November 27, 2015

For The Love of Coffee

Filed under: News — csadm @ 8:31 am

Once upon a time, a cup of coffee got as technical as putting the kettle on and opening a jar of instant roast. The only problem with instant coffee is it tastes like cardboard compared to freshly brewed coffee, with none of the aromatic qualities.

Modern technology has lifted the lid on a whole new world of possibilities. Now there is a different problem – trying to sniff-out the right coffee-making machine has become as complicated as trying to buy a smartphone.

With Christmas just around the corner, a coffee machine may be the perfect gift for the coffee connoisseur in your life and you may find yourself needing to take the plunge. So here is an easy guide to some of the kind of technology available.

Filter coffee machines

You pour cold water in the top of the machine where it is warmed by a heating element before dripping down through a basket of coffee into a jug below, which is kept warm by a hot plate. You can use any ground coffee.

Pod or capsule coffee machines

This is where the main market is right now. The coffee is in a pre-packaged capsule which you put into the machine. When you press a button the pod is pierced and hot water is sent through it and into your waiting cup. This is the theory behind the popular Nespresso range of machines.

Nespresso has been at the forefront of the coffee capsule revolution and through partnerships with trendy appliance manufacturers such as De’Longhi, an Italian company known for the design of its products, Nespresso has given homemakers access to café style coffee, with a touch of style and finesse. Capsule machines also come with “milk frothers”, a device used to make cappuccino and lattes. The milk frother can also be used to steam your milk.

If you want to get creative with coffee, visit the Nespresso site for 300 different coffee creations.

De’Longhi Nespresso Citiz Machine with milk frother

De’Longhi Nespresso Citiz Machine with milk frother

De’Longhi Nespresso Citiz Machine with milk frother

De’Longhi Nespresso Citiz Machine with milk frother

Capsule machines are typically easy to clean, but you tend to be limited to the type of capsule or pod sold by your machine manufacturer – unless you opt for a machine like the Sunbeam CM2000 Multi-Capsule Espresso unit.

The Sunbeam Multi-Capsule Espresso Machine is designed to be compatible with four different capsule systems. Colour coded capsule cartridges allow you to easily and quickly change capsule systems so you are no longer locked into one capsule coffee brand.

Ground coffee is inserted above a water chamber. As the water boils it is forced up a tube and down through the coffee back into the compartment below. You can get stove-top versions or electric versions which contain a heating element.

Pump espresso maker
These use a thermostatically controlled boiler which heats the water to its optimum temperature for coffee (between 85C and 92C). When this is reached the water passes through the ground coffee at the correct bar pressure. They usually include a milk frother for steaming milk so can be used for lattes and cappuccinos.

This machine will grind the coffee beans and then run hot water through them before dispensing your drink. It is essentially a pump espresso maker with a built-in grinder.

OK. Does all that have you in a grind? If you are buying a machine without an integrated grinder and you want to use beans, there is one major consideration. Making good quality coffee is all about getting the grind right. You should spend more on the grinder than any other piece of equipment.

There are plenty of grinders to choose from and Sunbeam’s Multi-Grinder 2 is a good option.

But if you want an all-in-one machine, then you really cannot go past the Breville Barista Express.


Breville’s Barista Express: all-in-one with coffee grinder

Breville has created a very well thought machine encased within an elegant stainless steel design that would look great in any kitchen.

The engineers at Breville really took their time designing the Express by adopting the perspective of an average consumer and asking what they really need.

Their answer was an inbuilt burr grinder, customisable volumetric controls and 16 bars of pressure to turn

fresh coffee into excellent espresso.

The next benefit of the grinder is what all-professional baristas strive to achieve – consistency. By being able to grind the same dose of coffee every time, tamp it, and then pass the same amount of pressurised water through it, you have the ability to produce consistent results. And if your coffee tastes a little too bitter or weak you can easily adjust your setting to create the best possible coffee.
Now that we have looked at the kinds of machines available, here’s a handy checklist of other considerations when choosing a specific model of coffee machine:

Size and weight
Before buying, consider where you’ll keep the coffee machine. If you plan to stow it away, check that it’s light enough to lift easily. Some of the bigger machines are quite heavy.

Consider how often you’ll be using your coffee machine, and for how many people. Water tank capacity is important if you want to make lots of espressos, while machines with a single spout make only one cup of coffee at a time.

Coffee machine brand
A coffee machine is a luxury lifestyle product – it becomes as much a statement as owning a BMW or Mercedes Benz. So it’s unsurprising that more premium brands including Lavazza and De’Longhi offer coffee machine ranges. But you’ll also find excellent coffee machine options from companies such as Sunbeam and Breville too.

Coffee machine style and colour
Retro coffee machines, red coffee machines, blue coffee machines, stainless steel finishes… you’ll find any number of coffee maker styles, colour and finishes to match your kitchen. Plus look out for coffee machines that also have kettles and toasters to match.

Ease of use
A coffee shop barista might make it look easy, but getting to grips with a coffee machine – complete with levers, buttons and filters – can be a daunting task. Work out whether you have time to devote to your love affair with coffee or if you are only after a quickie.

Espresso speed
Speed is important for time-stretched coffee lovers – and the average time it takes for your coffee machine to brew up isn’t something you’ll know until you try it out. Good coffee machines take less than 15 seconds to make 30ml and stop dripping, while poor coffee machines can take up to 30 seconds to release 30ml and a further 30 seconds before they stop dripping completely.

Coffee machine accessories
It’s worth seeing which accessories, if any, accompany the coffee machine you’re considering buying. Items like milk frothers, milk jugs, coffee grinders and matching coffee spoons and cups all add to the overall home coffee making experience.

Drip trays
These should be easy to lift and remove. Stainless steel trays require polishing as well as cleaning.

Porta filter stiffness
When you’re in the shop, see whether you can easily fit and remove the coffee machine’s porta filter (the porta filter holds the filter containing the coffee; it has a handle). If you find this tricky, a capsule coffee machine may be better for you.

Your coffee preferences
With bean-to-cup and traditional espresso machines, you’ll be able to select a type of coffee that suits you. If you’re shopping for a capsule machine, it’s worth checking which types of coffee are in the range to ensure your tastes are catered for.

When it’s all said and done, remember to always have the best coffee in the world available in your kitchen. PNG coffee is available in all forms, including capsules. So with the busy Christmas season now here remember…stay calm and enjoy PNG coffee.

Comments (0)

November 13, 2015

Apple iPad Mini 4 – The Rise of the Tweener

Filed under: News — csadm @ 2:08 am

When Apple launched the new iPhone 6s on September 9, at the same time it also quietly launched the next-generation of the iPad mini.

The iPad mini is positioned somewhere “in between” a smartphone and a tablet – and within the ranks of Apple it has been a contentious issue over a long period of time.

A New York Times report says that the iPad mini – as a reduced size, cheaper tablet – was the pet project of current Apple CEO Tim Cook whereas the late Steve Jobs was not so sure.

According to Steve Jobs: “… every tablet user is also a smartphone user. No tablet can compete with the mobility of a smartphone, its ease of fitting into your pocket or purse, its unobtrusiveness when used in a crowd. Given that all tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pockets, giving up precious display area to fit a tablet in our pockets is clearly the wrong trade-off. The seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.”

But Tim Cook had other ideas for the “tweener” and “thought the world would love a smaller and less expensive tablet.”



The iPad mini is, as the name implies, a smaller version of the game-changing iPad.

When Apple introduced the iPad in January 2010, the rest of the tablet industry was miles behind. Despite months of rumors about the forthcoming product, no other tech company was prepared to match Apple’s sleek creation when it launched.

At the time, Apple’s iPad wasn’t just the best tablet on the market: it was the only tablet worth considering.

Apple reaped the rewards. In its 2010 fiscal year, the first year the iPad was on sale, Apple sold 7.5 million units; in 2011, sales more than quadrupled to 32.4 million. With every passing quarter, year-over-year unit sales doubled or sometimes tripled. In the 2013 fiscal year alone Apple sold 58.3 million iPads.

As of January 2015, there have been over 250 million units sold of the six different versions of iPad. Unit sales may have grown year by year, but the growth rate peaked and slowed in 2013.

On the other hand, there have been four versions of the iPad Mini. The first generation iPad mini was released on November 2, 2012. It featured similar internal specifications to the iPad 2, including its display resolution.

The second generation iPad mini, with a faster processor and a Retina Display, was released on November 12, 2013.

The third generation iPad mini was released on October 24, 2014 featuring the same hardware as the mini 2 and the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor compatible with Apple Pay.

On September 9, 2015, Apple released the iPad mini 4 – and here we are today.

In that time, the market has shifted towards smaller, cheaper tablets and it’s a good thing Apple was ready, with the mini representing over 60 percent of all iPad sales in 2013. So, although it may not have been what Steve Jobs envisioned, there has been an inevitable shift to a smaller-sized tablet.



The iPad mini 4 is just about identical to the iPad mini 3, remaining at 8 inches – except it is thinner and lighter. The iPad mini 4 is 6.1mm thin – that’s 18% thinner than its predecessor.

Being so much thinner, also makes the new mini 4 lighter – weighing just 10.4 ounces compared with the Mini 3’s 11.7 ounces, making it even more comfortable to hold.

There are no drastic changes to the display—it’s still the same 7.9 inch, 2,048 x 1,536-pixel IPS LCD panel that you’ll find on the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2.

One key difference is that the screen is now laminated, so the air gap between the display and the glass has been removed, like the iPad Air 2, which greatly decreases glare. Reading on the iPad mini 4 is a much better experience. The screen is bright and vibrant.



iPad mini 4 has three layers combined into one fully laminated touch display

According to Apple, the displays on previous generations of iPad mini were constructed with three separate components. With iPad mini 4, those three layers – a cover glass, touch sensor and the LCD – have been combined into one single fully laminated touch display. This eliminates gaps between layers, along with the internal reflectance caused by those gaps. The redesigned display also delivers greater colour saturation than before — 44 percent more. The fully laminated design in combination with deeper colour saturation produce greater contrast and lifelike colours for sharper text and even more vivid images.

iPad mini 4 also features a custom-designed antireflective coating that reduces glare by 56 percent compared with previous iPad displays. In virtually any kind of environment — offices, classrooms, the outdoors — everything is clearer and more readable.

Like its predecessor, the iPad mini 4 includes TouchID and Apple SIM. Touch ID is Apple’s fast and accurate fingerprint sensor that lets you log in quickly and make payments securely without passwords. Apple SIM lets you use one SIM card regardless of the carrier you use for cellular data—a boon for frequent travellers abroad.



Internally, the mini 4’s specs are similar to those of the iPad Air 2. You get 2GB of RAM, up from the iPad mini 3’s 1GB, and Apple’s A8 dual-core processor, which is the same chip found in the iPhone 6. This is to make iOS 9 run more smoothly here than on previous iPad minis.

iOS 9 is the most intuitive, advanced and secure mobile operating system in the world. With improved apps and new features like Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture, iOS 9 helps you get more done in powerful yet simple ways. Whether you’re checking messages while answering email or creating a presentation, iOS 9 helps you get more out of iPad than ever before.

To use the multitasking feature, in an app, you must swipe left from the edge of the screen, and you’ll get a scrollable app tray. Tap the second app you want to open and it will appear on the left side of the screen.



iPad mini 4: sleek and portable

The iPad mini 4 also gets a camera upgrade. The same fantastic 8-megapixel camera that’s in the iPad Air 2 is here, and marks a significant upgrade from the 5MP camera on the iPad mini 3. If you take a lot of pictures on your tablet, you won’t be disappointed—it’s quick to focus and takes clear, vibrant shots. The front-facing camera uses the same 1.2MP sensor found on the iPad mini 3, and is perfectly acceptable for clear video calls.

The iPad mini 4 comes in three colours: gold, silver and space gray; and is available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB options.

Comments (0)