April 23, 2010
Quick note to say that Nespresso continues to power up Nestle's earnings. It was recently reported that Nespresso's Limited Edition Espresso Capsules drove volume up by 20%. I liked the holiday versions ("variations"), and as far as the Spring Limited Edition Tanzaru; I loved them. I think that the Tanzaru are some of the best capsules that have come a long in years.
It was also reported that Nestle will be opening 40 boutiques in 2010. This is a big vote of confidence in the brand and the power of the boutiques where Nespresso tends to not only show off their wares, but also create strong relationships with their users and fans. They just opened up their third US-Based Nespresso boutique in Miami this week and from the look of the pictures, the 3900 square foot boutique on Miami Beach should be a fun pace to visit.
April 22, 2010
Sure, drinking coffee isn't exactly a sustainable and earth friendly habit. Plenty of sunk energy in each little cup of coffee. Let's see at a high level:
- Grow Beans
- Ship half way around the world
- Roast at really high temps using natural gas
- Pack and ship to consumer (varies by location)
- Brew using hot water and pressure extraction for espressos
I count myself as mildly green, and I am not about to give up my coffee and espressos; love them too much. I did decide to start composting my coffee grounds more regularly lately. They are a good source of Nitrogen, and I keep them in a reasonable mix with all of the leaves and grass clippings I gather around the yard.
When I brew drip, espresso from ground or ESE pods, or french press I collect the grounds and dump them on a huge leave and grass clipping pile we have near our house. Easy, and even the paper ESE pods disappear after a while. The one thing I need to "process" a bit are my spent Nespresso capsules. I take a paring knife and slit the underside of the capsule, dump the grounds and recycle the aluminum shells. Easy and quick thing to do about once a week. You can also use this device the Outpresso - make the job of getting the spent Nespresso capsules separated from the coffee a little bit easier.
If you really want to supercharge your collection and get more coffee grounds - stop by a local Starbucks store. I usually see a pile of bags sitting in the corner full of spent grounds - free to customers.
Try your hand at composting too; here's an easy guide: Composting: An Easy Household Guide (The Chelsea Green Guides)
If you aren't into the leave pile thing, you could always splurge on one of these automatic in-house composting robots: NaureMill Indoor Composter
Either way, I raise my refillable mug to you and with you a Happy Earth Day.
April 19, 2010
Krups has launched a new pump espresso machine that offers a new way to get better espresso through a simpler operation. In the past, you had to switch out inserts for ESE pods, Single shots or Double Shots; not anymore. The Precise Tamp system allows you to add what you like to the portafilter, and then as you lock it into the machine, a ratcheting system cranks the portafilter up to the right location, effectively making the machine itself the tamper.
While getting a good tamp itself is important, I think getting a foolproof system that offers ease of use is more important. I hear form people all the time that they loved the idea of an espresso machine, but that in this go-go time, the hassle and the mess is too much. With no switching of the inserts, and the better assurance of a better espresso, this system looks to be a decent idea.
- Pump espresso machine with 1400-watt thermoblock heating system
- Universal filter holder accommodates ground coffee, E.S.E. pods, and soft pods
- Precise foolproof tamp system can be set for 1 or 2 cups at a time
- Selector knob for brewing or frothing; mess-free cake-ejection system
- Measures 12-3/5 by 10 by 14-2/5 inches
More information at Krups; a demo video is also available.
at Amazon the Krups XP5240 Pump Espresso Machine
April 18, 2010
Many people may know it as Kopi Luwak coffee, but no matter what you call civet cat coffee, you definitely need to know why it can cost over $150 a pound. Sure it's rare, becoming less so due to fakes and new farming techniques, but the bottom line is that civet cat coffee has to be "processed" by a civet cat; yes eaten, fermented in their digestive tract and collected for washing and shipping. The NYT just published a good article that explains what's going on in Indonesia and how people are debating what makes the best civet cat coffee.
The idea is that the cat chooses only the best coffee cherries to eat, thereby only collecting the best beans to process. There's a debate over what methods are appropriate to "farm" and collect the coffee. Currently to meet demand, people are farming the coffee by feeding the cherries to caged civet cats while collecting the results. The original promise was for wild cats to collect only the best beans; does this stay true to the process? Is the flavor any worse?
The motivation is financial, as the farmers can get paid several times more for civet cat coffee than regular coffee. [As an aside; the NYT article cited farmers getting paid $9 a pound for this stuff. I want to know how many people mark this up from the $9 to over $150? Ouch!] I had Kopi Luwak a long time ago, and I have to recommend that you save your money. We were cupping coffees and the opportunity came up to cup this, and it was not impressive, with earthy tones and a lack of top notes that really didn't wow any of us as a straight cup let alone the fact that it was over $150 a pound.
Well worth the read at NYT
April 15, 2010
Get your free coffee at Starbucks today when you bring in your own reusable mug. Sorry Espresso fans, it's for brewed coffee only. Head on over to the massive ad on NYT.com to see the quick movie of a coffee-based art installation on the street that grows from a single cup laid down on the street into a tree. I think they are trying to illustrate what saving all those cups could amount to, but, um, what about the thousands of cups that it took to make the point? Anyway, it's a cool concept and enjoy a free cup of brewed coffee on Starbucks today.
April 12, 2010
For a change of pace this week, I am shedding the expensive espresso machines and going back to the basics with a $20 Moka pot and a can of Cafe Bustelo, which just cost me $2.50. Yes, that's right, it is less than a Grande Latte at Starbucks. Luckily, I didn't just lose my job, but I have to admit that I like a Cafe au Lait brewed with the thick espresso that the Bustelo brews. It's got to have a fair amount of robusta in there to hit this prices, and no it is not a light and aromatic wonder-brew, but it is good in its own way.
The syrupy results from a 6 minute brewing time on my stove give me a rich flavor that when cut with a bit of sugar and milk taste like a strong bodied coffee that I can really enjoy. the slightly tannic flavor has a long and strong coffee finish. I use the "4-cup" maker for my coffee in the morning with a few heaping tablespoons of coffee and brew on the stovetop. Easy, quick and pretty darn good.
April 6, 2010
Sara Lee is planning a new launch of espresso capsules for France this spring - "L'Or Espresso" The range of four capsules cover a broad flavor variety, and appear to be made of plastic with a single serve over wrapper.
"Our innovative L'OR Espresso capsules will provide consumers with delicious espresso coffee of the highest quality, conveniently available at major retail stores," said Frank van Oers, chief executive officer of Sara Lee's International Beverage and Bakery division. "Our product offers consumers another way of enjoying L'OR Maison du Cafe(R), a brand they have known and loved for many years, particularly for its quality and innovation."
"L'OR Espresso capsules come in four varieties: Delizioso, Decaffeinato, Splendente and Forza that differ in intensity, smoothness and roundness - from the milder Delizioso to the stronger Forza. All varieties are made with only 100% Arabica coffee and are fully UTZ-certified, guaranteeing that the coffee was grown and harvested in a socially and environmentally sustainable way."
The capsules are Nespresso compatible, so they will apparently fit in any of your Nespresso machines; not something Nespresso is happy about I am sure. Nespresso is Nestle's fastest growing brand, and Sara Lee plans on selling these capsules at a price point about 10% - 20% less than Nespresso's.
Full Press Release after the jump.....
Continue reading: "Sara Lee Planning New Espresso Capsules for France"
April 4, 2010
I have been drinking Nespresso Tanzaru Espresso all weekend and have to offer a quick review of these capsules. If you like a lighter roast, you need to try these out; I think that the blenders and roasters deserve an "A+" for this one; it's really well done.
Quickly - the Arabica blend is from Peru and Tanzania and is light roasted - a "4 of 10" on Nespresso's little box side scale. I blew through a couple of sleeves since Thursday and am going back for more after I work off a few sleeves of Livanto and Ristretto. Upon brewing the Tanzaru, you get a multi-layered blend of light roasted caramel and nutty flavors. Upon further inspection, the citrus and blueberry notes appear with a good acidic backbone in tasting to support the fruitiness. Drinking is nicely tart without being overly acidic, offering a good display of coffee flavor neat, without having to add sugar or milk. There really are no dark roasted notes; no pungent smokiness.
With the sunny days just hitting the Boston area, and temps back up to springtime delights, I have to say that these lightly roasted delicate shots of Tanzaru are a great companion to the new season.
If you like a lighter roasted cup, do not delay on buying some of these; they are some of the best limited or special edition espresso capsules I have had from Nespresso.
These can be enjoyed on the whole line of Nespresso brewers including, The Nespresso Citiz, Nespresso Essenza and the Nespresso Le Cube.
Starbucks has been quietly (as quietly as they can) adding a few incubator innovation cafes in Seattle trying to get their groove back and grow revenues from their coffee-intense real estate investments. Last summer, a new Starbucks format surfaced, without the Starbucks name, but instead a simple back to earth name; "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea".
Now they are opening another location, complete with adult beverages that will help the company experiment and grow - Roy St Coffee and Tea. If disciplined the approach is admirable, and growing the business in new and venturous ways is the only way a high quality company can become a "great company" - in Jim Collins parlance.