The only thing better than cookies and milk is cookies and coffee, and I’m happy to pair just about any cookie out there with a cup of freshly brewed java. This Hot Cookie USB Mug Warmer was clearly designed by someone who feels exactly the same way. This cookie isn’t one that you can actually eat, though it really does pair well with a cup of coffee. This is a cup warmer that is powered by any USB port and will keep your drink at a temperature of up to 140F for hours at a time (though you’ll probably need at least one or two more cups if you’re going to be working for several hours!). Any ceramic cup can be placed on top of the cookie and your beverage – wether it is tea, coffee or a mug of hot chocolate – will gently heat as it sits. I recommend starting out with a warm beverage because the hot pad is better for maintaining temperature than it is for taking the chill off if your drink is stone-cold. The cookie is about 4-inches in diameter, which should be wide enough to accomodate the vast majority of coffee mugs. The cookie also has an On/Off switch, so you don’t need to plug and unplug it throughout the day.
While loose leaf tea will often brew a better cup of tea, you definitely cannot beat the convenience of tea bags. They’re easy to use and offer hundreds of tea options for just about every single taste. There are a few problems with tea bags, of course, and the biggest is that it is easy for the string and tab of the bag to slip into your cup of tea. When they do, they become soggy and difficult to fish out. The Tea Bag Holding Mug is the perfect solution for people – like me – who always seem to have that tab slip into their steeping cup. The ceramic mug has two small notches on the rim, right near the handle. You can simply loop the string from your teabag around the “tab” and it will remain perfectly in place until you are ready to take it out. The notches are close enough to the handle that you’ll never risk putting your mouth on them (and they’re not sharp enough to do any harm, even if you have an unusual tea-drinking style) and dribbling tea down the side of the glass accidentally. I’m adding this mug to my wish list – and adding it to the list of potential gifts for tea-loving friends!
Latte art is one of the most fun things that you can do with coffee, and it’s fun to drink your mistakes when you’re learning the art. That said, it isn’t the only way to decorate a drink. You can use a dusting of cocoa powder or spice to add some color to steamed milk or whipped cream. A stencil cut out of a piece of stiff paper will give you some control over your design, but the Cinnibird Spice Pen will give you even more control. This food-friendly pen can be filled with ground sugar and spices, then used to draw or write just about any message you can think of! The spices pour out of the tip of the pen in a thin stream, allowing you to make fairly intricate designs very easily. It does have a fairly generous stream (to prevent clogs), so I would recommend using cocoa powder or a ground blend of cinnamon and sugar, rather than straight cinnamon, for your drinks.
In addition to topping lattes, you can use the pen to decorate dessert plates or add splashes of color to savory dishes. It will really make you look like a pro – and it is very fun to use.
I have more than one coffee maker in my kitchen. To keep the clutter down, I try to limit the number of coffee-making devices that are on my countertop at any given time to two or three. If I could – or, I should say, when I can – redesign my kitchen, I would love to be able to incorporate a TopBrewer into the design. The gleaming stainless steel tap looks as though it might dispense filtered water, but it actually is designed to brew perfect coffee on demand while taking up at least 90% less counterspace than any other coffee making option.
The TopBrewer from Scanomat is operated with the touch of a button using your snartphone or tablet, via an app that contains a menu of all the drinks that it can produce. These include espresso, coffee, macchiatos, lattes and cappuccinos. In addition to caffeinated beverages, you can also get warm or cold milk and hot water from the tap. Milk is dispensed via a milk foamer – the smallest milk foamer in the world – that is incorporated into the design. Located at the very tip of the coffee tap, it heats and foams milk to the perfect temperature and cleans itself after use.
It takes the TopBrewer about 25 seconds to pull a shot of espresso and just 15 seconds to brew coffee. As you might imagine, there is some behind-the-scenes installation that needs to take place. It requires refrigeration for milk and space for both a grinder and fresh beans underneath the counter where the tap sits. There also needs to be a drain in the counter to catch any small drips. There are standalone units available that would be easy to incorporate in commercial settings, but for residential use it really seems best to do your installation while you renovate. The downside is that the unit costs around $8,000 (while my french press costs considerably less), but if you bargain hunt for some of your other kitchen fixtures, you can probably find some wiggle room to fit it in.