Ask the Experts: What’s the Difference Between Pressurized and Non-Pressurized Filter Baskets?

We sell several semi-automatic espresso machines (such as the Saeco Aroma or Via Venezia, any of the Brevilles or DeLonghis that feature a pressurized portafilter basket. This is a major functional difference from other machines, like the Rancilio Silvia or Rocket Espresso semi-automatic espresso machines, which have non-pressurized baskets similar to commercial-grade machines. In the photo to the right, you can see the physical difference between a non-pressurized basket (on the left) and a pressurized basket (on the right).

OK, so they look different — but what do they do that’s different? Well, we think it’s all about forgiveness.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Memory

We love the taste, we love the perk — now we can love caffeine for one more reason: A memory boost. A few years ago, researchers in Austria found that caffeine improved the short-term recall in participants. Subjects were given either 100mg of caffeine or a placebo, then they were given MRIs and asked to recall a series of numbers shown to them shortly before. The scans showed more activity in the areas related to attention and short-term memory in participants who had the caffeine dose instead of the placebo.

In another study, researchers found that caffeine may assist in memory attention and cognitive ability in women over the age of 65. While it doesn’t stave off the development of dementia, it does appear to slow down the process. In fact, the improvement got significantly better with age: Coffee drinkers were 30% less likely to have a decline in memory at the age of 65 and 70% less likely over the age of 80!

Recipe: Black Bottom Espresso Cupcakes

These delectable delicacies are perfect for dinner party desserts or an afternoon snack — you’ll need to keep them refrigerated.

Ingredients

- For Cupcake Batter -

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

- For Cream Cheese Filling -

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Line muffin tins with paper liners — muffins should be 2.5 inches in diameter, recipe calls for 20 muffins total.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the dry ingredients with an electric mixer on slow speed.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients and beat on medium speed until thoroughly mixed and smooth.
  5. Pour the batter equally into all 20 cupcakes.
  6. For the filling, put cream cheese, espresso, sugar, salt, egg and vanilla into a medium sized bowl and beat until smooth.
  7. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  8. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling into the center of each cupcake.
  9. Bake the cupcakes for 20 – 25 minutes (monitor closely, they may bake more quickly depending on your oven), or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.
  10. Remove and let cupcakes cool in muffin pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully unmold to cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Chow down!

Fresh n’ Puffy

We carry a diverse selection of Lavazza’s whole bean coffees, and sometimes the bags are puffier than others, so we asked our importer to give us the lowdown on bean packaging.

It’s fundamental to their freshness that they are packed in manner that will give them a long shelf life — if they’re allowed to oxidize, flavor compounds and aromatic properties will slowly degrade. To preserve freshness, Lavazza immediately packs their beans directly after roasting in high-barrier multilayer material that guarantees perfect vacuum packaging.

The roasting process, however, allows for the release of carbon dioxide and this represents 90% of the gas that forms inside of the package. To keep the bag from bursting, one-way valves are sealed into the package to allow the gas to escape without letting any air in. This one-way valve system guarantees vacuum packaging, even though the bag may sometimes be “puffy” and not compact.

Caffeine: The Dirty Truth

Will that ink black cup of coffee really get you on the straight and narrow after you’ve seen the bottom of a few too many shots of Patron? Or is your daily cup of joe really dehydrating you while perking you up?

WebMD examined 8 different common beliefs about caffeine and compared them against available studies to determine if they were fact or fiction. If you’re wondering if you’re working under any misconceptions about the brew, check out their opinions.

Oh, and that sobering up bit? Sorry…no:
Actually, research suggests that people only think caffeine helps them sober up. For example, people who drink caffeine along with alcohol think they’re OK behind the wheel. But the truth is reaction time and judgment are still impaired. College kids who drink both alcohol and caffeine are actually more likely to have car accidents.