at home and your own ritual is sacred to your morning (and afternoon and evening) routine. However, you might be like many others who are wondering if there is a more convenient machine with which to brew your coffee depending on the type of preparation you most enjoy and how much you make on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a new home machine and you have thoughts of upgrading for convenience in mind, turn to this handy guide to find out if you should consider a single serve machine, a commercial grade machine, or something in the middle.

  1. What Kind of Coffee Do You Drink?

Each home machine has different functions that can produce specialized coffee drinks as well as parts like milk steamers and even built in grinders that give you functions you may or may not need for the type of coffee that you drink. Consider carefully how you like your coffee on regular basis before you decide on the functions you’ll need your machine to perform. If you generally only brew regular coffee at home, you probably won’t need a machine that has steamer wands or can pull an espresso shot. On the other hand, if you’re hitting the local café every day and spending precious dollars on the lattes you’ve grown to love, it might be time to purchase a machine that will deliver this drink in your kitchen with the same (or better) quality for a much better price.

  1. How Much Coffee Do You Brew At Home?

Of course, we’d all love to save money and brew every cup of coffee, latte, and cappuccino at home but in many cases that’s just not possible because we’re not at home to brew it whether we have a capable home machine or not. If you’re not at home often and you’re brewing a quick cup to take on the run, a single serve coffee machine is probably for you and you may also benefit from one of the many kinds of pod machines that are out there. This could be your first single serve machine and even if it’s not, it’s a good idea to research the kinds of single serve machines that are available before you choose one. Just like commercial grade machines, there are all different kinds that each have different functions and you’ll want to be sure that the one you choose not only fits well in your kitchen but also makes things as convenient as possible for your busy day.

  1. Entertaining and Home Office Use

Having parties often means impressing your guests as the host or hostess of the event and that includes the coffee served at the end of a meal. Your home machine can help you shine by brewing coffee drinks that everyone loves. Entertaining large groups several times a month could warrant purchasing a commercial machine but before you make this decision, first consider if you have the space for the machine and the time to learn how to use it because the functions on a commercial machine will operate much differently than the average home machine. If you’re entertaining smaller groups or you have people coming in for meetings at your home office, a fully automatic machine will be a better choice. People will be able to choose how they want their drink made individually and you won’t have to spend too much extra time preparing each one specially.

  1. Commercial Office Use

For a lot of adults, the office is a place they spend almost as much time as at home during the wake, sometimes more. Coffee makes everyone smile, increases productivity, and gives people reason and motivation to socialize and work as a team. At the office, the coffee machine is likely to get a lot of use and you can’t always be sure that the people that use it are maintaining it correctly. A commercial grade machine is a good purchase for this situation but it is also a good idea to have a designated person assigned to handle the coffee or higher a barista who’s sole responsibility is the coffee machine. These machines require a little more knowledge to operate and someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing could break the machine or incur injury to themselves. Another option is to install a couple of fully automatic machines. More than one machine will share the heavy use and these models require less maintenance and knowledge to keep up.

  1. Creating a Home Café

You can be really original and put an entire café in your home with the commercial machines that have more than one steamer wand and can handle the heavy use of you and all your friends. Decorate your home café in your own individual way and let your coffee style shine! For the extreme coffee enthusiast, this option merges the passions of coffee and all the culture that goes along with it.

Ask Questions

No matter which home machine you decide to purchase, be sure to ask questions about the way it works and how it should be maintained. Upgrading to a gourmet machine or a high-end commercial model is a big step and requires some education before you’ll be able to operate it at the level you need it to work. Also, the maintenance on a commercial machine is different than what you’d do for a standard home machine. There are more complicated parts and you have to know how they work. If you’re unsure about how any part of your new machine might function, ask the customer service representatives for help. You’ll be happy when your machine lasts for decades and you can enjoy the best gourmet brews right in your own kitchen.

Enjoy a New Kind of Latte with Your Home Machine

The Australian and New Zealand café enthusiasts have been enjoying a drink called “Flat White” since the 70s and 80s that has been making its rounds in the US for a little over a year now. Many big chains and cafes are featuring this type of beverage and it is fast becoming a favorite among latte and cappuccino lovers all over. Learn how you can make the Flat White with your own home machine and turn your kitchen into the new hip spot with your friends!

  1. Learn Your Machine

Whichever kind of home machine you have, the first thing you should do before attempting to make any kind of new beverage is to learn about how every part of works. There could be milk steamers on your machines, grinders, a hot water spout, a special way to pack the grounds, and other parts that you’re not entirely familiar. Look to your user manual (or ask others who own a similar machine to help) to master these functions and become a barista to rival those at the cafes you use to frequent.

  1. What is a Flat White?

When you think about a latte or cappuccino, you think about espresso with layers of milk and/or steamed milk on top. Sometimes there’s a garnish or flavor to the foam or the coffee and sometimes it’s pure espresso and milk. Either way, the espresso is meant to travel through the milk when you tip it to your mouth to give you a combination of beautiful coffee bliss. The Flat White brings you this combination before it ever hits your lips. The milk and cream is poured into a double shot of espresso, mixing the two together similar to the way you stir cream and sugar into regular coffee. The result is a velvety blend that is incredibly smooth and tasty.

  1. Cappuccino or Latte?

There is a lot of debate among coffee enthusiasts about whether the Flat White is a cappuccino or a latte. Australians and New Zealanders who come to the US looking for their beloved drink are sometimes disappointed when the barista hands them something resembling a strange cappuccino or latte. The consensus is that the Flat White is neither. The beverage is a sort of marriage between the beauty that comes with the light foam on top of a cappuccino and the rich flavors and textures of a latte. Making a Flat White with your own home machine means that you’ll always get the right beverage and not something a barista believes to be “the same thing.”

  1. What’s So Special About It?

Aside from the flavor and texture, many lovers of the Flat White attest to the extra boost that comes from using milk steamers to get the best milk steamed and foamed in the best way possible. Perhaps this energy can be attributed to the feeling a person gets when tasting this beverage or maybe its especially steamed milk and preparation really do have some sort of extra power over the drinker. The only way to know for sure is to try it yourself!

  1. Constructing Your Own Flat White

A Flat White is actually easier to construct with your home machine than the traditional latte or cappuccino. You’ll have to employ the steamer wands very carefully because that is the key to making a perfect Flat White. Pull your double shot of espresso and set it aside. Then comes the part where you steam the milk. You’ll want to add enough air to the milk to get a smooth and velvety texture but you don’t want it to become a stiff foam. After your milk is steamed, pour it into the espresso and watch it swirl together. This is another key part of the Flat White. You’ll be pouring the steamed milk into the espresso freely instead of spooning it carefully onto the top as you would with a different type of drink. The end result looks a lot like something with which you might be more familiar because the steamed milk creates a swirl on the top that resembles the foam designs of a latte or cappuccino. When you taste it, however, you’ll notice the difference.

  1. All About Milk

Constructing a Flat White that truly lives up to the hype really does depend on the milk you use and how you steam it. The best way to get steamed milk that acts the way you need it to is to start out with very cold milk. Even if you measure it out before you use it, keep the milk in the fridge until just before you use it. You’ll have to pull your espresso shots and prep your machine before the milk comes into play and that leaves time for it to warm and those few degrees can make all the difference after you put the milk under the steamer wand. The same goes for other types of milk like soy, almond, or coconut.

Can Your Machine Handle It?

You might have an excellent espresso machine or a cappuccino machine you love but if you decide that the Flat White is your new hot beverage of choice, you need to know that your machine can handle making it as much as you want to drink it. A good choice is to go gourmet, to make sure that your machine can not only handle your needs but it will also deliver espresso for your drink that is delicious, flavorful, and aromatic. You’ll need your machine to have a steamer wand and the ability to pull a double shot. You can always pull two single shots but this will add wear and tear to your machine that isn’t necessary. View the functions of the machine you’re considering before you buy one and if you need to, ask questions. With the right machine, you’ll be able to enjoy your new favorite beverage every day!

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