August 31, 2006
Island life is always so appealing, especially for those of us who are on the mainland. This week we got a shipment of pods from Aloha Island coffee, a premier coffee grower and seller of fine Kona coffee. Their story is compelling, and with their attention to detail, I am excited to sit down and try these out. Aloha Island Coffee was started by Anita Harrington and Jim Robinette who moved to the Big Island to get into the coffee business. With extensive experience in Total Quality Management and manufacturing, the couple were not going to let the newly formed company take shape as a laid back producer of low quality coffee. Over the years, quality has been the focus, and meticulous planning and record keeping has taken this producer of Kona coffee from freshly planted coffee trees in the beginning to a well regarded company with a shop right on Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills.
Aloha Island has many coffees available for sale at their site ranging from Kona/Hawaiian coffee blends to fine Kona estate blends that hold their own with some of the best coffees in the world. This review will be focusing on their ESE Espresso pods that come is regular and decaf varieties. I have to admit that I was pretty excited, so as soon as they arrived I dropped one pod in for a quick shot and without giving too much away, I have to say that I loved it. You’ll have to come back for the review.
We also have "Single Serve Pods" in for review at our sister site SingleServeCoffee.com - Check it out.
More at Aloha Island Coffee
August 31, 2006
OK – so you are interested in a Gaggia that is affordable for the rest of us? The Gaggia 35008 Carezza Espresso Machine is a pretty popular and farily well equipped little espresso machine. This pump driven machine is well suited for everyday use at home, with a portafilter that is set up for both singles and doubles, but sadly not ESE Espresso pods. The machine is easy to use with its ergonomic filter-holder grip. It also features a drop-trap basin and cup-support grating in stainless steel, both easy to slide out; group and filter-holder in chromium-plated brass; drip-proof system; and an automatic self-priming device to facilitate start-up. Single and double stainless-steel filter baskets, a coffee tamper, a coffee scoop, and an instruction manual are included. Measures 10-1/2 by 9-1/4 by 14-3/4 inches.
It is also available in gray - Gaggia 35008 Carezza Espresso Machine - Gray
August 31, 2006
Starbucks thought that they would try a little marketing magic for a free iced coffee, and apparently the genie got a little too hard to control. Starbucks pulled the plug on what was going to be a 5 weeklong promotion after an email coupon spread farther than originally anticipated. I mean come on folks, haven’t you used the forward button on your email?
The offer began Aug. 23 with an e-mail offering a free Starbucks iced coffee from noon to 9 p.m. through Sept. 30. It was sent to "a limited group" of employees in the Southeast with instructions that they share it with friends and family. Well apparently “friends” means a pretty big circle, and they killed the promotion after it was obvious that they were going to lose their shirts in the deal. Oh, well. Better luck next time.
August 30, 2006
It’s Gaggia coming up everywhere! We thought we would highlight some other espresso cups that look brilliant. This Gaggia Cup Collection is a colorful reminder of Spring, and life in the gardens. You can’t help but to love a color packed experience in these little gems.
August 29, 2006
So, yesterday we showed you the Gaggia 77002 manual espresso machine, but here’s another beauty from Gaggia, the Gaggia Achille Espresso machine
, another manual espresso machine that is lever operated. This has a few modern conveniences though, like en ESE Espresso Pod basket and a nice turbo frother that is sure to crank out the lattes and cappuccinos. To operate, just raise the lever on the front of the unit, which allows water to infuse the coffee in the filter holder. Then, lower the lever to brew; the pressure forces water through the coffee and into the cup.
August 28, 2006
We talk about the summer "best of" from Shavingstuff.com as well as other products and news from around the 'pire. We also answer your questions from the past couple of weeks so keep sending them in to podcast at blogpire dot com.
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With Hosts: Russell Miner and Jay Brewer
2:30 Best of ShavingStuff.com
3:30 Best Razors
3:55 Best shaving cream
7:20 Best aftershave
8:30 Best shaving oil
10:30 Best shaving online stores
13:30 The Scotch Blog
14:15 Guest Review: Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
16:03 Home Composter
19:14 Organic Beer
21:10 Prefab Sunset Cabin
23:55 Tivo Series 3
28:25 Oppo Digital LCD/DVD TV
29:25 Samsung 70' LCD TV
33:02 Mix and Measure Bowls
34:44 Gourmet Basting Brush
36:01 Electrolux Cyber Fridge
39:27 World of Warcraft Collectible Card Game
43:37 Lost the Game
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Gaggia is well known for its espresso machines, but have you seen this one? This is the Gaggia 77002, a manual espresso machine that will have you pulling espressos like the old days. This chrome plated beauty has an excellent look and feel to it. By lifting the lever, a piston inside the group is raised allowing water under pressure to infuse the coffee in the filter holder. The lever is then lowered causing the piston to force the water through the coffee and into your cup making one or two cups of perfect café quality espresso. The machine has a water level site gauge located on the side of the machine. Capable of making 16, 2oz cups. Maybe not for the faint of heart, but looks great on the counter.
August 25, 2006
A company has come up with an innovative lid that changes colors from coffee bean brown when cool to red when hot. The company, Smart Lid Systems, has pitched the idea as a way to both indicate that the coffee is hot, and put a little bit of advertising right in the face of consumers. So, the next time you grab a Latte from your local coffee shop and you have absolutely nothing to do, think about just hanging out, enjoying the day and watching your coffee lid change colors right before your eyes.
ReadMore at Smart Lid Systems
“Humm, nice body, good acidity, with a slight nose of fungi….” Researchers in Brazil are finding that some of the nice characteristics that we appreciate in a coffee’s flavor may be attributed to the presence of fungi in green coffee. Like the effects of local sun, water and soil climates on coffee, the local fungi may also be playing a large part in the development of a coffee’s good character. We're not talking about mushrooms growing on green coffee - these are microscopic fungi growing inside the bean, naturally. It is well known that fungi can also help develop off tastes in coffee that are undesirable, but this researcher has found that some fungi may be responsible for characteristics such as floral, citric, caramel, chocolate and toast. So next time you get that cup of excellent coffee and notice some nice aroma, think that it might just be due to some lovely strain of fungi back in the producing country. Don’t worry though, the roasting process is sure to kill these things long before the coffee reaches your cup.
In what might be described as the best little coffee shop in the Middle East, the soldiers of the 57th—the Army’s original MEDEVAC unit, have constructed a pretty nice little coffee shop among the helicopter hangers and the sands of their base in Iraq. The Original Java was constructed out of old shipping containers and scraps from around the base and made into the center of off-duty life. Serving up some peace and maybe even a bit of quiet along with coffee, the soldiers are able to unwind from what must be a tough day’s work. The Original Java café works on a donation system, and more can be read about this and who the donations help through the link below. Also, you have to check out some of the pictures at their Blog; amazing what shipping containers can look like with a little love and white paint.
ReadMore about Original Java
See the Original Java Blog
August 24, 2006
So a while back, we posted the announcement of the Stomping Grounds launch of a line of four espresso concentrates for your enjoyment. They come in Espresso, Caramel, Vanilla and Mocha, all in 32 ounce shelf stable containers. The preparation is pretty easy, pour in an ounce of the concentrate into a cup, add milk and heat. If you want to enjoy it cold, pour over ice. Easy espresso. We have the Espresso and Caramel varieties in house and we’ll be drinking up a storm over the next few days – hope I can sleep after this! We’ll get back to you on what we think about the Stomping Grounds Espresso concentrates.
They are available nationally at Cost Plus World Markets and some select Whole Food stores. Also available at Amazon.
ReadMore at Stomping Grounds Website
August 23, 2006
So, some of the magic in getting a good espresso pull is getting a good tamp on the espresso. This allows you to pack the grounds into a nicely formed puck for the hot water to force its way through, extracting delicious espresso. Does everyone need these, no, but they are definitely fun and add a bit of flair to the experience of making espresso for your guests. This Espresso Hand Tamp has a clear top to the handle and is 49mm is diameter, just a bit under 2 inches. Check your portafilter diameter to make sure this works. Otherwise there are other tamps available for different diameters.
Amazon is selling groceries, and they are offering $10 off an order of $49 or more. So, check out the coffee selection and save some money. The offer is good through the end of August. Enter Grocery2 in the promotion code box at checkout.
ReadMore at Amazon
August 22, 2006
Known for their cup collections as much as their coffee, Illy has a new one out that is a striking set of blue espresso cups that can be a beautiful addition to any espresso lovers kitchen. From the original art statement of their famous Matteo Thun illy cup design until now, illy has asked emerging artists to come and design espresso cup collections, and Jan Fabre has the latest design. Jan was motivated by the Blue Hour, that time between night’s last darkness and the first light of the day. A limited edition of 6 cups is available from Illy for $100.
August 20, 2006
The Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso machine with ESE Pod Holder arrived for review today at SingleServeEspresso.com and we are pretty excited to take a look at this relatively inexpensive espresso machine. This may be an inexpensive espresso machine but it is not cheap; internally it is a pump driven espresso maker, a feature that you find in most espresso machines $150 and up. There are plenty of cheap steam or boiler driven espresso makers out there, but the Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso machine is pump-driven, developing plenty of pressure that is so important to give you that fine layer of crèma foam to sit on top of your espresso. The higher pressure coming in at 10-15 bars (steam or boiler machines only develop 2-4 Bars of pressure), is also important in extracting all the flavor out of the ground espresso, as well as creating an espresso with body like one you might find in a coffee shop.
Continue reading: "Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso Machine Arrives for Review at SingleServeEspresso.com"
August 18, 2006
I came across an old recipe that we had and though I would pass it along. It’s easy to enjoy some of this and get a kick out of it; no sleep required. Makes a great snack before late night parties.
Espresso Bean Chocolate Bark
1/2 - 3/4 Cup Espresso Beans
1 Pound semi-sweet chocolate
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, then stir in espresso beans.
2. Pour chocolate into prepared 9x9 pan, or spread on waxed paper on counter until about ½ inch thick.
3. If in pan, put in refrigerator for 1-3 hours until cooled. If on counter, leave several hours until cool.
4. Break into pieces and enjoy.
5. Store in a cool, airtight container.
Enjoy responsibly; these will give you a kick of caffeine!
August 17, 2006
If you haven’t heard, there’s a little revolution going on in the world of coffee, and it’s way beyond wholebean kicking the canned coffee out of your kitchen. Artisan roasters are popping up giving you incredible finds from all over the world, often times selected not just from a single country, but from a single region, single estate, or a single lot of beans from one farm. The carefully cupped and selected coffees are then small batch roasted and sold directly to you for your enjoyment. One well regarded artisan coffee outlet is Terroir Coffee, who is offering their espresso of the month this month as and espresso from the Mira Valle farm from Honduras and this specific tiny lot of coffee beans won the Cup of Excellence Presidential Award, receiving an overall score of over 90 from a distinguished international panel of judges.
Sure the Mira Valle espresso is a bit more than a can of coffee, but when do you get to taste something that is among the best in the world for under $20.
ReadMore and order at Terroir Coffee
McDonalds is testing specialty coffee drinks in Rochester NY area McDonalds in a market test to see if the drinks should go nationwide. The drink machines, like everything else at McDonalds must be pretty automatic and fool-proof as they have such a wide variety of skill levels working there and the focus on quick service like nobody’s business. I’d swear I had espresso based drinks in Seattle area McDonalds a decade ago, but they weren’t anything to write home about. Hey, hook them on the sweet stuff and move them to the good stuff. If people find their way to espresso via a McDonalds drive-thru, I say great, bring it on.
August 16, 2006
Designed by emerging artist Serse Roma, these glasses have undulating waves of silver inspired by the sea of Trieste. The new glasses from Illy come to life when filled with an iced espresso drink or potentially as the headliner at an intimate setting for a few espresso based cocktails. They make an elegant gift and are available through the Illy website for $60.
Lavazza, one of the world’s largest roasters of espresso coffee, has signed an agreement with Sara Lee Foodservice to bring the Lavazza Blue system to US away from home outlets across the US. The Lavazza Blue espresso machine system is a capsule system that allows the user to quickly offer espresso drinks easily, consistently in a high quality manner. Let’s face it, a good espresso drink out at a restaurant can be hard to get sometimes, especially if the place doesn’t specialize in coffee; this can bring the high quality espresso or latte that you expect to the restaurant that you want.
August 15, 2006
Interesting article today about coffee and its POSITIVE effects on health. Maybe that cup of espresso or Latte isn't all that bad? So, we've all seen the bad news, and you might have heard about the good news, well here's a quick rundown:
The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that habitual coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Coffee contains antioxidants that can control cell damage often linked with developments of some diseases.
Continue reading: "(Good) Health Effects of Espresso and Coffee"
So we've put a few posts that can help you with Latte Art, now we found a video that can help you too. Below is a video from You Tube that shows some decent latte art. It's not too hard, but somehow, mine still turn out looking like mud. I keep cranking out the espresso shots (they go fast with a bunch of ESE Pods lined up), frothing the milk and doing the pour, and I almost got one this past weekend, but my leaf looked more like an ink spot. I'm going to keep trying, there's always the next Latte.
August 14, 2006
It’s back to school time, and we thought we would put up some recommendations for espresso that can make going back to school a bit easier to handle. Late nights and low-grade cafeteria coffee can take their toll on you:
Best Espresso Machine Under $500
The FrancisFrancis! X6 features a 1100-watt espresso/cappuccino machine housed in ABS plastic with chrome accents and works with ESE pods. It also features an 18-bar pressure pump; all-brass boiler refills automatically and the new Trio Technology which allows for making 3 espresso preparations--short, normal, and long. It has a 5-cup removable water tank, steam jet with built-in milk foamer, and a handy cup warmer. The Francis Francis X6 is priced at $429; normally runs $500 and higher.
Best Espresso Machine Under $250
The Breville Café Roma is a great all around espresso machine with a 15 bar pump, and a good looking stainless steel exterior. It can work with ground espresso and EE Pods for easy espresso shots. The 5.2 cup removable water tank will keep you going for a lot of espressos. The milk foamer has a special easy to use attachment that will allow you to make lattes and cappuccinos simply and without headaches. The Breville Café Roma is priced under $250.
Best Espresso Machine Under $70
Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker with ESE Pod Holder comes ready to brew espresso from ground coffee and ESE pods also. It’s 2 cup reservoir is a little on the small side, but should do well pulling several espressos before re-filling. Even at this price, the unit comes with a pump that puts out 15 bar of pressure to pull good espressos topped with a good crèma. Solid machine for good espresso at this price, under $70.
For all of the Machines above, don't forget the ESE Pods!
Crank a few of these out and you'll have not trouble staying up to study. You can go with the old standby of Starbucks Espresso Pods – 24 ct; tastes just like the coffee in the shops, or our current favorite Lavazza Grand Espresso Pods – 50ct, great Italian Espresso.
Best Espresso Set Up Under $35
OK, so you can’t go with the machine, but have access to a stove. Here’s the Bialetti 6 Cup Stove Top Espresso Maker, and an Aero Latte Milk Frother. You can still whip up espressos and a nicely topped latte pretty easily with this wet-up. Not a bad deal for under $35.
Send that college bound espresso lover off with a Starbucks Card – reload the thing on the web and let them have their own fun hanging out at the local Starbucks.
If you spend $125 or more at Amazon in the Kitchen area, you can save $25 on your order by using the AUGSAVER promotional code. On top of that, you'll qualify for free shipping.
August 11, 2006
So we’re heading to a party this weekend and we were told to bring the makings for some fun drinks. I figured why not bring coffee based drinks. It’s not just for breakfast anymore! So here are some recipes that I culled from drinksmixer.com; you’ll have to head over there yourself to check them out, they have a bunch more. It's summertime, so I was looking for some chilled drinks.
1 oz cold espresso
1 1/2 oz Absolut vodka
1 1/2 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 oz white creme de cacao
Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled martini glass. It should be somewhat frothy.
26 chocolate covered espresso beans
5 oz ice cream
3 oz milk
4 oz Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on the highest setting for 55 seconds, and serve into coffee mugs.
Search for more espresso drinks at drinksmixer.com
August 9, 2006
General Mills just released these Caribou Coffee Granola Bars and wow are they good. These are the Chocolate Mocha flavored ones, they also come in a Vanilla Late flavor. Don’t think that you are going to get a huge jolt from these things, because judging from the ingredient statement there’s only a few hundred MILLIGRAMS of coffee, not caffeine, coffee, in each bar. Either way, they taste pretty darn indulgent and I like them. Check them out at your local grocery store in the granola bar section.
Engadget has an interesting article on modifying an espresso machine to increase the power of the pump in ways that weren’t originally intended by the manufacturer. They replaced the little pump that came with the machine with a 1/3 HP motor driven pump. Anyway, it’s a little tour that you can safely take from your easy chair and appreciate what it takes to mod your espresso machine without anything blowing up in your face. So, sit back, enjoy an espresso and click below to see the mod.
August 8, 2006
More on Latte Art – come on, you know you would love to be able to turn these beauties out yourself; I can’t yet, but I keep trying. I found another good solid site for showing you to take some steam, espresso, and some milk into Latte Art, and thought I would pass it along. This one has some nice photos and diagrams of how to accomplish the seemingly impossible, turning your own milk into a work of art. Me? I am still trying. Stay tuned, maybe I’ll share.
More on Latte Art
August 7, 2006
Based in Northern Italy, Lavazza got its start over a century ago when Luigi Lavazza bought a little grocery store for the sum of about $20. Customers soon found that his coffee blends were spectacular, and their future was made certain. Today, that grocery store has grown to one of the largest producers of coffee in the world and the #1 coffee in Italy. There are several varieties of Lavazza available as either whole bean or ground coffee, and there are two types of Lavazza widely available to us in ESE Pods. Today, for this review, I am testing the Lavazza Grand Crema ESE pod, and I have to say it lives up to its name and it makes a great cup of espresso.
These ESE Espresso pods are made to be used in popular makers like the Breville Café Roma, the Krups XP4050 and the Hamilton Beach 40729 espresso machines; all have the ability to use ESE Espresso pods.
Continue reading: "ESE Review: Lavazza Grand Crema Espresso Pods"
August 5, 2006
We've been working hard to get it together on the podcast front and can now officially say - we've got a podcast for the entire BlogPire! Hosts Jay Brewer and Russell Miner will take you through the best news and reviews from around the BlogPire. If you're not familiar with podcasts - they're basically a web based radio show and you can read more about them here.
The Pilot show features exclusive chat and banter about the launch of our new blog SingleServeEspresso.com, a run down of the latest from GPSLodge.com, TVSnob.com, KitchenContraptions.com and many others. We take a look at the latest in BBQ, Poker Drinkware, and of course high definition TV stuff. We hope you enjoy the BlogPire Podcast and expect it to show up on whatever BlogPire weblog you read every 2 weeks!
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August 4, 2006
I used to make this ahead of time and refrigerate for a quick and easy pick-me-up in the summer. With about 10 minutes of work, you can have a nice concentrate in your ‘frige for a couple of weeks.
6 ounces of strong espresso
3/4 Cup of sugar
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract
Whisk espresso, cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon into a saucepan and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and cool to room temp and add the vanilla. Put in sealed container and store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
How to Make your Mocha
Take 1- 2 tablespoons of syrup made above and add to 1 cup of milk. You can heat the milk in the microwave for a hot drink, or mix in mocha syrup to cold milk & serve over ice for a cool summer treat. Adjust amount of syrup according to your taste.
August 3, 2006
The Bodum Granos Espresso Machine
is one that you have to admire for its looks first and its espresso second. This semi-automatic machine is ready to brew with portafilters for single, double and ESE pods, and can brew these at the push of a button. The thermoblock heater heats the water to temperature and the high pressure pump extracts the best flavors from your espresso pushing through at about 9 bar. The 58 ounce removable water reservoir should last you plenty of espressos on this great looking machine. If you want, it also comes with an adapter to use on bottled water that you can invert and feed into the machine.
Starbucks announced that their earnings were up 16% for the most recent quarter versus the same period a year ago. They continued and will continue their breakneck pace of opening stores in new areas (target is 2,000 new stores in 2006). Wall St. appeared a bit worried though as their same store sales of stores open a year or more only improved sales 4% over year ago. That may indicate that they are having trouble growing sales thorugh quality service, and products. This is also an indicator that $3 gasoline may be cutting into the pocketbook of their consumers, and people need to buy gas instead of a Venti Late. Hey, maybe people need to invest in their own machines and make that delicious espresso at home?
Continue reading: "Starbucks Earnings up 16%"
August 2, 2006
Illy, the well-known espresso coffee maker is one of the most popular espressos served around the world. Wherever you go, you can find these Illy Classic Espresso Cups serving up their espresso. Originally designed by Matteo Thun, these cups have become synonymous with espresso in the café. You can have these at home too. They are sturdy yet elegant in their design and feel great in your hand every time you take a sip.
August 1, 2006
This has been out there a while, but thought I would point it out to you just in case you had a free couple of hours, and some PVC laying around. While this is nice and portable, I think that the Preva xSport would be a much better choice for very portable, real espresso experience. (We took it up Mt Washington in NH, and thought it was pretty good. See a full review at our sister site, SingleServeCoffee.com).
Anyway, check out what Engadget had on how to make an espresso maker in a few hours with some leftover pipe and a caulk gun.