Kitchen Hacks: [Dino’s] egg tricks

[Dino’s] latest weekly hack plays right into our Kitchen Hacks theme. He’s sharing some obscure tips and tricks involving eggs.

It should come as no surprise that he knows a thing or two about using eggs. After all, he keeps chickens and you’ve can’t just let good eggs go to waste. Which is where his first tip comes in. Eggs will keep for weeks, but if you don’t know if they’re still good you can put them in a bowl of water before cracking them. Eggs that float are on the way out!

Need some scrambled eggs but don’t have a pan to cook them in? His next feat is to cook up a breakfast of steamed eggs using the steamer nozzle on his espresso machine. It’s messy (egg seems to be flying everywhere) but the final product does look appetizing.

The rest of the video (embedded after the break) shows his methods of making Hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict, and how to blow the innards out of an egg-shell.

Now we have a picture in our minds that [Dino’s] daily routine is surrounded by eggs… like the egg farmers in Napoleon Dynamite.

Continue reading “Kitchen Hacks: [Dino’s] egg tricks”

Improving a cheap espresso machine

For those of us that would like a good cup of coffee but don’t want to put up with the ‘burnt butt’ taste of Starbucks and don’t have a decent coffee shop nearby, we’ve had very few options. Most of us have been made to suffer with an el-cheapo espresso machine. [Joe] sent in a great build that improves these el-cheapo models and brings them up to the quality we would expect from their more expensive brethren.

For the best pull from an espresso machine, the great [Alton Brown] says 200° F water must be forced through the grind at around 10 PSI atm. [Joe]’s espresso machine can’t build up pressure because the heating element is only active when the lever is in the ‘brew’ or ‘froth’ position. To build up pressure in the water reservoir, [Joe] simply added a pressure gauge to the frothing attachment. When the gauge reads the necessary 10 atmospheres, just move the lever over to the ‘brew’ position and enjoy a nice cup of espresso.

[Joe] has already tested the pressure relief valve of his espresso machine. With the gauge in the way, [Joe] can’t make use of his frother, but a secondary valve could easily remedy that. [Joe] hasn’t published his espresso hack anywhere, but he did email us some pics of his build. We’ve embedded them as a slideshow after the break. Check out the pressure gauge on the frothing attachment and the pressure relief valve below.

Continue reading “Improving a cheap espresso machine”

Using a router as a Linux-based PID controller

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[Nathan] had an small router kicking around and thought that he might as well put it to good use. He had always been interested in getting a better handle on his espresso machine, and figured that the router would be a perfect Linux-based PID controller.

He installed OpenWRT on the router, then disassembled it in order to get access to the router’s GPIO pins. He built a small PCB that allows him to get temperature info from the machine to the router using i2c. [Nathan] put together a PID package for OpenWRT, allowing him to control the machine over SSH, though he may build in a user-friendly web interface sometime in the future.

He says that most espresso machine PID controllers he has seen come in the form of big ugly boxes slapped on the side of the machine’s case, though we have to disagree with him on that point. Opinions aside, he is going for a minimalist design, and while he says that he is only about half way through the project, we think things are looking promising so far.

When everything is said and done, we hope to get a much closer look at all of his code, schematics, and more information on the router he used as well.

Automatic Espresso Loader for those Late Night Hack Sessions

For [Roy’s] graduate electronics class, he decided to make something that many in and out of the hacking world would certainly love, an automatic espresso loader.  One can choose from three flavors available. In order to accomplish this, a Parralax Propeller board is used to control three servos that regulate the amount of coffee dispensed, chosen by a handy LCD HMI (human machine interface).

After the coffee is dispensed, the chute swings out of the way. A modified inkjet cartridge carrier (from a dead printer) is then used to compact the beans. Check out the video of this machine in action after the break. Continue reading “Automatic Espresso Loader for those Late Night Hack Sessions”

Home Brew Coffee Machine

There are already a lot of different ways to brew up a decent coffee at home, from the humble saucepan to the elegant vacuum flask. In an office environment the choice of coffee-making technique can have a major impact on workplace harmony—how can people be expected to work happily when the kitchen is filthy with grounds and the coffee is always stale? “Someone have mercy,” [Christian Finger] lamented, “and boil a pot of fresh.”

In the end he took extreme measures, building a machine that grinds whole beans, measures out a dose, brews a cup and self-cleans. He used all sorts of odds and ends to put the thing together, detailed in his long and hilarious build log (english translation—and check out the dude’s sweet ride). Refer to his shockwave animation for a summary of the intended operation.

The end result is an extremely impressive Goldbergian contraption—download the video from the build log. It is pretty noisy and probably energy- and water-hungry, but that wouldn’t stop us from using it every day, if given the chance. Hell, this here could form a major part of your next breakfast machine.

We’re sure that there is further potential in this, because to get the really freshest possible cup of coffee you’d want to roast the coffee beans just before grinding them. Then you’d be well on your way towards something else entirely: a delicious breakfast machine.

Teardown of the Barista

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iFixit has done a tear down on the symbolic do-it-yourself Espresso machine, the Starbucks Barista. Believe it or not, there is not a single circuit board in the works. There doesn’t seem to be much to the Barista; A few switches, some solenoids, a heater, and one way spring valve among other things. The assembly of the device is very simple. It is noted that in a pinch it may be torn down with a pair of pliers and washer; in place of a flat head screw driver. We have pondered the possibilities of this machine numerous times, while enjoying a cup of cappuccino. Though most conversations end at the bottom of the cup, many survive such as this Silvia PID looped expresso machine. The very name “Mecha turbo crazy coffee roaster” seems to encapsulate the effects of caffeine quite adequately.

Plumb in your espresso machine (cheap)


A while back, I wrote up a how-to on some mods I made to my ECM Giotto espresso machine. After giving it some break-in time, I finally wrote up my cheap plumbed in espresso trick. Plumbing kits use a $50 solenoid that requires special plumbing. My version uses a $12 fridge solenoid, easily adds on to my previous mods, and only requires some tubing size adaptation.