Health Watch: Caffeine & Asthma

Researchers at Indiana University have found that caffeine is as effective as an albuterol inhaler in preventing exercise induced asthma (EIA). When they combined the use of both caffeine and the inhaler, however, no additional benefits were noted.

A dosage equivalent to the amount of 9mg of caffeine per kilogram of weight was found to ease the symptoms of EIA in a manner similar to inhalers, and smaller amounts (3mg – 6mg/per kilogram) reduced the coughing, wheezing and other EIA symptoms, while not eradicating them completely.

The study’s subjects ingested differing amounts of caffeine one hour prior to running on a treadmill and their pulmonary condition was monitored 15 minutes before they started to run and then at different intervals afterward. The differing dosages were deemed to provide varying levels of relief from the symptoms, with 9mg functioning on par with the performance of an inhaler.

This study is part of a larger analysis of nutritional modifications that can be made in place of the corticosteroid used to alleviate EIA on a long-term basis. Other beneficial dietary habits found to reduce the severity of EIA include increasing fish oil and antioxidant intake while reducing salt. Researchers are interested in finding other methods for controlling or eliminating EIA without using pharmaceuticals because of the concern over long-term use and the decrease in efficacy after using the medications for prolonged periods.

Ask The Experts: How Much Electricity Does My Espresso Machine Use?

Sure, our espresso machines give us energy, but how much are they taking from the planet? We ran a test on a few of our favorites to show examples of the electricity draw and cost involved with running these machines each year. Our cost estimates are based on a national US average of $.11/kWh — you can find more accurate data for your specific area here.

Machine Name & Type kWh Used Estimated Annual Cost

Jura Ena 3 & 4

Superautomatic

.17/day

62.05/year

$6.83

Jura Impressa Z7

Superautomatic w/One-Touch

.24/day

87.6/year

$9.64

Rancilio Silvia V3

Semi-Automatic w/Single Boiler

.81/day

295.65/year

$32.52

Rocket Espresso Cellini Premium Plus

Semi-Automatic w/Heat Exchange

1.91/day

691.15/year

$76.03

Incidentally, we measured how much kWh it took to make a one-touch cappuccino on the Jura Z7 and found that it was .02kWh — at $.11/kWh, that means you’d need to make about 5 cappuccinos to rack up 1 cent in energy costs!

Recipe: Espresso Cocktail

We’re ramping up for a gorgeous weekend and it’s times like these that inspire us to break out the cocktail shaker and amp up our booze. Check out this delicious recipe — a twist on the classic caffe corretto.

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces grappa
  • 3/4 ounce coffee liqueur, such as Patron XO or Tia Maria
  • 1 ounce chilled espresso coffee
  • Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the grappa, coffee liqueur and chilled espresso. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds, then strain into a cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

The Great Vita-Mix Experiment 2009

Well…maybe it’s not that great — but it was fun and that’s about 63.4% of the reason why we do things around here. Gail shows us the ins and outs of the awesome Vita-Mix Professional Series blender, which we wrote about earlier this month, and even whips up a couple of experimental smoothies for our refreshment. We cannot stress enough how deeply we adore this blender — it’s unnatural!

Crew Review: Quick Mill Superautomatic

We’ve had the Quick Mill version of the superautomatic espresso machine on our floor for a few months now, and there are things we really dig about it, balanced by a few minor grievances with the fit and finish. Watch Gail walk us through the good, the bad and the ugly — then make us a latte to show us how it works.

Ask the Experts: What is a Standard Grinder Setting?

Q. I have a Rocky Doser grinder and would like to know what the standard setting is for my Quick Mill Alexia espresso machine. Can you tell me what number you have your demo model set to?

A. Unfortunately, there is no standard setting for grinders and machines. Each grinder is going to be engineered a little bit differently, so while we could give you a rough estimate of the range, the best way to determine your grinder’s setting is to go through the calibration process.

To calibrate your grinder to your espresso machine, you need to time your shots. The standard timing for a double shot is between 25 – 30 seconds for two shot glasses filled to the 1.5 oz line. When you initiate your shot, you want the extraction to begin 7 – 10 seconds after, and then the espresso should run smoothly into the shot glasses until they’re full at that 25 – 30 second range. Note that this is for a standard shot and there are other shot styles out there (ristretto or luongo) that have shorter or longer extraction time frames. For the purposes of calibration, however, we’ll stick with the standard.

Start with your grinder in a lower end setting — for stepped grinders, maybe start around 5 or 10. Grind and tamp and then time the shot: If it’s coming out too slowly, you know your grind is too fine and you’ll need to make it coarser; if it’s coming out too quickly, then the converse is true and you’ll need to make that too-coarse grind finer. Keep an eye on your tamp because that could also being affecting it — too hard means too slow, too soft means too fast.

Continue to experiment until your shot extraction occurs within the standard time frame. Once you have calibrated your grinder to produce a shot at the rate and consistency described above, make a note of it. This is something that will need to be tweaked regularly — especially if you live somewhere with extreme temperature fluctuations throughout the year, as the environment and weather will impact the nature of the bean. You’ll also need to recalibrate if you try different beans, as they will have unique grind requirements.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that calibrating and getting familiar with your grind is a crucial element to producing delicious espresso, so don’t be afraid to experiment or change it often! Espresso is as much art as it is science — tweak it to your individual preferences, regardless of any tenets you may read elsewhere…after all, isn’t that why you decided to make espresso at home in the first place?