Chemical Engineering 101: Optimized Extraction Of Aromatic Organic Compounds From Thermally Processed Herbal Rubiaceae Seeds (Commonly Referred To As “HOW TO MAKE GREAT COFFEE”)
WHAT MAKES GREAT COFFEE?
When we think of great coffee, we think of a rich tasting brew with a deep color, fragrant aroma and full flavor rich in aromatics and some sweetness, with little bitterness or sourness. We generally think of coffee which tastes as good as it smells out of the bag.
Specific qualities of great coffee are generally:
SO WHERE DO WE START?
THE BASICS, #1 INGREDIENTS
The first things to look at are the raw ingredients used to make coffee. Coffee is a natural product and it contains many delicate compounds which make up its aroma, taste, flavors and mouth feel. Some of these compounds are volatile (they can evaporate out of the coffee as it stands exposed to the air) and some will break down when they are exposed to heat, light (especially sunlight) or moisture (water, humidity in the air, or condensation). Coffee will also pick up flavors and tastes from its surroundings.
To get the best most flavorful knock-your-socks-off cup of coffee that tastes as good as it smells, you must start with quality coffee beans and you must store them appropriately so as to maximize the delicious life of the coffee and prevent it from going stale for as long as possible.
So here are the basics for managing your coffee supply:
The next thing to look at is the equipment used to make your coffee. Everything that touches your coffee should be spotlessly clean. Think about if you were ordering coffee at a restaurant or coffee house. You would not want to see old stained coffee pots and coffeemakers full of scale and residue…yuck!
Another critical piece of your brewing system which makes contact with the coffee and greatly influences its quality is the filter. A good filter will produce a clean tasting flavorful cup of delicious coffee, while a bad filter can produce a bland cup of coffee with a cardboard like flavor. So always use good quality filters. This means:
Have you heard this statement before? “I like how coffee smells, but I don’t like how it tastes”
So why is it that coffee which starts out smelling heavenly out of the bag ends up not tasting so great when it’s in your cup? What happened to all those great flavors and aromas?
The answer to this has to do with the chemistry of the coffee brewing process. Roasted coffee beans contain many compounds (chemicals) which make up the characteristics of the qualities of the coffee. Some of these compounds have great aromas and flavors. Some are sweet. Some make the coffee feel smooth when you drink it. But others are bitter, or sour. Some taste like cardboard and some make your teeth feel squeaky when you drink them. And then there is caffeine which is also a compound extracted from coffee. Caffeine tastes bitter at high concentrations, but in coffee there is not enough caffeine to add any flavor.
The balance of flavors in the cup of coffee you drink is determined by the brewing process used to extract out or dissolve out the compounds from the coffee beans and get them into your cup. Brewing is a chemical process known as “extraction” which removes compounds from one substance (coffee beans) by using a solvent (water). The purpose of the brewing process is to extract out the greatest amount of the good compounds (flavors, aromas, sweetness, smoothness) and leave behind as many of the bad compounds (sourness, bitterness, off flavors) as possible.
Hot water works much faster than cold water in extracting out compounds from solid materials, especially compounds which contain oil. Cold water will work too, but it will take a long time, just like making ice tea using a pitcher of cold water and tea bags.
For brewing coffee, the typical brewing process is to grind the beans and then pass hot water over them to extract out the desired compounds. The coffee is ground to increase its surface area. More surface area means more contact with the hot water and that means more compounds are extracted. The coffee/water mixture is then filtered to separate out the solid parts (the coffee grounds), and the result is the delicious cup of coffee you can drink.
It might sound like more extraction is better because it means more flavor, but this is not the case since the extraction is taking out the good and bad compounds from the coffee and dissolving them into the coffee you will drink. More extraction means more bad compounds which can overpower the good compounds and result in a very bitter flavorless cup of coffee. The trick is to extract out the right balance of compounds mostly good ones and a minimum of bad ones. There is a point in the extraction process where the quality of the brewed coffee is optimized (the best you will get). Too little or too much extraction will make less than great coffee.
In general coffee that is under extracted (too little extraction of compounds out of the coffee) has a weak flavor and tastes sour. And coffee that is over extracted (too much extraction of compounds out of the coffee) has a strong but bitter flavor and may cause your teeth to feel squeaky.
The extraction is determined by the following factors:
There is an optimal point for all these factors where the best coffee is produced. All of these factors need to be considered to get to this point. Let’s look at each one.
THE TYPE OF BREWING METHOD USED
Making coffee is a type of chemical process known as extraction where compounds in one material (ground coffee beans) are dissolved out into a liquid solvent (water). There are different methods for doing this extraction. Some use electronic systems to control the extraction and others are manual which allow the process to be varied but also requires someone to perform and closely monitor the process.
The most common electric coffee making systems are drip coffee makers and percolator systems. There also espresso making systems which use a different process where hot water under pressure is forced through the coffee beans in a very short time.
Drip coffee makers are the most common type of coffee making systems. In this system, water is heated to a set temperature and then the hot water is showered over the ground coffee which is in a basket lined with either a paper filter or metal screen. The water passes over and through the ground coffee and drips out the bottom of the basket into a coffee pot. The coffee pot is either glass or it can be stainless steel. Coffee makers with glass coffee pots typically have a hot plate under the pot to keep the brewed coffee warm. Stainless steel coffee pots are typically thermal type carafes which keep the brewed coffee warm through their insulating properties, much like a Thermos bottle where there are 2 walls of the bottle with air space in between to reduce the conduction of heat out of the pot. Of the two types of coffee pots, stainless steel thermal carafes are more expensive but they are able to maintain coffee for a longer time without losing any flavor. The heated glass pots will tend to drive off the flavors and aromas of the coffee as more heat is added after brewing. Many restaurants use drip coffee making systems, as do coffee shops since they are reliable, consistent, economical, and easy to clean.
Percolators used to be the standard coffee making systems before drip became more popular but they are still used. Usually at large gatherings you see coffee urns which are large percolating systems. In a percolator, the coarse ground coffee is placed into a basket at the top of the coffee pot. Water is added to the bottom. The percolator heats water to boiling and then uses the pressure created by the steam to force the hot water up through a tube and sprays it over the basket where it comes into contact with the ground coffee. The water is recycled many times until the desired strength of the coffee is reached. For electric systems, the percolator will automatically turn off at a preset time. For stove top systems, the person making the coffee must keep track of the time and turn off the stove when the coffee is done. This method is different from drip coffee where the water passes through the coffee only one time. Percolator systems are used for large gatherings like conventions, weddings, church events etc. because you can make a large amount of coffee quickly without needing to watch over it and the pot keeps it hot.
Espresso requires a specialized coffee making system where hot water under pressure is forced through finely ground coffee to extract out the maximum amount of flavor in a very short time.
There are also the pod type coffee makers. These systems are fully automatic and do not allow for any variation on the brewing process beyond the settings on the user panel (i.e. some allow for “Strong” vs. “Regular”). The coffee is contained in a sealed plastic cup with a filter at the bottom. Therefore the amount of coffee used is set by the supplier and cannot be varied. The water temperature and brew time are automatically controlled by the machine. So the only part of the brewing process that the person making the coffee can control is the type of water used to make the coffee.
Popular manual methods for making coffee include French press and pour-over. The French press is a cylindrical glass coffee pot with a stainless steel plunger with a screen at the bottom. The ground coffee and hot water are added to the pot and then the plunger/screen are placed at the top of the pot. After a set amount of time, the person making the coffee presses the plunger down and the screen slides down the pot and strains out and compresses the ground coffee at the bottom of the pot. The brewed coffee above the screen is then poured out into a cup to drink. People like this method because it results in a more full flavored and full bodied coffee than drip coffee. Paper filters used in drip coffee tend to remove some of oils in coffee which contain the flavors and aromas of the coffee beans.
The Pour-over is much like a manual version of drip coffee. The ground coffee is placed in a screen or paper or cloth filter in a funnel which is placed over the coffee pot. The person making the coffee boils the water in a kettle and then lets it sit for a minute before pouring the hot water slowly over the ground coffee in a circular motion so as to wet all the ground coffee evenly. The water passes over and through the ground coffee and then drips out the bottom of the funnel into the coffee pot. This method requires that the person carefully pours the hot water at a controlled rate so all of the ground coffee is in contact with the hot water for a set amount of time. Specialty coffee shops use this method to produce very flavorful coffees.
Moka pot is a two-chamber pot used on the stovetop, typically used in Europe and Latin America, for making espresso-like coffee. The Moka pot uses stem to brew the coffee by boiling water in the lower chamber and then passing the steam pressurized hot water through the coffee basket and then into the top collection chamber.
This pot uses steam to pressurize the hot brewing water, which allows for higher brewing and extracting temperatures. This is similar to the espresso brewing process, however the pressure is lower than pressures used during espresso brewing. The result is a bolder more intense flavorful coffee than drip brewed coffee, somewhere between drip and espresso brew.
TURKISH & GREEK COFFEE
Turkish coffee is made by taking very finely ground coffee beans and boiling them in a special pot (with a narrow neck and a long handle) on top of the stove. After a set amount of time, the heat is removed and the ground coffee sinks to the bottom of the pot. The brewed coffee is poured off the top of the pot. It still contains suspended solids after it is poured into the cup. This sinks to the bottom and laves a layer of sediment in the cup.
Each of these methods noted above requires the coffee beans to be ground to a specific size range to achieve the best results.
GRIND OF THE COFFEE
Each brewing method works best with a specific grind size. The rule is:
The finer the grind of the coffee, the greater the extraction of compounds. If the coffee is ground too fine for the brewing method, the brewed coffee will be too strong and bitter and might make your mouth squeaky. You will end up with ground coffee that smells great before you brew it but does not taste great after you brew it.
If the ground coffee is too coarse, the coffee will be too weak and have too little flavor, aroma and body. Once again you will end up with ground coffee that smells great before you brew it but does not taste great after you brew it.
The method of grinding is important as it is important for all the ground coffee to be uniform in size. If there is variation in the size of the ground coffee (some pieces are big and some are very small) then the quality of the brewed coffee will not be consistent as some of the ground coffee is over extracted, some is perfectly extracted and some is under extracted.
The best way to get a grind which is uniform is size is to use what is known as a burr grinder. This is the type of coffee grinder used in coffee shops and supermarkets. It works by crushing the coffee beans between two disks called burrs. The distance between the burrs is adjustable and this allows you to select the size of the grind you want. The ground coffee that comes out of this type of coffee grinder is very uniform in size. The problem with these types of coffee grinders is that they tend to be more expensive than the lower cost blade grinders.
Blade grinders work by breaking up the coffee beans using a spinning blade (like a food processor or blender). These types of grinders are inexpensive but they produce ground coffee which is not uniform in size (some pieces are big and some are small). Also, the high speed action of a blade grinder can heat up the coffee and cause it to lose some of its aroma and flavor oils. These are less expensive but they are not perfect.
Another problem is that you cannot select the size of the ground coffee. You must judge this by eye as you grind it. If you do use a blade type grinder, it is recommended that you pulse it on for a few seconds and then let the ground coffee rest for a few seconds, then tap the grinder to redistribute the coffee and then pulse again. This increases the uniformity of the final grind and reduces the amount of heating of the ground coffee. For drip or pour-over coffee, grind the coffee beans for a total of 15-20 seconds. For French press or percolated coffee, grind the beans for 10-12 seconds
QUALITY OF WATER
Since water is the solvent used to extract the compounds from the coffee and water is 98% of the coffee you are drinking, the quality of the water used for making coffee is very important to the quality of the coffee you make.
Not all water is the same. There are many different sources of water and each source contains different chemicals which change the flavors and qualities of the water.
Distilled water is produced by boiling water and condensing the steam back to liquid. Distilled water is ultra-pure and contains no dissolved chemicals.
Tap water is what comes out of the faucet. This water contains different minerals like calcium and magnesium, depending on where the water comes from. It also contains added chemicals like fluoride (for the health of your teeth) and chlorine (for killing germs and bacteria).
There is bottled water which contains minerals similar to tap water but without the chlorine and fluoride.
And then there is treated water such as tap water you filter in your home or city water which is processed through a reverse osmosis (RO) system in a restaurant. The filter or RO system removes sediment, bacteria, chlorine and other chemicals which give the water a bad taste.
For the purpose of making coffee, distilled water is not acceptable. Some mineral content is needed in the water or else the coffee will taste flat and lacking in flavor.
Tap water is generally not the best choice because the chlorine will add undesirable flavors to the coffee. Some tap water may also contain minerals such as gypsum (calcium sulfate) which add an undesirable flavor (like sulfur – rotten eggs) to the water and to the coffee.
The best choice for water to use for making great coffee is water that tastes great to drink. The ideal type of water to use for brewing coffee contains some mineral content but does not contain any compounds which produce bad flavors (like chlorine or rotten eggs).
Good choices include bottled drinking water (spring water or purified drinking water, not distilled water) or tap water which has been filtered or conditioned using a purification system designed for drinking water.
Softened water is not good for making coffee as most of the beneficial minerals such as calcium have been replaced with sodium, which will result in a duller flavor and add to your intake of sodium which many people are trying to limit.
Most coffee shops use treated tap water. This enables them to have control of the quality and consistency of the water they use. Bottled drinking water is fine as well. Or if you live in an area where the quality of the local water supply is very good (such as ground water from deep wells or aquifers) and does not need treatment with chemicals, then feel free to try this out for brewing coffee.
The bottom line is that if the water does not taste good to drink by itself, then it will not make good coffee.
Just one thing to keep in mind with ground water (such as well water) is that it tends to contain higher levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium which will leave deposits (scale) behind in your coffee making equipment at a faster rate than water with lower mineral content. This means that you will need to clean and descale your equipment more frequently. Soaking your equipment in a vinegar/water solution for an hour or so will generally remove the scale from the surfaces.
TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER
The temperature of the water when it comes in contact with the coffee has a big effect on the extraction. Different compounds in coffee (and there are tons of them) are soluble at different rates depending on the temperature of the water. As the water gets hotter, the rate at which compounds can dissolve out of the coffee and into the water gets faster (think about dissolving sugar in hot water vs. cold water). Also as the water gets hotter, it is easier to remove more of the water resistant (oily) chemicals from the coffee. This is why it is much faster to make coffee and tea using hot water than using cold.
The problem is that hotter is not always better. Some of the compounds taste bitter or taste “off” (i.e. taste bad, such as tasting like cardboard) and you want to limit the dissolution of these into the water but you still want to maximize the dissolution of the good chemicals (the flavors and aromas and sweetness). If the water is too hot, you will end up with coffee with a lot of extra flavors and bitterness which may cover up the good flavors and qualities. You will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
If the water is colder, the rate of dissolution will be slower. This means there will be less bitterness, but there will also be less flavor as some of the important compounds may not be dissolved into the water in sufficient quantities to give the coffee the qualities you want. Once again you will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
The trick is that you need to have water that is sufficiently hot but not too hot so that you will extract out the exact balance of compounds needed to give you the qualities of coffee you want; smooth, full of flavor and rich aromas with some sweetness and little bitterness. To achieve this when brewing hot coffee, the ideal water temperature is just slightly below boiling. This is 200-205 degrees F (93.3-96.1 degrees C).
If you are using an electric coffee maker (drip, pod or percolator), the temperature is automatically controlled for you, so you do not need to worry about this.
If you are using a manual brewing method like French press or pour-over, the best way to get the correct water temperature is to bring the water to a boil in the kettle, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 1 minute before pouring it over the coffee.
AMOUNT OF TIME THE COFFEE IS IN CONTACT WITH THE WATER
The next big factor which determines the amount of extraction of compounds from the coffee is the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee. Since each of the compounds can dissolve out of the coffee at different rates, some will be completely dissolved quickly and other will take longer.
The amount of time that the water stays in contact with the coffee will determine how much of each compound is dissolved out or extracted out into the coffee. Ideally you want the good compounds (flavors, aromas, sweetness, smoothness) to be completely dissolved out and the bad ones (sourness, bitterness, astringent quality – makes your mouth squeaky) to be left behind as much as possible.
If the coffee is in contact with the hot water for a time that is too short, not enough of the good compounds will be dissolved out and the coffee will be bland and not have the full flavor and aroma it should have. You will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
If the coffee is in contact with the water for a time that is too long, too many of the bad compounds will be dissolved out and the coffee will be too bitter and may have off flavors (stale, cardboard, etc.). Once again you will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
The ideal time for the hot water to be in contact with the coffee is 4 – 5 minutes. If you are using an electric brewing system (drip, pod or percolator) and you have the correct grind size, the brewing system will pass the water through the coffee for the correct amount of time. If you are using a manual brewing system like French press or pour-over, you will need to manually control the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee. For French press this means setting a timer and then removing the coffee from the pot (otherwise the extraction will continue for too long). And for pour-over this means having a timer and controlling the rate at which you pour the water over the coffee.
THE RATIO OF COFFEE TO WATER (HOW MUCH OF EACH)
The amount of ground coffee compared to the amount of water used to brew coffee is critical for getting the right extraction. If the amount of ground coffee is too little for the amount of water, there will be too little of the good compounds dissolved out into the brewed coffee. The bad compounds (bitterness, off flavors and astringency – makes your mouth feel squeaky) will be more apparent in the brewed coffee. You will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
If the amount of ground coffee is too much for the amount of water, the brewed coffee will not achieve the full flavor, but the coffee may be very bitter, as the water will not be able to completely dissolve or extract out all of the good compounds from the ground coffee in the right proportion to the bad compounds. Once again you will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
You need to have the right ratio of ground coffee to water in order to provide right balance of compounds extracted or dissolved out into the brewed coffee. This perfect ratio is generally 2 Tablespoons of ground coffee to 6 ounces of water. This can be varied slightly but not too much. Always read the directions on the coffee package or start with this ratio of 2 Tablespoons ground coffee to 6 ounces water when first brewing a new type of coffee and then try experimenting by changing the amounts in small quantities up and down and see what the results are.
QUICK CHECKLIST – DO’S AND DON’TS OF MAKING GREAT COFFEE
Do Make Sure You:
Don’t Make These Common Mistakes:
That’s it! If you follow these logical steps you too can brew incredibly rich flavorful coffee without spending a lot of money on fancy equipment or taking lots of time experimenting with different recipes.
More information at: https://www.ibrewthebestcoffee.com/
© 2022 Diogenes Publishing LLC
While other diet plans and weight loss eating plans have experienced ups and downs in popularity over the years, the Mediterranean diet has consistently been ranked in the top tier since it became publicized in the 1990’s. For the last 5 years, the Mediterranean diet has been named the best eating plan by US News & World Report.
What makes the Mediterranean diet more long-lasting in its popularity and its results is that it is not a “diet” as people have come to think of diets where you need to strictly avoid many of the foods you enjoy and you feel deprived, and as a result look to move onto another perceived less restrictive diet. The Mediterranean diet is more of a style of eating coupled with a healthy life style that real people have followed for centuries with positive results. People who live in Mediterranean regions of the world follow this style of eating because that is their lifestyle. They are lucky to have access to many sources of fresh unprocessed food, including many flavorful and nutritious vegetables and fruits and they truly enjoy what they eat. They do not see themselves as being on a “diet”. And if you enjoy what you are doing, it becomes effortless and you will continue to do it and enjoy it.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet include better health as defined by Everyday Health. This includes having a more healthy body weight, without having to eat “diet products” like artificial sweeteners or synthetic fats. It also means you do not have to eliminate vital food groups from what you eat, like carbohydrates (carbs) or natural sweeteners and fats. Beyond maintaining a healthy weight, the Mediterranean diet ensures you are getting balanced nutrition from the variety of foods you are eating, rather than having to take processed supplements and synthetic vitamins. It is the combination of the nutrients in the proper balance which is thought to provide one of the key health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The foods and meals considered to be under the umbrella of the “Mediterranean Diet” include many common, normal good-tasting choices such as olive oil, fresh fish, lean meat, bread, fresh vegetables and fruits and even some wine and don’t forget dessert! You do not need to eat any weird or nasty stuff to consume healthier food under the Mediterranean diet. Thy key is to switch to healthier alternatives, such as healthier carbohydrates, fays, sweeteners, rather than avoiding them altogether. This is what makes the Mediterranean Diet so attractive and long-lasting. You do not need in the Mediterranean region to follow the Mediterranean Diet, you can do this too!
For more quick and easy tips on how to adopt a healthier eating style without feeling deprived, check out Mediterranean Diet Cheat Sheets
Harvard School of Public Health, Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet
Everyday Health, 8 Scientific Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Scripps Wellness & Prevention, Mediterranean Diet Is Best Diet – Once Again
REMOTE WORK IN THE NEW NORMAL – THAT TRAIN HAS ALREADY LEFT THE STATION, THERE IS NO TURNING BACK NOW
If you ever wanted to find an opportunity to work remotely, there is no time like right now to explore your options both outside your current organization and also for where you are at now. In the past working remotely was viewed as less productive and not for those who were serious about whir jobs and careers. Since most employers in the past were not very flexible in providing opportunities for folks to try out remote work and demonstrate that this does work well, there was no real evidence to point to for justifying remote work as legitimate value-added service to the organization. And for many of us, we might not have been sure this would work since were never given the opportunity to work remotely. But all that changed since the global pandemic. For many of us, we now have over one year plus of real-world experience to justify our performance working remotely and provide hard data to show the many benefits of working remotely, either part time in a hybrid mode or full time.
And it turns out that there are just many benefits to the employers as there are to employees for working remotely. Specifically, these relate to the bottom-line profits, which is welcome news for those who wish to justify continuing to work remotely. This really ids a win:win situation and now we can prove it.
Benefits to the Employer
So here are some data points which provide justification of the benefits to employers and organizations for supporting remote work:
For employees working remotely, here are some of the key benefits:
In the past, remote work was seen as play-working, hanging out at home all day in pajamas and having a vacation while getting paid. Remote workers were generally viewed as less productive and less serious about their jobs than workers who came in to the office. A lot of that perception has changed since the great pandemic-induced remote working experiment of 2020, however there are still some lingering doubts and hesitations to address an overcome to change this mindset. Here are some common perceived obstacles to working remotely.
How many times have you struggled with trying to come up with a good idea? An idea for a business, for the perfect gift for someone, what to make for dinner, or what craft projects will keep the kids entertained. It often feels like the more effort and focus on coming up with the idea, the more out of reach it becomes. “Wracking your brain” is what my grade school teacher used to call this process, and it never really yielded great results then or now.
Information overload from reading through ad-laden internet posts does not usually provide ideas which inspire any confidence, as the resulting answers are random and impersonal, or may simply reflect the opinions of a few superusers of the site.
A new startup has taken ideation to the tech-age by utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze prompted information supplied by the requester to generate ideas specifically tailored to each request, thereby instilling a level of confidence not possible with random searches. Artificial intelligence has been on the horizon for many years but is now reaching a level of maturity making it a valuable and legitimate tool to solve real world issues and support human decision-making endeavors.
Give it a try for FREE at https://thought-ideas.com/home
Find the perfect gift idea, what to make for dinner, what books are recommended for you to read, business ideas and now You Tube Video ideas.
Feedback is always appreciated as the site is being perfected.
In these days of remote working and online interactions it is more important than ever to keep your mind active and engaged in something which will drive you forward. Many studies have confirmed that as we get older, it is vital to exercise our minds as well as our bodies in order to sustain our health and well-being. Continuous learning is the ley to maintain an active positive mind and continual growth of skills and confidence, even as we reach what most consider to be the tail end of our careers. The truth is that it’s not too late and yes you can teach an old dog new tricks. Keeping you mind challenged by learning something new has many immediate benefits, including: reduced stress, a more positive outlook, more confidence, a sharper mind, and even better performance at your job or possibly a new job or career altogether.
Now is an ideal time to explore the many options of online learning and developing new skills for the new economy or just for your personal satisfaction. Isn’t there something you always wanted to learn but never had the opportunity or the time? With the shift to virtual learning and remote work, there are many more options available to you that you never had before. You now have a world where you have some extra time by not commuting and you have more courses and certification programs online that ever before.
For me what I always wished learned when I was younger is coding and programming. This is a very dynamic filed which is constantly evolving and impacts all areas of our current society and economy. I always wanted to learn how things work and become a contributor to developing better technologies, not just a user of technology. I ended up in an engineering field and while this has bene good over the years, I will have a keen interest in learning the new and latest technology skills. This stuff makes me feel like a kid again and it also helps me contribute valuable ideas in my current engineering role. Lately I have stumbled upon a series of online programs designed to be engaging, fun, challenging and efficient in developing new coding and programming skills. All at a reasonable cost, and some it free! https://stude.co/1031503/coding-and-programming (disclosure: affiliate link). And now that I have just a bit more time…I am taking the plunge. There are so may compelling reasons to keep on learning and developing your mind and skills. You never know where this will take you.
Until next time...
There are many options for side income streams that can supplement your current income or provide a platform for a part-time side business that you cold eventually grow into a full-time venture (i.e. quit your day job). You must have seen many ads and webinars for “Affiliate Marketing”, “Taking Surveys”, “Franchising”, “Freelancing”, “Day Trading”, and the list goes on… All of these have the potential to make you some money but they do require an investment and commitment of time and/or money. If you are currently holding a fulltime job, and need it to pay for things like housing, health insurance, college, groceries, utilities etc., you likely do not have much of either of these to spare on a business venture that might or might not work. So what do you do?
First, you must decide on your life’s priorities. For me, yes I could spend all my non-working hours working on a side business, and I started out this way years ago, but soon realized that this would lead to giving up on things that were more important to me, like getting married and stating a family.
So the second step is to define just how much time you have available for a side business, and when you actually write it all down, it is more than you might think. You need to think of time outside the box of large dedicated hours and hours. For busy working adults, this time is more spread out; think about how I am writing this post now while waiting for the dentist. If someone asked me “you should think about starting a blog”, I would probably reply “I don’t have the time needed for that”. But somehow I do. Last weekend I reworked the website while waiting for 6 hours at DMV to get my license renewed. I have also gotten up just 20 minutes early to follow up on orders of my online products and hired writers to help with book manuscripts. Maybe free time is available during the commercials, or skipping a TV show now and then, it’s different for everyone but its within your control to identify and focus on the time you do have.
The third step is to define how much money you are willing to invest. If you are going for a franchise, you might need $200,000+. If you need specialized training or a certification you might need $5,000+. If you are starting a freelance writing business or blog you might need $50. It’s all up to you, but be clear up front so you don’t end up pouring more and more money into one idea when it might be better to reevaluate and change direction. For me, the time limitation dictated the money limitation. There was no way I would invest over $5000 in a business that I could only afford to spend a few hours a month on. I would surely end up losing this investment.
Last, you need to define a business that you will enjoy doing or one that gives you a purpose, something that drives you forward. If you start a side business that is pure drudgery, you will reach a point where it’s just not worth it to continue, even if you are making some money it will just not be worth the pain to push harder to grow it. More likely you will drop it or let is tail off.
So given all those considerations what types of side business will work? It will be different for each person and situation, but for me it became clear that producing a product which I had control over and selling it on an established marketplace was the right place to start. My product of choice was information products, namely eBooks, Print Books, Manuals and Business Templates. I took a few online courses to learn about this business and then hit the ground running. I create these products myself and I sell them on the following marketplaces, check these out:
Until next time.
All the best,
We are starting a forum for folks thinking about or running a side business. Check out our LinkedIn survey here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6729871963050921984
There are endless programs and courses out there which claim to make you tons of money. You’ve seen headlines like this right? “In fact, I earned over $20k in royalties in a single day”, “…pushing a button, and watching earnings simply pour into your account…”, or “no experience, no selling, no website, no investment needed…”.
I have tried some of these myself (more than I care to admit) and while they do contain some valuable insights, none have lived up to the claims presented in the marketing ads. Has that discouraged me from continuing down the path of part-time entrepreneurship? Not at all. In fact what I have learned from this journey is that the reasons for having a side business are more than just making tons of money, and the reasons that most of these programs fall short is that they do not address the key requirements needed to be successful, and these are different for each of us and every situation is different, so there is no “one size fits all” program that works for anyone. But that should not stop nor discourage you from exploring and burning desire you have to make a side business work, which you just can’t shake. There are many good reasons for having a side business, besides getting rich, which are of different relative importance for each of us. Here are a few:
More to come on this topic – until next time.
All the best,
Interest in baking is seeing a resurgence not seen since 100 years ago, when modern style cookbooks, specialized kitchen utensils and quality ingredients become widely available to many home bakers
Baking requires complete focus and concentration and this can pull the mind away from stressful and/or depressive thoughts. These are the experiences missing from the fast-paced reactionistic expectations of modern existence and precisely the type of experience people are longing for when they talk about slowing down and de-stressing.
We have come full circle. Now that we have all the modern conveniences and packaged process food available to us, we have come to more fully appreciate the art and craft of baking bread and cakes ourselves and the mindfulness experience and satisfaction it brings, even in uncertain times.
100 years ago, there were many uncertainties being faced, including World War I, food rationing and the flu pandemic of 1918. Baking was an essential part of providing food for families and also a means of finding some escape from the daily stresses and comfort in a familiar and predictable experience. Baking today still provides the satisfaction and provokes healthy mindfulness that is very much needed now as it was then. Many of the favorite recipes we still enjoy today were first introduced to home bakers over 100 years ago. Over 200 recipes are included here.
Here are some old favorites that are still enjoyed today -
Very palatable rolls can be made from a similar mixture of boiled potatoes and flour by adding fat and sugar. The following proportions will yield about 1 dozen small rolls:
Boil, peel, and mash the potatoes as directed for bread making.
Add to this the salt, the yeast rubbed smooth and mixed with the water, or other liquid, and lastly 2 tablespoons flour. Set this mixture to rise at about 86 °F and allow it to rise until a touch will cause it to fall. Add to this sponge the butter, the sugar, and the remainder of the flour, and, if necessary, enough more flour to make a very stiff dough.
Knead thoroughly until a smooth dough has been formed which is no longer sticky. Set back to rise again, and when the dough has trebled (tripled) in volume knead lightly, form into small balls, and place, not too close together, in greased pans. Let rise until double in volume and bake 20 minutes in a moderately hot oven (about 400° F).
(type of sourdough, handy when yeast is in short supply)
This bread, which is commonly called by the misleading name of “salt-rising bread," has been known in one form or another for generations. It has been a particular favorite when and where it was difficult to get satisfactory yeast.
Scald the milk. Allow it to cool until it is lukewarm; then add the salt, sugar, and corn meal. Place in a fruit can or a heavy crock or pitcher and surround by water at about 120° F. Water at this temperature is the hottest in which the hand can be held without inconvenience, and can be secured by mixing nearly equal parts of boiling water and tap water (unless the tap water is unusually warm). Allow the mixture to stand for 6 or 7 hours, or until it shows signs of fermentation. If it has fermented sufficiently, the gas can be heard as it escapes.
This leaven contains enough liquid for one loaf. If more loaves are needed, add 1 cupful of water, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 tablespoonful of sugar, and 1 table-spoonful of butter for each additional loaf. Make a soft sponge by adding a cupful of flour for each loaf to be made. Beat thoroughly and put the sponge again at the temperature of about 120° F.
When it is very light, add more flour gradually until the dough is so stifle that it can be kneaded without sticking to the hands or to the board. Knead 10 or 15 minutes, put at once into the pans, allow to rise until about two and one-half times its original bulk, and bake. Self -rising bread is never so light as the bread raised with yeast. A loaf made with one cupful of liquid therefore will come not quite up to the top of a pan of standard size.
Face it, It’s a real challenge to get into a new routine, especially when you are thrown into one suddenly with little time to prepare. For most of us, even though working from home seems like it should be less stressful, it can feel more stressful as needs and expectations of work and home life come together and constantly compete for our attention and focus.
Hey, you’re not alone at all. The fact is, most people need structure in order to feel secure and enable them to effectively focus and perform consistently. Not having a familiar structure, like going into work every day at the office, can feel like not having a sturdy floor to stand on. And this then shifts focus from fully performing tasks to trying to maintain balance and not fall down. The result can be that less gets done and what does get done may not be done as well.
Even though working from home affords significantly more time saved by not commuting to and from the office, the results may not meet expectations and can lead to more stress. What is needed here is structure and realistic expectations. But unlike structure solely defined by outside organizations, structure for working at home also needs some self defined structure. Hey is what we call freedom, but like any other new experience it takes some time to become skilled at it.
So what are some common elements of structure needed to work remotely? Here are the most important:
You deserve to feel good about yourself and how well you have managed all the changes and uncertainties and unfamiliar routines. You are on top of things and you will succeed!!
It’s interesting, despite all the early challenges with setting up and figuring out how to use teleconferencing tools, online meetings have quickly evolved into very efficient results oriented events which produce more value per hour than the old fashioned low tech face to face meetings. Yes, there will always be challenges with network interruptions and computers that are slow and bugs in software, but overall the results after just one month focused solely on virtual meetings shows that we have advanced to being much more productive. Based on what criteria? Here are some key observations, you be the judge:
The Virtual Engineer - What I Learned (by Necessity) In the Last 4 Weeks And How I’ve Become More Efficient
Plunging into the deep end of remote work has been an extreme paradigm shifting experience. Being an engineer supporting manufacturing operations, working from home in my circles has always been viewed as play-working and has been strongly discouraged as a lazy person’s way to get out of really putting in the effort to be productive. Now in 2020, given no other choice these same organizations have suddenly fully embraced remote work as a lifeline to keep things running while the world gets itself back together. As someone who has long sought an at least partial remote opportunity, this experience is not just that the glass is half full but it is overflowing. This is a chance to challenge the creative skills to prove this works and, even to my surprise, after one month I have found that this has worked out even better than I anticipated. In addition there are many new skills that I have learned and/or sharpened which can be very useful well into the future. These include everything from learning new software to new ways to stay motivated and new ways to be organized. All of these have actually improved my productivity as I have noticed as I am checking off completion of key project deliverables which I could never seem to get to while in the office. Out of every challenge comes a valuable learning opportunity, and here are some of the most valuable I have learned:
Conferencing Software That I Can Now Use Proficiently:
No more “Hey I think you are on mute”, or “The lighting is bad”, or “I can’t see your screen”.
Cloud Based Systems That I Now Use Without Redoing Any Documents Or Asking for Help:
I can now also seamlessly work between different computers and phones without losing anything!
Really Useful Productivity Tools I Have Recently Discovered:
Soft Skills I Have Significantly Sharpened Recently:
Here are some of the real benefits to organizations (not just employees) that real companies are currently looking at:
In the midst of all the uncertainty, fear and confusion going on right now in the world, it is important to hold onto the things that are within your control and and focus on what you can do right now to lift yourself up and look forward to a brighter and better future.
You’ve always wanted to be able to work from home or work remotely right? But most organizations have been very resistant to allowing remote work because remote workers are viewed as less productive or lazy or just taking a vacation and pretending to work (translation “If we can't see you and look over your shoulder, we don’t trust you to be responsible”).
But now all the rules have suddenly changed. No, this isn’t the way that I or anyone would have ever wanted it to be, but since we are forced to be in this situation anyway, why not use this opportunity (if we can call it that) to prove that working remotely from home really does work and it works very well.
Now that many of us are participating in this mandatory study of the effects for working remotely, the data is showing that people are actually more productive and effective in producing more work and engaging in more working hours during the day versus commuting into the office or work location each day. In fact, recent data shows people are 55-70% more productive in terms of work output per day now that they are working remotely. The apparent reasons for this are many, including the following:
Now is the time to keep this momentum moving forward. We have all the tools we need to be able to connect and collaborate remotely and we can make this work, now and into the future as needed. This time and situation will pass but let’s hold onto all the valuable lessons learned.Bottom line is that this is really working and now there is real data to back this up. And answer all the doubters out there. Working from home is real work and gets real results, sop let’s not go back to looking down upon those who desire to work remotely, they are very valuable contributors and need to be supported.
Look for more articles on how to maximize efficiency working remotely, what tools work well for remote work and more to come...
In the ever-rapidly evolving world of online ework, technology has emerged to answer one of the age-old concerns about letting people work remotely “Are they really working?” Software is now available to track remote workers’ time and productivity. In addition, this software can also provide productivity benefits to organizations including automation of: time sheets, project milestone tracking, invoices, and performance against objectives. This data can be used to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of remote work and efficiently manage remote teams, making employees more accountable and freeing supervisors from micromanaging. For organizations still wading into the waters of ework, this software can provide the data needed to move towards a more efficient future with confidence.
An excellent application for ework tracking is Time Doctor.
This application is simple to use and easily lets managers track:
Years ago when I got involved in what was then called “Business Assurance Planning”, the top threats to sustain business operations were fire, power outage, and natural disasters like floods, bad weather, earthquake. All of the contingency planning centered around finding another location work out of and making sure IT systems were backed up with copies stored off site. Then Y2K brought awareness of the vulnerabilities of all the IT systems we rely upon, even in the absence of a natural disaster, and we started to think about how we would operate if our IT systems stopped functioning.
An effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) typically includes IT disaster recovery plus contingency/backup plans for critical business operations. Most BCPs focus on restoring key business functions in terms of relocating facilities, machinery, people or equipment so that the operations necessary to keep the business alive can be carried on even if the business is hit with a flood, fire, blizzard, etc.
Small businesses have different needs, and different resources, than large corporations when it comes to Business Continuity Planning. While large corporations may decide to hire BCP consultants to craft a customized detailed business continuity plan for their operations, which can be complex and geographically distributed, small businesses may need a less complex business continuity plan template which is straight forward and easy to implement by internal resources.
BCP stands for Business Continuity Planning. BCP is a process of identifying the potential risks to your business and then evaluating how to prepare for these so that if they do happen, you have a working plan to enable your business to continue to be viable. This means that you are still able to operate at some level needed to meet customer needs and to be able to resume normal operations at a defined point in the future. Lack of adequate BCP means that a disaster could put you out of business permanently.
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a roadmap to enable a business to continue operations under adverse conditions, such as an unforeseen disaster or other unplanned interruption to the business. This includes:
Natural Disasters, such as: bad weather, flooding, earthquake, disease, etc.
In the modern business world, we have lots of quick and easy channels of communication. Remember the old days when we used to actually have to write a memo (on paper) and actually send it to someone? Now we have instant communications with email, IM, text… Things should get done faster and better now right? Well that’s not exactly how things have evolved.
One of the biggest ticket items in being successful in anything you do is making effective decisions. If you want to go somewhere, you need to decide where you want to go and follow a consistent set of directions. Remember, the most efficient way to get there is in a straight line. Same is true for projects, goals, objectives, dreams….anything you want to do. The challenge is to make an effective decision which will accomplish the objective in the least amount of time and effort and this requires the following:
Emergency Preparedness includes planning and training and taking proactive action to be ready to do what needs to be done to ensure survival and safety, in case of an unplanned emergency or disaster. Emergency Preparedness is important for families and communities as well as organizations.
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) focuses on taking proactive steps to ensure the viability of a business during and after a time of unplanned emergency or disaster. This a goes above and beyond IT disaster recovery, as the focus of IT disaster recovery is to restore IT systems and data but does not address other aspects of the business.
As organizations continue to restructure and become more lean than ever, many of us find ourselves today with more and more work to do since there are less and less people left to do it. When my parents were in the work force, if you needed a report written or a presentation put together you could ask your department secretary (later renamed the "admin") or you could go to the graphics department to help you out. Today the expectation is that you will do all of this work yourself. In addition, as people leave organizations the expectation is that business continues on as usual with no interruptions; which means their work gets added onto yours.
A common gripe in every organization I have been associated with is “we need more people” or “we have too much to do and not enough hours in the day”. Have you heard these things? It seems to be a common theme no matter how many people there are because there are always more ideas out there and it is always much faster to think or re-think of things that need to be done much faster than anyone can possibly do them.
Adaptability In The Ever-Changing / Paradigm-Shifting / Cheese-Moving Business World – Keeping Up with the “Priorities Du Jour”
In today’s constantly evolving business landscape, it seems impossible to plan ahead for any long term career in any one area. Years ago, a common interview question was “where do you want to be in 5 years?”, and the expectation was that you would be furthering your career in the organization who was interviewing you. But we all know that times have changed