Currently Browsing: Home Appliances

Luxury Buy for February: A New Bean to Cup Coffee Machine

Luxury Buy for February: A New Bean to Cup Coffee Machine

Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and splash out on something for you. That’s why I’ve just bought myself a new bean-to-cup coffee machine and I’m LOVING the fresh coffee it provides each morning.

It wasn’t cheap – but it was worth the money. If you’re a coffee fanatic you won’t get fresher coffee even in a cafe!

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time researching coffee machines, especially on sites like BeanToCupCoffee.co.uk. I was confused about the difference between bean-to-cup machines and espresso…whether I needed a burr grinder or something else…and why some machines are cappuccino makers while others just do “milk frothing.” That’s why I’ve decided to write this post – to help you get fresh coffee without needing to get through the same painful research process.

What is a bean-to-cup coffee machine?

There are basically three types of coffee machine – filter, espresso and bean-to-cup. Filters make black coffee like you’d get in an a 70s cafe. Espresso machines can make – you guessed it – espresso but only from ground coffee. Bean to cup coffee machines can make coffee directly from the beans (the machines grind beans automatically).

So why did I choose a bean to cup model? The simple reason is that I found out how much taste is lost when beans are ground. When you drink ground coffee, much of the oil has evaporated as it was only being protected by the bean.

The longer time between grinding and brewing, the less tasty your coffee will be.

That’s why a bean-to-cup machine is so great. Instead of using pre-ground coffee, it grinds new beans for EVERY coffee you make. That means there is very little time for the oils to evaporate and the coffee tastes much fresher.

Do you need a cappuccino model?

Some of the bean-to-cup machines I was looking at could automatically make cappuccino. For those who don’t know, this involves frothing milk and adding just the right amount to the coffee.

I went for a middle ground – the machine I chose has a milk frother but it doesn’t do it automatically. I have to admit my first attempts at making a cappuccino weren’t great, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now!

I’m thinking of starting a YouTube channel soon, and one of the first videos I’ll post is about the machine I bought (the Delonghi Esam). I’ve picked up some tips for making amazing coffee with it – I think you’ll enjoy it!

But for now check out the video below. It’s not he exact machine I’ve bought, but it’s pretty close:

What Makes Some Vacuums Quieter Than Others?

What Makes Some Vacuums Quieter Than Others?

Like most people, I HATE noise. I like my home to be a quiet haven of contemplation (kind of).

So one thing I really hate is a loud vacuum. In fact, when I buy a new vacuum, the first thing I check is its decibel rating. Anything higher than 85dB and its a definite no-no.

This has caused endless arguments with my partner, who assumes that the louder a motor the better the suction…

I was intrigued though – what makes one vacuum louder than another. And does a vacuum being quiet mean it’ll be less powerful? Here’s what I found.

The Recommended Noise Level for a Vacuum is 70dB

There are guidelines for how loud a vacuum should be in order to maintain comfortable noise levels, and it turns out that the recommended level is just 70dB.

This surprised me, as most vacuums are considerably noisier than this. Dysons, for example, are known to be as loud as 90dB when used in high-power mode! And from looking at other brands, I would say that the average is around 80-85dB, which is a LOT louder.

But this recommendation is real, at least in the US, as it helps to reduce noise pollution. So why are so many vacuums so noisy in comparison?

My opinion is that most are just plain lazy. They know that most people won’t even consider the noise of a vacuum before they buy, so they cut corners and produce inefficient models.

Come on vacuum manufacturers – get your act together!

The Noise of a Vacuum Depends on How It’s Been Designed

This is obvious, so I’ll be more specific.

Most vacuums have a high speed fan, which creates a suction force at the centre and expulsion of air at the edges. There are variations on how different brands build their vacuums, but this is the basic idea.

For cyclonic vacuums, such as Dysons, the dust is remove from air by centrifugal force. This requires that air is pushed rapidly, which creates additional noise. It’s my suspicion that this is why Dysons are ALWAYS so loud – they are all cyclonic.

Of course, the motor also plays a big role in how loud a vacuum is – but it’s not uncommon to find that shifting between low and high power modes doesn’t change the noise output (although it usually does).

Girl shouting through megaphone

It sometimes feels vacuum manufacturers don’t care about noise levels.

Quiet Vacuums Aren’t Always Less Powerful

It’s a common misconception that a louder vacuum must have more suction. It seems to make sense, right?

But it’s not true. A vacuum can be built to be highly efficient, quiet and STILL have incredible suction. And a model so loud it bursts your ear drums can be poorly designed and have terrible suction.

The bad news is that the quiet models are hard to find. I’ve found this list of the best silent vacuums though, and there looks to be some great models on there. You can also try searching Amazon, although there doesn’t seem to be a way to filter by noise level.

(If you’re listening, Amazon, please add this feature!)

Who Needs a Quiet Vacuum?

Now, you might be wondering whether it really matters if your vacuum is loud…

For most people, it’s true that it doesn’t really matter how noisy your vacuum is. You probably only turn it on for an hour or so each week, so it’s not the end of the world if it’s overly noisy.

But there are some people who REALLY need quieter appliances. I’m talking about people living in flats (you don’t want to annoy your neighbours), people who work anti-social hours so can only clean at night, people with children who wake easily, or people with a crazy dog (like me) who wants to kill anything that makes more than 70dB noise.

If any of these sounds like you, I would seriously recommend looking at the noise level of your next vacuum. It’s such a relief when you can switch on a model and still have a conversation over the noise, compared to the ear blast you get from Dysons.

 

How to Choose an Amazing Kettle

How to Choose an Amazing Kettle

There’s nothing better than sitting down with a relaxing cup of tea in-front of Bake Off – at least for the average Brit!

Considering how much time we spend drinking tea though, most of us put very little thought into the kettle we buy. Most of us just pick the first one we see at Tesco, or the one that has the highest number of reviews on Amazon.

While it’s true that most kettles “do the job,” at least when it comes to heating up water, there’s a great variety of features available on high-end kettles. And it goes without saying you need to pay a bit more if you want a stylish retro kettle!

So with that said, here’s a list of things to look for when buying a kettle:

  • Type. Believe it or not, many people still use kettles heated on the stove. Known as stove-top kettles, these bring a stylish retro design to your kitchen that’s impossible to match with an electric model – and they also look GREAT. The downside is, of course, that they are much slower to boil (although usually more durable), but if you’re interested I recommend looking at buying a Wesco kettle. They are built with high-quality materials and have a beautiful whistle.
  • Capacity. If you have a big family of tea drinkers, don’t get a tiny kettle. Simple as that.
  • Boiling Quickness. The average Brit drinks 10,009 cups of tea per year (I just made that up, but you get the idea). What I’m trying to say is that we spend a LOT of time waiting for the kettle to boil. If you’re in a hurry, get a kettle that boils quickly – you’ll thank me later.
  • Price. Another obvious thing to consider is the price of the kettle. I don’t want my tea to taste of plastic or take hours to boil, so I don’t mind spending a bit extra on a decent model. I recommend you do the same.

If you want my opinion, I LOVE stove top whistling kettles. There’s nothing more satisfying than the anticipation of the whistle building in strength so you know your teas nearly ready. Check out this video to see what I mean:

Stove tops definitely aren’t for everyone, but if you’re into retro styling then they are a great choice for a kitchen.