23. June 2014 · Comments Off on Quick Tip: How to Ensure Your Espresso Machine Leaks · Categories: Coffee & Tea, Quick Tips · Tags: , ,

Here’s a couple of foolproof ways to make sure the brewhead gasket on your espresso machine leaks like crazy whenever you try to pull a shot:

  1. Always overfill your filter basket. Don’t worry about proper dosing – if some coffee is good, more coffee is great! Cram that thing full and tamp it with your full body weight if you have to.
  2. Always crank the portafilter as tight as humanly possible into the grouphead. Way past the point of solid, uniform contact. If you’re not grinding the basket into the brass handle, you’re letting the caffeine escape!
  3. When not using the machine, keep the portafilter handle locked tightly into the brewing group. It stays hotter and there’s less chance of it getting lost. Keep it tight whether the machine’s hot, cool, warming, or cooling. You want consistently compressed rubber!

Seriously – don’t do these things. Dose properly, lock the handle just until you get a good seal, and if you keep the portafilter on the machine always, turn it until it just contacts the gasket. It’ll stay, I promise. Otherwise, you’ll flatten, deform, or crack the rubber seal.


13. November 2013 · Comments Off on Quick Tip: On the Disposal of Over-ripe Bananas · Categories: Drink, Quick Tips · Tags: , , , ,

When the ‘nanners on your counter start getting a little too long in the tooth, peel ’em and freeze ’em.

Later, cut your frozen banana into chunks, add 1/2 cup of yogurt, a sizable drizzle of honey or agave nectar, and enough milk or soymilk to bring the total volume up to about 14 oz. Add a dash of cinnamon and blend until smooth (stick blenders are great for this job). Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top, and presto – one breakfast shake.

This, by the way, is an excellent vehicle for blending in nasty supplement things like fiber, bran, flax-seed oil, etc.

24. July 2013 · Comments Off on On the Merits of Summer-style Adult Beverages · Categories: Drink, Spirits & Cocktails

It’s that time of year again, kiddies of the legal-drinking-age persuasion. It’s time to mix up tall glasses of cold beverages with a kick. Here’s a few to get your juices going. We’ll start with a handful of spiked lemonades.

Pink Lemonade

In a tall glass, combine:
6 ice cubes
2-3 dashes Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters
8 oz. lemonade
1 jigger (1.5 oz) dry gin (Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire)
Club soda to fill

Stir to mix, garnish with a mint sprig.


In a tall glass, place:
A generous layer of raspberries, sliced strawberries, or blackberries macerated overnight with sugar

In a cocktail shaker, shake with ice until cold:
10 oz. lemonade
2 oz vodka (citron or limon optional)
1 sprig of mint, bruised or torn

Pour, ice and all, over berries. Garnish with sugared lemon slice.

Cucumber Refresher

In a tall glass, muddle:
2-3 slices of cucumber
1 sprig of basil

In a cocktail shaker, shake with ice until cold:
10 oz. lemonade
2 oz. Hendrick’s gin

Pour iced liquid over cukes/basil. Garnish with cucumber slice.


In a cocktail shaker, shake with ice:
6 oz. orange juice
4 oz. limeade
2 oz. citrus-flavored vodka

Serve in tall glass with an orange or tangerine wheel.

Who can forget the Gin and Tonic?

Place 3-4 ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass, add a jigger of dry gin (your preference). Squeeze in the juice from a small lime wedge, then toss the wedge in the glass. Top up with tonic water, stir, and sip. For a variation on the theme, use bitter lemon (tonic with lemon juice) instead of plain tonic water. Repeat as necessary.

And a simple, manly classic, the Whiskey Highball

Fill tall glass with ice, add 2 oz of your favorite American whiskey (bourbon, rye, Canadian blended if you must), top off with club soda, stir, and garnish with a lemon twist.


25. May 2012 · Comments Off on Quick Tip: Make your own fruit “soda” · Categories: Drink, Quick Tips

Why spend $5 for a four-pack of sparking juices when you can do the same thing yourself for less than half that cost?

Organic or high-fruit-content juices are much cheaper in large jugs. Get yourself a selection (I like organic lemonades, Apple & Eve peach-mango or orange-carrot, and Ocean Spray 100% Juice Ruby Red Grapefruit, all of which are available at my local wholesale club) and always keep some in the fridge.

When you’re thirsty, pour half a glass of juice over ice and then top off with club soda or your favorite (non-sweetened) flavored seltzer. Less sugar, refreshingly fizzy, and more economical than buying the same stuff in fancy glass pop bottles.