Tips for Choosing a Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

Are you looking for the best semi-automatic espresso machine you can get, so you can brew your own delicious drinks at home?

Do you want the best quality tasting espresso that has your signature stamp on each cup?

If so, then this free guide will help.

By the time you’re done reading this page, you’ll know exactly what you need to become a home espresso connoisseur.

Why Choose a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine?

In the world of pump-driven espresso machines, there are several different types, including: automatic, semi-automatic and super-automatic.

For many home baristas, the semi-automatic machine is the optimal choice. That’s because it gives you more personal control over the final output and flavor of an espresso drink.

Automatic machines don’t usually appeal to espresso connoisseurs because they don’t give you any control over the outcome of the drink and solely rely on easy-serving-espresso (ESE) pods or capsules.

On the other hand, while super-automatic machines are the most advanced devices in the market, they remove the home brewer from the intimate aspects of making espresso; grinding beans, tamping them, controlling steam pressure, etc. These machines are also a lot more expensive to own.

Semi-automatic espresso machines offer the best mix of automation and control for a home brewer. With this type of machine you can get the best-quality and taste out of your coffee beans without a whole lot of extra effort.

In fact, many people spend years perfecting their style and technique to brewing espresso. This means that every time you brew a cup, it’s another chance to hone in on your signature taste and play with the subtle nuances that go into your version of the perfect espresso, cappuccino or latte.

What Makes these Machines so Desirable?

Now, keep in mind that semi-automatic espresso machines are just that – semi-automatic. You’ll find that some of the steps to making espresso are automated, but many are not. This is what allows you to put your personal stamp on the final product.

Below is a list of some of the features that make a semi-automatic espresso machine so desirable:

The water pressure and temperature are automated so these always stay consistent
You control the amount of steam and water flow for individual preference of taste
You control the pump and its flow by deciding when to turn it on and off
It doesn’t include a built-in bean grinder. You must grind the beans separately and tamp them into the portafilter yourself.
Now that you know why a semi-automatic is a great investment, we’ll go over how to choose the best grinder to compliment your machine.

Choosing the Best Espresso Grinder for Your Device

When owning a semi-automatic espresso machine you have to grind your own coffee beans.

Crafting a perfectly balanced cup of espresso is a real science and it all starts with the beans.

In fact, as soon as you grind coffee beans, they lose 40% of their flavors within just a few minutes. That’s why it’s very important that you brew your coffee drinks right after grinding you beans. Not doing so will rob you of intense espresso flavor.

Blade Grinders

These are cheapest option because they use a stainless steel blade that spins around to chop up to beans. Grind size is inconsistent and impacts the final espresso flavor.

If you’re on a budget, this is a good choice to get you into the world of making espressos using a semi-automatic machine. Once you can afford it, then you can move on to getting a burr grinder.

Burr Grinders

These are the most ideal for making espresso because they actually grind the coffee beans. Grind size is consistent and ensures rich, full flavor espresso with every cup.

The only downside to burr grinders is that they are more expensive than blade grinders. In fact, some models are priced up to the $400 range. However, just because a grinder has a higher price tag doesn’t mean it will extract much more flavor. Our suggestion is that you go for a medium price burr grinder ($100-200), and save the extra money on buying a more advanced semi-automatic espresso machine.


Buying Cookware: Simply Calphalon or Kitchen Aid KCH1S10KD ?

First, I did not receive these products for free, I bought them. The Simply Calphalon was rated a best buy by CR and I thought that the specs for the Kitchen Aid KitchenAid KCH1S10KD Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set – Black Diamond made them worth consideration. I have been in the restaurant business for over 30 years so I have a lot of experience with pans, mostly professional cookware sets. So that is my point of reference. The Calphalon and Kitchen Aid are in the same mid-range price point (170 – 220). Truthfully they are very similar but not equal.

First thing I noticed was that the Simply Calphalon were slightly smaller. Especially the Saute pan. The Kitchen Aid set is dishwasher safe, Calphalon is not. For better or worse (as you’ll read better in this case) the Kitchen Aid are heavier. The Calphalon are double-coated nonstick, the Kitchen Aid are triple-coated. Packaging for KA says oven safe to 350 degrees and Cal. says 400. Amazon says 500 for KA vs 400 for Cal. Being curious I had both in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes with no issues. Both are Hard Anodized aluminum. If you have an induction cooktop only KA is compatable.

What is Hard Anodized and does it matter? Hard Anodized pans are naturally nonstick, and completely chemical-free. These pans are made with an aluminum base, which essentially gets submerged in a sulfuric acid bath that has low electrical charges running through it. As it cools, it causes the pans exterior to anodize. A hard anodized pan is extremely strong, has a long lifespan, and because it is virtually non-porous, it resists sticking. Add a few layers of non-stick coating and you have a great, relatively cheap (cost wise), pan.

So what are meaningful differences? The most important, and the one most often overlooked by consumers, is that Calphalon set is 3.2mm thick and the Kitchen Aid is 4.5mm thick. Meaning (all else being equal) the Kitchen Aid is more thermally conductive and durable. And my non-scientific tests show this. The KA heats up far quicker, stays at temp longer and cooks more evenly. It’s not even close. Boiling water took about 1:30 less time in the KA and eggs cooked over medium heat in far less time. I had to lower the heat on everything I tested with the KA set. It conducted heat far better that my old Cuisinart or the Simply Calphalon. The difference in thickness also accounts for the difference in weight.

Calphalon double-coated and KA has a triple-coated non-stick coating. The name is pretty explanatory but does it really matter? Yes and no. Right out of the box there is no noticible difference. However, in 4-5 years there should be a difference. Kitchen Aid’s triple-coating should last longer and look better. We’ll wait and see.

The Kitchen Aid is dishwasher safe the Simply Calphalon is not. Truthfully, I don’t care what the manufacture says if you want you cookware to last don’t put it in the dishwasher. With the non-stick coating it takes little effort to clean these so it’s not worth it. Also, don’t use metal instruments and never use cooking spray. Buy silicon utensils and a oil mister. The utensils are cheap and a mister lasts forever and is less expensive than 2 cans of Pam. (Guide: Investing on cookware set)

Real world cooking experience. After spending a week with each I gave the Calphalon to my son who recently moved out. They are nice pans and should take most of his abuse but they do not compare with the Kitchen Aid set. Cooking is quicker, food cooks more evenly and they look great. The deep black finish and flat tops are a stark change from the grey, domed cookware you usually see. I did find that the handles of the Calphalon set were slightly more comfortable. But that is subjective. Anyway who holds their pans for more than 10 seconds at a time? Neither sets handles became hot but, as expected, the handles on the lids of both became hot.

Other related posts:

The Best Kitchen Knives For The Home Cook

If you love cooking like I do you end up spending a lot of time chopping, and prepping for each meal. A good kitchen knife can save you a lot of time and money. I have tried several brands of knives on the market and came up with a few of the best kitchen knives out there. Before I continue I will say you pay for quality while most of the thee knives are pricey they are well worth it and you will not have to buy another one for years to come.

If you are only going to buy one knife in your lifetime I recommend the Shun Fuji chef’s knife. when it comes to chef knives this one puts all other to shame, and is by far the best kitchen knives on the market. The Shun Fuji chef’s knife sells for around $400-$600 but can sometimes be found on sale for much cheaper. It is light weight and super sharp. It has a 161-layer blade that is thin and light. The handle is what was once traditionally used in Japan to make samurai sword handles. This knife is definitely a machine and can even cut though bone with no problem. I have never been more impressed with a knife more then this one.

For the best all around kitchen knives it would have to be Shun Kaji Ultimate Utility Knife. If you need to slice or cut something this heavy duty this guy will do it. This knife is price at $200 but once again you can find it on sale. it has a 65-layer blade the serrated blade cuts through a wide range of foods. Like the chefs knives it was also Inspired by centuries-old samurai sword making techniques. This knife will quickly replace every knife in your home, and then some.

The last knife I think is the best kitchen knife on the market and the last knife you would need to round off your set here is Shun Classic Wide Paring Knife. Every kitchen needs a good paring knife and this one sets the bar high. This knife works great at crushing garlic, chopping herbs, or peeling fruits and vegetables. It sales for around $100 but i got mine for $75. It has 69 microthin layers of stainless steel, and a beautiful PakkaWood handle.

After owning these three knives I can not see myself buying any others for a very long time, and I’m sure after you have tried them out you will agree that they are the very best kitchen knives out there.

Finding a Family Tent for a Backpacking Reunion Trip

When my three college buddies and I planned a reunion in the form of a backpacking trip with our families, I wasn’t prepared for the challenges I’d meet. All of us had young families with two or three kids. The families were familiar with each other and the idea of coming together in the wild was met with excitement. My problem was that I hadn’t gone to a camping trip before. I had to start preparing from scratch. My wife helped a lot in finding the supplies we needed for the trip. Finding a good tent was the main problem.

With three young kids, I had to find a family backpacking tent for all of us. The kids weren’t old enough to be allowed to sleep in their won tent. Most of the people I asked for advise only gave ideas about tents for one or two people. The tents my buddies advocated for were either out of stock or, simply didn’t meet my demands. I wanted a tent that was big enough for my young family, was durable, lightweight and comfortable. The only option that remained was using the internet.

My first search was for family backpacking tents. The search results included thousands of pages on different family tents. When studying these results, I came across a website with the best family backpacking tent review. I used this page as my guide to finding top tents since it contained detailed instructions how to find s good family backpacking tent along with examples. Although the site contained sample tents, I didn’t buy one as I considered them beyond my budget. However, I used the information gained from the site to find and compare among leading family backpacking tents until I found the right one for my family.

The camping reunion was probably the most fun group activity I’ve been engaged in in my adult life. The tent held out well and is actually expected to be used for the next camping trip scheduled to happen in four months time.

Elliptical That Suits My Needs and Budget

The decision to buy an elliptical trainer is a very good one, since it is both beneficial and fun to own one. But since there are endless options to choose from, finding the best ellipticals under 1000 that suits your budget and needs is something that takes time and research. For your own benefit, here is a look at some of the best ellipticals.

Top on the list is the Horizon Fitness EX-57 Elliptical Trainer. It is arguably one of the leading entrants available for the home market from UHOsports. It literally brings the gym to your house, enabling you to enjoy a high-caliber, efficient workout at your own pace. It lets you choose one of three different goals which include calories, distance and time and three different terrains which include hills, reverse train and manual. If you are on a tight budget but still wants an effective elliptical trainer, this is a good choice.

Another outstanding brand is the E95 SOLE Elliptical. This is an absolute best buy in every sense. It uses a vibrant LCD which is used in a number of class models. Also included are a bottle can holder and a built-in cooling fan. With inbuilt speakers, you can enjoy MP3 music while working out. It also features built-in pulse sensors which play a vital role in monitoring your heart rate. For a comfortable workout, it also comes with foot pedals that feature durable foam cushioning.

Last is the outstanding ProForm 990 CSE. This is an appealing model that suits anyone on a tight budget or one without a lot of room space. It offers a powered incline feature which comes in effective in how much you get out of your workout. Another outstanding feature is adjustable stride length that enables you adjust it to whatever feels comfortable for you. It also has excellent console features that make workout much more comfortable. These include a built-in fan and pulse sensor. (Take a look at their website)

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