April 24, 2009
MyPressi announced the Twist portable espresso maker that is not powered by pumping but by using a pressurize cylinder to power the shot with constant pressure all the way through the extraction cycle. It uses fresh espresso or an ESE pod in the holder, add water, and pull the shot. The CO2 cartridge does the rest, offering a 9-bar pressure across the entire shot. Each cartridge lasts for about 8 shots of espresso. Clearly, a nice design aesthetic with the Twist, and I am looking forward to trying one out. I have one on the way as an early review unit, while the Twist should be available later this year - list price $129.
More at MyPressi
Full Press release after the jump.....
Continue reading: "Mypressi Twist - Espresso on the Go - Powerful Espresso Maker"
April 22, 2009
Nespresso launched a series of single origin capsules that come a little late to the recent single origin craze that has made for some interesting drinking among those who are experimenting. I would have loved to have seen a mico-lot or single estate based capsule, but maybe we'll see that in a Special Edition sometime. There are three new single origin capsules available hailing from India, Colombia and Brazil. From the Nespresso site, they describe the Single Origin capsules like this:
Indriya Indian- "The Arabica is lightly roasted, to allow its subtle aromas to remain. In contrast the Robusta is well roasted to allow its intensity to be expressed and to develop a full body. Moreover, very fine grinding supports the body and enhances the flavor." - After re-reading this description from Nespresso, I am not surprised to see a split roast on this, where they roast the different beans and then blend after roast to obtain more complexity. The up front (Arabica) flavors are lighter, not smoky or pungent, but good coffee flavors leading to the Robusta flavors that follow. The Indriya blend has a definite Robusa finish that lingers without too much bitterness. The flavor is just a little earthy for me, and while I really like a Robusta blend for espressos, this was a little too earthy for me. Nicely complex and balanced though. If you like a "Blend" type espresso, you should give this one a try.
Rosabaya Colombian- Notes of red fruit, suggestive of wine: black currant, cranberries and red currants. - This was my favorite and while I usually like a bit of robusta in my espressos, but this was excellent. Clean flavor with bright floral notes and enough acid to make it interesting but not so much that it makes it sour.
Dulsao Brazilian - Sweet notes of honey and maple syrup dominate, on a base of malted cereal. This definitely has a grassy and caramelized cereal flavor to it and some amount of sourness. Not as clean and crisp as the Colombian, but still a good brew.
The new Lungos that can be appreciated in a longer pull/taller shot (3.75 ounces/110 ml) are:
Fortissio - "A full body and bitter base from which a note of intensely roasted grains develops, along with plant and woody notes, reinforced by a typical cereal note from the hint of Robusta." - I went through this set of capsules in a few days. I loved it, and is at the top of the list when I go back to re-order. I never really liked the Lungo's before, but the Fortissio is a great few ounces of coffee; well balanced and a nice strong cup of coffee.
Finezzo - "Floral Notes reminiscent of jasmine and orange blossom, and notes of the bergamot fruit." - I was not able to get this one with the early order I placed, but will grab this in the next order.
The one thing that I like on the new packages was the strength ratings for the capsules inside - a nice reminder of what you have there when you have a bundle of cartons in the cabinet.
April 17, 2009
I've been happily brewing with the Nespresso Citiz for a couple of weeks now, taking some extra time to bring in some of the new Nespresso Single Origins capsules to do things up right. The Single Origins are great, and I'll do a full review on those later next week. The Nespresso Citiz espresso maker is coming to the US this Fall, and I was able to get a sneak peak at a US version now ahead of the launch. From what I see, it's a fantastic design and a great espresso machine and I am ready to trade in my Essenza for one. Why? - Three reasons 1) Small Footprint - it's the width that counts here and it just takes up less room at only 5.1 inches wide 2) the ability to accommodate taller glasses/cups for Lungo's and 3) The standby mode that saves energy when I forget to turn the unit off.
The Nespresso Citiz will come in two basic versions for the US, the regular single version that I used, and the Citiz and Milk which essentially offers an Aeroccino on the side to whip up frothed milk while brewing. There is a Citiz & Co, a dual maker "machine" that offers two side by side machines for serious households that need to brew two shots at a time.
The Nespresso Citiz comes with a 19-bar pump, and a 1 liter (~34 ounces) reservoir which is plenty big for espresso brewing, and reasonable if you are making Lungo's all the time (110 ml/3.75 ounce coffees). The heating time is similar to my Essenza, and has you brewing in a minute or so. The unit brews nicely, but with the shorter lever action (about half as long as the Essenza), it takes a little getting used to. the brewing buttons have moved to the top, still offering the short and lungo brews that automatically shut off. Open the lever, drop in a Nespresso capsule, close the lever, and punch a button. In about 30 seconds the frothy espresso with rock star crema will be waiting. If you want a lungo, the brew time is a bit longer, but not too bad. Lift the lever again for the next brew and the capsule drops into the spend capsule chamber that holds about ten spent capsules comfortably.
I like the automatic standby, and see it as a great convenience. They were smart, and didn't design it to go into standby mode too quickly, as I typically have a shot ahead of eating breakfast and one after - when doing this, the machine was still ready to brew and hot. When it is in standby mode, the brew buttons flash on and off in an alternating mode. One quick push of either and the Citiz heats up and is ready to go.
Flip up Cup Holder
I loved the flip up cup holder, because I started brewing Lungo's with the new Fortissio capsules and the cups just fit well under the brew head a lot better. It's that simple.
How to Customize your Brew Volume
If you decide that you want to alter the size of the espresso shot, you can easily create a new "espresso" and "lungo" setting for yourself in a few simple steps:
- Insert Capsule in machine to brew espresso.
- Press and HOLD the desired brew button that you want to alter the brew volume on
- When the Espresso shot gets to the desired level, release the button.
- You now have set a custom brew size that will allow you to get that brew volume each and every time you brew.
How to Reset your Nespresso Citiz
Okay, so you don't like that brew volume setting anymore, or you accidentally set it to some insane level, it's easy to return the Citiz to the factory settings. Again a few easy steps:
- Switch the Citiz off
- Press and hold the "Lungo" brew button
- Switch the machine on
- Release the Lungo button
Yes, it's that easy.
After brewing several dozen espressos through the new Citiz, I can say that I really love it. Same Nespresso quality, with a smaller footprint, and some nice convenient features. I brewed a lot of variety from the new single origin nespresso capsules to old standbys like the Ristrettos, and even the new Lungo's. All very good. My Nespresso Essenza has moved over and is in retirement with a fresh new face on the counter handling the brewing. The thin profile is just too good not to pass up.
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April 9, 2009
Coke and Illy have been test marketing the Ready to Drink Issimo in NYC, and are expected o roll it out nationally to select outlets this summer. For those who think that Coke doesn't get coffee, and that Starbucks and Pepsi are the pioneers here, Coke actually has a significant ready to drink coffee business in Japan, that at one point brought in more revenue than its carbonated soft drink business. Not sure where it is at today, but they do know a bit about coffee. We'll see how they do with this launch into an economy that is not exactly screaming "indulgence" where they want to capture up to 30% of the ready to drink coffee market by 2012.
Have you tried it? Let us know what you think.
April 6, 2009
Starbucks launched the Via instant coffee about a month ago to great fanfare a semi interested public but left a lot of people scratching their heads asking Why? Starbucks kept pushing insisting it was different than other instants in that it is finally the first instant that is good. Well by most accounts they were half eight - it is unlike other instants.
The idea behind Starbucks Via is that you can mix soluble instant coffee (just like most other instants) with micro ground coffee beans that will provide extra boat and flavor. Technically this is no small feat and according to Starbucks they were working on this for a decade. When grinding that much heat build up can be a concern which can cause all kinds of unwanted changes essentially ruining what you just created in the roaster.
I ordered up a couple of packs of each of the Colombian and the Italian Roast for this review. They arrived weeks ahead of my free sample that I ordered at the same time (which just arrived last week) so I think that people are just getting around to trying Via now.
To make Via just dump it in the cup and add 8 ounces of hot water. Simple enough. The result is really unimpressive when compared to other "at home" options. The up front flavor is clean and reasonable but there is a watery and unimpressive finish that tastes like a thin cup of brewed coffee cut 50/50 with water. Its almost like taking that last swig of iced tea in the summertime when all of the ice cubes melted - some flavor there just not enough. I like the Italian Roast over the Colombian but that's my flavor preference for a stronger cup.
Making A Reasonable Cup with Via
Not deterred by my disappointment I tried a lot of combinations, with sugar, then milk, then both and finally cutting the water down. The combination that I landed on was one that I could live with and gave me a reasonable cup of coffee. I used one Italian Roast and one Colombian and added about 10 ounces of water then a full complement of milk and sugar. The milk and sugar added enough body to help make the cup reasonable while the combination of the two coffee types added a bit of complexity to make it interesting and more multifaceted. Starbucks pitches this as an additional coffee occasion, like on a "Road Trip", "After Lunch", on a "Soccer Sideline" that clearly screams - "Don't Cannibalize the Latte Business!" For this stuff, it works; it is not a replacement for a latte or espresso. It's suitable as a replacement for mediocre brewed coffee when concentrated.
This served me well and offered a way to go through the pack while enjoying the coffee on a daily basis at work.
You say "Micro Ground" I say "Grit"
The one byproduct of the micro-ground coffee bean technology is the grit that is left at the bottom of the cup. I use a black mug at work, so the residual grounds don't show up, but in this picture of the grounds left over in a white mug, you get the idea. It's almost like drinking drip coffee when someone uses the gold metal filters that let the silt through; yea, like that. You can't detect the grit when drinking, but the leftovers will reveal the magic of the micro ground coffee if left hanging around.
Overall, I was skeptical of the ability of Via to provide a good cup of coffee; I mean come on, instant? In the end Via can make a decent cup of coffee, not awesome, but decent, and that's better than the alternative sometimes. The issue is that I need two of the packets and only about 10-ounces of water to get that decent cup. Without shipping charges on the stuff, that's $1.60 a cup to me, using two packets. To me the value equation is off, and compared to the other coffee alternatives, I would rather stick with those around me. So, if you want Via, I'll say that one can get a decent cup of coffee; but not by following the directions as it will be just too weak. I'll run through my final packets, and say goodbye to Via.