August 31, 2010
The Illy company has several iperEspresso machines out on the market, but none are as stunningly different in their design as the Illy Y1 espresso machine. The low body with its square design at first looks like as 9.5" square land grab on your countertop with room to spare and plenty of wasted space.
It's different though as I live with the Illy Y1 for a while as I find that it starts to fit well into the countertop routine. The unit becomes a storage area for my expresso cups and glasses, as the residual heat from the heater filters up in the left rear part of the unit to keep things warm. Overall I liked having the Illy Y1 around the kitchen and think it's a serious contender in the capsule market.
The FrancisFrancis/Illy Y1 Espresso Machine Basics
Tipping the scales at over 16 pounds the FrancisFrancis Y1 is no lightweight and the unit feels solid as a result. The water reservoir holds about 24 ounces, giving the unit a good operating range of at least a dozen normal espresso shots.
See the unboxing of the FrancisFrancis Y1 over at our sister site: SingleServeCoffee.com
The 19-bar pump combined with the capsule design cranks out the espresso with a fine emulsion of oil and air to create a fantastic crema, rivaled only by a Nespresso machine. Each capsule contains 6.7 grams of coffee (Medium Roast variety), and is available in four varieties: Medium Roast, Dark Roast, Lungo (long shot), and Decaf. All capsules are sold in metal canisters and come 21 capsules to the canister, except for the Decaf which comes 14 to the canister. Considering Amazon.com prices, that comes out to be about $0.75 a shot for regular and over $1 a shot for Decaf; not cheap but not expensive given the costs of cafe quality espresso.
Spent Capsule Magic - Hats off to the engineers who designed the spent capsule chute - as you lift the lever for your next brew, the spent capsule gets dumped in a chute to be stored in the back of the machine. The lever snaps back down ready to accept the new capsule in the blink of an eye. Honestly if you aren't watching for it, you'd miss it.
Part of the key to brewing with the iperEspresso system is the machine and capsule design that has teh brewing happen exclusively in the capsule, never touching the machine. The result of 19-bars pushing through the capsule and pouring straight into your cup is convenience, pure and simple. The machine stays clean, the mess goes into the spent capsule bin, keeping the machine primed for a clean shot next time around.
Each shot brewed comes out with a fantastic crema on top; no excuses here. The pressure and capsule design help to emulsify the oils and air to create the intoxicating look on top. Flavor-wise the Medium Roast capsules create a good solid shot that is versatile, offering a reasonable flavor for short shots as well as longer shots. I used the Medium Roast as an iced coffee; its clean finish making a great drink. I like the Medium Roast for its lattes also, but my perfect milk drink would use a darker roast with a more traditional (strong finish) flavor profile.
Illy offers a few options to buy the FrancisFrancis Y1, which of course include buying the machine outright and then buying capsules too. you can buy the Y1 from Illy for $295 and then buy capsules for about $16 each, ($20 each with shipping if order is under $75). The other option is to sign up for their Membership Program which offers the machine at a lower rate and automatically sends you capsules to your house each month. You'd better like the coffee because they come three a month; about 60 shots a month if you are drinking the caffeinated varieties. According to their website, you can cancel at anytime and keep the brewer.
FrancisFrancis Y1 Espresso Machine - Wrap-Up
- Easy to use - capsules are clean and convenient
- Compact size - only 9.5" square and fits under the cabinet with room to brew
- High Quality blends available - four blends, cover most coffee tastes
- Great looks - love the design
- Place to store espresso cups - some think it's messy - I like storing cups there.
- Expensive capsules - At over $1 for Decaf and about $0.75 for caffeinated varieties
- Limited varieties - If you want to brew your local roast, of want to experiment, the line-up of four blends doesn't match competition, nor is there a brew your own option
More at Illy on the Francis Francis Y1 Espresso Machine for a special introductory price of $125 plus convenient home capsule delivery! and the iperEspresso Capsules separately.
August 31, 2010
Starbucks is planning the launch of three flavors on their Via line of instant coffee. They are also reporting that the line has sold about $100 million in sales so far which is a surprise considering the low penetration of all SKUs in the grocery channel. The new flavors are slated to be Cinnamon, Mocha, Caramel and Vanilla, all good solid coffee flavors for the coffee line up.
A significant number of coffee drinkers already drink flavored coffee, especially those who include instant coffee in their regular rotation. Starbucks indicated that they serve 60% of their patrons flavored coffee in their outlets already.
August 30, 2010
So rumor has it that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is back; actually it's not a rumor, I talked to a store manager this weekend and she indicated that they would start serving the Fall milestone drink this week.
Usually ushering in the Fall merchandise reset, the drinks mark the turn of the seasons, and the progression towards another set of favorites the holiday peppermint drinks that are right around the corner.
So if you are the type that enjoys a little spice in the old Latte, don't delay, they are only around for what seems like a short time; enjoy.
August 27, 2010
Nestle is detailing a plan to invest over $400Million in coffee farmers by helping them plant newer coffee trees with better disease resistance and better yield. The plan would have them working with Mexican farmers first in a pilot program and then rolling the learnings across other coffee growing regions. Part of the plan has farmers who grow Robusta coffee accept newer seedlings that have been developed by Nestle in the Mexico. This clearly helps Nestle with securing the type of coffee it needs to create its instant coffee. They will also help bring better Arabica seedlings to farmers who could eventually help feed their ever growing Nespresso business.
Nestle is not binding the farmers to a contract to see the coffee to Nestle, and the farmers are open to sell elsewhere. Clearly Nestle feels that the goodwill should help them facilitate the relationships to secure coffee supplies into the future. As the largest coffee buyer in the world, Nestle sees themselves as a leader who needs to help secure the coffee crops looking forward. Critics will claim that they are homogenizing the crop to suit their own needs, but I believe that the criticism would be more fair if they only had the instant coffee business. With their attention on quality and diversity of the crop in the Nespresso business, it looks like they are looking to support the high end of the market while recognizing the value of crop diversity and quality.
More info at Nestle and WSJ
August 25, 2010
If you are like me, you probably have a few coffee makers in the house, and the one that has stayed on our counter for years is our Keurig B-70 single cup brewer. So while I run through and rotate espresso makers on a regular basis a good back-up for regular coffee is the Keurig. It's not a pressure brew like an espresso maker at 15-bar, but a simple drip style brew that makes regular coffee. Easy, quick and allows users to pick their own style of coffee so that one person isn't stuck with an overly acidic Colombian blend when they really like a nice smooth Sumatra.
I typically get asked other coffee questions in addition to espresso, and thought I would pass along my observations on several bold dark blends that might also appeal to espresso drinkers. If I haven't tasted them or reviewed them, I'll shoot you over to our sister site SingleServeCoffee.com where they definitely have.
My two favorites - the Caribou Obsidian - complex layering of flavors here, and the Tully's French Roast - good solid roast without burnt overtones and a great full bodied flavorful finish.
Obsidian - "Bold wild berry flavors combine with precious high tones of bittersweet chocolate to create this velvety smooth, dark gem of a blend," says Caribou of one of their darkest coffees. Just bought some at Target, in 18-packs for $9.99. I like it black for its dark roast without the ashy burnt flavors of the darkest Italian Roasts. There is a bit of dark roasted burnt flavor that comes through in the lingering aftertaste (not a bad thing), but is swept away upfront by the floral acidity that comes through. A nice well balanced cup with a clean finish. Brew a couple up on the 5.25 ounce cup size and you've got a good cup either black or standing up to milk and sugar. Ideal for the 100% arabica Espresso drinker. More at SingleServeCoffee.com
French Roast - The French Roast is sufficiently acidic, with some brightness in the cup to make things lively without being grassy. The roast is dark without being burnt. The body on the Caribou French Roast isn't quite as rich as other's I have tasted, namely the Tully's French Roast. Net the Caribou is a clean, dark roasted coffee with a nice flavor profile, but lacks some of the complex mystery that creates a more exciting flavor experience in the Tully's. On the thin side but not a bad choice if you like a bold cup with a clean finish. - My Original Review
Dark Magic - A well balanced espresso style roast that is not so overwhelmingly dark that they burnt all the flavor off and sent it up the smokestack. The profile is balanced, smoky and dark enough to offer a strong flavor profile in the cup with a bit of balanced sweetness and caramel flavors. Net a good cup and good flavor up front with a clean finish. I originally reviewed it as an espresso and then have since put it in my regular rotation on K-Cups. My Original Review
Fair Trade Organic Espresso Blend - Very similar to the Dark Magic, but with a bit more body and a bit more rounded sweetness in the finish either black or with sugar/milk. I like it for its ability to add just a bit more depth of flavor to the blend over Dark Magic and would urge you to pick this over the Dark magic. Again, I originally reviewed it as an espresso and then have since put it in my regular rotation on K-Cups. My Original Review
Double Black Diamond Extra Bold - Their darkest roast with a heavy body and slightly smoky. The slightly sweet flavors indicate that there is still some goodness here that didn't get burnt off. A quick and clean finish. - Original Thoughts on Double Black Diamond
Rainforest Espresso Extra Bold - Rich sweet notes and a caramel lingering taste from this Rainforest Alliance coffee. A light roasted aroma comes through in the upfront, but also converts to a lingering reinforcement of the darker roasted notes in the finish. Full Review at our Sister Site - SingleServeCoffee.com
Timothy's Italian Blend - Has a moderate body for such a blend, with low acidity and a good round roasted flavor from this cup. The roasted flavors come together for a punch in the finish. Not bad but not my favorite.
French Roast - This is my go-to blend. It's smoky, full bodied and balanced enough to offer a slightly sweet flavor through the profile that I like. The finish isn't as crisp as others, which I like, but is still fairly clean in this 100% Arabica blend. Always stocked here at SingleServeEspresso Kitchens. Full Review at our Sister Site SingleServeCoffee.com
Italian Roast - Definitely dark with a smoky charred wood flavor throughout. Big and bold and a dark roast to bring the flavor home. A little sweetness, but the dark roasted flavors dominate. Good choice if you love the darkest of darks; a bit one dimensional though.
K-Cups can be brewed in various Keurig brewers, including the B-40 entry level brewer, The B-60 Elite Step Up with 3-cups sizes and auto-shut off, the B-70 Platinum Brewer with an Iced Brew setting, 4-cup sizes, programmable on/off times and a larger reservoir, and the Cuisinart SS-700 stainless brewer with a great look and a huge reservoir.
August 24, 2010
Not that I have one of these in my future but I thought I would pass it along as a great example of high fashion kitchen design meeting an espresso passion. Espressos, lattes and cappuccinos are just a button or two away with this in-wall espresso maker from Electrolux. It has a 15bar pump and a 1.8 liter water reservoir, you can easily create a round of espressos for anyone at the party. The unit is a super automatic drink station that can easily adjust the strength, brew temp and size of brew to your liking.
Price is $2,950 AUD at Elextrolux
August 23, 2010
UPDATE: See our Review of the Kazaar Capsules for more on information on them.UPDATE
: Nespresso Kazaar now available for sale in the US. We have some in for Review; see our post with video of the new Kazaar capsules brewing
in our Nespresso Citiz brewer.
: Drinkers around Northern Europe have started seeing, buying and tasting Nespresso Kazaar capsules after their launch there, with one user reporting that they saw the new capsules in the Nespresso Boutique this past Monday (9/6/10). No official word about the US launch of Nespresso Kazaar, but the powerful "12 on a 10 scale" espresso capsules are expected any day now.
Very excited to hear about the new Nespresso Kazaar Limited Edition capsule for 2010 that will be coming in just a few weeks. So while Nespresso claims that their Ristretto is the most popular Nespresso Capsule, this one might just change a few habits. So while the Ristretto tops out at a 10 on the intensity scale, the Kazaar Limited Edition will be a "12". Whoa. They reportedly dialed up the intensity by brining together specially cultivated Robustas to create the special blend. Split roasting was used to create layers of flavor and get each set of beans as fully developed as possible.
Nespresso always turns out a set of cups and saucers for the occasion and the Kazaar Limited Edition will be accompanied by a set designed by French interior-designer Andree Putman - simple lines, refined look to deliver this powerful shot.
For the Nespresso Nerds: So we've seen this across the web with "Limited Edition" in text and graphics - one has to wonder if Nespresso is rebranding their unique Fall offering from "Special Club" to a Fall "Limited Edition." - Last Year's Special Edition was the Singatoba Blend, while we already had a 2010 Limited Edition this Spring, the fantastic Tanzaru. Who knows, we'll see.
No official word on a date for the release in the US, but these usually come out in September.
The Nespresso capsules can be brewed in the new super slim Nespresso Citiz, the Nespresso Essenza C-100 or the Nespresso Le Cube brewers.
From Popsop via our sister site SingleServeCoffee
August 22, 2010
New Packages for Finezzo and Rosabaya top, with older versions below
Picked these capsules up the other day to refill my sadly depleted supply. I like the new packaging on the Nespresso Capsules; more refined, clean and fits their more modern design trend. The older script use to label the variety was certainly upscale but a little dated and old. Stop by your local Nespresso Cafe to see the whole line.
The Nespresso capsules can be brewed in the new super slim Nespresso Citiz, the Nespresso Essenza C-100 or the Nespresso Le Cube brewers.
Cleaner text with a more modern look on the new packages
August 20, 2010
We're pretty excited to have some new ESE Pods in for review from that are of Vietnamese origin. The Espresso pods sound intriguing with a blend of coffees that seek out a complex mix of flavors and aromas. So while Vietnam is well known for its Robusta beans there are high altitude arabicas grown there in the Da Lat region. The region is generally cool throughout the year and is located in the southern part of the country.
I personally like a blended espresso like these. The Indochine Estates Espresso uses a little known Excelsa variety for its blend and full flavor. I am looking forward to trying this out.
We will be looking at three blends or pods here. The Indochine Estates Espresso is described at their website as:
"It is rich and strong, with the lingering aroma and full body of heritage Bourbon Arabica, and no excessive bitterness. This Espresso is 95% Bourbon Arabica with 5% Lam Dong Excelsa, a unique coffee varietal that produces yellow fruit ("cherries") and contributes a floral nose and bright tone to this exceptional coffee. This is a dark Espresso but not a heavy roast; probably best compares to what is often called Full City Roast."
We will also be looking at two other varieties, the Highlands Full City ESE pods and their Highlands Decaf ESE Pods. Both are of the classic Italian bold espresso tradition. Claimed to equal regular espresso blends, the full water process decaf is something that we are excited about. Both blends have a classic robusta blended profile that will surly make them full bodied.
The Pods are available at Vietnamese Coffee Online and we'll be testing them out over the next week or so before we write up a review. All of the coffee or pods are imported and sold by Heirloom Coffee in Mass.
August 18, 2010
Always interested in recycling and love to see used coffee grounds put to good use in things like Javalogs or composted to help grow something around the house. The fabric called S.Cafe caught my eye though as it uses recycled coffee grounds to build out a fabric that goes into all kinds of things including the new EMS Gridtech Fleece that will keep me warm this fall.
The fabric isn't made just from coffee grounds, but apparently a mixture of coffee grounds in a low percentage along with polyester, which for this jacket is then spun into a fleece. The maker of S.Cafe claims that the coffee helps to control odors (traps odors just like it once held coffee aroma), is fast drying and reflects UV rays. My hunch is that any fleece will do the later two items pretty well. The company started the development process by collecting grounds from local coffee shops, but now sources the spend coffee from manufacturers diverting the waste from landfill, ultimately to my closet.
You can check out the S.Cafe site yourself to learn more about the fiber.
August 13, 2010
On the heels of its earnings announcement where it said that Nespresso sales are up 25% year over year, Nestle is opening its 200th Nespresso Boutique in Shanghai China. The boutiques have been a way for Nespresso to reach out into the consumer space and extend its brand image with a well polished routine, engaging spaces and a strong presence that resonates well with its target audience.
I visit the Boston boutique on a occasion to pick up a supply of capsules and enjoy a look at the latest hardware arranged in impeccable displays. I am never disappointed in the trip. If you haven't stopped by one, and have one locally, you should check out the machines, enjoy an espresso from their wide array of blends and see if a Nespresso machine is right for you.
Full Press release below on the Shanghai launch....
Continue reading: "Nespresso Opens its 200th Boutique - Shanghai China"
August 12, 2010
The Slayer is a relatively expensive espresso machine coming in at $18,000, but also a very specialized machine, hand built in Seattle that allows the barista to adjust flow and pressure through the brew cycle. So while Starbucks has worked hard to take the barista factor out of the brewing cycle with their push button to brew machines, the Slayer goes in the opposite direction allowing the barista to experiment and delve into areas not yet explored on other more simplistic machines.
So while there are only a handful of the machines in North America according to this Giz
post, there are more coming - like a recent one (Open in September) to Thor
, where it is proclaimed the Coolest Espresso Machine on the Planet. Below you can see a video that describes a little bit of how the Slayer works.
Let's face it, it the Machine was called the DE-8650, it wouldn't be nearly as news worthy, eh? More at the Slayer Website
on the Slayer Espresso Machine
August 11, 2010
So Lavazza and Green Mountain - makers of the Keurig Machines in the US, are teaming up to co-develop new machines, espresso capsules and let's face it some fun new ideas for sale in the North American market. not only does the deal have Lavazza buying some GMCR stock, but it has a distribution of espresso machines in the US as a part of the deal. While we all like a new design and machine, the better distribution of espresso machines in the US may help leapfrog some adoption barriers in the US.
The agreement hopefully will bring some hybrid machines capable of doing regular and/or espresso coffee, or at least some options to make the K-Cup experience closer to that of a coffee bar; frothing, and finishing with milk.
So, we'll keep our eye on this, as will our sister site SingleServeCoffee.com. We like Lavazza's ESE pods a lot (my favorite ESE pod for hot espresso), and the Keurig machines are a step change in ease of use for drip coffee. Should be a fun marriage to watch.
I like coffee, and brew a fair amount in the summertime for drinking it iced. This morning the Wall St. Journal had an article talking about the best iced coffee brewing methods, exploring several options. Net, they didn't seem all that impressed with anything, so I have to ask, why are they touting the article as "Making the Perfect Cup of Iced Coffee" (print edition teaser on the front page) - the actual title is "Why Making Iced Coffee at Home is Such a Grind". It can be a grind if you get bad results, but they do discuss several key topics:
Cold Brew - leaves behind some acid, and a lot of flavors. The lower acid can be a good thing for some drinkers who are sensitive to it, but for the most part, acidity in coffee helps to bring out the flavors and brings a certain amount of crispness and brightness to the cup.
Hot Brew & Dilution - While Hot brewing and subsequent chilling can get you a nice flavor profile, dilution with ice can be an issue. Great flavors overly diluted just means a bad glass of iced coffee.
So while the WSJ tried out a few cold brewers including the Coffee Toddy , the new Bodum Cold Press, and the Hourglass Coffee Maker System, they did not try out an espresso diluted to iced coffee strength.
Here are a couple of tips that I would offer anyone seeking the best iced coffee brew:
- Brew a shot to three shots of espresso and then dilute with ice and milk adding sugar when still chilling to get the right blend of flavor, sweetness and strength for your taste.
- Choose an all Arabica blend - the "traditional" blends of espresso include Robusta coffee, which while I love that full bodied dark flavor in hot espresso, it comes across as a bit of rank pungency in an iced coffee. So if you are using ground coffee, make sure you find a 100% Arabica blend, preferably a little more full bodied than your usual hot espresso choice, but it needn't be an italian roast to make a good iced espresso. If you are using ESE Pods find a good 100% Arabica blend - I like the Espressione Pods.
- Brew into iced cubes in a glass or cup that can handle the heat and cold; I use the larger Bodum Pavina glasses for this. If you can't fit a glass under the brew head, brew into a shot glass or espresso cup and pour over the ice.
- Go ahead, brew an extra shot - iced coffee made with an espresso shot is really a great drink, you'll want to have a larger glass than you'd expect.
You can also brew iced coffee through Keurig K-Cup makers on the iced coffee setting in their B-70 model. Check out more information about their recent iced coffee K-cups at our sister site SingleServeCoffee.com.
Cheers - here's to a hot August and a lot of cool coffee this month.
August 10, 2010
UPDATE: Apparently, the designer got a nice letter from Nespresso's legal department asking that he remove the Nespresso logo from the "Racepresso" design. Check out the first comment on this Yanko Design Post for more.
Gotta love it when designers take it to the limit; and this is one of the best coffee machines I have seen in a long time (except maybe the one out of cement last week). Yanko is featuring another fun inspired coffee maker with the flip up visor to reveal the business end of the espresso maker; the lower part slides out to reveal the spent capsule area, and space for the plug in the back. Guess this is the must-have maker for the race fan; too bad it's not a production model...... yet.
Via SingleServeCoffee and AutoBlog from Yanko
August 9, 2010
Illy rolled out their canned coffee in three flavors (distributed by none other than Coca Cola) and currently have it distributed in Whole Foods as well as a number of other outlets. Being keenly interested in all things coffee I had to grab a set to try them out. At a little over $2 in Whole Foods, these aren't as economical as you might hope, but overall not a bad thing compared to an iced coffee at the coffee shop.
The line comes in three varieties; Caffe, Latte Macchiato and a Cappuccino. All have sugar, with the Latte having a bit of milk, and the Cappuccino with added cocoa and milk. So how did they taste? Are they worth it and worth hunting down?
For the daily regular coffee drinker, the Illy Issimo products are going to be quite good, and the convenience of having a few in the fridge is great. The three cover a broad enough flavor space that most people can find one that they like. If you are a coffee snob, who only appreciates the subtle nuances of aroma and associated roast differences, with bitterness dancing alongside acidity of a fine shot of espresso, these aren't for you.
Issimo Caffe - "Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drink" - It is a black coffee drink with sugar. Because it is chilled, it really lacks much coffee aroma at all, and comes across in a medium roast, with slight acidity and a moderately well balanced flavor profile; not too bitter nor acidic. no real high notes, flavor-wise.
Issimo Latte Macchiato - "Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drink with Milk" - this drink has added milk and some mouthfeel agents like cellulose gel, gum and carrageenan to give you a surprisingly sweet drink with a caramelized creamy flavor and finish. It is not overly indulgent and rich like the Starbucks DoubleShot espresso drink. Given that the Issimo has half the fat of the Starbucks DoubleShot, I can understand why.
Issimo Cappuccino - "Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drink with Lowfat Milk and Cocoa" - the added cocoa here is a good boost of flavor to make this the most full flavored product of the three, and the best in my mind. It has hints of cocoa, not an overly sweet chocolate shake flavor to it.
If you like cold coffee drinks, I would recommend starting with the Cappuccino; I think it's the best. The flavors are more complex, and while the sweetness is definite, it's a welcome amount when it comes in with its trailer hitched to the cocoa.
Find Illy Issimo near you at their location finder, or just head over to Illy Issimo's micro site for more information or to hook into their Tweets of Facebook page.
August 5, 2010
Bodum has a great set of double walled glasses and now they have a double walled porcelain cup set that has a colorful silicone grip - available in three sizes and eight colors. The double walled construction means that hot liquids stay hot without harming the table, while cold liquids stay cold without sweating and leaving water rings on the table. I love them for iced coffee, and for espressos.
Available in 3.4 ounce for espresso, 6.8 ounce for regular coffee and 11.8 ounce for larger drinks