Friday, April 12, 2024
Home Appliances


Coffee machines

While we're typically known as a nation of tea drinkers, the UK downs 95 million cups of coffee every single day. That's enough to fill 11 Olympic size swimming pools! Although coffee has been drunk in Britain since the 17th century, our reliance and reverence for the smoky elixir only began towards the end of the 20th century. The meteoric rise of the high-street coffee shop has spawned a generation of coffee connoisseurs. Of course, many of us want to enjoy our quality brew without leaving the house or paying coffee shop prices. Enter the coffee machine, a nifty gadget that acts as your own personal barista. Read our guide to the 4 surprising health benefits of coffee drinking. What is a coffee machine? A coffee machine is an electrical appliance that brews coffee for you. But as the artisanal coffee industry has sky-rocketed, the range and types of coffeemakers available have also exploded. Generally speaking, coffee machines can be divided into four main types. Filter coffee machines Capsule or pod machines Bean to cup machines Espresso machines What kind of coffee machine should I choose? Whether you’re fuelled by double espresso or your day doesn’t start until you’ve had your macchiato, there’s a machine to provide you with the perfect caffeine boost. Filter coffee machines Sometimes known as coffee drippers, these inexpensive models work by slowly dripping hot water through ground coffee into a jug below. These are the models favoured by American diners as they can brew large quantities of black coffee at once and have a setting to keep liquid hot. Pros: These models are affordable and work with any kind of ground coffee. Cons: The beans are not freshly ground and filter coffee machines don't have settings for different coffee drinks. Capsule or pod coffee machines These single-serve models have boomed in popularity in recent years with many coffee manufacturers bringing out their own models. Pod machines work by piercing a sealed capsule of ground coffee and allowing hot water to run through into the cup below. They usually have a different compartment for milk and tend to include steam functions for lattes and other creamy concoctions. Pros: Pod machines can create a variety of coffee drinks and the single-serve capsules are very convenient. Cons: Most machines only work with pods from their own company and the coffee beans aren't freshly ground. Bean to cup machines These multi-purpose percolators kick off the brewing process by grinding the beans and filling your kitchen with gorgeous caramelised aromas. As with all models, hot water is then pushed through the coffee grounds and directly into your mug of choice. Some machines also have a milk reservoir for creating flat whites etc. Pros: Alongside creating the freshest coffee you'll ever dunk a doughnut in, these machines also give you greater control over your brew as you can decide on the beans' coarseness, the water temperature and coffee strength. Cons: Bean to cup models are very expensive and slower than some alternatives. Espresso machines For a shot of caffeine straight to the bloodstream, an espresso will have you ready to face the day in no time. Espresso differs from classic filtered coffee in that the water is forced through the compacted ground beans at very high pressure and temperature. This is what makes the final brew strong and unlocks the complex flavour of the grounds. Most espresso machines require you to pack your coffee beans into a special filter holder which strongly resembles an ice cream scoop and then select the amount of water accordingly. Pros: These machines are affordable, work quickly and you can use any kind of ground coffee with them. Cons: They require you to measure out your grounds which can be messy and the beans are not freshly ground.


You'll find microwaves in almost every kitchen up and down the country. They've become a staple of kitchen appliances and a lot of our cooking habits are based around them and with good reason. They prove to be reliable allies when you need a quick fix of hot food. What are microwaves? Microwaves are much more than machines with spinning plates that heat your food. They're the solution to hot chocolate without a pan, defrosting meat in minutes, and reducing washing up. They're electric ovens that cook food by using radiation heating and microwaves to target the molecules inside food, especially water and sugars. They quickly cook your food by penetrating through its layers and reaching these molecules. If your microwave has low power levels, it will take longer for your food to heat, so what you're cooking will determine how long it needs to be in the microwave. They first enjoyed widespread usage in homes during the 1970s. What can you put in a microwave? You can put almost anything in a microwave, ranging from bags of rice to porridge oats to ready meals. However, if you want your food to have a crispy topping or prepare anything with a breaded coating, microwaves are unlikely to give you this desired effect. It could become soggy and make your food not that tasty. You can also reheat food in the microwave. Read our guide on 5 things to know before reheating food. What can't you put in a microwave? There are some things you can't put in a microwave. These are things such as metal, some plastics, and non-reinforced glass. Metal can get very hot if it ends up in the microwave. There are even some plates that you can't put in a microwave, but these will typically say on the bottom whether or not they're suitable for the microwave. What is a combination microwave? A combination microwave has different settings. They can include settings such as defrosting, grilling, and auto cooking. They provide the user with much more options, and they tend to be more expensive than standard models. How to clean a microwave If your microwave is covered in stains or just you're doing a bit of housekeeping, then try cleaning with water and mixing it with things such as vinegar, lemon juice or regular soap.


Whether you're grabbing a pop tart as you rush for the tube or settling in with a syrupy plate of Scotch pancakes, the unassuming toaster is the old reliable of kitchen gadgets. Since Alan MacMasters first patented the Eclipse Toaster in 1893, the simple appliance has been a go-to for crunchy snacks, preferably slathered in butter. Invented in Edinburgh, the original model only toasted one side of the bread, which is thankfully no longer the case. Modern versions often come with an array of settings and even accessories. Whatever way you like your toast in the morning, there is a model to suit you. How does a toaster work? A toaster's interior is lined with heating elements in the form of nichrome wires. After placing your bread into the cradle and pushing it down, a wedge inside the toaster connects the electricity supply with the nichrome wires. When electricity runs through the wires they emit heat which toasts the bread/pikelet/teacake you've placed in the appliance. Try this delicious recipe: Josh Niland’s BBQ blue mackerel and burnt tomato on toast. What do the dials on the side of the toaster mean? The little numbers on the side do not usually represent units of time. In fact, they are measurements of brownness that the toast can achieve and are sometimes called shade settings. Basically, the higher the number, the browner the toast. Typically, a mechanism called a bimetallic strip is connected to the dials. This is a strip of metal comprising two layers, with each layer expanding at a different temperature causing the strip to curl. The number selected determines how far the strip must curl before it breaks the connection with the power supply and triggers the toaster's pop-up mechanism. The higher the number, the further the strip must curl, which tends to equate to a longer time frame, but is not an exact measuring system. Newer and more advanced models may include a circuit timer, which is a time-delay switch that allows you to specify your toasting time. While the numbers on these models do represent time, they are the exception as the inner mechanics of a standard toaster tend to be quite simple. What should I consider when buying a toaster? Number of slots Most toaster slots come in pairs, with two and four slot models being the most popular options. If you have limited kitchen space then a two-slotter may be best, but if you have a large family then four slots may be preferable. For houseshares and very large families, there are six slot models on the market. Variable width slots This is a mechanism that allows the cradle your bread sits in to expand and compress to the thickness of the slice. This is ideal for people partial to croissants, bagels or particularly thick toast. It also ensures your bread is evenly toasted as the heating elements are at equal distances to both sides. Slot Depth The average toaster slot is roughly 12.5cm deep, which is fine for most square loaves, but if you favour pitta, ciabatta or the odd baguette you risk having a toasty bottom and a soggy top. Choosing a model that specifies deep slots of 14cm and above will ensure an even crisping. Crumb tray As the name suggests, this is a platform for catching all toasting debris and is usually set in the base. Crumb trays are fully detachable, so when the toaster needs cleaning you can simply remove the tray, empty it out and slot it back in. How do I clean a toaster? If your model has an aforementioned crumb tray, remove and empty the tray and wipe it over before clicking it back into place. Use a wet cloth with detergent to wipe over the outside. If your toaster is sans crumb tray, unplug it and hold it upside down over the bin while you shake out the bready remains. As with the crumb tray models, finish off by wiping over the outside.

Product categories

  • Coffee machines
  • Microwaves
  • Toasters

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