26 Sep 2011

Review: Saeco Lavazza A Modo Mio Extra Coffee Machine


I have spent a very happy few weeks or so testing, on a daily basis, a Limited Edition Blue Saeco Lavazza A Modo Mio Extra Coffee Machine (the coffee machine isn't supplied with a shot glass).

The coffee machine arrived with five boxes of Lavazza Modo Mio coffee capsules, which includes one box of decaffeinated. There are eight capsules in each box, all of which are excellent in taste quality and also have a great after taste, giving a true Italian espresso.


If you are, or have been thinking about buying a coffee machine which takes capsules, then hopefully you will find the following information useful.

The coffee machine is quickly set up and can at the press of a button produce an espresso and steamed milk, which you can make effortlessly and extremely quickly. Within a very short time you will learn how to make a good espresso and also how to texture the milk.

Photograph showing the water tank which slides off for filling.


To Make an Espresso: Place a capsule in the slot, pull the loading lever forward and down, press coffee brew button, the machine will make an espresso, press the coffee brew button to stop the flow and return the lever to eject the used capsule.

This is one of my best efforts at foaming the milk - not quite there yet, but as you can see from the photograph I have made microfoam.


This photograph is to show, that with practice, the milk can be textured and you will then get a far superior latte. Still not quite enough texturing though to make latte art. The instruction book gives full details showing how to achieve textured milk and latte art, it just needs practice.


This coffee shows one of my earliest attempts at foaming the milk - this is the equivalent to how coffee looks on the high street. Not bad but can be improved upon.


Forget all about foam and all of the bubbles you are presented with at some coffee shops, and sadly, in some of the independent coffee shops too. You can produce much better foamed and textured milk at home with the Lavazza coffee machine.

Pros:

Fabulous range of colours.
Chic, no mess and easy to use.
The machine is supplied with 5 varieties of coffee capsules, each box containing 8 coffee capsules.
Lavazza coffee is excellent quality.
Lavazza coffee capsules can be bought in most supermarkets.
It is possible to quickly learn how to foam milk to a good standard.
With practice you can foam the milk to a very high standard.
After a short time practicing steaming the milk, it is possible to texture the milk, and if you are clever enough, make latte art.
The machine is capable of making an espresso, as good as or better than, any high street chain coffee shop.
Preheating the machine for 20-30 minutes (although no mention of this is made in the manual), I believe you can expect to make an espresso which exceeds the quality you can buy on the high street.
There is a draw which holds up to 10 empty capsules and these only need to be emptied out every few days and the draw can then be cleaned too.
Minimal cleaning required.
There is a User Manual A Modo Mio Coffee Menu giving detailed instructions for making everything from an espresso to a caffe mocha.

Cons:

The steam wand is about 1cm too short which may make it difficult to foam the milk until you get used to using a suitable jug and steaming the milk.
It is essential to buy a small stainless steel jug, preferably from Lavazza, to ensure the jug is the correct size.
The User Manual has a few errors with regards to the steaming button operation.
Pressing down the steaming button manually is uncomfortable.

Summing Up:

One of my passions is coffee, and for the last few years I have owned a Gaggia Classic Coffee Machine and a Rancilio Grinder. I also buy top quality freshly roasted coffee beans, which from the time they are freshly roasted, arrive on my doorstep approximately two days later. My coffee machine has now been fitted with a PID, which in layman's terms means, good brew temperature control.

As I already own a coffee machine, it is impossible not to make comparisons whilst testing and reviewing. This was a wonderful opportunity to try a quality coffee machine which takes top quality coffee capsules, and can also foam the milk. I know I will use this machine on a weekly basis, even though I have used my Gaggia for a few years now.

The Lavazza coffee machine has given my Gaggia Classic a run for it's money and other than a few niggles, I'm in love. If you can afford it, I would suggest looking at the Premium model because it will dispense a measured shot of coffee, and also you don't have to keep the steam button pressed down.

The Lavazza coffee machine can make a range of coffees. It surely has to be one of the best coffee capsule machines on the market. RRP £125.

Thank you for the fabulous Lavazza coffee machine.



11 Sep 2011

Giant Chocolate Buttons Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week 12-18 September 2011


It's National Cupcake Week and I decided to make some very easy chocolate cupcakes and decorate them with giant chocolate buttons.

The Giant Chocolate Buttons are from Marks and Spencer and look like real buttons. They come in a fabulous box with a real button attached, all of the buttons are in individual wrappers to stop the chocolate getting marked. Brilliant product.

I am not going to take any credit for the idea of using these buttons because the lady who owns my local coffee shop makes cupcakes topped with these, so lets say, I just borrowed the idea. I know she won't mind and will be flattered that I went home and made some too.

I have been having some problems with cupcake cases from one of the large supermarkets getting squashed in my muffin tin. By this, I mean when the cupcakes have been removed from the tin the concertina's on the cupcake cases have squashed themselves into the baked cupcake, it doesn't happen to all of them though. I think this is because the cupcake cases are too large for the tin. It isn't a problem that I have encountered before. Has anyone else had any problems with cupcake cases or am I on my own with this problem?

Happy Cupcake Week!

4 Sep 2011

Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat


I would like to introduce you to a blog that is written by a lady who lives in France - Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat which translates to Linen, Gingerbread & Chocolate. I have corresponded with Veronique, the writer of the blog, for some time now. It was from her love of reading English Literature, and Sussex Pond Pudding being mentioned in the book Veronique was currently reading, that she did an Internet search to see what the pudding was and found my blog, because I have a couple of postings on here for Sussex Pond Pudding. By coincidence, Veronique used to be a French teacher at the same school in London where my daughter is now a teacher!



The blog covers food, interiors, travel, film, novels, photography and her love for the UK and beyond. No tickets or travel required, click on the link to take a look at this beautiful blog Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat.

2 Sep 2011

Raspberry, Blueberry and Lime Drizzle Cake


This cake is definitely one I will be making time and time again and I can't believe it has taken me so long to get round to making it.

It's full of fruity goodness and is a cake cum dessert bake. The lime drizzle is fresh and tangy, so it's a win, win bake.

I used frozen fruit and it worked perfectly, a tip here is not to stir frozen fruit into the cake mix or you will end up with streaked batter. I always put the batter into the lined tin and then simply put the fruit on top and press it down.


When it's cooled down cut into slices and put in the freezer for cake or dessert time!

The recipe is from the BBC Good Food website who, as always, bring us the most amazing bakes.

I know that there has been a lot in the press lately regarding obesity but it's everything in moderation. Although there are a number of sweet bakes on my website, I don't eat cake all day long:( My intake of cake is confined to one piece of cake in the evening with a cup of coffee, this ritual seems to take place at around 9 pm each evening and I am non the worse for this, because cake makes me happy! Most of the bakes on my website can be cut into sensible size portions and frozen, then thawed either in the microwave or at room temperature.

Happy baking and enjoy!