Your Coffee Machine and You!

coffeeLove your cup of Coffee? But plagued with Coffee Machine choices? If you are looking for something efficient and stylish for your home, Usha Coffee Machines are the ones to go with. They are all aesthetically pleasing and efficient Coffee makers , with one of them even featuring a Bamboo finish!

Electric Drip Coffee Maker

  • Also known as the dripolator, this machine houses a reservoir in the base which is called as the hose.
  • Cold water enters the reservoir through a thin metal tube
  • The water moves to the heating chamber when machine is turned ON
  • Water once heated in the heating chamber moves to the sprayer via the rubber hose. This movement through the rubber hose is achieved via the effect of thermally induced pressure and siphoning effect
  • The ground coffee placed on the brew basket is perched below the sprayer head
  • Hot and pressurized water passes through the ground coffee and drips down into the carafe of capacity 10-12 cupscoffee 1

Espresso Coffee Machines

       These machines rose to fame in the 18th century, designed specifically to cater to the bold taste of espresso.

  • These coffee machines can use any kind of ground coffee including both dark and light roasted ones
  • Modern makes of these machines come with a dual spout that allows two different espresso shots simultaneously
  • Adjustable short length provides the desired espresso shot in taste

French Press (No electricity needed)

The French Press was developed in the 1850’s. This is the oldest and the simplest of coffee making mechanism without the use of electricity. It comprises of a tall glass cylinder, a plunger and a filter.

  • The user has to place coarse ground coffee at the bottom of glass cylinder
  • Pour boiling hot water into the glass cavity
  • Stir the entire mixture with a metal spoon and let the brew sit for up to a maximum of eight minutes
  • Press the plunger, slowly letting coffee grounds to seep out of the filtercoffee2

Single Cup Makers

Pre-packaged coffee pods makes single cup. A coffee pod has coffee grounds and a miniature filter in the pack. These makers are easy to clean and maintain and suitable for small households with few coffee lovers. Quick in operation they allow different users to suit their different tastes by using varying coffee flavours in the pods.

  • Hot water is filtered through the coffee pod in the machine slot provided. The action results in a single cup of coffee.1610859_10155017544770251_311638911097950282_n

Know Your Coffee

COFFEEAfter oil, coffee is the most valuable legally traded commodity in the world. We love it, we rely on it, and we drink it in massive quantities. It is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day worldwide.

Coffee can be roasted or be made from grounded coffee. It is the preparation of coffee that is done differently. Let us have a cursory glance at some of the types of coffee based on the method of preparation.

  1. Filter coffee – Also called as Drip coffee it is prepared by using finely ground coffee placed on paper through which steaming hot water is passed and the final brew is obtained in the decoction.
  1. Plunger or cafetiere – Coarsely grounded coffee is placed in a pot over which hot water is added. Coffee and water are brewed for some time after which the mixture is left to steep for a brief period of 4 to 5 minutes. Once done, the plunger is pushed hard to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee infusion.
  1. Espresso – The coffee ground is very fine, over which pressurized hot water is passed. The coffee obtained is filled inside the cups placed beneath the outlet. The coffee also has a layer of fine and creamy foam.
  1. Swedish/Scandinavian coffee – Made by boiling ground coffee in water, it is often served without filtering. This coffee as its namesake originated in Sweden and is consumed mostly in the Nordic countries. It is a strong brew of coffee and is kept hot throughout the day for consumption.
  1. Turkish coffee – This kind of coffee is prepared in a special kind of copper pot which has a long handle. This vessel is called as an Ibriq. In order to prepare a single cup of coffee in this vessel, two teaspoons of finely ground coffee and one spoon of sugar are added to one cup water. This mixture is then brought to boil on an average of three times. One may add cardamom seed, milk, or various syrups to enhance its flavour and aroma.

#Coffee for Health

A large number of people consume coffee on a regular basis. Equally vast numbers of researches have been conducted on the benefits of coffee on the health. The findings indicate that a consumption of 3-5 cups everyday compliments a healthy and active lifestyle.

#Caffeinate the mind and body

Caffeine is one the major components of coffee. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and when taken in normal doses it helps to improve the mental fitness by making the mind more aware of its surroundings, resulting in better response time and increased concentration.

Caffeine has an ergogenic effect on the body which means that it enhances the overall capacity to do physical work. It is believed that caffeine increases the adrenalin levels in the body which results in an increased blood flow to the muscles and the heart.1469845_10154824803320251_1311098472868064044_n

# Breaking the Myths

Myth – Coffee drinking leads to dehydration

Studies indicate that coffee consumption of up to 5 cups a day does not affect the fluid balance of the body in any way. The body therefore does not dehydrate when coffee is consumed within the normal threshold of 1- 5 cups per day.

Myth – Coffee drinking leads to dependence

There are scientific experiments conducted by the WHO that shows that caffeine in coffee does not induce any kind of dependence. However, cold turkey natured cessation of coffee may result into mild withdrawal symptoms

Sound of Silence

No, we are not here to philosophically muse about the Sound of Silence, nor wallow in nostalgia in the namesake Simon and Garfunkel song. But for a start, let the music be our master and draw us in with the lines: “And the vision that was planted in my brain / Still remains / Within the sound of silence.”

Gavin Francis in search of silence

Gavin Francis in search of silence

We are here to contemplate landscapes of silence with doctor, author, traveler Gavin Francis. The Edinburgh born Scotsman who finds the dark streets of his native land a little more quiet than that of India or Bhutan, if not for all our barking street mongrels. Francis spent about six months in India, time he admits not enough not only to see the country but to experience its silence.

He yearns to go over pathless seas like the ancient pilgrims did on leather boats, unsure where the shifting shores lie. To go on roads that are unaware of their beginnings and ends, for they know not the turns a traveler might take. His first foray into the world of silent spaces led him to the Laplands and to the lost islands that float between Scotland and Greenland. Silence called out to him from further North and seduced the doctor into a writer. Thus his first book True North came into being.

The universe conspired next and turned him into a traveler in search of a silence that is born of the land and drop from the sky. He walked under constellations and city lights across hemispheres North and South, searching for places where there are no markers of the passage of time. This pilgrim of silence found his alters in strange lands, each promised a certain degree of silence but never an everlasting one. Till silence whispered again subtly from the frozen South (on a lighter note the religious subtext is not at all intentional and no puns are intended).

Deep South, Antarctica called and Francis rushed into the very abyss of silence, which can only be comprehended, if lived, not read or visited. For Gavin Francis’ experience in Antarctica read the blog-post: A Love Letter to Antarctica. Remote and cold he recounts his experiences with penguins, ice, silence and months of nights, followed by months of daylight – he had finally lost all the markers that denote the passage of time. To watch him recount his experiments with silence watch the video below.

 

We met Gavin Francis at Usha presents Mountains Echoes 2014, the Bhutan Literary Festival. It was exciting and nice to listen to his adventures, almost like an old Victorian travel yarn; but it all sounded so cold. We only wished we had met him earlier, to gift him one of our Electric Kettles, at least he would have got his coffee warm and nice. After all, “How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup…”  (Virginia Woolf)

USHA ELECTRIC KETTLE 3217 for that Warm Cup

USHA ELECTRIC KETTLE 3217 for that Warm Cup

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The Spirit of Coffee

Our story begins in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan where people believe that, their is a Coffee Spirit! An occult being of element and air which can only be appeased by coffee! People take this custom seriously, religiously offering cups of coffee after coffee in various ritualistic forms to this airy being. Such beings that once walked the past, seems to have evolved with time – either just inside our heads or in themselves is debatable!

USHA Coffee Machines, to help you keep the magic alive

USHA Coffee Machines to help you keep the magic alive

Animism has been evolving over time as part of our culture and one cannot throw it away as utter mambo-jumbo because their very roots literally lie in nature itself. Arising from the trees, the elements and the world around us animism has a very conservative aspect to it. The slogan ‘Save the Trees’ could as well be an animist one. It puts forth a love and respect for nature in a ritualistic form rather than a scientific one – the belief that we can save ourselves by saving and appeasing the world around us, sounds like a very 21st century concern, yet it did exist when Shamans spoke to the stars and trees, and the trees spoke back.

LOTR Trees

The Living Trees from LOTR

Deep in our primal selves the sub-conscious still retains and respects the values of animism – the Box Office, talking walking trees from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are a proof to that. Tolkien once wrote “…The first men to talk of ‘trees and stars’ saw things very differently. To them, the world was alive with mythological beings… To them the whole of creation was ‘myth-woven and elf-patterned’. And mark these words from yet another popular Television series The Game of Thrones “But there are some who still keep to the Old Way, worshiping the faceless gods of the Children of the Forest and the First Men.” The point being that animism has survived in various forms, hiding quietly beneath surfaces in our words and deeds. What is the plural for Magpies? A tidings of Magpies. Another point well made, shall we say?

As part of our culture, animism is so seamlessly and unconsciously weaved into our daily lives that it cannot be ignored, though often and always overlooked. Today’s Magic is tomorrow’s science, similarly yesterday’s superstition is today’s tradition, of which animism has become a part.

To learn more about the Coffee Spirit and other Himalayan animistic beliefs watch the session Wild Spirits: Animism in the Himalayas, where experts Sangay Wangchuk, Kunzang Choden in conversation with Manju Wakhley discuss the value systems, their merits and issues at Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014

A Chef Speaks: Kunal Kapur

As school children we loved our Show and Tell sessions, now watch Masterchef Kunal Kapur do the same as he discusses ingredients, his life and experiences as one of the best chefs in the country.

He begins with the marvelous spice Asafoetida, locally and more popularly known as Hing. Hing, as we learnt during the talk is actually a gum exuded from the roots of the herb Ferula assa-foetida to keep away animals from eating it – a yet another biological evolution, which like many others landed up in the Human Kitchen!

During the course of this fun trivia he enlightens us about a lot many curious spices and ingredients from the exotic Southeast Asian delicacy Bird’s Nest, which is essentially built with bird saliva to the most expensive Coffee in the whole wide world -Kopi luwak also known as Civet Coffee as it is made from the fermented coffee beans excreted by the Civet, which feeds on coffee plants!

This list of curiosity moves along followed by one after another lesser known facts, almost taking a ‘Ripley’s (rather Kunal’s) Believe it or Not!’ tone, dotted with anecdotes both personal and professional. To know more, watch the video below featuring Kunal Kapur at Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014.

Fudge Brownies: Kids & Adult’s Delight

Like you, we too get dumbfounded by the price of Brownies at the chic coffee outlets. The outlets, we must admit are nice and decent, but still that doesn’t give them an excuse to charge astronomical sums for a single brownie. It is just not fair, especially if you have kids who are madly and deeply in love with Fudge Brownies. And who knows how healthy these ‘brownies for sale’ are. Besides being healthy the warm smell of fresh home baked Brownies is a delight in itself. It’s time to wow your kids and friends with your Fudge Brownies over a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

Ingredients: Untitled-1 copyMakes 10

  1. 100 gm butter, 1½ cups brown sugar
  2. 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla essence
  3. ½ cup maida (flour), ¼ tsp baking powder,
  4. ½ cup cocoa
  5. ¾ cup walnuts – cut into small pieces or crushed roughly with a rolling pin
  6. A square tin (7”X 7”)

Method:

  1. Melt butter in a deep pan on low heat. Add brown sugar. Mix well with a wooden spoon on very low heat for about 5 minutes till well blended. Remove from fire and cool completely.
  2. Add one egg. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the second egg and mix again. Add essence.
  3. Picture1Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa together.
  4. Keeping aside ¼ cup walnuts, add the rest of the walnuts to the maida and mix well with the hands.
  5. Mix the flour mixture in the butter-egg mixture very gently with a spoon.
  6. Line and grease a loaf tin. Transfer the cake mixture in it to get 1″ thick layer of the mixture. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts.
  7. Place on the low rack in the Halogen oven. Press speed up mode and set for 40 minutes at 140°C. Press start to bake.
  8. When the beep comes remove from oven. Check with a tooth pick. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin.
  9. Remove from tin. Cut into squares to serve.

Baking them in the Usha Halogen Oven makes the whole process real easy. Besides unlike your normal oven it can be used for various other purposes to cook up recipes ranging from regional dishes to global favorites.

Coffee Quirks

There are so many myths and legends surrounding this beverage that it has become impossible even to point to the origin of Coffee. A Yemenite Sufi mystic, a Sheik’s disciple, an Ethiopian Goat herder and an entire African ethnic group, all lay claim to the beverage’s discovery. We are not here to take sides, but to put to words some very unique Coffee phenomenon of our times, before myths and arguments take over.

At some point in time or on a regular basis we all have had Cappuccino. But how many of us know what exactly does Cappuccino mean?  The word comes from the resemblance of the drink to the clothing of the Capuchin monks – the Catholic order of Capuchin is an offshoot of the Franciscans. As for who designed their gowns, that again is open to speculation like the origin of coffee.

It was during colonial times that the various Arabica varieties of coffee such as mocha and Java got their names. These various coffee beans are named after their ports of origin.  Mocha is the name of the largest port in Yemen, where nearly all African coffee beans are traded and later transported. Similarly Java is the name of an Indonesian island with trading ports.

The custom of tipping waiters in restaurants also has its roots in coffee. During the 16th century coffee found its way into Europe through Venice, as the trading city state had very good links with both African and Arab merchants. Introduced as a drink for the wealthy, it spread across the various strata’s of society with the establishment of Coffee Houses. Soon such Coffee Houses began to mushroom all over Europe, loud, dirty and hectic places where customers needed to tip big to the waiters in order to receive good service.

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