March 30, 2008
Nespresso always puts out some interesting blends and special limited editions throughout the year to shake things up and make life a little interesting. I am usually game for trying them and enjoying them as they change up the normal routine around the Single Serve Espresso kitchen... if there is really a routine as we are constantly roving and trying espresso makers, coffee, pods and capsules. But you get the point.
Goroka is the 2008 Grand Cru Limited Edition capsules that are a celebration of Papua New Guinea and their highland coffees. The coffee is an all arabica blend that comes through with classic arabica behaviors and flavors. From Nespresso: "Once picked the red cherries are immediately pulped to remove the bean as quickly as possible to prevent uncontrolled fermentation. The beans are fermented for three days with daily rinsing followed by a day of total immersion on fresh water to bring out their unique taste. After surface drying in the sun, they are mechanically dried to ensure an even finish. They are carefully hulled 21 days later. The result is a superior coffee and a livelihood for hundreds of coffee growers in the Papua New Guinea Highlands."
Continue reading: "Review: Nespresso Goroka Espresso Capsules"
March 28, 2008
These demitasse cups are 4 ounce wonders for the space starved. This set of four cups stack in a wire rack along with the saucers to form a neat little bundle that is about 9 inches high and a little over 5 inches at the base. Not bad for a set of four. I think the small footprint would go well with the small footprint of the Nespresso C100T of mine that has a 10 inch by 6 inch base.
At Amazon Stackable Demitasse Cups (Also available - 7 ounce Stackable Cups)
March 27, 2008
We reported on Red Espresso a few times, even going so far as to try to brew a little Rooibos Tea Espresso on our own. Red Espresso is a trademarked name for an espresso that is made from the Rooibos Tea, a tea that is grown in South Africa. Naturally caffeine free, the tea is said to have plenty of antioxidant kick. With a combination of naturally occurring antioxidants and the high temperature, high pressure extraction method of brewing, RedEspresso claims to have more antioxidant power than a cup of naturally steeped green tea. RedEspresso is available at Whole Foods
Find out more about RedEspresso at their site.
March 26, 2008
The Fantini company started roasting coffee in the 1960's in Rome and these days they deliver coffee to more than 10,000 espresso bars around the country and around the world. Their new plant, built to ISO 9002.2000 standards for quality and care. The new plant location is about 12 miles south of Rome.
I recently got some Fantini Arabica and Tre Stelle pods to try out. They are some pretty authentic style ESE pods from Italy, but I found both a little bit lacking in complexity and overall body.
100% Arabica - It's a pretty dark roasted Arabica that has some peppery notes layered on top of some of the roasted/burnt notes. The slightly nutty lingering dark roasted flavors is prominent, but still allows for a clean typical arabica finish. The flavor is a classic acidic arabica flavor.
Fantini Tre Stelle - Similar to the Arabica, the Tre Stelle is dark roasted and a bit thinner than I like on flavor complexity. There is some caramel flavor mixed into the dark roasted flavors, but overall its not as well balanced as I like. The Robusta blend is definite, but not overpowering and lingers nicely in the aftertaste.
Both the Fantini Arabica and the Fantini Tre Stelle are available at Select Brands
March 25, 2008
Gotta love a sale, Whole Latte Love is running a site wide sale for 5% off anything (a few exceptions), that can save you a bundle on a new espresso maker. They have everything from regular coffee makers to high end Super Automatic coffee centers available, alongside grinders and espresso cups.
Check out the deals at WholeLatteLove and use the code SPRING08 for the savings now through 3/27.
March 24, 2008
As a part of their brand and product relaunch, Starbucks is buying the company that makes the Clover coffee machine; a new brew method that we reported on here at SingleServeEspresso back in January. We also reported that Starbucks was testing the Clover in a few locations around the country, which must have been pretty successful, because they must have decided that the machine was so good, it was worth buying the company.
Starbucks also announced that they are building their customer loyalty program to include free flavor shots for their members, free soy milk in prepared coffee drinks and free refills on brewed coffee. PRetty cheap ways to say "Thank-you" to the loyalists, but the costs have to add up. In the end though, all you need to do is get people to come in a few more times a month, and you'll pay it out fast.
Starbucks also launched the crowdsourcing site MyStarbucksIdea where people can suggest ideas, and others can comment on or build on them.
Starbucks - "Pay Back Tips" - $100 Mil.
In other news, Starbucks was ordered to pay millions to baristas who were short changed when tips were distributed every week. It was Starbucks' policy to pool tips and pay the tips out on a weekly basis to all workers, from baristas to supervisors who worked that week. You got your share based on how many hours you worked, and it added up to about an extra $1 per hour; which can add up.... to about $100 Million. That's the amount of money a California Court wants Starbucks to pay back to baristas in tips that they lost out on.
March 21, 2008
The Starbucks Sirena hit the streets late last year, and is now making its way to retail outlets as the price on this well designed machine settle in. The machine is definitely a beautiful one, designed in part by BMW Design Works engineers, to make a prominent statement on anyone's countertop.
It's got some decent stats too: 15-bar pump-driven espresso machine with stainless steel broiler
Dual brewing spout; one-touch pre-measured single and double shots and user-programmable settings
Steam wand with pannarello adapter; Rapid Steam boiler for rapidly switching from brewing to frothing
Accommodates E.S.E. pods and ground espresso, 57.5-ounce /1.7 liter removable water tank, adjustable and removable drip tray
More at Amazon: Starbucks Sirena
March 19, 2008
Nespresso has just announced their limited edition coffee for 2008 - Goroka. Goroka is described as precious, sophisticated, chiseled, and unique. The coffee is from East Papua New Guinea, and made from Arabica beans grown in a very humid and warm tropical rainforest. Goroka gets its name from the Mountain town where all coffee harvests are sent to be hulled before being sent all over the world.
Go check out the Goroka site, for more information with flashy graphics. Nespresso always has a little eye candy when presenting these Limited Editions. Late last year they ripped through their supply of Nespresso Variations which I had the good fortune of tasting; thinking that they were very high quality.
I ordered some up for my Nespresso Essenza C100 (See Review) and should be enjoying my Goroka soon. You can also check out more Nespresso Machine reviews at our sister site SingleServeCoffee.com, including ones on the Nespresso D90, Nespresso Le Cube, Nespresso Romeo, and the Nespresso Lattissima.
At Nespresso Limited Edition 2008 Goroka
March 18, 2008
Handpresso Wild, the uber-cool Bike Pump looking portable espresso brewer is now available in the US allowing folks on this side of the Atlantic to enjoy this Euro originated brewer without the hassle of overseas ordering. We enjoyed getting our Handpresso in January, covering it with an Unboxing of the Handpresso
, and then a First Impressions post
quickly after that.
I continue to use the Handpresso on a regular basis at work, and really think that it's a great way to enjoy espresso away from the coffee shop or my army of brewers at home. I get a fair amount of strange looks, but the little break is a great way to enjoy an indulgent little pick-me-up in the afternoon. I usually hit the office coffee maker for some hot water to pre-heat the cup, and Handpresso reservoir to make sure I get a good shot. The office brewer does not put out terribly hot water, so I need to nurse out every bit of heat that I can before brewing. I pour out the pre-heat water, add the brew water, the pod and I am ready to go.
I have been using a few different pods, especially some of my favorites like the Lavazza Grand Crema and the Mokarabia Strong ESE Pods.
The $149 is not a cheap price to pay for such an indulgence, but you get what you pay for, and in this instance, it's a very solidly built unit. Better to pay the price for something that will work well and last, versus paying a cheap price and having the unit fall apart.
The whole thing comes in at over a pound, and is made of aluminum, with a high quality feel and action. It comes with an extra "o" ring, but in the couple of months I have been using it, I haven't seen any issues.
So, while it might be great for camping, it is also a great brewer for a quick brew at work, or anywhere else good coffee is scarce.
At Amazon - The Handpresso Wild
March 17, 2008
Happy St. Patrick's Day, and with that comes a whole lot of celebration around the world, or maybe just in a few select places like here in Boston, where we also know it as Evacuation Day; the day the Redcoats evacuated Boston under the watchful eye of George Washington.
We enjoyed a little warm Irish Coffee in front of the fire this past weekend, and hey maybe it's not too late to grab a little whiskey and enjoy some yourself.
Basic Irish Coffee
1 Shot Irish Whiskey
6-8 ounces of strong coffee
Cream, Milk to taste
Whipped Cream - That spray can stuff makes it easy!
In an Irish Coffee Glass combine sugar and irish whiskey and stir.
Add Cream or milk and stir
Top with Whipped Cream
My preference is to substitute an Americano, Espresso mixed with Hot Water, for the coffee portion above.
March 14, 2008
Breville's BES820 espresso machine received the iF Gold Award recently, and it's no surprise; good looking machine. The heavy stainless unit and its sister unit the BES 800 ESXL have some impressive specs - 1500 watts and 15 bars of pumping pressure. The unit brews both ESE pods and freshly ground espresso from this 31 pound machine. The 75-ounce reservoir should last you quite a while.
The unit comes with adaptors for single shot, double shot and an ESE pod adaptor as well as a tamping tool/measuring spoon, a cleaning tool, and a stainless-steel frothing pitcher. The espresso machine measures 12 by 10 by 12-1/2 inches and carries a one-year warranty.
At Amazon - Breville BES 800 ESXL
March 13, 2008
In case you missed it, Starbucks is moving into chocolate bar branding. Like their agreement with Dryers to make Starbucks Ice Cream, they have gotten into an agreement to brand a chocolate bar made by Hershey's subsidiary Artisan Confection Company. Bars should be showing up at stores near you sometime soon.
When we see them, we'll grab a few and dive in.
March 12, 2008
Coffee prices are on the rise
, and two favorites in our house are not immune. With the costs of the raw material - quality green coffee going up, the cost to me, a big coffee consumer are going up too.
Recently the cost of my Nespresso capsules went up; a whole 3 cents, from $0.49 each to $0.52, but hey it's an increase. I think that I can afford it though, especially if it keeps me away from Starbucks for just one day, I'll be good for a few months. I brew in the Nespresso Essenza C100
, shots of espresso mostly.
Long time readers also know that we run on a Keurig B-70
in our house and for us, it's allowed everyone in the household to get a cup of what they want. I mean hey, I like the regular stuff too, it's just got to be a pretty hefty roast. Our sister site, SingleServeCoffee.com just reported
on some price increases coming for K-cup coffees too. I went over to Coffeewiz and picked up some Tully's French Roast;
a pretty popular flavor in our household.
March 11, 2008
A lot of people wonder if they should tamp their ground espresso in the portafilter before brewing. Sure the baristas at the coffee shops do it, so should you? The answer is yes, but for potentially a different reason. To start, you need to understand the difference between a professional portafilter and a consumer portafilter.
In a professional machine where the portafilter has only a screen on the bottom, and the pour spout. When the brewer starts pumping, it's the cake of espresso that needs to provide the resistance so that proper back pressure is developed and all of that coffee goodness is extracted from the grounds.
In a consumer machine, portafilters typically only have a very small pin hole in the bottom of the portafilter. They sometimes mask it by putting a waffle pattern on the bottom of the portafilter, but look closely, the outlet is only a pinhole. The back pressure if created by this pinhole, and the fact that the machine can pump more water than the pinhole can let out in the same amount of time - the result; pressure.
So if the back pressure is created by the pinhole in a consumer machine, why tamp? It's about channeling and weak brews. If you just drop coffee in without tamping, you'll still get some decent extraction, and decent crema, but when you tamp, the water will not cut channels through the coffee grounds as easily and it will be forced to go through the coffee instead of around it.
The other day I brewed up 10 shots of espresso just dropping a scoop of espresso into the portafilter of the Cuisinart EM-200 that I have on my counter top, a nice unit with a consumer portafilter design. Each one had a nice overall crema, but lacked a bit in flavor and intensity.
I also brewed up 10 shots of espresso and tamped them lightly with a simple tamp that came along with the EM-200, and brewed those; same amount of coffee, same coffee. I alternated to get pairs of shots to taste them essentially side by side. I did my best to get the shots as close as possible in brew time, and in amount of water. I brewed them into a pair of Bodum Pavina glasses - double walled glass to minimize heat loss.
The extraction was better overall with the tamped shots; fuller body, better flavor. You don't need a ton of force to tamp these, but give it a little tamp, seat the coffee and enjoy a better shot.
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.
March 10, 2008
Don't know if you've tried one of these, but I did on the way through town the other day and if you are looking for a sweet treat, it's not a bad choice. Not exactly for the expresso purist, but for folks who might love the other fun Lattes in their line, and don't mind the extra calories that come with this sweet treat, it's worth a try. Of course you need to like honey, and if you are watching your weight, I would jump on the No Whip version; it will save you 70 calories on a Grande size. Go no fat milk and you're now under 300 calories on the Grande size.
March 7, 2008
Capresso has released their new Impressa J5 model, and it looks excellent. The high end coffee center is a touch of the button easy cup of coffee ranging from an espresso to lattes and even americanos. As a super automatic coffee center, it grinds, tamps, and brews right in front of you. The Impressa J5 looks great, and they have designed it so that it looks great from every angle so that it can sit out on a kitchen island and look just as good from the side as it does from the front.
This is not slouch of a machine either; it's got a 9-ounce while bean hopper, and a 71 ounce water reservoir, which also contains a water filter to make sure the water is pure going into the boiler and brew chamber. There are 6 grinder settings, and quite possibly the best feature of all; it's the quietest super auto on the market. No need to stop talking while this grinds away.
The controls offer a lot of customization as well as ease of use. There are six one-touch beverage buttons (one espresso, two espresso, one coffee, two coffees, hot water, steam) that are already pre-programmed but can be customized too if you want to adapt the brew profile. This would allow you to change the brew strengths (coffee drop weight), and the water amounts, as well as the temperatures of the brew. Another great capability is that you can override the settings with the dial on the top of the machine without affecting the pre-sets at all.
One of the things I like about these super autos is the by-pass doser that allows you to drop a scoop of pre-ground coffee into the top of the unit so that you can brew something other than the whole beans that are in the whole bean hopper; great for decaf.
The two-step infusion process and 18 bar pump sets you up for excellent espresso, while the frother allows you to crank out great lattes and cappuccinos. The unit can accommodate manual milk steaming r can be hooked up to the Froth XPress to automatically draw steamed milk into your cup. I find that steaming the milk in the coffee cup and then dropping a shot into the cup after that makes for a great latte, without the need to clean up the extra frothing pitcher.
The auto-on and auto-off timer makes sure that the Imprezza J5 is ready when you wake up and shuts off when you head out.
At Amazon - Jura Capresso J5 Coffee Center
More at Jura Capresso - Jura Capresso J5 Product Page
March 6, 2008
No surprise one of the best coffee shops in the country is opening up another shop in the city. Their new address is at 228 Mott St, NYC, and it's been open since January. The spot just North of Little Italy, allows them to access a few more thousand people at change how they think of quality espresso.
If you're in the city, go find them and get a great espresso drink. Or you can just visit on the web.
March 5, 2008
I really like having a small and compact espresso maker on my counter that is fast and reliable. The Nespresso system is really one of my favorites, making excellent espresso shots consistently when time is a premium. This deal gets you the add-on milk frother that can help out those folks who want Cappuccinos and the benefit of having a small Nespresso maker on their countertop.
The Frother allows you to plug it in, and in about 3 minutes you have hot frothed milk.
After I reviewed the Nespresso Essenza C100, I liked it so much, I bought one, and have been ripping through capsules ever since (it's not my only espresso maker as you would imagine). You buy the capsules at Nespresso.com where they ship them out fast and I always get them within 2 days. There is enough variety to keep me coming back and exploring, and the seasonal capsules are great too.
The bundle with the $48 frother costs the same as the Nespresso C100 alone right now. Not a bad deal at all.
Update: The C100 bundle has sold out but the Nespresso Essenza D90 and Milk Frother Bundle is available. Wow - that was fast.
March 4, 2008
I've had this blend in the past and liked it for its solid robust flavor; dark, but not too dark.
What I think it interesting is that now Amazon is offering it to be shipped to you on a regular basis, in a "subscription" format through their Subscribe & Save (Information), that gets you free shipping and a 15% discount off the regular price. Not bad. See the box at the right as an example of what the set-up looks like.
This Subscribe & Save program is not limited to just the Lavazza Crema e Aroma; it's available on a whole bunch of Whole Bunch of Coffee & Espresso. Makes total sense if you just want to sign up, and forget. The free shipping totally clinches the deal.
Lavazza Crema & Aroma at Amazon
March 3, 2008
I saw these and had to pass them along. Loyal readers know that I love my Bodum Pavina Espresso glasses not just for the cool look, but for the double walled thermo-insulated glass that keeps the espresso hot and your fingers cool. These Luigi Bormioli coffee latte glasses are similar in that they are going to keep the coffee/latte hot and still give you a glimpse of that great looking coffee you just created. The suspension in space of your latte is just a fantastic look. It's like an insider's view on making a latte in the right proportions.
Dishwasher safe, set of four.
Luigi Bormioli Duo Coffee/Latte glasses at Amazon
March 1, 2008