January 31, 2008

Starbucks Slowing Growth - Closing 100 Stores

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Starbucks is slowing its growth by lowering the number of stores it plans on opening, while actually going to far as to close a few along the way. Closing the underperforming stores is expected to boost sales at other stores - assume these are close enough that people want to make the detour. In the end, the move seems symbolic, as the coffee giant is still planning on opening over 2,000 stores this year.

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January 30, 2008

Great Deal on Espresso Machines

If you are interested in some great deals on espresso machines, you should take a look at the WholelatteLove Outlet store. They always have a bunch of espresso machines for sale there that are always a good amount below retail. The units are usually returns or open box items, and are upwards to 20% off retail prices for some pretty nice machines.

WholeLatteLove says:

Before a machine can be offered through the Outlet, our technical staff carefully inspects it to ensure it is in perfect working order, so you can always be sure you’re getting the best in quality and performance. Each refurbished machine comes complete with all components that are necessary for proper use.

Go check them out at WholeLatteLove Outlet Store

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January 29, 2008

First Impressions on the Handpresso - Still Cool


After an admittedly quick week, we've got to say that the Handpresso is still pretty cool. I cranked out a little more than a dozen shots this week and after a very short learning curve, I have to say that I like the espresso maker for a bunch of reasons. The unit is solid, I mean better built than my bike pumps. It is certainly precision made and I would expect it to last with proper care. Along the way I learned a few things that I think I'll share:

1) Pre-heat the Handpresso - If you can, add hot water to the reservoir to pre-heat, then dump it after about 10-20 seconds and add fresh hot water. Without a boiler upstream of the brewing, like an electric home brewer, you can get a cool espresso shot pretty quickly.

2) Pre-heat the cup - same reasoning here, I like hotter shots. The fact that things are chilly up here near Boston in the wintertime probably doesn't help.

3) Hold the end of the Handpresso with your "static" hand while pumping, not the stock (like they tell you in the instructions). I say this because it's easy to pinch yourself when pumping the handle.

4) It only takes about 25 - 30 pumps to get the full 16 bar on the pressure gauge. May seem like a lot but it goes fast.

Overall, I love the fact that I can take this with me. While I got a few weird looks at work, I loved having a fresh shot of my own espresso whenever I wanted.

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1. Pump the Handpresso up to 16 Bar, then pre-heat with hot water.



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2. Let it rip with 16 bars of pressure.



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3. You even get a little foam/crema.

I have found that the crema is more like a bit of foam to top the shot and that shorter shots are better shots, as the unit doesn't hold the 16 bar of pressure through the whole brewing process; it goes down as the compressed air runs out. I found that a shot slightly on the short side was best, and pretty darn flavorful. The differences between a home brewed shot and the Handpresso wasn't as huge as I originally was thinking, and is very passable for a decent pick-me-up where ever you want.

See our Un-Boxing Post of the Handpresso.

For more information see the Handpresso Website

At Amazon - The Handpresso Wild
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January 28, 2008

Gaggia MDF Grinder

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Ready to step up into the big time? While a lot of people get started with a blade grinder or even a small burr grinder, espresso fans know that if you want to step up in quality, a great place to think about is getting a better grinder. Not only is a burr grinder important, but a reliable precision grinder that can turn out the same fine grind time and time again can be key in creating a great cup of coffee.

The Gaggia MDF Grinder is a good first step up from a typical home grinder as it is a high quality burr grinder that delivers coffee through 34 different fineness settings and 50 mm tempered steel grinding burrs. The Gaggia MDF, like many other higher end grinders will grind into a chamber, and with a quick pull of the lever, it will deliver about 1/4 ounce of ground coffee directly into a portafilter, just like in most coffee shops. The 1/4 ounce, or about 7 grams is usually enough for a single shot of espresso. The Gaggia MDF is a good step up machine from the regular home grinder. The next step up to consider is the Rancillo Rocky which is a bit more quiet and a bit more rugged, and a bit more money. For anyone using a commercial portafilter machine, a high quality grinder like this is a must.

  • Housing Material: Thermo-Set Plastic
  • Weight: 10 lbs.
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 11.5" x 4.5" x 8.5"
  • Color: White
  • Hopper Capacity: 10 ounces
  • Doser Capacity: 8 ounces

At Amazon: The Gaggia MDF Espresso Grinder

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January 25, 2008

Hausbrandt ESE Espresso Pod Review

HausbrandtESEPods.jpg Haustbrandt has several different origin coffees in their ESE Espresso pod line that makes it a fun rotation to taste the pods together seeing what Hausbrandt can do with the coffees in an expression of espresso; how they bring out the best in a typical country's coffee. Hausbrandt is based in Trieste, Italy and was founded in 1892 by Hermann Hausbrandt. He set up the Prima Tostatura Tiestina di Caffe and brought innovation to the coffee roasting business using the first electrically monitored roasting process, a cooling cycle and efficient distribution to get fresh coffee to users.

Today, Hausbrandt still practices the craft of roasting high quality coffees and by working with coffees all over the world, they can bring an experience that is fun to explore and with ESE pods, easy to use.

Overall, I liked the Hausbrandt ESE Pods, and could easily see the differences in the ones it tasted.

  • Kenyan AA - Bright and light with a dark roasted flavor, but not smokey, it has an earthy flavor without being dirty.
  • Costa Rican - tamper acidity with a little grassiness it has a bright flavor without being overly sour. The flavor profile is woody and toasted.
  • Guatemalan - A lot of base coffee flavor, with a fuller body and more earthy profile throughout, with a clean acidic finish.
  • Brasile - A nice toasted aroma with a slight bourbon aroma to it. The flavor is light, slightly grassy with toffee flavors. The coffee certainly has a definite acid presence, with lingering flavor but clean, not dirty.

These can be found in the Hausbrandt Sampler at Amazon, so you can do your own run-off, or separately.

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January 23, 2008

Starbucks $1 Coffee and Free Refills

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Apparently Starbucks is trying to get back to their small town coffee shop roots and getting a little competitive with other coffee outlets that are trying to steal some business by getting in the decent coffee game. Starbucks is offering in some Seattle locations $1 brewed coffee with free in-store refills. We'll see what happens, as Starbucks is claiming that this is not a new business model. After losing the focus on the consumer, maybe they are trying to find that magical brand-building experience again.

More at AP

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Brewed Coffee - The Next Espresso?

So, let's face it, espresso drinks have become a pretty big part of American's lives thanks to a bunch of coffee shops and a few big corporations. A few weeks ago, we posted a story about Clover, a pretty advanced and pretty expensive machine that makes some reportedly excellent brewed coffee. The idea being that gentle heating and extraction coaxes the subtle flavors out of the freshest, most flavorful beans.

The NYT wrote up a nice article today that walked through vacuum extraction using a siphon bar and the Clover. A lot of the leading coffee houses across the country are using such techniques to show their customers a more complex, bolder brew.

“Siphon coffee is very delicate,” James Freeman, owner of the BlueBottle Cafe said. “It’s sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it’s almost moussey.” Says the NYT.


If you don't believe the NYT, you can go next door to our sister site, SingleServeCoffee.com to check out their impression of the Clover and see what delights were had on a recent trip to Velouria Espresso in Jamaica Plain, MA to investigate and review the Clover for themselves.


Below is a video that shows a Clover creating a cup of coffee from freshly ground beans....



For more on the Clover and Siphon Coffee - NYT

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January 22, 2008

SingleServeEspresso - Month of Great Coffee Giveaway


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It's the middle of winter and we're drinking a whole lot of coffee these days staying awake and staying warm. So we thought we'd share the warmth and give away a month's supply of coffee to one lucky winner so that you can enjoy some great coffee too.

So on February 1st, we'll draw a name from our mailing list and award one lucky winner a month's worth of coffee. Your choice on the form - Whole Bean, Ground, Nespresso Capsule, or ESE Espresso Pods. We'll try to pick a great selection of coffee for you.

Sign up today to enter and you'll get our newsletter in your mailbox once a week and just so you know we never share your email address.

If you're already on our mailing list, you're already registered!

Subscribe to SingleServeEspresso.com Newsletter:

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Crap-Tastic Espresso Maker


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Single Serve Espresso reader Adam sent this one in.... and we think that this could possibly be the most Crap-tastic espresso maker around. I'll admit that I haven't used it, but considering the $25 price, the fact that it's not a pump-driven machine, and the fact that you can get it at Wally's, which is not exactly the purveyor of the finest espresso machines, I'm pretty much guessing it's a dud. If I am wrong, let me know. For that price, I'd rather have a Moka Pot; they may be inexpensive but don’t be shy about using one of these.

At WalMart - The Kalorik Espresso Maker

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January 20, 2008

Unboxing Handpresso - The Coolest Espresso Gadget

Well, we are fortunate enough to have a Handpresso Wild in for review and I thought I would offer a few pictures of the coolest little espresso gadget I have ever seen. The Handpresso is a hand-pump espresso maker that allows you to pump up the handle to 16 bar, add hot water and an ESE Espresso pod to the brewing chamber flip the switch and go. The result is a freshly brewed authentic tasting espresso wherever you can access hot water.



Handpresso_WildBox.jpg The Handpresso in its box.

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Four Easy Steps: 1) Pump the handle to get 16 bar, 2) Add Hot Water, 3) Add an ESE Pod, 4) Press the brew button to get your Espresso.

The unit comes well packed and secure from the maker in France. "Well Packed" in an understatement. I mean Apple could learn a thing or two from Handpresso. The Handpresso comes packed in a box that I would say is more like a presentation quality box that a fine Cognac would come in.

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The Handpresso in a nice inner case. Slide the overbox off to find a textured, inner, heavy weight case.

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Slide open the inner case that slides open to reveal its contents the foam packing.

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Pull away the instruction manuals and the foam packing to see the Handpresso seated safely in its cocoon.

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The water chamber unscrews where you insert the ESE pod and pour in the hot water.

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On the top side you have 1) The water reservoir that holds 50mls, 2) The pressure gauge 16 bar (over 200PSI), and 3) The release or brew button.


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With the pump handle extended; the Handpresso is only a little more than a foot long.


Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be brining the Handpresso along to a few places so that we bring espresso convenience to the masses. The first stop is going to be work, where the office coffee will be replaced with a nice shot of espresso every now and then.

At Amazon - The Handpresso Wild

More at the Handpresso website.


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January 18, 2008

Mokarabia ESE Espresso Pods

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This past week I had the pleasure of checking out some Mokarabia ESE pods, and thought I would pass them along. There are three versions to choose from, and I was able to have the Mokarabia Strong pods, which are impressively good.

Mokarabia is based on Bologna Italy, and have a pretty good reputation for excellent coffee. It is produced by the Zanetti family of Bologna who have been trading coffee since 1700. The coffee today is roasted slowly in small batches, "Cured" and then blended to keep flavor high and consistent. The signature blends are then packed into the classic pods that we can use to create simple delicious espresso at home.

Mokarabia Arabica
- smooth and clean finish; packed with flavor

Mokarabia Strong - an Arabica/ Robusta blend that has a great profile and a full flavored finish.

Mokarabia Decaf - An arabica blend that is clean and a little bit lighter than the Arabica caffeinated blend.

Try them out at Pod Merchant, either alone or in a Mokarabia Sampler.

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January 16, 2008

Espresso Voyeur - The Tamp-cam


This one in from BoinBoing was spied in the Melbourne airport, a crank-style tamp that has a little spy cam on one side and a small LCD on the other so you can check out the barista's tamping action. Maybe there's a problem with rogue barista's slipping a little somethin' somethin' into the puck before the shot is pulled?

Via BoingBoing

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January 12, 2008

First Impressions: Cuisinart EM-200 Espresso Machine


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We've been cranking out shots of espresso for a while now and enjoying the Cuisinart EM200 Programmable Espresso Machine and I am impressed. What I like is that they have a pre-infusion set in the program so that the grounds get wetted, there's a brief pause and then the true pumping begins. I was blowing through some fresh Major Dickenson's from Peet's and it was giving me some incredible espresso and crema. The picture below shows off some of the crema that pours out of the machine. With all of this brewing I think I have only gone through a few reservoirs full of water - it's HUGE (69 ounces).

Also the Cuisinart EM-200 has two programmable buttons for pulling a single or a double shot. For me the single was a little tall, so I shortened it a bit down to about an ounce of espresso. Now I get my shot at the push of a button after I get all of the portafilter set. Nice convenience in the morning. I know, it only save about 30 seconds of your time standing there waiting to "shut off" the machine if you were using the manual button, but it's great.

So far so good; programmable push button simplicity, pre-infusion, great crema being driven by a huge reservoir.



CuisinartEM200Pour.jpg


Product Features of the Cuisinart EM-200

15 bars of pressure

69-ounce removable reservoir

Pre-programmed cup size set at 1.5 ounces and 3.0 ounces – with the option to select the serving size you desire


Brews one or two cups – ground espresso or pods


Professional stainless steel housing with embossed Cuisinart® logo


Steam button is a separate function for easy use


Stainless steel steam nozzle for cappuccino and latte


Portafilter holder with locking mechanism that makes it easy to dispose of wet grounds after use


Removable drip tray and cover for easy cleanup


Warming tray on top


Tamping tool with measuring spoon and stainless frothing cup included

Limited 3-year warranty

Also see our Unboxing of the Cuisinart EM-200 Espresso Machine

At Cooking.com - Cuisinart EM200 Programmable Espresso Machine

At Amazon - Cuisinart EM200 Programmable Espresso Machine

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Quick Pick: Double Black Diamond K-Cup - Bold Stuff

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It's ski season and I just had to pass this along. The folks at Green Mountain have a dark roast that is bold enough to stand up and ski some Giant Slaloms on it's own so I figured that it's going to appeal to a few espresso lovers out there. The stuff is roasted dark and has a pretty bold body and finish; it's an "Extra Bold" K-cup, so it's not going to be accused of being a lightweight.

I have been cruising through a box of "Double Black Diamonds" for a while now and I have to agree. Dark roast, not sharp or hollow, but fairly full bodied, without as much smokiness as the Tully's French Roast I have been drinking. Has no problem standing up to milk, and is a nice bold cup for the winter season.

Check them out at Green Mountain - Double Black Diamond Extra-Bold K Cups

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January 10, 2008

Handpresso - Coolest Espresso Maker?

Well, fresh off the SingleServeCoffee.com forums, comes this story, the Handpresso a portable espresso maker. Tired of lame coffee away from home? This portable espresso maker gives you 16 bar in your back pocket for a quick and easy shot of espresso. Of course you need hot water out on the trail, so bring the thermos or another heat source.

I already wrote the company, to see if they are available in the US. The price isn't cheap as 99 Euros is around $140 each.

Here's the video

More at the Handpresso website

At Amazon - The Handpresso Wild
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January 9, 2008

Ultimate Single Serve Machine?

Have you seen one of these around your favorite Espresso cafes? If you are hanging around some of the best coffee shops around the country, like Intelligentsia or Stumptown, then you might have seen one of these Clover machines in the corner as a way to sample some of the best brewed coffees in their shop. Let's face it filter coffee hanging around in a big urn can be bad stuff. Well this wonder of engineering is a commercial grade machine that is ready to go with a tweak-eriffic number of settings to dial in the perfect brew. The unit also based around a 4500 watt boiler that can run on 240 volt service! This thing is serious business.

The idea is that an espresso cafe can set these up to run fresh grounds through whenever a customer orders up a coffee, much like how the espresso machine runs. I recently had the pleasure of having a Cup of Excellence coffee at Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca NY, where it really was a great experience to have it in a french press. With such a high quality coffee at these shops, you want to have a fresh cup.

Via

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Pessimist's Mug

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I saw this and had to pass it along; it's about that time of year when cabin fever starts in and you might just feel like this mug is for you.

Check it out at Despair where you can also find a whole bunch of other sad downer items to fit your middle of the winter blues feeling.

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January 8, 2008

A Billion Dollars in Them Thar McLattes

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So the Golden Arches has been citing potential sales figures of $1 Billion for McLates, McEspressos, Mc Capps and McCrappy espresso based drinks, along with other bottle waters and assorted drinks. I was just saying last week how bad my McLate was, flat and lifeless, was probably another way to talk about it.

It sounds like they are happy to provide lower quality drinks than a place like Starbucks and feel there's some profit there; they already have a separate barista position in 800 restaurants across the country selling these things.

Somehow I find it ironic that HOward Schultz once aspired to be the "McDonalds of Espresso Drinks" in describing how he wanted to standardize the espresso experience... well there you go.

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January 7, 2008

The Best Nespresso Capsule Storage?

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I don't know how you store your Nespresso capsules, but I recently figured out a way to keep a few at my fingertips without much expense or hassle. When I got my Nespresso Essenza C100T, I blew through a lot of the samples that came with the machine and then was left with this pretty good little plastic holder that they came in.

Instead of recycling it, I decided to re-use it. I took some velcro style strips that I found at the home center, and apply three down the back and hang it on the inside of the cabinet above my Nespresso machine.

The result is a cleaner cabinet, and a decent selection of capsules right where I need then and out of sight. Not bad.

I was inspired by the $124 ebony wood version (below) that is available at the Nespresso site, but didn't really have a place to hang it and felt like buying coffee might be better than buying the holder.

If you are interested in a good selection you can check out Amazon's set of Nespresso Capsule Holders.

You can also check out a handcrafted Bamboo Nespresso Capsule Holder that I came across on the web - I love the look and the design.

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January 2, 2008

Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine Mini-Review

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While on vacation I had the opportunity to play a bit with a Saeco Aroma espresso machine, and have to say that I like it a lot. The specs are pretty good but they don't convey the overall high quality of the device. It's got a 15 bar pump, a 950 watt stainless steel boiler and the ability to brew from both ground and ESE Pods as a result of the special portafilter inserts that come with the machine.

The unit comes in either black or stainless steel, and is pretty heavy, offering you a bit of insight into its overall build quality. Not a lot of ABS plastic here; metal left and right. The reservoir is quite large, spanning the back of the unit, and coming in at 85-ounces. Plenty for days and days of espressos. The heat that comes off the boiler rises up to warm the cups that are stores on the top of the machine.

The unit has an on/off rocker switch, and a brew rocker switch down the left side, while it has the steam controls down the right side of the front panel. The steam wand swings to allow you to put the frothing pitcher under it, but the nozzle does not swivel up and out of the way, which makes you tip the frothing pitcher a bit to get it under the nozzle.

Espresso brew quality with the Saeco Aroma? Well, it all comes down to this, right? Well, I was impressed with the brew quality of the Saeco Aroma, and think that it makes a pretty respectable shot of espresso. It has a pressurized portafilter which means that it creates the back pressure without having to grind and tamp the espresso perfectly. With that said, I definitely saw a better shot of espresso coming out of the Saeco Aroma having given a nice light tamp to the espresso to set the ground coffee and make sure that a proper extraction occurs. We were using coffees from Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca NY, and the espressos were very tasty.

Net I am impressed with this classically designed little wonder, and have no issue recommending it.

The unit is available in one version:

  • Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine, Stainless steel

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