February 28, 2010
OK - most people don't need a tamp, but if you want one, a cheap one can often handle the occasional run. It makes complete sense to get a quick tamp on most machines to set the espresso cake to so rivers of hot water don't find their way around the grounds instead of through them.
To be clear, when professional portafilters get a tamp, it's because they need to create the right cake density in order to build back pressure for proper extraction. Most consumer machines get backpressure from the pin holes in the consumer portafilter. Here the portafilter does the work, whereas the professional portafilter, the espresso cake does the work.
Either way, a quick tamp can help most consumers too, and here's a cheap one at less than $10.
At Amazon - Espresso Tamp">Espresso Tamp
March 5, 2009
Saw this on Etsy and thought I would pass it along - a "Green" sleeve that can cut down on those paperboard sleeves that you may be using at the coffee shop. Made from burlap and a green oriented felt, these sleeves are cheap - $2 + shipping. They come in a number of colors, and are handmade by an artist here in the US.
at Etsy - Greensleeve Reusable Cup Sleeve
February 3, 2009
From the Greener Gadgets Design Contest, this one surfaces; printer that uses your own spent grounds as an ink source. Drop the grounds in, insert paper, and move the lever back and forth over the paper to make the image/text.
Innovative, but not sure what to think - Should I use French roast or Full City Roast today in the printer cartridge?
Update: Voted Coolest Gadget of the Week - over at Coolest Gadgets
November 7, 2008
Latte Art is one of those signs of an experienced and practiced barista who takes a little pride in their work. It's always fun to see when grabbing your latte at your favorite shop. A lot of people also work at home to get a great latte art habit going, and it can help to have the right equipment. I saw this, and thought I would pass it along. The specially shaped pour spout can help get a good pour and produce a better design.
At Amazon - Rattleware 20-Ounce Latte Art Pitcher
April 8, 2008
Espresso cups are always a matter of taste - classic, or new age, colorful or refined and assured. I saw these and thought I would pass them along; they are white porcelain with "a softly rounded square shape in a geometric take on the coffee-bar classic." 2"sq.x3"H cup, 4" sq. saucer.
All that and only $3.95 each - at Crate and Barrel
March 3, 2008
I saw these and had to pass them along. Loyal readers know that I love my Bodum Pavina Espresso glasses not just for the cool look, but for the double walled thermo-insulated glass that keeps the espresso hot and your fingers cool. These Luigi Bormioli coffee latte glasses are similar in that they are going to keep the coffee/latte hot and still give you a glimpse of that great looking coffee you just created. The suspension in space of your latte is just a fantastic look. It's like an insider's view on making a latte in the right proportions.
Dishwasher safe, set of four.
Luigi Bormioli Duo Coffee/Latte glasses at Amazon
November 20, 2007
Breville makes some impressive looking appliances, and the Breville Ikon Conical Grinder is no different. Conical burr grinders are different from those cheap-o blade grinders that can deliver inconsistent results. I have been using a rather inexpensive burr grinder for a long time on my drip coffee set up because I like the convenience and the quality that a burr grider delivers. Turn the dial, let it rip and then pull out the hopper when it's done to make coffee. No measuring, no timing, etc. With the 1/2 pound whole bean hopper this should last you a while if you are making espresso or rip coffee.
The Breville Ikon Burr Grinder has grind settings to create ultra fine to coarse coffee. Measures 5-1/4 by 7 by 11-1/4 inches, and is made of stainless and "polymer"; er, um plastic in the base.
Available at Breville BCG450XL Ikon Conical Burr Grinder
October 3, 2007
Been throwing away all of those extra cup jackets along with the cups? Well, a few million of those hit landfills every day, so why not try out something that adds a bit of fashion to the coffee shop experience while saving trees?
These Cup Sleeves are reusable, washable, and fit most 12, 16 & 20 ounce cups. They fold flat to stow away in your purse, briefcase or backpack, and they only cost about $12.
Coffee Couture Cup Sleeves at Amazon
August 31, 2007
When serving espresso to guests I always like to serve things up with a cup and saucer, and a small espresso spoon to match the size of the espresso demitasse cup. I happen to have some inexpensive ones that I picked up on a trip a long time ago, and they work pretty well. They allow you to add a little bit of sugar and stir. Definitely caps off the experience for your guests.
Henckels Cottage Stainless-Steel Espresso Spoon – set of 8 at Amazon
July 11, 2007
This little wonder is great to take on the road to vacation or anywhere away from home; a battery operated frother. In just a few seconds the thing can whip milk into a decent froth to top off your espresso to make a cappuccino style drink when you can't steam the milk for a proper one. It works on 2 "AA" batteries, and has a stainless steel shaft that makes cleanup easy. It's lightweight, is about 9 inches long and comes with its own cover/travel container.
Aerolatte To Go at Amazon
June 15, 2007
Recently I put up a simple recipe for Americanos and I have been enjoying them quite a bit. I have noticed that while I like a bit of robusta in my espresso, I don't like to use robusta based espresso in my Americanos. I have been really enjoying the Compagnia dell'Arabica Colombia ESE Pods for their sharp, clean full bodied taste. The lingering robusta flavor that I like in my hot espresso, just tastes not to good and dirty when cold.
I have also ordered up some of these for enjoying more cold coffee and cold espresso drinks this summer. I LOVE my smaller Bodum Pavina glasses for espresso, and am looking forward to the cool enjoyment of these larger ones all summer long.
Bodum Pavnia 12 ounce Glasses at Amazon
March 7, 2007
So a lot of people have been writing in asking about what’s a good way to froth milk when you don’t have a steam wand or use a Bialetti style espresso pot. I got one of these frothers a while ago and it really is pretty easy to use, and a cinch to clean up.
Add a few ounces of milk, microwave for 30-60 seconds, and pump about 5-10 times to make a pretty fluffy frothed milk. It’s not a fine steamed milk character that you get with a steam wand, but it will certainly top a cappuccino in style; for not very much money.
January 12, 2007
A lot of people have been writing in about how to froth and steam milk for their cappuccinos and lattes. A couple of essential tools that can really help you get going are a frothing pitcher and a thermometer. You want to get the milk to the right temperature maximizing its ability to hold air, without cooking the milk and ruining it. Typically there is a nice range of 140F to about 160F between which the milk will be hot enough to keep your drink at a nice temperature overall, while also giving you that aeration that you want. I like the upper end of this range in the low 150's for a good sweetspot.
Steaming milk requires that you get the milk into a nice pitcher that will allow you to get your steaming wand well into the milk. Turn on your steam nozzle and keep the tip submerged below the milk's surface. The milk will develop a nice finely aerated feel and look as it heats and grows in the pitcher. Use a dial thermometer to help you determine when to stop.
If your machine comes with an attachment that has an air tube that stick up and sucks air in while it steams, you are going to get frothy milk to make a cappuccino using the same technique mentioned above. If this is what you want, then you are good to go. If not, check the manual to see if the tip can be removed to get a bare metal spout that will give you less aeration and more of a latte type steamed milk.
Remember always wipe up and clean off the steam spout soon after use before the milk dries on in a perma-crud crust that is hard to get off. A wet towel can do this right after you are done steaming.
December 20, 2006
So, if you can't afford to get that $1,000 superauto that brews and froths milk for you, here's the shortcut if you hate frothing milk. The Capresso FrothXpress Automatic Milk Frother
is the shortcut to frothed milk in short order. The unit heats up in a couple of minutes, and after you hook up the milk container, the unit is ready to froth. The unit will produce up to 30 ounces of frothed milk. Clean up is fairly easy as you can run some steam through after shutting off the milk to steam clean the parts before popping the milk pitcher back in the 'frige.