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All About Coffee – Espresso Machines and Reviews

January 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Coffee Machines

Espresso Coffee

For coffee drinkers in the UK there are three basic options in terms of the quality of beans and grounds you can drink. We are not going to even discuss ‘instants’ as I don’t believe that anyone really considers any instant to be anything other than a cup of ‘hot brown’.

coffee beans for grinding

The three basic options for anyone looking for a real cup of coffee are as follows;

1 – High street mass market beans and grounds.

2 – Specialist Importers of Hand chosen beans for the ultimate experience.

3 – Quality pods offering convenience and practicality as well as taste and flavour.

High Street Mass Market

High end everyday beans and grounds, available on the high street include Lavazza, Illy, Douwe Egberts, although, manufacturers better known for producing instants are also trying to muscle in on the growth in the ‘proper coffee’ sector. Large high street chains including Costa and Starbucks also sell their popular beans both online and on the high street too.

Specialist Importers

At the top end of the coffee drinkers menu are the more exclusive importers who usually hand select their stock from smaller, less well known, fair trade sources. Some specialist beans can be expensive, but that doesn’t appear to deter their growing market share.

Coffee Pod Machines

Imagine if you will, a large range of carefully selected beans from around the world. Grind and package those beans into individual pods, sealed for freshness, consistency and convenience and you have an individual pod system. A selection of different Ristretto’s, espresso’s, lungo’s and decaffinated’s ready to use with no mess, no waste and no hassle.

History of Coffee Drinking in the UK

Coffee was introduced into Europe in early 1600’s, brought back by merchants visiting the Middle East, first into Venice and then, rapidly spreading throughout Europe. Coffee houses soon sprung up, especially in London, which back then had more than it does today. These houses were often the centres for business, with The London Stock Exchange for example, originating in Jonathan’s Coffee House in Change Alley which was frequented by many stockbrokers of the day, and likewise, in Lombard street, Edwards Lloyds coffee house eventually became the headquarters of what we know as Lloyds of London.

edward lloyds coffee house lombard street

These shops were (and still are) popular because of the preparation required to make a good espresso. The ultimate reason for the success of instants was the removal of the inconvenience, mess and time associated with preparation. Today if you want to enjoy a quality bean at home, you first need to grind the beans, and then use one of several different methods for passing hot water through those grounds at the right speed.

Hence, many keen coffee drinkers chose a miniature version of the larger barista machines found in commercial shops and cafes. These do the same job as professional machines, but can be considered overkill if you are only planning to brew in small quantities.


The Barista

Although in literal translation, Barista in Italian means “Bartender” or “Bar Person”, in English our translation takes it to mean a trained Espresso machine operator. In addition to having a very detailed knowledge of espresso coffee preparation, a Barista must also be familiar with all the different drink recipe preparations from cappuccinos, Viennese, latte’s, and all the other different coffee drinks listed here. A Barista is to coffee what a Sommelier is to wine.

Popular Machines

Moka Espresso Coffee Maker

moka coffee machine

Moka Coffee Machine

These are great pots for use with your favourite beans or grounds. Just add the grounds of your choice, fill with water and heat on a gas or electric cooker ring for great result in a few minutes.

While being an old school way of making your favourite brew, these Moka pots are simple but effective for all loose grounds.

Dolce Gusto Machines

Dolce Gusto Coffee machines

Dolce Gusto Coffee Machines

The Delonghi Dolce Gusto is a very compact and neat little machine. It takes pods that come in a large variety of different flavours and bean varieties. Personally I am not a fan of the Dolce Gusto milk pods which come with the milk based latte pods. I prefer to use fresh milk and a milk frother such as the Aeroccino that is available from Nespresso.

Nescafe Dolce Gusto Pod Flavours

Lungo Intenso, Espresso Caramel, Choco Caramel, Espresso Macchiato, Espresso Macchiato Decaf, Grande Mild, Espresso Decaf, Caramel Latte Macchiato, Café Au Lait, Espresso Barista, Vanilla Latte Macchiato, Grande Intenso, Grande Caffè Crema, Americano, Cappuccino Ice, Espresso Intenso, Espresso Ristretto, Skinny Cappuccino, Skinny Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato, Latte Unsweetened, Chococino, Mocha, Lungo, Lungo Mild, Lungo Decaf.

Prices start from £0.23 per cup

Nespresso Pixie

Nespresso Pixie

Nespresso Pixie

How to use the Nespresso Pixie;

The Magimix Nespresso Pixie Coffee Machine is one of our favourites for a couple of reasons. Firstly they are lightweight and compact machines that still have a good sized water tank and secondly, the choice of different grounds is extensive and the quality is consistent and above average.

These machines are made by Krups and Magimix, with DeLonghi manufacturing some of their larger machines.

Nespresso provide free recycling bags so you can easily store all your used nespresso pods which Nespresso will then collect when they deliver your new  pods. It is a very good system which we have found works very well.

Nespresso Pod Varieties

Intenso: Kazaar, Dharkan, Ristretto, Arpeggio, Roma.

Espresso: Livanto, Capriccio, Volluto, Cosi

Pure Origin: Indriya, Rosabaya, Dulsao

Lungo: Fortissio, Vivalto, Linizio

Decaffinated: Decaffeinato Intenso, Decaffeinato Lungo, Decaffeinato

Additional Flavours: Caramelito, Ciocattino, Vanilio

Prices start from £0.29 per cup

Francis Francis X7 Machine

Francis Francis X7 Coffee Machines

Francis Francis X7 Coffee Machines

How to Use a Francis Francis X7

We love Francis Francis machines. Not only are they beautiful sculptures that are stylish additions to any kitchen, but they let you play at being a real Barista with the whole, bang, grind, scoop, press, experience. These are heavy weight, high quality gadgets that you will love to own.

The only fly in the ointment that we have found is that they seem to be more sensitive to limescale build up than some other machines and if neglected then the heater element will fail. If you buy one of these and live in a medium to hard water area then be sure to descale monthly and you will have years of pleasure from this delightful product.

Senseo Machines

Senseo coffee machine

Senseo Coffee Machine

Douwe Egberts – Senseo Pod Flavours

Dark Roast, Medium Roast, Decaffeinated, French Vanilla, Vienna: Hazelnut Waltz, Sumatra Blend, Colombia, Kona Blend, Espresso, Breakfast Blend – 4 Pack of 18ct Pods.

Prices start from £0.15 per cup

Coffee Machine Maintenance

Whatever machine you decide to choose, the one thing that they all have in common is that over time they will need to be descaled. If you don’t descale your machine, then two things will happen, firstly you will find that slowly, over time, the quality of the coffee your machine produces is affected. Secondly, if left to scale up then in time the heater element in your machine will fail and need to be replaced. Depending on the hardness of the water in your area, you should descale every 30 – 90 days for best results.

How to Descale your Machine

Choose from the best coffee machines available online today;


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