May 28, 2009
CoffeeReview.com has posted a pretty good article that details their taste test cupping of McDonalds vs. Starbucks. The results may surprise you, they surprised me. McDonald's wasn't blown away, and my take is that McDonald's is good enough to grab a share of the market and keep people from migrating up to/over to Starbucks. I don't think that McDonald's is vying for the Coffee Connoisseur's crown here, they are vying for your money.
If you believe Howard Schultz, Starbucks isn't really worried about the competition, but their recent ad campaign that drives for coffee authenticity says they are as they talk about the intrinsic value of their coffee, their quality and your need not to accept anything inferior (read: "McDonalds"). Should be an interesting battle, as McDonald's will certainly achieve some success at what cost to Starbucks, only Howard and a few of his inside market share crunchers will know, but it is pretty clear that the press seems to think that success by McDonald's has to come at the expense of Starbucks from all the head to head attention the McDonald's launch is generating. While I am not a zealous fan of Starbucks, I do appreciate the quality that they bring to the party, and with McDonald's investment in the espresso coffee market, I believe that they will grow the market significantly. Some of that growth will most likely come in the form of muted growth at Starbucks in the future.
CoffeeReview.com took a look and rates the Cappuccinos the same, with a slightly milkier flavor for the McDonald's one versus the Starbucks version offering a bit more depth to the coffee flavor. this was also true for the Lattes. The Mocha and Caramel flavored drinks at McDonald's sound like they were designed to be more appealing to McShake drinkers with their sweetness levels and low coffee impact. The difference was "Dramatic" according to the article.
More at CoffeeReview.com
May 27, 2009
The Handpresso offers and easy way to get espresso wherever and whenever you want, as long as you have access to hot water. Well they just sent out a newsletter and offered another cool use for espresso this summer; as a topping to ice cream. Take vanilla ice cream, scoop it into bowls, and put it back in the freezer to get rock hard. Bring it out, and pull a shot of espresso right onto the vanilla ice cream You might even try topping it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
May 23, 2009
At just $79 bucks, we think this DeLonghi Espresso maker has everything you need to make a shot or two of espresso on the cheap. This machine is a 15-bar pump-driven espresso machine with durable stainless-steel boiler. It features 2 thermostats for separately controlling water and steam pressure, and accommodates E.S.E. pods and ground espresso
At DeLonghi EC155 Espresso Maker
May 5, 2009
Times are tough, but coffee consumption remains strong; just in different places and in different forms. Yesterday word came out about a renewed coffee war between Starbucks and McDonalds. For what it's worth, I think that Starbucks is losing it's edge, and not holding up like a strong brand should. Howard Schultz spends a whole lot of time saying that he is not afraid of losing customers to McDonalds, but the ads they are putting into newspapers these days are supporting that. With the tag line "It's not just coffee, it's Starbucks", they are pushing their culture, quality and values behind the cup of coffee as a differentiator vs. other brands...... like McDonalds. Saying that their research shows people are not switching to McDonalds, Howard Schultz may be dodging the fact that new customers won't find his rand because McDonald's has already tied them up with a line of products that meet their needs. Only time will tell.
As the recession continues though, coffee bean prices are holding up as demand is very much there. From what I have seen from reader email, people are switching to less expensive means of getting their coffee; trade down from espresso to drip when outside the home, buy into home brewing of espressos, bring coffee to work in a high quality thermos to avoid paying $4 a cup. All smart moves if they meet your needs for quality, flavor and price.
Time to trade up?
While the recession is time to save some money here and there, buying better coffee may be a great way to save money. Stopping by the coffee shop less often? For the price of a few Lates you can afford one of the best pounds of coffee on the shelf to brew yourself at home. If you were already brewing high quality coffee at home, I say keep doing it. Where else can you move from terrible quality to excellent quality for about $8; and enjoy the difference each and every day? You can do that when buying a bag of coffee at the store, and I think trading down to bad coffee for home is the last thing I'll do to save money.
So go get a great bag of coffee at the grocery store, brew it to your liking, grab a coffee flavor wheel and enjoy the experience of drinking high quality coffee. Make notes of what the flavors were like, learn the differences between the flavors. Next time, try a different origin, blend or roast and compare to the last coffee you brewed. Brew. Drink. Repeat.... and enjoy.