The Uber Cool Tips and Tricks That Espresso Coffee Maker Owners Should Try

The path to making that perfect cup of espresso can be arduous and tricky, my friend. Buying the espresso machine is just the first step. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make a better shot of espresso and to make the best use that slinky machine of yours-

First, keep in mind the five integral factors that come into consideration while making a great cup of coffee – the Grind, Coffee Beans, Water, the Espresso machine and You.

1. Grind

In your quest for coffee apprentices, remember, chose your grinder wisely.

This, is the make or break component of the espresso. You must aim for the perfect coffee grind, therefore, the grinder is integral to the process, if the coffee grind is too coarse there won’t be optimal extraction since the pressurized water will pass through too fast, and, if the grind is too fine, the water won’t get through and it will clog up the filter.

Your grind should feel like table salt rather than sugar or flour.

You will be forced re-calibrate your grinder many times, in some instances even for the same batch and roast of coffee. So invest in a good grinder.

Keep in mind that mastering this skill is something that takes time, practice and patience. Yet, once you get the hang of this, not only will you be able to taste the finer, intricate notes of the coffee but most importantly you will be able to adjust it to your liking.

2. Coffee Beans

Excellent coffee beans= Excellent espresso.

Fresh coffee beans make a huge difference in the flavoring and taste of your espresso. Ideally, your roast should be three days old for the best coffee experience, pass the five-day mark and your beans start to get stale and lose their intensity.

Ideally, freshly roasted beans are recommended for espressos.

Roast your beans in small batches and DO NOT refrigerate. The condensation residue formed on the coffee and the oils inside that crystallize ultimately serve to distort its flavor. Temperature control is part of the preparation as it preserves the unique taste of your coffee.

Always keep your roasted beans away from sunlight, moisture, and oxygen.

3. Water

Water is key in the brewing process since it makes up 98% of your coffee. Water acts as a solvent to extract and dissolve the flavor compounds, therefore it can increase or decrease body, impact acidity and influence the filtration.

The best water to coffee ratio is 17.4 units of water to a unit of coffee.

Avoid using ionized or distilled water. Distilled water has a tendency to wear away the machine in order to extract minerals. This erosion will eventually damage your boiler, fittings, and pipes. Also, your espresso will taste weird.

Moderate soft water is recommended since hard water will eventually leave residue in your machine.

Filtered, cool, fresh water ensures the best results.

4. The Espresso Machine

Remember to read the manual closely since each machine is different. Take the time to learn the process of making the espresso and enjoy it.

Maintain your machine and clean it regularly.

5. You

Espresso making is an art form and people sometimes spend lifetimes searching for their espresso. An espresso machine allows you more control and choice but it is important to learn and experiment in order to get your ‘god ‘ shot. The perfect espresso is subjective even if it hits all the checkboxes of quality. You will learn about yourself, your machine and your coffee while making it. It is a journey.

Time, patience and experience are key.

Now, a few tips and tricks to help you use your espresso machine better,

  • Always preheat your machine, portafilter, and cup using a ‘blank’ shot before you start making your espresso so that it doesn’t cool the extraction down when you’re pulling the actual shot.
  • Don’t delay. Lock the portafilter handle into the group head and start the extraction process immediately. Coffee left in the portafilter will burn quickly.
  • Time your brewing. The pour time has to remain constant. Stay between 28 and exceed 30 seconds. A single shot of espresso should ideally produce 25- 30 ml in approximately 25-30 seconds. A double shot of espresso should have 60 ml in 25 seconds.
  • Keep in mind the type of cream you are looking for, white crema means it was extracted too quickly while dark brown indicates it was too slow. The idea cup of espresso will have a golden layer of crema on top.
  • Do a light tamp before the heavy tamping to ensure that the coffee is evenly distributed and always brush the excess remaining grounds off the portafilter rim as these will eventually wear out the group gasket.
  • Don’t tap the portafilter after tamping. After tamping, you have a compressed cake of coffee and the shock of tapping can crack it. Any fissures in the puck at that point are not likely to be sealed up properly by a second tamp, and they’ll create pathways for the water to channel through the puck instead of evenly saturating and extracting it.
  • You can do it before tamping while the grounds are loose, it helps settle and re-distribute the grounds, which can be a good thing.
    Once the puck is tamped, leave it be and pull the shot.
  • You should clean the group and the portafilter periodically. When cleaning the equipment, your goal is to break down the remnant old oils and eliminate them. Don’t use harsh soaps to clean any of your espresso-making equipment as it can taint the flavoring of your espressos.
  • Make sure your portafilter and tamper match, otherwise there will be problems with consistency which will lead to channeling, so make sure they are the right match.

Hopefully, these tips will help you on your path to the ‘god’ shot comrades. Remember practice and experimentation is vital for brewing the best espresso possible.…

Application Process for Marijuana in Detroit

Medical marijuana has actually been around in Michigan for quite some time – believe it or not, state voters approved the original legislation way back in November 2008. However, under a new set of laws that went into effect back in December 2016, the state is finally starting to see its expected surge in MMJ applicants. And fortunately, the new application process is very streamlined and simple.

To help you navigate the process read this article exhaustively.

First, though, it’s important to understand that only applicants through the official Michigan Medical Marijuana Program may obtain a registry ID card. There have been reports of third-party licensing and rumors that a physician’s recommendation and a completed application may serve as a temporary registration card, but this is not true.

Also, if you are applying for a medical card in Michigan or have applied for one in the past, it is important to understand the following:

  • All aspects of medical marijuana registration are administered through the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR), which is housed in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)
  • Any other vendor(s) claiming to supply marijuana ID cards – or claiming to be able to issue them in the same day – in MI are not legitimate.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card?

Residents of Michigan actually have it relatively easy compared to other states in the country in terms of applying for medical marijuana. Here are the basic steps for how to apply for a medical marijuana card in Michigan:

Update: As of December 6, 2018, recreational cannabis is legal in Michigan (due to the passing of Proposal 1). However, recreational dispensaries will not be up and running and adults will not be able to access any marijuana products until early 2020. For the time being, applying for an MMJ card is still the only way to purchase and use legal medical marijuana in Michigan.

You don’t need to be michigan medical card application any form of physician, you just need to be a certified physician by the State of Michgan.

Step 1 – Download the official application and meet with a doctor

The first step to applying for a medical marijuana card in the state of Michigan is to download and print the official MMMP Application Packet.

Once you have the application, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a currently licensed/practicing doctor in the state of Michigan to see whether or not you have a condition that qualifies for treatment with medical marijuana (see list of qualifying conditions below).

On the last page of the application is the Physician Recommendation Form – this will need to be filled out and signed by the recommending doctor and submitted along with the other documents in the application packet.

Also, it is important to understand that the state of Michigan does not supply a list of marijuana-recommending physicians – you will need to take initiative and get in touch with a physician’s office to see if a cannabis recommendation is a possibility (feel free to get in touch with us for recommendations on where you can go).
Also, beware that many offices will charge a consultation fee that is additional to the state’s application fee.

Step 2 – Complete the application packet and gather supplemental documents

After you have visited your doctor and he/she has filled out the Physician Recommendation Form documenting that you have a medical marijuana-qualifying condition, you will need to proceed with filling out the rest of the Application Packet.

Please note that in order to get a Medical Marijuana Card in Michigan, you MUST be a resident of the state. You will need to provide proof of residency via one of the following ways:

  • A valid Michigan driver’s license, OR
  • A personal ID card from the state of MI, OR
  • A signed MI voter registration card

A clear and legible copy of one of the above forms MUST be mailed in with the application packet to be considered for approval. Also, be aware that a copy of a voter registration card without a signature is not valid – if you submit your proof of residency via voter registration, you will need to include additional proof of identity via a government-issued document that includes your name and birth (if you have any questions about which type of documents qualify, call 517-284-6400 or e-mail [email protected]).

In addition to the proof of residency, all completed applications must include:

  • A $60 patient application fee (in the form of a check or money order made out to State of Michigan – MMMP)
    Also, if you need to have your official caregiver submit your application on your behalf, be advised that the process is somewhat different

Step 3 – Submit the application packet and wait for approval

Once you have your payment and all of your documents completed and in order, you are then ready to mail the Application Packet to the MMMP program for reviewal. Submit all documents (including application packet, physician recommendation form, payment, and proof of residency) to the following address:

Michigan Medical Marihuana Program
PO Box 30083
Lansing, MI 48909

If the application was submitted completely and in order, Michigan is actually required by law to notify you within 15 business days whether it was accepted or rejected. (If you submitted your application more than 5 weeks ago and have not received your registry ID card, you can inquire by calling 517-284-6400 and selecting option #4).

Eligible Conditions to Receive a Medical Marijuana Card?

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, Proposal 1 allows patients suffering from the following conditions to apply for an MMJ card and buy cannabis products from operating dispensaries:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • PTSD
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease

Also, patients suffering from a “chronic or debilitating medical condition” that causes one of the following will be allowed to apply for an MMJ card:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
  • severe and chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures, including those characteristics of epilepsy; or
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristics of multiple sclerosis

Cream Cakes And Gateaux For Special Celebrations

Fresh cream cakes and gateaux are probably the richest and most luxurious of homemade cakes. They can be enjoyed as a desert after a meal with lashings of cream, or as an elegant snack with fresh coffee in the morning, or even with tea in the afternoon – such English style. Whichever you prefer!

Meanwhile, here’s a rich lemon cake for you to try.

Rich Lemon Cream Cake


  • 300ml…1/2 pint fresh double cream
  • 175g…6oz butter, or margarine
  • 175g…6oz caster sugar
  • 175g…6oz self rasing flour(or flour with baking powder added)
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 75g…3oz icing sugar plus a little for dusting
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten


Two greased and base lined 20cm (8in) sandwich tins (layer pans)

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, 350 deg F, Gas Mark 4.
In a large bowl, cream the butter (at room temperature) and sugar together until soft and light. Beat in the grated lemon rind. Add the beaten egg gradually along with a little flour to prevent the mix from splitting.

Then add the rest of the flour – sifted to remove any lumps and gently folded into the mixture to form a smooth batter.

Divide the cake mixture between the two prepared tins and transfer to the centre of the preheated oven. Bake for about 25 mins until well risen, golden and springy to the touch.

Leave the sponges to cool for a few minutes in the tins before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. When cool, stack one sponge on top of the other on a plate, and using a skewer or similar, pierce the top of the cake all over, pushing right through into the bottom layer.

Gently heat the icing sugar and lemon juice together in a small pan until the sugar is dissolved and then pour the syrup slowly over the cake allowing it to soak into the holes. Cover and leave to cool for about an hour.

Whip the cream until thick and after carefully separating the sponge layers, sandwich the cake together.

Dust with icing sugar and enjoy.

(Like most cakes, this freezes well after the lemon syrup has been drizzled onto the cake. So you could bake it and freeze until final preparation on the day it is served)…

European Cakes including a German Chocolate Cake Recipe

This German Chocolate Cake Recipe starts the section on European cakes – those lovely creations that you may have seen in the windows of the cake shops of mainland Europe. Classic British cakes can be found elsewhere so from this page you will be able to link to homemade cake recipes from Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and so on.
Scroll down for the links to more European cake recipes.

But for starters, enjoy this German Chocolate Cake Recipe with hazelnuts and a hint of spice. Like all chocolate cakes it’s lovely with a cup of coffee, or tea, whichever you prefer.

German Chocolate Cake


  • 6oz…175g margarine, or butter (peferably unsalted)
  • 8oz..225g soft dark brown sugar (muscovado is ideal)
  • 5oz…140g self-raising flour (or regular flour with a raising agent added)
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • 3 1/2oz…100g ground hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp strong black coffee
  • Icing sugar to finish


  1. One greased and lightly floured 7 1/2in/19cm kugelhopf tin, or a ring mould of equivalent size.
    Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, 350 deg F, Gas Mark 4.
    This German Chocolate Cake Recipe is not at all difficult. Simply beat the margarine or butter together with the sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, adding a little of the flour after each egg to prevent the mixture from splitting.
  3. Sift the remaining flour, cocoa powder and mixed spice into the mixture and fold in gently. Then add the ground hazelnuts and coffee and fold these in gently until all the ingredients are blended together.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared kugelhopf or ring tin and transfer to the centre of the oven where it should take about 45-50 minutes to bake. It will be springy and golden when cooked.
  5. After removing from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for about 10-15 minutes before carefully turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. A dusting with icing sugar provides the finishing touch, before you serve this cake with a cup of freshly made coffee.

Blueberry Pancake Recipe

I love blueberries. It’s truly an amazing little fruit. And so easy to eat! You don’t need to peel them, or wonder what to do with their seed or how to dispose of their rind. You don’t have sticky fingers either when you’re finished eating (they may be a little blue, but … that’s o.k.). A perfect summer fruit!

Personally, I love to know how beneficial fruit is for me and let me tell you, blueberries are incredibly good for you. This little, tiny fruit is packed full of God’s goodness.

It comes right at the top of anti-oxidants, fighting nasty free radicals in your body. What does this mean for you? Well, antioxidants help fight cancer and build up your immunity. Not only does your immune system benefit but so does your circulatory system, your urinary system and your digestive system. Go blueberries!

Blueberries also help keep your skin healthy and slow down the aging process. Definitely something I want to do!

Apart from eating them by the handful, I love eating blueberries in pancakes. Blueberry pancakes are absolutely scrumptious and make a very satisfying breakfast, lunch or dessert. Go one step further and serve them with homemade blueberry syrup recipe. So delicious!

I love this blueberry pancake recipe. It is very simple to prepare and results in a beautiful light and fluffy pancake. My family loves it.

Blueberry Pancake Recipe

Makes 6 – 10 pancakes


  • 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g butter
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 cups blueberries


  1.  Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy. Melt the butter. Stir the butter and milk into the eggs.
  3. Pour the egg mixture into the well and carefully fold all ingredients together until just mixed through. Do not over beat. Add the blueberries and gently fold through. If mixture is too thick add a little more milk.
  4. Heat a frying pan and grease with a small amount of oil over the surface. Pour approximately 1/3 cup of batter into a moderately hot pan and spread out to desired size. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake.
  5. Carefully turn the pancake over with a large spatula and cook the other side until cooked through.

Fruit Cake Recipes To Tempt You

There are so many fruit cake recipes it’s difficult to know where to start!
Everybody has their favourite recipe – either handed down through the family or discovered hiding on the page of a cookery book or magazine. I love fruit cake recipes, in fact, I probably enjoy making fruit cakes more than anything else, even more than luxurious chocolate cakes. There’s something so wholesome about all that dried fruit, and so many of the good fruit cakes include a splash of alcohol!

Scroll down for more fruit cake recipes, like carrot cake, banana and walnut loaf, banana cake and many more.

Here’s a slightly different fruit cake recipe with a splash of rum and full of raisins, dates, whole glace cherries and nuts.

Fuit Cake With Mixed Nuts


  • 8 oz glace cherries
  • 2 oz (1/3 cup) chopped candied peel
  • 3 fl oz (3/8 cup) rum
  • 1 tsp butter
  • The grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 3 oz (1/2 cup) seedless raisins
  • 7 oz (1 1/4 cups) stoned and chopped dates
  • 5 oz (1 cup) chopped walnuts
  • 5 oz (1 cup) chopped almonds
  • 4 oz (1 cup) flour
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs

Grease a deep, round 8 inch cake tin and line with greaseproof or waxed paper.

Preheat the oven to 300 deg F, 150 deg C, Gas Mark 2.
Mix the candied peel and cherries in a bowl with the rum and leave to soak, giving the mixture an occasional stir. After 30-45 minutes drain the fruit from the rum, keeping the rum for later.

Using a wooden spoon, gently mix all the fruit in a bowl with the nuts, before sifting in the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix gently but thoroughly until all the fruit is coated with the flour mixture.

Beat the eggs and add to the dry ingredients, stirring gently until well mixed. Spoon the mixture from the bowl into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until cooked. As usual, test with a skewer or cocktail stick – when inserted into the centre it should come out clean. The top of the cake can be protected with some foil if it starts to burn during baking.

When cooked, remove the cake fom the oven and carefully pour or spoon the rum over the hot cake. It will provide a slight glaze when cool. After about 30 minutes cooling in the tin, carefully remove the cake from the tin but wait until completely cool before removing the greaseproof or waxed paper.

Make a nice cup of tea or coffee and enjoy a slice of homemade cake while browsing for more fruit cake recipes!…

A Rich Moist Chocolate Cake

Recipe For A Special Treat

A rich moist chocolate cake recipe produces a cake that will be enjoyed by everybody as one of the ultimate comfort foods. Chocolate cakes come in all shapes and sizes but never fail to satisfy when a little indulgence is needed.
From the foot of this page you can link to all sorts of recipes for chocolate cakes including some more unusual recipes from around the world. I haven’t tried all these recipes yet but it’s my ambition to do so. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it!!

Meanwhile, here’s a fairly standard moist chocolate cake recipe that produces a nice cake which everybody should enjoy. The ingredients are in both metric and imperial, but don’t mix them – use one or the other or this moist chocolate cake recipe may be a disaster!

Metric Ingredients

  • 275g soft brown sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 225g flour
  • 2 x 5m spoons baking powder
  • 1 x 2.5 ml spoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 x 2.5 ml spoon salt
  • 100 g butter/margarine
  • 1 x 5 ml spoon vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs – separated
  • 150 ml sour cream


  • 100 g softened butter/margarine
  • 225 g icing sugar
  • 100 g plain chocolate pieces
  • 1 x 15 ml spoon milk
  • 25 g chopped nuts

Imperial Ingredients

  • 10 oz soft brown sugar
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 3 fl oz water
  • 8 oz flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 oz butter/margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs – separated
  • 1/4 pint sour cream


  • 4 oz softened butter/margarine
  • 8 oz icing sugar
  • 4 ozplain chocolate pieces
  • 1 tbs spoon milk
  • 1 oz chopped nuts
  • Heat the oven to 180 deg C, 350 deg F, Gas Mark 4.

Put the water, cocoa powder and 3oz/75g of the sugar in a pan, stir and heat gently until simmering. After a few minutes remove the smooth mixture from the heat and allow to cool down.

Place the all the dry ingredients in a suitable bowl and sift in the flour. In another bowl gently cream together the butter/margarine and the rest of the sugar until fluffy before adding the egg yolks and vanilla essence. Continue beating unti light. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, then fold in the dry ingredients and sour cream a little at a time.

Finally, beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold gently into the cake mixture to achieve a uniform mixture.

Grease a deep 7 in/17.5 cm round baking tin, pour the cake mixture in and transfer to the pre-heated oven.

Follow this moist chocolate cake recipe accurately and typically the cake will take about 1 1/4 hours to bake but as always, ovens vary and the cake should be tested. It is cooked When a skewer or cocktail stick comes out of the cake clean.

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before carefully removing from the tin and returning to the rack to allow it to cool completely.

For the icing, use an electric or hand whisk to beat the butter/margarine until fluffy and light. Continue beating gently while adding the icing sugar until well mixed.

Melt the chocolate with the milk in a bowl over a pan of hot water. When conpletely melted add it to the creamed butter and sugar mix and blend gently together.

Split the cake horizontally into two layers and spread about two-thirds of the icing onto the bottom layer.

Stack the top layer back on the cake and spread the top of the cake with the remaining icing.

Sprinkle with the chopped nuts to finish, and find some friends to congratulate you on finding a moist chocolate cake recipe, and to share the homemade cake with!…