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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.


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!

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.

The Environmental Impact of Pod Machines and How You Can Reduce the Damage

Coffee Recycling

You may have heard about ways you can use coffee in your compost pile or recycle it in other ways, but with pod machines this is a lot more difficult. K-cups and other single serve coffee pods are an increasingly popular type of home machine, as they allow the user to brew one single cup at a time. The convenience of these machines comes at a price, though, because all those used coffee pods are thrown in the trash to add to the amount of waste incurred by each person. You may not realize that you can recycle used coffee pods and the grounds inside them. A few simple steps can reduce the damaging environmental impact and still grant you the convenience offered by brewing one cup at a time.

  1. What Are Pod Machines?

If you aren’t already aware, a pod machine is a type of coffee maker that uses a tank of readily heated water to brew coffee one cup at a time. The tank holds the water and the user places a “pod” with just enough coffee for a single serving into a special reservoir, then closes the lid. The lid pierces the pod with a small needle and the hot water is sucked up through a mechanism and pushed through the grounds in the pod. The machine sits with the water ready to use at any time so all you have to do to brew your coffee is put a pod in the reservoir and press a button. This is especially convenient in a home where several people like different kinds of coffee. One person can have their bold blend and the next can have a light decaf without having to brew an entire pot of each.

  1. The Ugly Side of Coffee Pods

Many will argue that the convenience of single serve coffee pods is not worth the damage they have on our environment. The different kinds of pods are made of paper and plastic but instead of recycling the grounds and the pods, most people throw them out. With millions of people brewing more than one cup of coffee using their pod machines every day, that’s a lot of recyclable material being thrown in the trash. There’s a way to fix this! A few extra steps keeps the convenience of your favorite home machine alive without putting extra guilt on your conscience.

  1. Recycle Your Coffee Pods

You can recycle the used coffee grounds in the coffee pods you use in many of the same ways you’d recycle coffee grounds that come out of a regular filter. Instead of throwing out the coffee pods when you’re finished with them, you can open them up and remove the grounds. Recycle the empty pod in the proper receptacle and then use the grounds as you see fit. You can use them in compost piles, to enrich soil, and in several other ways. You don’t have to sacrifice your single serve convenience or your love for the environment. With these extra simple steps, you can have the best of both worlds.

  1. Encourage Others

Once you’ve implemented coffee pod recycling in your own home, you can encourage others to do the same in order to further diminish the damaging impact that pods can have on the environment. If your office uses pod machines, talk to your supervisor or higher ups to find out about making recycling a priority when it comes to coffee waste. If there is a community gardening or compost program, the used grounds can be brought there on a daily basis. If everyone pitches in and does their part, implementing these recycling measures will be easy and before you know it, opening up used pods to empty them for recycling will become second nature.

  1. Alternatives

Many coffee connoisseurs are adverse to pod machines because they believe that the water goes through the grounds too quickly and valuable flavors are lost in the process. In addition to environmental impact, these people are of the opinion that the bad outweighs the good when it comes to these machines. If you’ve decided to share this opinion, there are alternatives to pod machines that still offer convenience. You can find a cappuccino machine or espresso machine in the fully automatic variety that will deliver gourmet beverages to the most enthusiastic of coffee lovers.

  1. Considerations

Environmental impact and convenience aren’t the only considerations to be thought about when purchasing a home machine. Cleaning and maintenance offer their own issues in both of these areas. For most pod machines, you only need to refill the water tank, wipe the outside of the machine, and put clear hot water or another solution through the machine once in awhile to clean the system out. However, if you don’t use the machine often enough, you’ll be wasting water because you have to throw out what sits in the tank too long and if you use the machine too much, you’ll be flushing the system to clean it often enough to waste a lot of water as well. A fully automatic cappuccino or espresso machine may need more maintenance than a pod machine because it has more complicated parts and often uses more ingredients. Take these things into consideration when you’re making a purchase and you’ll find the perfect machine for you!

Social Media Awareness

Knowing the environmental impact of pod machines and combating the damage on your own is wonderful, but there is a power in social media that allows you to spread the word quickly and to many different kinds of people. Be positive in your posts and share your own experiences with recycling your coffee pods to show how easy it can be for others to do at home. With a little effort and a lot of love for coffee and the environment, you can make a big difference.

Do I Really Need An Espresso Machine?

Give it a Shot

When you think of “shots” it’s likely that you’re not imagining tiny cups of dark roast, concentrated coffee unless you’re around some big espresso enthusiasts. Now, mention to them that these shots will be coming from your stove top or other machine instead of an espresso machine and you’ll incite a debate with which you’ll never be able to keep up! You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just coffee.” As you think this thought, millions of baristas around the world know and have made a collective gasp. Before you try the alternatives, go to your local coffee shop and order a straight shot of espresso. Sample a few varieties of the good stuff made with a professional machine by someone who knows how to use it. This will be your baseline for seeing what the alternatives taste like and if they’ll work for you.

  1. What is Espresso?

For those of you who are still wondering what the big deal is about espresso, it may be that you don’t know exactly what is espresso. The classification is not in the type of coffee that is being brewed but in the method. The parts on an espresso machine make it a lot easier for this method to be executed and deliver you a gourmet shot of espresso the way you’re expecting it to turn out. Each piece is responsible for a different function. The portafilter holds tightly packed grounds and is attached to the machine in such a way to hold it in place while water of a specific temperature is pressurized and pushed through the grounds. Duplicating this process is difficult without a machine but there are methods that have been attempted.

  1. Look for the Crema

Any well brewed, high quality coffee will have a thin layer of “crema” on the top, which is a fine foam that looks a little like many bubbles. When brewed with an espresso machine, the coffee’s crema layer will be thicker than when brewed with a regular machine or through other methods. This is the mark of good espresso! If you try any of the alternative methods of brewing, look for the crema on top of the espresso once it’s brewed. This will tell you that you have a high quality shot.

  1. Steamers and Milk

You can purchase a machine that has only milk steamers on it or a cappuccino machine with attached steamers. The wands on the steamers emit hot, pressurized air that steams milk into foam. There are some alternative methods of brewing espresso that suggest you can use steamer wands to brew espresso similar to the way an espresso machine would do it but these methods appear to be very dangerous. Do some research on your own if you’d like to try it but it is not recommended for safe espresso brewing.

  1. Coffee Strength

Any espresso machine users will tell you that you need premium and strong coffee beans in order to get the best product. While this may be true, there are others that suggest brewing strong coffee with alternative methods including pressurized steam without a machine can yield the same results. You can try making your lattes or other espresso drinks with a super bold blend of coffee beans but the fact is that probably won’t be the same. Strong coffee is not a substitute for espresso.

  1. Other Machines

After you’ve tried the alternatives, you may come to the conclusion that there is no substitute for the espresso machine. However, you should also consider how often you want to brew espresso and if it’s necessary to have a machine at home at all. There are fully automatic varieties, cappuccino machines, pod machines, and others that may all suit your home brewing needs better than something you’re not sure how to use. Look through all of your options. Talk to people that own the different machines and find out what will be required of you to operate, clean, and maintain the machine. You may find that you love espresso so much that you have to have a way to brew it at home whenever you want it but you should also take into account that you’ll have to learn to operate the machine expertly before you can get the beverage you desire.

  1. Researching Your Options

There’s a lot of information out there that makes learning about all your options overwhelming. Limit your search to the types of machines that will get you the beverages you want and research those. Ask yourself “Will I be able to use these features properly?” If you don’t think you can, then move on to the next options and ask yourself the same question. If you try to research all of the different kinds of espresso machines, cappuccino machines, pod machines, and others all at once, you’ll get overwhelmed fast and you might end up purchasing something that is not at all satisfactory or that you can’t learn to use.

The Verdict

The original question we were asking is “Do I really need an espresso machine?” If you’re looking to make quality espresso at home or lattes and other beverages that require espresso then yes, you do need a machine. The alternative methods may work to produce a beverage of lesser quality but many of them are unsafe and while an espresso machine may be costly, it will allow you to brew the drinks you want safely and with a lot less hassle and cleanup. The choice is yours in the end, because other machines can still give you a premium coffee beverage but to get that really good shot of espresso, the kind you’ll find in a coffee shop that will satisfy your taste buds and deliver the jolt you’re looking for, an espresso machine is the way to go.

Add a Premium Espresso Machine to the Beverage Station at Your Non-Profit Organization

Help Yourself

Those of you who work in non-profit organizations helping others and creating a better world often do so with little to no gratitude coming your way and yet you continue to do your work. Happy people are better at making others happy and what better way to make yourself and those that work with you happy than by adding a premium espresso machine to the beverage station at your offices? Give everyone the energy and positive mood to do the good they came to do.

  1. It All Starts At Home

Getting an espresso machine added to the beverage station at your non-profit’s offices could take awhile and even be logistically difficult. Start with your home machine and upgrade to something that delivers a gourmet beverage. A good cup of coffee in the morning can elevate your mood and make difficult situations easier to deal with throughout the day and gourmet coffee has the taste and aesthetics to give you the extra boost you need. You probably have a coffee machine in your home now and it’s likely that you also stop at the local café to get a premium beverage during the day. When you use a home machine, you can skip that step and start out with the best.

  1. Share Your Love of Coffee

A premium home machine is able to handle more than the standard coffee maker. With the right machine, you can brew enough to bring a treat to share with everyone on those mornings when you know it will be a long day. The happy surprise will give everyone around you the elevated mood to handle tough problems with a positive attitude and keep things running smoothly. Let everyone have the drive and motivation to start the day right and power through with beautiful coffee.

  1. Become Your Own Barista

Using an espresso machine is not something that everyone simply knows how to do and it’s not the same as using a standard coffee maker. The idea of using the steamers on the machine to foam milk is an education in itself. You can learn these things easily, though, and with a little practice you’ll be your own barista and able to make gourmet beverages even better than they do at the café. You can be the beneficiary of these skills on your own or choose to share what you learn via social media or by making drinks for the people you know.

  1. Sustainable Coffee

One of the reasons that many non-profit offices choose to opt out of a premium espresso machine or other gourmet treats is because they cause more trash that needs to be cleaned and handled. Coffee can be extremely recyclable if the right practices are employed and you can use washable mugs or have everyone bring their own cups that they wash for use with the machine. Show your organization how you can use coffee in sustainable and economical ways and they’ll be more inclined to believe that a new machine is beneficial to everyone.

  1. Commercial Machines

Depending on how many people your espresso machine will service, the option to install a commercial machine might be a good idea. They’re more expensive, but in the long run you won’t be paying for a new machine a short time after you purchase one since the commercial machine will be able to handle all the use it will undergo. In a non-profit office, things can get hectic fast so a lot of people could be using this machine all day. The last thing you need is for it to stop working due to sheer exhaustion.

  1. Outside Help

Installing a premium espresso machine at your non-profit offices may only be the first step. These machines need cleaning, maintenance, and to be operated properly in order to get good use out of them. In many cases, getting outside help to keep the machine operating well is necessary. This is also a good option if you want to offer premium beverages to people that come into the offices for help or to partners and colleagues that come in for meetings. You’ll have someone else there to make the beverages so you don’t have to waste time doing it yourself.

  1. Other Options

If you’d like to spruce up the beverage station at your non-profit offices and give the people you work with the perk they deserve, there are other options besides a premium espresso machine that may be less expensive and take up less space. Depending on the funds available, you can also consider pod machines or a fully automatic cappuccino machine. These options are also a bit more user friendly so the people in the office can use them more easily without having to worry about hiring outside help. You’ll also still be able to offer premium beverages to colleagues and clients when they come into your offices.

Donate Gourmet Beverages

If you know of a non-profit organization that can benefit from a premium espresso machine, you can find ways to donate the machine! Many of these organizations are operating on very limited funds so anything gourmet is out of the question unless they’re using their own money to make it happen. Your community can find a way to pool money together to purchase a gourmet machine to your favorite organization and give the people that work there something that makes them feel appreciated and lets them do more without spending more. This holiday season, when you’re deciding on gifts for friends and family, consider including your local non-profit in your list and see if others are willing to donate a little bit to give them the gift of beautiful coffee. You’d be surprised what a little treat can do for them all year round!

The Many Benefits of Adding a Cappuccino to the Teacher’s Lounge

If you’re a parent, you know all about the energy it takes to care for children on a daily basis. Now imagine you multiplied the amount of children you were looking after by about fifteen. In most cases, this is what teachers are dealing with all the time and many of them do not have the benefit of a good cup of coffee in the teacher’s lounge. If there is free coffee, it’s often from a regular coffee pot that the teachers have to provide grounds for themselves. Adding a cappuccino machine to the teacher’s lounge could give the teachers that work there more motivation and energy to stay positive and focused as they teach throughout the day.

  1. A Redesign Opportunity

The consideration to add a cappuccino machine to the teacher’s lounge could also be an opportunity to redesign things in order to fit in the new appliance. Check the kitchen area for space and make sure there’s enough room to safely connect to a power source, clean the parts, and put together cappuccino drinks with extras. Take some time to brighten up the room in other ways. You can add a coat of paint in a cheery color, put up some wall art, or otherwise brighten up the area. Your teachers will be amazed by the changes and feel appreciated by the effort.

  1. Fueling Education

Aside from a little extra pep in their step, a good cup of coffee can be the fuel your teachers need to do better no matter what time of day it is. Teachers have the woeful job of getting kids to start learning as soon as they walk in the room at the early morning hours when school starts. Kids shouldn’t have a peak learning time just before or after lunch or at any other time of the day. They should be able to get motivated every minute that they’re in class. A cappuccino machine in the teacher’s lounge can be exactly the thing your teachers need to fuel education and keep their own energy up as they’re showing their kids to do the same.

  1. Time Constraints

Of course, not every teacher may be able to make it to the teacher’s lounge whenever they’re starting to feel a little tired during the day. Everyone’s thresh hold for caffeine is different and that’s why pod machines in the classroom for teachers could also be beneficial. If some teachers have particularly busy class schedules or like to do extra work when they’re kids are not around between classes, they could be allowed to bring a pod machine to their classroom for on demand coffee that they never have to leave the room to enjoy.

  1. Higher Education

College professors often have the benefit of high-end coffee shops or access to coffee carts on campus but they still have to pay for their premium beverage. A cappuccino machine in the lounge or pod machines in their offices or classrooms could be an excellent way to show appreciation and keep them teaching at the level to which all of their students are accustomed. Give them premium fuel for motivation and every lecture could be one that each student is hanging on the edge of their seats to hear.

  1. Solving The Student Dilemma

Many schools have done away with offering coffee for teachers in the cafeteria or premium coffee beverages at the school bookstore for fear that students will also have access to caffeine they shouldn’t be drinking. When you put the cappuccino machine in the teacher’s lounge instead of somewhere more accessible to students, you’re solving this dilemma and still giving teachers the coffee they want without making them have to leave the building on their lunch breaks.

  1. Environmental Effects

If teachers need to go to a café to get a latte or cappuccino, it’s a very likely chance they’ll be bringing that drink back in a paper cup that will later be thrown away. Reduce the waste in your school when you provide a cappuccino machine in the teacher’s lounge that teachers can use with ceramic mugs instead. The mugs can be washed at the sink and reused so there is less going into the trash without sacrificing their coffee breaks.

  1. Encouraging Teamwork

In order to keep the teacher’s lounge cappuccino machine up and running properly, the teachers that use it will have to work together to make sure that it’s cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Encourage a schedule that switches the job off in a cycle so that everyone has to share the job of cleaning up and maintaining the machine. A regular coffee machine may not be that encouraging to clean since they’re cheap and easily acquired if they go into disrepair. A high-end cappuccino machine is much more difficult to replace and they’ll be happy to work together to make sure that occurrence never happens.

Give the Gift of Beautiful Coffee

After you’ve reviewed the benefits and made the decision to add a cappuccino machine to your teacher’s lounge, you’ll have to start researching the different models and price them out. Don’t go with a cheap machine that is sure to break. Instead, give your teachers a gift they’ll truly appreciate. If you know that parents or other school supporters are planning to get a gift for the teachers at a holiday time or end of the year, consider asking them to pool their money for a new machine that the entire staff will enjoy. The cost does not have to be daunting and the benefits will far outweigh what you spend. When teachers are motivated, students will learn better and their parents will be much happier. This is a gift that will benefit more than just the staff, so make sure that it’s one that will last.

Find the Perfect Travel Containers to Go With Your Home Machine

The day begins and you’re already late but you know that you can’t get moving at work without your favorite brew from the home machine in your kitchen. Your choices are to make a cup of coffee and drink it way too fast, buy a latte at a café later on and hope it will suffice, or do without. None of these options are ideal but you can bypass them all with a good travel mug. Finding one that goes well with your machine so you can brew it right there instead of transferring from a regular mug is not always easy but this short guide will give you a few insights as to how to choose a travel mug that works for you.

  1. What Kind of Machine Do You Have?

This matters because some machines simply won’t allow for brewing directly into a travel mug and you really have no choice but to transfer at some point or another. For instance, an espresso machine leaves no room for anything but the smaller mugs that shots are pulled into and some fully automatic machines have no way to adjust the floor by removing the drainage tray. Pod machines allow for this and are usually ideal for brewing directly into a travel mug and the same goes for a cappuccino machine. Check the parts and see if there is any way you can adjust the machine’s floor so that a travel mug will fit. There are some travel mugs made specifically for desk use that are shorter and will easily fit into a machine. Before you choose your mug, see how much room you have.

  1. Transferring Your Coffee

If you have to transfer your brew, do it in a way that doesn’t make a mess and that allows you to keep the drink you make constructed properly. This means that you add steamed milk directly to a latte or cappuccino in the travel mug and transfer only the base after it is made. You’ll be making this part in a separate cup either way. Add any toppings after transfer and make sure you leave room in the travel mug for the lid to go on with the proper seal. Employ the use of a funnel or strainer cup to pour transfers quickly and with less risk of spills.

  1. Where Are You Going?

Wherever you take your travel mug, it will have to hold up in tough situations. Your home machine sits on the counter, safe in your kitchen, but the products it makes can go anywhere if you have the right mug. Read reviews about the mug you’re planning to buy to see if there are any people that used it in the way you plan to use it. This will help you determine if it will work for you. Commuters may want to make sure that their mug will fit in the cup holder in their car and that the mug can be used with one hand. People who take their mug along with them on a hike or while walking around in a city will want to be sure that the seal is airtight. Eco friendly space savers may want to try a collapsible travel mug and parents with kids will need something that is durable enough to be knocked on the floor without a scratch. Everyone has different needs and the travel mugs you use need to suit yours.

  1. Care for Your Mug On The Go

Just like your home machine needs care and maintenance, your travel mugs also need to be cleaned and cared for even if you’re not at home. Usually this can be accomplished by a bit of rinsing after you’re done with your drink. You don’t have to clean everything spotless, you can do that when you get home, but you do have to rinse out as much of the residue as possible. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with sticky old milk, coffee, and flavoring or sugar coating your travel mug. What’s worse is it will start to smell bad. If you don’t have access to a sink when you’ve finished the drink in your mug, you can simply use water from a bottle to rinse it. Bring some water with you and in a pinch, you can find a bottle of water that’s much cheaper than a latte at any kind of convenience store, market, or gas station.

  1. Reuse Your Mug

Even if there is no cappuccino machine or espresso machine at your office, it’s likely there’s a coffee machine of some kind. You can reuse your travel mug at the office even though you’re no longer traveling. If this is something you’d like to do, you might want to look into an insulated mug that keeps the coffee hot as it sits on your desk or a shorter desk model that doesn’t fall over as easily as others. The other advantage you have is that your travel mug should have a seal and a lid so if your mug does happen to fall over on your desk, you probably won’t be worrying about having to clean up so much coffee and replace your keyboard.

Don’t Neglect Your Home Machine

Before you begin using your home machine for coffee on the go every day, make sure it’s in good working order. If its been neglected, it might need some cleaning and maintenance before it can be used on a daily basis. Check your owner’s manual and check over every part of your machine. You may want to consider upgrading if your machine doesn’t appear to be up to the task. You’re better off spending a little extra a good machine that works for many years than waking up one morning to one that doesn’t work at all. A little bit goes a long way and with the right travel mug, you can enjoy a gourmet experience wherever the day takes you.

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.

A Writer’s Home Machine is a Tool to Get Ideas Flowing

If you are a writer or know a writer, you might be privy to the quirky and sometimes eccentrics habits that form when writers sit down to put pen to paper, or fingers to keys. One of the most common rituals among writers is the preparation and consumption of many cups (often massive amounts) of coffee. For this reason, a home machine can be a writer’s best tool, and best friend. Now, you don’t have to be a big connoisseur or make several pots of coffee a day in order to be a good writer but a cup with breakfast and during that afternoon slump can be just the boost you need to get the ideas flowing in your mind and stay focused while you work.

  1. The Life of a Writer

Many writers spend hours at a desk (or on a couch, at the kitchen table, sitting on the patio or at the park) with their work. They stare at pages and screens with time falling into the distance as a measure they no longer recognize. When they decide they want more coffee, going to the café or anyplace else that sells their magic potion of choice is a bother but walking to the kitchen is an easy compromise. A home machine gives the writer the coffee they want, however they want to make it, and the energy to keep going even when they’ve been at it for hours…or days.

  1. Caffination

Caffination is not actually a word, but it’s one of the many creative things a writer can do when spurred on by coffee. There are many great writers that can be attributed to precise coffee preparation and habits that most people today would find outrageous. Other artists have used these methods in the past as well, for centuries and still in present time. Your methods of using your home machine and getting the caffeine that sparks your brain into full gear will be your own. Experiment with different ways to make coffee, additions to your brew, beans from faraway places of all kinds of roasts. Don’t be afraid to branch out to find your coffee bliss.

  1. Organizing Your Writing Space

Your writing space could be a home office, a spot at your kitchen table, the coffee table in your living room, or a TV tray with a folding chair in the laundry room. No matter where you decide to write, it’s likely you’ll want to keep your home machine close by so the coffee is always near. Think about your space and how large of an area you have to devote to coffee in the first place. If there’s not enough room in your writing space to keep a coffee maker, you can always put it in the kitchen and force yourself to get up and take a walk whenever you need a jolt.

  1. The Machine You Choose

The type of home machine you choose to make your coffee while you’re writing is imperative. Think about the type of coffee you want and what you need your machine to do. You may prefer a fully automatic model that can make the drinks you want at the touch of a button or you might enjoy the process and ritual of making coffee so you prefer a more complicated machine. If you don’t already have a specific habit when it comes to making coffee, the machine you choose could be your chance to form one. The ritual, for some, is just as important as the consumption.

  1. Your Coffee Style

Your home machine isn’t only about the functions it performs but also about how it looks in space you put it. Your roll top desk, typewriter, and sepia colored parchment probably won’t be complimented by a sleek and shiny machine and your computer and high tech printers won’t look great next to a copper antique look. If you plan to keep your machine in your writing space, consider how it looks next to what you already have there. A traditional machine could complement your typewriter and antique feel with all the carefully thought out pieces you’ve curated for a specific look. There are many different kinds of machines and you’ll be sure to find one that complements your style.

  1. Overthinking Coffee

As with many things a writer does, it can be easy to overthink each of these factors and work yourself into a frenzy about your home machine. Don’t let all of the choices available get you confused. Take a deep breath, think about what you love, and find a machine that makes you happy. Study the features, call customer service and ask questions, and learn about the machine you like to be sure it’s what you really want. There are experts that can help you choose and it doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. Coffee is important to a lot of writers but it’s not everything. The caffeine sparks your brain into motion but you are the one that comes up with the ides, not the coffee.

Maintaining the Extra Use

Once you install your home machine, take some time to get to know it and learn about how to use it exactly right. This knowledge will help you keep your machine going longer and give you that precious coffee you love so much. Make sure you can start your day off the way you want to by maintaining your machine properly. Each type of machine has its own set of instructions for cleaning and maintenance. These instructions are likely included with the machine but if you have any questions, it’s important that you ask the manufacturer and find the right answers. The proper cleaning and maintenance will keep your machine a reliable piece of equipment that you can utilize in your writing process as much as you want.

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