October 21, 2009

Roaster Highlight: PT's Coffee Roasting Company


As part of our efforts to get the word out on great coffee, I wanted to highlight one roaster from Topeka Kansas that should be on your list of places to consider buying from. Their selection is impressive, not just for the breadth, but also for its recognized quality. Not only have they assembled a collection of coffees that regularly score in the 90's for cupping ratings by Coffee Review, but also because they won Roast Magazine's Macro Roaster of the year award for 2009.

They have a single store, serving up coffee, espresso and espresso drinks, but also roast about 200,000 pounds of coffee a year for other cafes around the country. Their high quality starts by seeking out rare green coffees and micro lots of estate grown coffees from around the world.

Their signature espresso roast, La Bella Vita, came in at a 92 rating from Coffee Review, has been used at their shop for espresso for 13 years, and has won barista competitions in the past.

Check them out: PT's Coffee Roasting Company

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October 19, 2009

Nespresso: Singatoba Special Edition Espresso Capsule Review


Singatoba is this season's Special Club Capsule from Nespresso, hailing from the island of Sumatra. The 100% Blue Batak Arabica beans are sourced from the northern part of the island and goes through a ferment and wash type process that has it acquiring both flavor complexity and its characteristic blue hue. Nespresso seems to have gone all out here and split roasted the coffee, light roasting some portion of the blend to keep the fruity and earthy notes, while dark roasting a portion of the batch to develop the body and the strength of the espresso.
NespressoSingatobaCapsules.jpgI bought some Singatoba as soon as it was available and then also received some from Nespresso along with the signature cups for this review. After drinking for the last couple of weeks, I have come to appreciate the complexity of the espresso both in simple form and in lattes also. Below you'll see the overall description from Nespresso, and they are right on with a lot of complexity and rich intensity. I saw earthy tones mixed with fruity and woody top notes in the aroma. The flavor is dark, but not burt or ashy, with a good lingering espresso base and simple but noticeable acidity. I like acidity, and count the Rosabaya as one of my favorites, where the strong acidity presents itself as an extreme brightness in the cup, dominating a lot of the show. The Singatoba, is not anywhere close to that level, but offers an acidity that keeps the flavors flowing and balanced, throughout the experience. I also drank the Singatoba in a latte several times and thought that the base notes stood up well to the milk. You lose some of the complexity, but it you want a versatile capsule, this can handle both duties.

I was brewing the Singatoba up in the Nespresso CitiZ brewer for this review, and into the Singatoba signature cups. The cups shown here were designed to reflect the coffee bean and a group of children offering protection as they encircle hand in hand. Using the classic Nespresso shape, the cups and saucers continue to be some of my favorites.

Overall, if you like darker espresso without going to the extreme, the Singatoba is a great choice. I thought that the flavor complexity was great, with aromas that I haven't seen in an espresso in a long time. I came to appreciate it most with a small amount of sugar that I thought filled out the flavor even more. These usually sell out fast, you can get them at the Nespresso Club.

At Nespresso Club

Below is Nespresso's description of this year's Special Club - Singatoba:  

Special Club 2009 - Singatoba

ORIGIN Made in Indonesia from 100% Blue Batak Arabica grown around Lake Toba in northern Sumatra, Singatoba is subject to a complex treatment process which gives it a unique aromatic bouquet.

FRUITY AND WOODY This Blue Batak Arabica from Sumatra is a full-bodied espresso revealing refreshing notes of blackcurrant buds and grapefruit along with sweet notes reminiscent of licorice sticks and conifers.

Espresso 40 ml Intensity 8
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October 14, 2009

Starbucks Alters Clover Plans - Is this Success?

Starbucks started testing the $11,000 Clover machines a while back and then turned around and bought the company, banking on the Clover as a new way to extract wonderful taste from the coffee bean, and a few extra dollars from its patrons. The three test markets, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco have over a dozen stores in each market using the device and selling the coffee for about $2 a cup. This morning the Boston Globe reports that Starbucks is pulling the Clover from several of the Boston stores, and re-deploying them to other stores. As they do this, they must be learning which stores, what traffic levels and what demographics drive success.

More at Boston Globe

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October 7, 2009

Nespresso Citiz Capsule Brewing Espresso Machine At Amazon

The much anticipated Nespresso CitiZ espresso maker is starting to show up in outlets ahead of it's broad scale launch in the US. Amazon is now selling the ultra thin Nespresso CitiZ brewer for $279 in three colors: Red, White and Gray. Back in the spring we were able to take a look at the CitiZ; we thought it delivered the classic Nespresso quality shots without compromise taking up only a thin slice of the counter space here in the Single Serve Espresso kitchen.

The new Nespresso CitiZ offers:

  • Ultra thin profile - takes up about six inches of counter width
  • 19 bar extraction for some of the best looking espressos around - always crema, and always great aroma.
  • Easy to Use for various Cup sizes - The flip up cup support allows for direct brewing into a larger mug - I use this feature when brewing directly onto ice when making iced Americanos.
  • Automatic Brewing - The unit offers automatic brewing at two sizes - single and double, so you get pushbutton easy brewing, and after you are down, the unit will go into an energy saving standby mode.
  • Capsules sold online (Nespresso.com) and at Nespresso Boutiques; I use online and get the capsules two business days later.

At Amazon the new Nespresso CitiZ Automatic Espresso Maker or the Nespresso CitiZ Automatic Espresso Maker with onboard Frother

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October 5, 2009

Jura to Auction off One Pink Ena 5 Super Auto


If you haven't noticed, everything is turning up pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month this month, and you too can own the only Pink Jura Capresso Ena 5 Super Auto if you are the highest bidder this month. The auction is to raise money for breast cancer awareness charities, and will close at the end of the month. So, fire up your inner espresso and go bid; maybe you'll win. At this writing the price is a cheap 345 GBP, well under its list price of over 700 GBP.

The Jura ENA 5 is the slimmest super auto out there, and certainly can bring powerful super auto capabilities to a small footprint area. When I reviewed the Ena 5, I thought that on balance it was a very good machine given its slim size.

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October 1, 2009

ESE Pods on a Budget

I had the chance to try out Pod Merchant's house blend pods and have to say that they are worth a try if you are looking for some pods on the cheap. The pods are sold for about $0.45 each while others are sold for upwards of $0.60 each; a pretty nice savings. I was able to try the 100% Arabica as well as the more classic "Blend" and both were true to their style with strong espresso flavor and a reasonably dark roast.

There is also a decaf. version available, as well as a "Stout" version which is seen in some other roasters where they tip the scale in favor of the Robusta making for a very strong, full bodied espresso that can really stand up when making a latte.

All four are available in a sampler too.

At Pod Merchant

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