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Is Coffee Healthy or not?

Is Coffee Healthy or not? (75)

Cooking With Fresh Herbs

by: Mary Hanna
Herbs are fun and easy to grow. When harvested they make even the simplest meal seem like a gourmet delight. By using herbs in your cooking you can easily change the flavors of your recipes in many different ways, according to which herbs you add. Fresh herbs are great in breads, stews, soups or vegetables. Every time you add a different herb you have completely changed the taste. 

If you are a beginner start slowly, add just a little at a time adjusting as you go along until you have it just right. You will see in most instances that an individual herb is associated with a particular food item. Basil is paired with tomatoes, Oregano with sauces, Rosemary with lamb and Chives with butter or cream cheese. Of course, none of them are limited to these items, but you will see them paired most often with that particular food. Use your imagination and experiment, experiment, experiment! 

You can make herb vinegars for salad dressings, marinades, or soups. Herb oils are very useful in cooking whenever a recipe calls for it. 

Fresh herbs as garnishes dress up any dish making it look truly spectacular. Lay individual sprigs of rosemary over broiled lamb chops. Chop fresh parsley and sprinkle it over the top of your potato salad. The combinations are endless and the outcome delicious. 

Fresh herbs will keep in the refrigerator for several days but then you must freeze them. They can be frozen by laying them a paper towel and putting them in a plastic bag. Once they are frozen only use them in cooking not as garnishes. A friend of mine washes them, puts them an ice cube tray, covers them with water and then freezes them. When she needs them for soup, stews or sauces she just drops a cube in. 

My favorite herbs to grow are basil, oregano, lemon balm, parsley and mint. Mint is great but be careful, mint can over run your garden. A tip here would be to bury an empty coffee can and plant the mint in it. The can prevents the mint from “creeping” all through your garden. 

I love to make herb butters. Take a half of a cup of softened butter and mix in about 4 tablespoons of a fresh herb. Lay out a piece of saran wrap, place the butter in the middle roll the saran wrap up to form a “log” out of the butter. Put in the refrigerator and anytime you need a pat of butter just cut it off the “log”. (Hints for “log” butter: potatoes, bread, steaks, noodles or any kind of sauce). 

A fresh herb in any salad dressing really makes it sparkle. You can use any herb or a combination, be creative. 

I learned a trick a long time ago using basil, lemon and avocados to create and instant natural face mask. Put a big handful of basil in a blender and run it on high. Once the basil has been pulverized, throw in a half of an avocado and a large teaspoon of lemon juice, mix until smooth. Wash your face, pat it dry and gently rub the avocado mixture on. Leave it on as long as you like, then use warm water to it wash off. 

These are just a few ways you can use fresh herbs from your garden. I am sure you will come up with many more. Happy cooking

Espresso Machines: Not For The Coffee Shop Anymore!

by: Matthew Noel
Instead of going to the local coffee shop, use your espresso machines instead. There are some excellent opportunities out there for you in these new, must have options for your kitchen. Once only used in coffee shops and in restaurants that were high end, these machines have been made so that anyone, anywhere can use them rather easily. 

Espresso machines are available in several ways. You may have a favorite method of making the espresso or perhaps you are looking for something that offers a distinctive taste. In most cases, you will find that there are espresso machines that do just what you are looking for. Because they are so easy to use, you will be able to make your favorite espresso flavors yourself as well. 

On top of this, you will also find that some machines are also combinations. Love cappuccino as well? Would you like a standard coffee maker along with your new espresso machine? These too can be purchased. You will find them available in a variety of styles and colors to fit any kitchen. 

Yet another feature that is important to comment on is their quality. Some of the espresso machine styles that are on the market for individual use are in fact quite capable of making coffee house style coffee that is rich and full flavored, missing nothing except the price tag. And, you can experiment with coffee beans that fit your tastes while in a coffee house you may be limited. Purchase gourmet varieties for pennies on the dollar online and enjoy the coffee that is nothing short of amazing every day that you wake up. 

Worried about dealing with these things each morning? Don’t be, because you will find it very hard to find an espresso machine that isn’t easy to use. Clean up is often just as easy as a standard coffee maker so that is not a problem as well. Espresso machines look great, work great and add an air of sophistication to your life.

Espresso Makers: Depending on Your Need, There's an Espresso Maker for You

by: Allen Shaw
Since Starbucks first went International in the early 1990s, espresso has been the number-one item on the minds of those who need a quick pick-me-up to get their day started. It started out as a fad, but with the onslaught of Friends on NBC in 1994 and Starbucks reproducing like rabbits throughout the last decade of the 20th Century, it has morphed into a worldwide phenomenon. 

But what is espresso exactly. To put it in the simplest terms, espresso is coffee's more aggressive and strong willed little brother. Espresso is caffeine's answer to a shot of whisky. Just as addictive in some cases, but will not get you thrown in jail. 

Espresso is made by filtering 1.5 to 2 ounces of water through tightly ground, espresso coffee, roughly the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee. If everything goes according to plan, what you get is 2 ounces of compressed caffeine with a small layer of foam on the top. The resulting concoction looks like a dark German beer with a head…only a lot smaller. 

But how do you make espresso? Is it as easy as Starbucks would have you believe? In a word…yes. So where do you start? Again, the answer is simple…right here. There are five basic types of espresso machines. Let's take a quick look: 

Stovetop espresso makers are popular with hikers and tourists because they do not require electricity. But since the stovetop espresso maker is usually the "one-cup" variety, you won't get the creamy foam layer top. What you will get though is a very concentrated shot of espresso. 

Steam powered espresso makers work a lot like the stovetop variety but is fashioned more like the standard pump driven espresso makers. Still convenient for tourists and hikers, the steam powered espresso maker is not as popular with this crowd because of its bulky size. 

The piston driven espresso maker is the grandfather of all espresso makers and the reason most espresso comes with a foamy top. Invented in 1938 by Achille Gaggia, the piston driven maker is still a good way to make espresso, though not often used. This kind of of espresso maker is sold as an antique as often as it is the caffeine junkie's primary maker. 

Pump driven espresso makers are the offshoot of the piston driven variety and the most popular maker in commercial settings. Usually hooked up directly to the building's plumbing, pump driven makers heat the water as it is filtered through the coffee and uses a built in shot timer to help insure every shot of espresso is exactly the same. 

Automatic espresso makers are becoming increasingly popular because the machine does almost everything for you. Automatic machines consistently produce the same espresso shot every time and require less fine-tuning than commercial makers. In addition, this expensive but consistent alternative to your daily trek to the corner coffe house does everything from grinding the beans to disposing of the spent grounds. The only thing the user has to do is turn on the machine. 

Now that you know how to make espresso, how do you decide what your favorite concoction is? After all Starbucks has more varieties of espresso than Baskin Robbins does ice cream. You do not want to make a fool of yourself when you when you are late for work and don't have time to make your morning wake-me-up at home. Yo need to feel confident and proud when you walk up to the conter and ask for: 

ESPRESSO - For those who prefer the simple things in life, a single shot of espresso, no foam, is probably best. 

ESRESSO DOPIO – Or a double espresso is for those days when you just cannot wake up. 

If you are feeling a need for some balance in your life, try an ESPRESSO MACCHIATO (a single or double shot of espresso with a whipped cream top). 

For those sweet and sour days, try an ESPRESSO ROMANO, a single shot of espresso topped with a sliced lemon peel. 

For amateur espresso drinkers who prefer a foamier, creamier, more chocolaty taste than a straight shot of espresso, CAPPUCCINO, CAFÉ LATTE and MOCHA CAPPUCCINO is probably the safest bet. 

So now that you know everything there is to know about espresso and why there seems to be a Starbucks on every corner of every city in every state in every country in the world, you can decide whether you want to join in on this worldwide phenomenon. But beware...if you decide not to join the crowd on this one, you will likely be left behind. A caffeine-powered work force is what made the world what it is today. 

About the author:
Allen Shaw is a successful author who provides information on espresso makers for A1 Coffee Makers. "I am the news director at USA News Network and have been working as freelance writer for 2 years. I've been published in a few magazines, newspapers and websites and my specialty up to this point has been movie and music reviews." 

Finally, A Breath Mint That Does What It's Supposed To

by: Dr. Harold Katz

One weekend you get together with friends for dinner at a delectable restaurant that serves cheese fondue, and you have a martini to cap it off. You want to make sure you have fresh breath, so after dinner you pop in an Altoids or other similar breath mint. Although you may now have a cinnamon-like taste in your mouth, what you've really done is made your bad breath problem much worse. Let me explain... 

All the "breath mint candies" that you're used to seeing in the stores (Altoids, Tic-Tacs, Certs, Ice Breakers, etc...) all commit some kind of fatal mistake in the documented science of creating fresh breath. You see, by now the academic halitosis community knows the causes of bad breath...and we also know the exact conditions that create an oral environment in your mouth that is more likely to produce bad breath. 


A common type of bad breath that occurs in 99.9% of the world population, at one time or another, is situational bad breath. It happens when someone activates what is called a "trigger" which causes the oral environment in their mouth to become more likely for the anaerobic bacteria to begin creating the volatile sulfur compounds (VSC's) that cause bad breath. 

In scientific terms, when your mouth encounters one of these triggers, it creates an oral environment that encourages the anaerobic bacteria to begin extracting sulfur compounds from specific amino acids. One amino acid called Cysteine, turns into Hydrogen Sulfide, which has a rotten-egg smell. Another amino acid, Methionine, becomes Methyl Mercaptan which smells sort of like dirty socks. What are the common bad breath triggers? They include foods that are high in protein, alcohol, medication with dry mouth side effects, smoking, garlic, onions, coffee, citrus juice, and sugar. 


During dinner you introduced two "triggers" to your mouth (protein and alcohol) that weren't previously there. These triggers make your oral environment very eager to begin creating foul-smelling VSC's (volatile sulfur compounds). Thus, the process of producing bad breath began. 

Wouldn't you think that a breath mint would contain ingredients that make this oral environment less likely to happen? At the very least, there shouldn't be anything in a breath mint that would make that oral environment worse right? 


First, you need a breath mint that does not contain sugar - your breath mint should NEVER have sugar as an ingredient. Rather, the ingredient xylitol should be used. Xylitol is a NATURAL sweetener and has also been proven to have tremendous anti-decay properties. 

Next your breath mint should also contain zinc gluconate. This ingredient literally puts a "straight-jacket" around those bad breath producing anaerobic bacteria. Specifically, it blocks the receptors on the anaerobic bacteria so that they don't bind with the amino acids thus preventing the production of VSC's (volatile sulfur compounds), which causes bad breath! 

Remember, your breath mint should be free of aspartame, saccharin, and artificial colors or flavors. Do you see where I'm getting at? The top breath mint fresheners on the market ALL contain either sugar, or an artificial flavor that is designed to cover up rather than prevent bad breath and taste. 


One such breath mint that contains none of these ineffective ingredients but does contain all of the good ones, are ZOX breath lozenges. With their patented combination of Zinc, Oxygen, and Xylitol they are literally the most effective breath mint available. 

Foods To Avoid That Cause Bad Breath

Did you know that there are specific foods that may lead to bad breath? This is because of volatile sulfur compounds - the culprit in causing bad breath! 

For example, if food sits out too long it will spoil. That spoiling action is due to anaerobic bacteria breaking down proteins in that particular food. In milk, the odor of sour milk is caused by relatives of the bugs that create bad breath when they break down proteins in the milk (and basically in all dairy foods). A reaction takes place where 'the bad breath bugs' extract sulfur compounds from the amino acids in these proteins. Specifically, the amino acid Cysteine is converted to Hydrogen Sulfide (which has a rotten egg smell) and Methionine becomes Methyl Mercaptan (which smells like a cross between old socks and garlic). The same analogy applies to meat if it sits out too long. 

Everyone knows that onions and garlic will create bad breath. But do you know why? It's because the odorous molecules in onions and garlic are actually sulfur compounds themselves called Mercaptans. Sulfur is nature's way of creating odors. You're all familiar with the skunk. Its odor is created by a defense and/or attack mechanism. Skunk odor is made up of skatoles, which are naturally occurring sulfur compounds. In a similar fashion, bacteria in your mouth creates the volatile sulfur compounds of bad breath and taste disorders. 

There are 4 food categories that will result in an increase of sulfur production because these categories have a stimulating affect on the bacteria that cause bad breath: 

1. Drying Agents 
2. Dense Protein Foods 
3. Sugars 
4. Acidic Foods 

Let's look closely at each of these food categories and how they stimulate bad breath! 

The most common drying agent in food is alcohol. Alcohol of course, is the basis of all "adult" beverages such as beer, wine, and hard liquor. It is also used, unfortunately, in many mouthwashes you find in the grocery stores, which only makes a bad breath problem worse. 

Alcohol, known chemically as a desiccant, is used quite often in laboratories to "dry out" hard to reach areas in test tubes and beakers. The same end result takes place in the oral cavity. 

Although cigarettes are not really food, smoking is probably the quickest way to dry out your mouth, with alcohol being the second. If you smoke, you are bound to have bad breath! 

Dairy foods are notorious for creating bad breath. An article that appeared in the "Los Angeles Times" once noted that over 50% of the population in Southern California was "lactose intolerant". With regards to bad breath, many of these people (numbering in the tens of millions) end up with more dense proteins available as bad breath fuel for the bacteria than those who have no problem with dairy foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc. The end result is a buildup of amino acids, which are easily converted into volatile sulfur compounds by the anaerobic bacteria found within the surface of your tongue and throat. 

To a lesser extent, people have the same problem with other types of food that are considered to be dense in protein such as beef, chicken, and fish. 

Another problem, thankfully rare, has to do with people who have an inability to break down certain proteins found in beans. This condition is called TMA (Trimethylaminuria) and is sometimes known as the "Fish Odor Syndrome," because the odor produced is similar to decaying fish. The odor consists of sulfur compounds, plus nitrogen compounds (amines). People with this condition must abstain from beans and other types of food that are dense in protein. 

Wouldn't it be great if we could get rid of bad breath by chewing on M&Ms? Or what if the cure for bad breath were Hershey Kisses? 

That's what the makers of Altoids would have you believe. Altoids, and other products of the same ilk, are trying to fool the public into believing that a strong "good" taste in your mouth is equivalent to the "freshness" of your breath. This is so anti-scientific it's absurd! If you think about it for a minute, it really doesn't make any sense. 

By using concentrated mint flavorings, your taste buds pick up mint as a taste. However, Altoids contains two types of sugar which again, are a fuel for the bacteria to reproduce and create more sulfur compounds - thus bad breath. In addition, the frightening part is that other bacteria can take the sugars and produce glycan strands, which in turn end up causing thick layers of plaque on the enamel of your teeth and around your gums. This leads to tooth decay and gum disease - and you guessed it - worse breath than you started with! 

Since you can't smell your own breath, you just go merrily along with that great strong mint taste in your mouth, while others close to you are backing away - backing away from your increased bad breath, decayed teeth, and gross, swollen, bleeding gums! 

Stay away from candies, mints, and chewing gum if they contain sugar! Instead, let me recommend an alternative created by TheraBreath called the TheraBreath Oxygenating Chewing Gum ( It releases Oxygen molecules directly into your mouth and also contains the antibacterial agent, Zinc Gluconate. This agent is found in many cold medications. In addition it contains Xylitol, which is a natural sweetening agent with an anti-decay compound. 

Foods with a high acidic content are a problem as well. pH is a term used to describe the acidity of an environment. The oral cavity has a normal pH of 6.5 (7 is considered neutral). Some of the foods you should watch out for are coffee and many citrus juices. Both decaffeinated and regular coffee contain acids. However, tea is okay. Among the citrus juices the ones with the highest acidic content include tomato juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grapefruit juice. 

We know that acids make the bacteria reproduce much faster. In order to decrease the production of odorous sulfur compounds, the acid environment needs to be neutralized. 

What can you learn from all this? Avoiding foods that contribute to, if not cause, bad breath is vital if you want to have clean fresh breath. While this is a difficult task, being aware of these bad breath causing elements is the first step in developing confidence in your breath. In addition, it is important to use oral care products that are free of alcohol, sugar, and that also have a high pH level.


From One Cup Coffee Makers to “Smart” Refrigerators: Kitchen Appliances Catch Up with the Speed of Life

From One Cup Coffee Makers to “Smart” Refrigerators: 
Kitchen Appliances Catch up with the Speed of Life 
By R.L. Fielding 

The modern kitchen would not be complete without a refrigerator, an oven, a microwave, and a coffee maker. As fixtures in one of the most important rooms in the house, these appliances are on the forefront of the battle for greater convenience and lower energy costs. Here is a look at a few of the technological makeovers which can help you save both time and money. 

“Smart” Refrigerators 

Has this ever happened to you? On your way home from work, you stop at the supermarket for groceries. While picking up food for dinner, you can’t remember whether there’s a steak in the freezer or if you still have enough butter for the mashed potatoes. Instead of placing a call to your significant other, let your refrigerator check the inventory for you. 

Using a cell phone, it is possible to remotely access an up-to-the-minute list of the contents of the “smart” refrigerator via an Internet connection. LG Electronic’s Internet Refrigerator is capable of alerting its user when a product has expired. The potential for this technology is enormous, but the limited availability of online grocery services has slowed its spread. Manufacturers hope to eventually develop a system by which refrigerators will not just keep tabs on the food inside, but will make lists of what is needed and automatically place an order with online grocers. 

One drawback of the current technology is the effort that goes into keeping your refrigerator’s records up-to-date. As the refrigerator is stocked, the product names and expiration dates must be logged manually. When an item is removed from the refrigerator, the data must be entered as well. The convenience of knowing what’s in your refrigerator at any time may be outweighed by the inconvenience of keeping such meticulous records. 

Another popular focus for the newly-developed technology involves reducing energy costs. For instance, the Fisher & Paykell Active Smart Refrigerator offers multiple energy-conserving features which, when combined, contribute to the overall efficiency of the product. The Active Smart electronic intelligence and multiple sensors monitor the internal temperature while a Variable Capacity Compressor ensures the refrigerator runs at its peak. 

Energy-efficiency is particularly important when it comes to refrigerators because they are the only kitchen appliances that run 24-hours per day. By purchasing ecologically-friendly technology you’ll reduce your electricity bills and keep more money in your wallet. 

Convenient Coffee Makers 

A recent development in coffee consumption is the vacuum brewing system, as highlighted by the Clear Electric Santos coffee maker by Bodum. The machine promises to brew six to twelve cups of strong coffee within eight minutes using an easy-to-clean filtration system. This is an ideal appliance for people who love a full-bodied cup of joe. 

The days of boiling whole pots of water just to have a single cup of coffee are over. The one cup coffee maker can brew your favorite gourmet tea or coffee in less than a minute, eliminating the need to prepare a whole pot. For people on-the-go, these fast brewing machines are a welcome addition to the home or workplace. 

The single cup coffee maker is also a great energy saver. In the time it might take to heat up one pot of regular coffee or to drive over to Starbucks, a one cup coffee maker by Keurig can brew several differently flavored hot drinks in 40 seconds each. Another perk of this machine is the variety of drinks it can produce. Keurig provides customers with over 70 different coffee or tea “K-Cups” from which to choose. K-Cups are easy-to-insert dispensers, which fit neatly into the coffee company’s machine with little effort and no clean-up. 

Multifunctional Ovens 

Forget slaving over a hot stove for hours just to get dinner on the table. Thanks to new ovens with automatic time and temperature controls dinner can practically make itself. Want a meal to be ready by the time you get home? Simply place your favorite dish in the oven and let the appliance do the rest. 

The Intelligent Oven by TMIO refrigerates food until the user activates the cooking function. The oven’s Internet connectivity allows you to control this feature remotely with your cell phone or computer. Meals are not only delicious, but perfectly timed for your convenience. Additional advances have made the product safer and more energy-efficient, making it both user- and environmentally-friendly. 

For real fast food, look for appliances such as the Sharp High Speed Convection/Microwave Oven. A 5-pound roasted chicken would take up to 140 minutes or more in a standard oven but, with the new high-speed ovens, the same meal can be ready within 28 minutes. By using a mix of super-heated circulating air and microwave energy, meals cook up to 80 percent faster. 

In a step that brings to mind scenes from a work of science-fiction, General Electric is among the companies developing ovens which respond to voice commands and recognize over 200 regional accents. Rather than pushing a pre-set button, key phrases would activate the already programmed cooking times and temperatures. Such technology may not be a long way off, but its price tag may prove to be beyond the reach of many consumers. 

High-tech Microwaves 

Trying to find quick and easy recipes? Put down the cookbook. You can easily download hundreds of recipes directly from your microwave with the push of a button. 

Using the LG Lifestyle MG-5682NL microwave oven, you can download recipes or other cooking information from the company’s web site. Sharp also sells a microwave that downloads cooking instructions for various meals, then automatically programs the time and power settings required to zap your meal to perfection. 
In a slight variation on the theme, a new microwave by Samsung is programmed to read cooking directions by scanning product bar codes with a special sensor. The microwave then pulls the specific cooking instructions off the Internet and cooks the meal accordingly. 
Many models now come with cooking pre-sets for popular food items, such as popcorn or frozen meals. Simply press one of the clearly-labeled option buttons on the microwave’s touchpad and the appliance will automatically adjust the time and power level. 
Another feature that you won’t want your microwave to be without is a moisture sensor. Microwaves heat food by using radio waves to excite the molecules. To prevent overcooking your food, the moisture sensor will calculate how much time is still needed to cook based on how long it took for the food to begin steaming. 

Since the kitchen is a natural hub of activity for any household, a few small changes can mean big savings in more ways than one. These kitchen innovations will not only free up more of your time, but can help you save money on the monthly energy bills. A little efficiency can go a long way! 

About Coffeecow 
This article was provided by which goes to great lengths to provide the highest quality products, the fastest service, and the deepest discount prices you will find on one cup coffee makers, regular, decaf, and flavored coffee and tea, and a full line of coffee supplies. Developed by coffee professionals with over 35 years of experience in fulfilling any coffee service need, Coffeecow offers all the coffee conveniences for your home or office. Visit for more info. 

About the author:
R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.


Gourmet Espresso Coffee Gifts? Mmm, Mmm Good!

o you know an espresso drinker that you want to get a gift for? Perhaps you’d like to get yourself some gourmet espresso. Well, buying gourmet espresso coffee gifts is easier than ever. With more and more stores online selling gourmet espresso at fantastic prices with cheap shipping, everyone can afford it now. We recommend 3 of the best merchants online on our Coffee and Tea Gifts page (, you just need to scroll to the bottom and start shopping. 

Here’s a little bit of information on what you can expect to find. There are quite a few choices when it comes to espresso. You can buy whole beans or ground coffee, but if you’re not sure if your friend has a coffee grinder, either pick one up at the same time (2 of the 3 merchants we recommend sell them) or go with ground coffee beans. Most people like the amount of caffeine in espresso (myself included) and not just the taste. But for those of us who can’t have too much caffeine for health reasons, you can also get decaffeinated espresso. 

You can also purchase espresso pods. Before doing so though, carefully check if your machine will accept espresso pods. What is a pod you ask? It looks almost identical to a tea bag, perhaps slightly larger and acts in the same way as a teabag. It’s mess-free, unlike using a filter and loose coffee and ensures the same great taste for every cup. It’s much easier to use, but also slightly more expensive. 

Whatever you choose, have fun with it. There are so many brands to choose from, you might want to try them all to find the perfect coffee for you. Happy shopping!


How The Best Cappuccino Makers Work

Cappuccino makers are preferred over standard coffee makers among the most serious coffee lovers. With these products, you can brew your favourite café style coffee drink in the privacy of your own home. You may be unsure at first, but with practice, you will be making restaurant quality drinks at home. 

These coffee machines work by heating the water and then forcing the heated water through the ground coffee. As the heated water moves through the grinds, the water extracts the flavor. The coffee used is ground finer than for regular coffee. Steam is also used to froth milk for cappuccino or lattes. 

Types of Cappuccino Makers 

There are two basic types of machines for brewing specialty coffee drinks: steam and pump models. Pump machines are the best rated for heating water to the optimal level quickly. The most expensive models all work with an electric pump. They make a great cup of espresso with good crema. Crema is the foamy layer on top of a cup of espresso and is considered an important feature that coffee lovers look for. 

Steam models are less expensive and are capable of brewing a good cup of espresso. Steam models have less pressure and less power. They are more affordable and make a good first machine. These products are definitely a step up from standard drip coffee makers. 

A variety of coffee types are available for making espresso at home. The grinds are finer than standard coffee. Individual pods are available to fit most models. Pods are pre filled filter packets with the ground coffee measured and sealed inside. Some people love the convenience of pods and swear by them. Other people feel the quality of the drink is much lower when pods are used. The finished drink can be weak or bitter, depending on the brand of coffee and how it is prepared. 

Super automatics are the top of the line in home cappuccino making. Super automatics can make all specialty coffees including espresso, cappuccino, lattes and mochas. An automatic milk frothing system prepares the milk according to your taste. 

Super automatics are grind and brew devices that do everything for you. They grind the beans, tamp the grinds, measure the water, brew the coffee and froth the milk. Used grinds are dumped into a waste box, which you empty to dispose of the used beans. You program it according to the strength, quantity, and temperature desired in the finished drink. You can brew two mugs at once with super automatics. 

Burr grinders are used in most super automatics. You can set the grinder for the consistency you want in the ground beans. Super automatics measure the beans for you, depending on the number of cups you will be brewing. 

Cleaning a Cappuccino Machine 

Proper cleaning is important to keep your machine working well and making great tasting drinks. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper cleaning. The components vary from product to product, so following the directions is important. 

The machine should be cleaned inside and out to keep it working well. How you will clean it depends in part on the material used in construction. Stainless steel is the easiest to clean and maintain. Follow the directions included to keep it working well. 

You will need to descale and decalcify the machine regularly. This is necessary to remove build up caused by particles in your drinking water. Over time, these particles can clog the machine and interfere with the operation. How often you will need to do this depends on the quality of your water and how often you use the coffee maker. One way to avoid this build up is to use distilled water. 

The brew group will need to be cleaned about once each weak. A removable brew group is easier in terms of cleaning. You slide the brew group out through the service door and rinse it regularly. This removes coffee residue and grinds and results in a better tasting drink. 

A non removable brew group should be cleaned with the automatic cleaning cycle. You program this feature and it cleans the brew group for you. Cleaning tablets are sold for non removable brew groups. Follow the directions on the package for proper use.


How To Lay Dinnerware

All human history attests 
That happiness for man, 
The hungry sinner; 
Since Eve ate apples 
Much depends upon dinner. 

Lord Byron, Don Juan 

The dinner table is the heart of the home, a magic place where moments are treasured and memories made. Family events, anniversaries, and holidays are all celebrated at the table, a place where children are taught, business is conducted, and romance is found, a setting that greets with a silent message: "Welcome. A place is prepared for you." 

A myriad of traditions surround the service of meals, especially dinner. We dine in a designated area and sit at a table enhanced by the symmetrical alignment of dinnerware. Like a picture slightly askew, an asymmetrical place setting creates subtle irritation, and to promote a harmonious relaxed ambience, dinnerware is laid directly opposite the ware on the other side of the table. When an odd number of people are seated at a rectangular, square, or oval table, the odd-numbered place setting is aligned with the middle of the even-numbered place setting opposite. This is not to suggest that one set the table with a ruler in hand, only that the symmetrical alignment of dinnerware please the eye. 

The type of dining occasion determines where to lay dinnerware. At a multi-course meal, notably a formal affair, each course is served one at a time, and dinnerware is laid in the center of the place setting. In formal dining, side dishes are not used, cups and saucers do not appear on the table, and demitasse is served in another room. 

At an informal meal, the menu is simpler and the courses are either laid on the table all at once or presented one at a time as in formal service. A meal served all at once requires space, and side dishes, namely, salad plate, bread-and-butter plate, and fruit saucer, are laid to the left of the cover. The left-handed person reverses the placement. Why are side dishes placed opposite the hand with which one eats? Because the placement of ware near the "eating" hand is awkward to manipulate and makes the dishes too close for comfort. 

The placement of the cup and saucer is different for company and family dining. Because the majority of people are right-handed, at a company occasion the cup and saucer are placed on the right side, even for a left-handed person; this placement promotes a symmetrical table setting. The cup and saucer are laid to the right of the outside piece of flatware. However, at a family meal, aesthetics are not as important as comfort, and commonsense dictates seating the left-handed person at the end of the table where the cup and saucer are placed on the left (even though the other cups and saucers are on the right). 

When hot beverages are served during a meal, such as coffee at breakfast or tea at lunch, the cup and saucer are laid on the table initially. But if hot beverages are served at the end of a meal, such as after dessert, the cup and saucer are brought to the table following the last course. 

Here are some guidelines for the alignment of dinnerware. 

• Large plates, such as the dinner plate and luncheon plate, are laid about 1 inch in from the edge of the table. The exception is the service plate, a capacious plate aligned flush with the edge of the table. 

• Small plates, such as the salad plate, fish plate, and dessert plate, are laid in the center of the cover, about 2 inches in from the edge of the table. 

• Cups and saucers are placed approximately 1 inch beyond the outermost piece of flatware. The top edge of the saucer is aligned with the top rim of the plate or bowl. 

• Cup handles are faced in a four o'clock position for easy access. 

• Soup bowl and soup cup handles are aligned parallel with the edge of the table. 

• Bread-and-butter plates are laid at the top left of the cover, usually above the dinner fork, a placement that avoids overcrowding on the right side, where the goblet and wine glass are placed. 

• Elbow room requires a minimum of 15 inches between place settings, or approximately 24 inches from the center of one place setting to the middle of the next. 

From the book, The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware by Suzanne von Drachenfels (Published by Simon and Schuster, November 2000; $40.00US/$59.00CAN; 0-684-84732-9) Copyright © 2000 Suzanne von Drachenfels 

About the author:
Suzanne von Drachenfels's passion for table things led her to a career as Tabletop Consultant to Fitz & Floyd, a maker of fine dinnerware that has been used in the West Wing of the White House. As an expert on the table, she has traveled extensively to conduct seminars and appeared on local television morning shows throughout the United States. She lives on the Monterey Peninsula in California, where she and her late husband, Baron Alexei von Drachenfels, have lived for many years.


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