How To Choose The Best Coffee Machine

A coffee maker is a kitchen appliance used for brewing coffee without having to boil water in a separate container. There are many different types of coffee makers using a number of different brewing principles. The most common being placing coffee grounds in a paper or metal filter inside a funnel, and then set it over a glass or ceramic coffee pot. Next, cold water is poured into a separate chamber, which is then heated up to the boiling point, and directed into the funnel. This is also called automatic drip-brew.

1. What’s the size of the carafe? How many cups can it brew? And most importantly, how does the coffee taste?

Different people have different needs and tastes; some will want to drink one or two cups during the day, while some others will want to drink a cup every hour or so. Therefore, the size of the carafe matters. If it’s a single serve (or one cup) coffeemaker, it won’t fulfill the needs of heavy drinkers. If it’s too big, it may be too much for casual drinkers.

Some newer and bigger models have a small batch setting that allows users to brew one to four cups without ending up with weak coffee, so it can be a good choice even for those who don’t drink more than a few cups a day.

But the most important thing for any user will be the taste of the coffee. Even if the other features are below-par, a coffeemaker that makes delicious coffee will always be an attractive buy for most people.

2. Are the controls simple or are there many programmable settings? Is there a “coffee-ready indicator”?

There are lots of different models on the market; some only have a simple on/off switch, while others come with all the bells and whistles. The simplicity/complexity of the controls will be a matter of personal choice.

In addition, some models have a “coffee ready” indicator or alarm that beeps when the coffee is brewed. This is a nice feature to have.

Top Question: why is coffee called java?

3. Is there a brew pause option?

This is a useful feature that helps people when they’re in a rush. It basically allows the user to pause the machine and get one cup even if the brewing is not complete. However, this may cause that first cup to be too strong (since there will be less water than required on the carafe).

4. Is there a thermal carafe/mug?

Now, this is an important feature for heavy coffee drinkers. A thermal carafe ensures that the coffee is kept warm and fresh for hours. Since the coffee will not have to be reheated, it also prevents the burnt taste that normally occurs after a while.

5. Is there a timer?

Advanced (and naturally higher priced) models have timers that allow users to have their coffee ready when they wake up or get back from work. This is a very handy feature to have and you can emphasize the convenience it offers.

6. Is there an auto-shut off option?

This is mainly a safety feature. If the user forgets to turn the coffeemaker off before leaving the house, this feature will shut the machine off after a set period of time. Some models have predefined time settings, while others let the user set the timer.

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7. Is there a brew strength control?

Not everyone likes their coffee with the same strength. Some people prefer weak brews, while some others want strong coffee. The brew strength control is a feature that diverts the water flow to provide the user with a fine level of control.

8. What’s the size of the coffeemaker? Are the controls on the front or side?

The size of the coffeemaker is important; if it takes too much space on the counter, people will find it less useful.

Controls are placed on the side in some models, allowing the users to turn the machine sideways. This minimizes the counter space the machine takes and can be a very attractive feature for those with small counters or kitchens.

9. Is there a spare carafe?

Some coffeemakers come with free-of-charge spare carafes. While this is not a deal maker/breaker, it is always good to have a spare. If the original carafe gets cracked, broken, etc., users will not have to pay for a replacement.

10. Is the water filter any good? Is the filter easy to change and inexpensive?

Most coffeemakers come with a water filter that is designed to filter out chlorine and other substances that may spoil the taste. The more effective the filter is, the better will be the taste.

Filters will need to be cleaned and changed from time to time. Users will want to know if the filter is easy to remove, clean and change. The filter change frequency is also important since it will determine the total cost of ownership. The price of the replacement filters is also an important factor. If it’s too high (and if they need to change it rather frequently), the users may have to spend a lot of money during the lifespan of the coffeemaker.

For full details/ specs/ customer reviews of each model, please visit the product detail page by clicking the model’s product image or link:

One-Cup Coffee Makers:

1. Black & Decker DCM18S Brew ‘n Go Personal Coffeemaker with Travel Mug

  • Personal coffeemaker brews directly into 15-ounce travel mug
  • Stainless-steel mug tapered to fit most vehicle cup holders
  • Permanent filter eliminates need for disposable paper filters
  • Auto shut-off
  • Dishwasher-safe mug, mug lid, filter, and filter basket
  • Measures 9-3/4 inches high, 7 inches wide, and 6 inches deep

2. Keurig B60 Special Edition Gourmet Single-Cup Home-Brewing System

  • 1500-watt single-cup brewing system for gourmet coffee, tea, or cocoa
  • Uses patented K-Cups
  • No messy grinding or clean up
  • Removable 48-ounce water reservoir
  • Removable drip tray
  • 3 brew-size options
  • 2-hour automatic shut-off
  • Descale indicator
  • Brewer requires 4 minutes of priming before being ready to use

3. Aerobie 80R08 AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

  • Unique coffee/espresso maker uses total immersion and gentle pressure to produce coffee with extraordinarily rich flavor
  • Makes American style coffee or an espresso-style shot perfect for use in lattes or cappuccinos
  • Because of the lower temperature and short brew time, the acid level of the brew is much lower than conventional brewers
  • Micro-filtered coffee so pure and particle-free that it can be stored for days as a concentrate

Coffee Makers:

1. Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

  • Classic brushed metal design with a 12-Cup carafe with ergonomic handle for comfortable, dripless pouring
  • Brew pause feature lets you enjoy a cup of coffee before brewing has finished.
  • Adjustable heater plate (low, medium, high) ensures that your coffee stays at the temperature you like best
  • 24-hour advance brew start, programmable auto shutoff from 0 to 4 hours plus a 1- to 4-Cup feature when making less than 5 cups
  • Includes: Charcoal water filter and permanent gold tone filter that ensures only the freshest coffee flavor flows through. Measuring scoop. Instruction book
  • Measures 14-1/4 by 8 by 10-3/4 inches
  • 3-Year limited warranty

2. Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Hot Water System

  • Fully automatic with 24-hour programmability, self-clean function, and 1-4 cup setting
  • Brew Pause feature, adjustable carafe temperature control (low, medium,high), adjustable auto-shutoff
  • Hot Water System lets you enjoy instant teas, soups, cocoas and more
  • 12-cup glass carafe has a drip-free pour spout and a comfortable handle for easy serving
  • Includes 2 charcoal water filters, gold tone filter, measuring scoop and instruction book

3. Bonavita BV1800 8-Cup Coffee Maker

  • SCAA-Certified Coffee Maker (SCAA – Specialty Coffee Association of America)
  • 1400W Heater raises water to ideal temperature
  • Engineered for precise water and coffee grounds contact time
  • Shower head designed for complete saturation and optimal extraction
  • Fast Brew Time – Brews 8 Cups (5 oz. cups) in just 5-6 minutes.
  • High quality stainless steel carafe

How To Use Vacuum Sealer Bags To Keep Food Fresh

Keeping your food fresh can be done with vacuum sealer bags.  These bags use a suction method in order to remove excess oxygen which can cause premature spoiling of the food. There are a number of different methods that can be used to preserve foods. Manufacturers have created food sealing products that range from the low end models to the more expensive models. In all cases, a person will use a plastic bag to store the food and the vacuum method with be used to remove any excess air. This method is used by both people in their homes and many restaurants and other businesses that handle large amounts of food in order to maintain the quality of different foods.

Vacuum seal bags can be used in conjunction with a vacuum sealing machine to preserve foods.  These bags can be purchased in any size in order to accommodate the portions that are being vacuum sealed. These bags vary in the way they look and can differ depending on the type of vacuum method that is used. Some of these bags come with an air valve which allows the individual to place the vacuum in this valve and effectively remove all the air. Other sealer bags are found in rolls that will allow the user to create a bag by sealing off both the food and the bag to create an individual bag for the food.

Vacuum sealed bags are very multi-purpose and can be used for any type of food although different food will require certain types of preparation in order to be vacuum sealed. It is recommended that meats are frozen before sealing but people do vacuum seal raw meats. The bag should not be reused if raw meats are sealed though. Some vegetables should be cut and blanched and then dipped in cold water before sealing to maintain freshness. It is recommended that moist foods and liquids be frozen prior to being vacuum sealed and in some cases double bagged to ensure that there isn’t any leakage.

One of the major benefits of vacuum seal storage bags is the versatility. These bags can be used for both storage and for food preparation. In many cases you can take these bags from the freezer or refrigerator and place them in the microwave for easy food prep. In addition, these bags are reusable which is very economical and it makes using the vacuum method more affordable. They can be easily cleaned and air dried making so a few bags can go a long way. Furthermore, vacuum sealing bags can be purchased in a number of sizes so that you can have more flexibility in what you vacuum seal. Depending on the type of vacuum sealer you own you can either purchase your bags from the local supermarket or you may have to purchase your bags from the specific company that makes your vacuum sealer.

A vacuum seal bag is an excellent way to keep your food fresh. These types use a vacuum to suction out extra oxygen that can spoil food. This method is good for ensuring the longevity of your food.


Why You Should Buy A Rice Cooker

One of the most versatile kitchen appliances you can but is actually the humble rice cooker. Also known as a slow cooker, these devices – despite their name – are actually capable of producing a huge array of dishes ranging from rice (naturally) to soups, stews and even steamed puddings.

If you purchase a machine such as the Zojirushi NP-HBC10 Induction Heating model, there are a number of recipes that you can make with this sort of appliance. The fact of the matter is that we often purchase a rice cooker with the intention of making white and/or brown rice.

But this is only just scratching the surface of what these machines can do. There are lots of other rice cooker recipes that you can try to make as well. A top of the range Zojirushi product is one of the best units that you can purchase but even if you choose a cheaper model, you should still be able to make some great tasting mixed rice dishes.

The main thing that you have to consider is that if you want to create some all in one dishes in your rice cooker then almost the most important factor is to replace the water that you cook the rice in with stock. There are lots of different flavorings that you could add. A chicken or fish stock is a versatile and popular option. Of course, if you are a vegetarian, you can of course do well with a vegetable based stock. This is something that you can make with a stock cube but for that home made feel you might want to make your own.

Once you have the stock ready, all that you then have to worry about is what else you want to add to your rice. Bits of chicken, tinned fish and all kinds of vegetables work really well. You can follow a recipe if you are not so sure what to do or you can just try out a few different things yourself. To begin with, checking out the available recipes is a good idea to get a range of serving suggestions. But once you know what you are doing, you can literally just add whatever you have in the fridge.

Of course, this is only one of many ways to cook delicious dishes using a rice cooker. For example, you can also steam fish – yes believe it or not, thats true – or create amazing soups or stews. In fact, the only limit really is your imagination. One question I often get asked is how to cook lentils in a rice cooker? Well, the answer is a, firstly,  of course you can and secondly that its actually very simple. But, rather than me tell you, I recommend that you click on the link I’ve just provided to get the whole low down. That means that vegetarians can enjoy lentil bakes or tasty filling soups without worrying about the long cooking times that are normally associated with dishes such as these.

So, if you are looking for a cheap and versatile addition to your kitchen equipment then you need to seriously consider buying a rice cooker. I hoep you agree.


Fix that driveway, impress your wife and your neighbours at the same time!

If you’re anything like me, fixing things is a little beyond your comfort zone. I’m an ideas guy, home design as you know if you’re reading this, is kinda my thing!

But just as important to the interior of your house is your exterior, and every now and again something inevitably needs fixed.

One such occurrence happened last weekend, wifey pointed out to me in a less than subtle suggestion “There’s a pothole in the driveway dear.” I’ve been married long enough to understand that tone. Get it fixed.

The moment I started looking online for solutions my heart sank low…as did my wallet. Would you believe how much it costs to hire the team and heavy plant it requires to pour hot asphalt into a simple pothole?

But as my search expanded in direct proportion to my panic, I found myself on Red Stag Materials and it’s there that I found my salvation.

They sell this brilliant product called EZ Street! It allows you to -and I couldn’t believe this- literally pour the cold asphalt solution into the hole, pat it down with your shovel, and low and beyond! It binds to the asphalt and your pothole problem is no more!

I was struck by how amazing this was, but I have to admin, I had my reservations on how it would actually work. Surely a product that eliminates the need for heavy plant and scores of tradesmen standing around quoting you four figures was absolutely revolutionary?

The price was more than reasonable however, and since it was available for purchase in 22KG bags I thought I may as well go for it.

The product, which I was able to order straight from the website after a brief discussion with a polite young Scot called Gary, arrived in good time.

This was my big moment, with wifey watching, glass of wine in hand on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I reached for my shovel and last-ditch hope of impressing the woman I married all those years ago.

To my complete surprise, the product worked a treat! After a tap of trepidation from my nervously wielded shovel I the ground as firm as when we had first had the driveway laid – over 15 years ago!

If you thought my disbelieve was stark then you should have heard my wife, you would have thought she’d just seen a pig fly past in the sky! She praised the good people at Red Stag to the moon and back, perhaps it was the Merlot talking, but she seemed to place a disproportionate amount of the praise to them, rather than the work of her hard-working husband, but perhaps that’s just my perspective!

Either way our driveway was restored to pristine condition, and I was able to store the rest of the product in the garage, should more potholes appear as the frosty mornings start to extend their chilly fingers into the ground.

I even had the neighbours commented the next day about how immaculate the drive looked after I had given it a good sweep, post-pothole-patch!

I couldn’t recommend the product enough to anyone! I haven’t even really gone over all of the benefits, but suffice to say, if it was good enough for my wine-d up wife, it is more than good enough for the average punter!


Why An Office Carpet Cleaning Crew Isn’t the Same as a Residential One

Carpet cleaning companies usually have separate departments entirely for residential customers and commercial customers. Since offices and other commercial spaces tend to involve large areas of carpeting, they require different sets of skills in the cleaning crew, and completely different equipment. It wouldn’t be an efficient way of going about it if they used the same equipment and skills for both kinds of clients.

When you call in a professional cleaning company for an office carpet cleaning project, such as  this Aberdeen carpet cleaning company, the first thing they’ll do before they even give you a quote, is send someone over to inspect your carpeting. They need to find out what condition your carpeting is in and how much of it is in high-traffic areas.

In residential installations, you don’t tend to call a cleaning company more than once a year. But that’s only because with regular vacuuming, brushing and all the other maintenance needed that home owners do on their own, they just need someone in for the heavy duty work. In an office, like the ones used by Azzurro Blu for example,  or other commercial building, the regular occupants of the building aren’t going to be doing any carpet cleaning at all. It’s really up to the commercial cleaning service to take care of both the regular vacuuming, brushing and other cleaning on a day-to-day basis, and to roll out the heavy artillery once or twice a year. An office carpet cleaning then isn’t a one-time thing that you call a company in for. It’s a full time contract that you then have.

How much does all of this actually end up costing you? Well, of course, it changes from one company to the next. For the most part though, for a complete and thorough biannual cleaning using all the heavy equipment, they usually charge anything up to 20p a square foot. Of course, depending on the size of the cleaning company that you go to and their business circumstances, this rate can change. A business for instance that is eager to make a name for itself, may be willing to work for half that amount.

As with all other cleaning responsibilities in a commercial building, the office carpet cleaning contract will need to be administered by someone who is knowledgeable in these things. Carpet cleaning crews are experts at shortchanging their clients, even if they are large and valuable commercial clients. Fabric carpeting has this quality that it will often look quite clean even after a poorly done cleaning job. The grime buildup begins to show up over time. It’s important for someone to really supervise how the cleaning is done and put it into the contract that early termination is a possibility if the work needed isn’t satisfactorily done.


Got furniture shopping in mind? Get some real bargains after the holidays, right through March!

For most of us, new furniture is a major, long term investment. If your favourite armchair, or the living room sofa has seen better days, you might be thinking of going furniture shopping, but your budget doesn’t agree! In better economic times, you and your spouse might have decided to give each other that new sofa or armchair as a holiday gift. These days, that may no longer be an option. Why? Too much money, of course. So here’s a way to go furniture shopping and get the very best price.

Most economists predicted another bad holiday shopping season for retailers, across the board. This makes it likely that you’ll see some deeply discounted prices, particularly on some of the bigger ticket items, including furniture. However, if you exercise some patience, you can pick up some fabulous bargains after the holidays. You probably don’t need to worry too much about finding just what you’re looking for, due to much reduced inventory.

One of the best times to go furniture shopping is right after the New Year. Hungry retailers are going to reduce those drop dead prices even further, hoping to entice savvy shoppers – like you. If you’ve got your eye on a piece of furniture that’s on sale at 50% off during the holiday season, don’t be surprised if it’s sitting there after New Year’s, priced at 60% off. Let’s say you’re looking for a new sofa which retails for £1500. At 50% off, it’s yours for £750. At 60% off, you pay just £600. That kind of deal brings a smile to anyone’s face. You get a quality sofa without busting the budget. Just think, for that extra £150 savings, you can probably find a lovely new lamp for the end table. If you stick with the sofa alone, it’s certain you can put that £150 to good use elsewhere! There are plently of stores to visit for a bargain, including a local sofa shop in Aberdeen.

Now, another great time to go furniture shopping is during the month of March. This means you’ll find some great deals, this can be the absolute perfect time to go furniture shopping. You might have thought that there was no way to get that new furniture, but, as you can see, there are some great opportunities in the world of furniture shopping coming right up!


Adding a sideboard to finish off your dining room

The next time you head to the furniture store for anything, try this – go to the section that displays dining room furniture packages and take a look at how hard shoppers labour over getting the exact the right dining set to go into their homes. Well, while a certain amount of care and attention really are called for, you don’t want to burn out picking that one thing. There are other things in the dining room that are just as important – like the dining room sideboard, for instance.

It’s easy to overlook how important the dining room sideboard is. It’s easy to think when the family gathers around for special occasions, that it’s the table that’s the star of the show. While it is, the star does need a supporting cast. The dining room sideboard is an Oscar winner here in a supporting role.

What do you use a dining room sideboard for? Well, ask yourself this: Where do you put all that food that makes any feast complete? You are going to put it on the sideboard, is the answer.

No average-sized family dining table has enough room for all the drinks before dinner, the beverages, the appetizers, the food and the desert. You need spillover space. And that’s what the dining room sideboard is.

There are two ways to pick a dining room sideboard. You could either get something that matches the table and chairs, or you could go with something that stands apart – as an accent piece. You don’t even have to stop at using something that’s a lighter shade of wood. You could easily use something that’s a totally different style in a totally different kind of wood.

When the sideboard isn’t in use, you can use it as display space for a single piece of sculpture or something. A vase of flowers or something that looks dramatic.

A dining room sideboard of course, isn’t it just a table. It doesn’t just offer you just one surface to put things on. It gives you ample storage area in the form of coverage shelves below. You’ll have glass-fronted cupboards, drawers and so on. All the dishes and special cutlery that you need to throw a party or to entertain people, you can display and store in this space. It’s your one-stop computer equipment shop.

There is no rule that says that you can only bring one sideboard into a dining room. If you can make it work, more than one would be fine.


Tips for Lamps and Home Lighting

Whether you’re redecorating your home or moving into an entirely new one, deciding on the appropriate lighting for your home is a hugely important consideration. Given that effective lighting can make or break a plan of interior decoration, it needs to be approached properly. With this in mind, this article aims to consider just some of the important considerations one needs to bear in mind when it comes to lighting and lamps in the home.

Think of each room being decorated as like a set in a theatre show – the look of the room should illustrate the sort of activity that takes place in that setting. And in all of these, it is less important to follow whatever the trend is than to ensure that the setting is the way you want it to be.

Any room will need a particular sort of general overall light, either from overhead hanging fittings in the middle of a ceiling or flood lights and spot lamps, or even light which is bounced off the ceiling. Unless you are planning decor for a new build, of course, it is best to just go with what the existing fittings are.

One way to provide indirect light with a good dispersion is to use something called a ‘torchier’. This is like a floor lamp, except that it shines light towards the roof of the room. In cases where the existing room does not offer overhead light, or which have a dark colour scheme which needs a lot of illumination, having a torchier will help in these sort of situations.

It is also important to consider the specific task that lightning needs to achieve in the particular room. For example, a desk or piano or a wall with pictures on it will all require a specific special lamp.

Think about not only what the lamp is for, but what it will look like, both when in use and when turned off. As you would expect, a lamp will be a focal point for a room when on, so they need to look ‘correct’ in the setting they are placed in. Colour and finish will all affect this.

With hundreds of types of lamp to choose from, it is useful to consider the size you require. Larger table lamps are usually over 70 cm (27 inches) tall, and this includes the lampshade. These should be used on low tables for general illumination. Wattage for this sort of lamp should be up to 250 watts. Click here for a great selection of lamps for every room.

Medium lamps are between 50 – 70 cm (20-27 inches) in height. They can be placed on higher tables or book shelves and should be lit with a 150 watt bulb.

Small lamps are between 40 and 50 cm (15 and 20 inches) and use bulbs from 75 to 100 watts maximum, and are the sort of lamp you would use on a bedside table or wherever available space is tight.

If all of the above seems daunting, and your budget can run to it, then find a home designer or lighting designer to give you some suggestions.

And then, with the lighting itself decided, there is then the equally complex task of picking your lampshades! Here again, it is important to pick your style according to the mood you wish to convey in the room.