October 31, 2010
Nestle, maker of the Nespresso and Dolce Gusto line, is testing a new refined Tea Machine that offers a broad line of tea in Nespresso-like aluminum capsules. The product line is only available in France now, with no news about expansion plans. With the success of the Nespresso line it is not a surprise that they would want to expand the model to the other popular hot drink; tea. It is also not a surprise given the prevalence of tea consumption in other countries where it rivals coffee for a spot at the table.
The Special-T Brewing Machine
The machine design is classic Nespresso-style, with a refined look that will be impressive on any counter. A water reservoir is in the rear of the machine, housing a water filter that can be replaced. Of course the intent here is the best quality water for brewing tea; filters like this have long been debated for the amount of good they are doing for in-cup flavor differences.
The controls for the machine are on the right side of the brewer base, and it has a special energy savings design that helps it consume up to 50% less than a typical tea kettle.
One of the best features is the fact that it recognizes each capsule to brew the time and temperature of the infusion according to the tea variety.
A full range of 25 Tea capsules area already offered. They range from the regular teas that you would expect, like Ceylon, White Teas, Roobios, Jasmine Green, Earl Grey, while also going to extremes like a Blueberry Muffin tea flavor and a Caramel.
The capsules are made of aluminum, like the Nespresso line, offering protection from light, air and moisture, all culprits of flavor degradation. The shape is intended to offer a brewing chamber that will bring out preserve the delicate aromas of the tea.
Nestle Special-T Accessories
Like the Nespresso line, the Nestle Special-T line has several cups available for sale and a capsule holder to make having a variety of tea convenient.
Nestle Special-T Machine Availability and Cost
The Special-T machine is available in France for 89 Euros, or about $125, which is fairly low considering the Nespresso line starts in the $175 range.
More at Special-T website (in French), or the Nestle Flikr account for Photos of the Special T
October 29, 2010
Nescafe is no stranger to coffee, and the recent launch of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto line of machines is a reasonable step into the automatic espresso machine arena with a full 15-bar pump-based extraction of the coffee from their proprietary capsules. The new line expands the offerings from a single machine to a line of four that should suit many budgets and needs in the market. I like that they all feature automatic shut off after a period of non-use. The four models above are (from left to right):
- Nescafe Dolce Gusto Piccolo - the smallest of the line offers full power extraction in a small footprint. The only thing it skimps on is space and reservoir capacity, meaning you'll be filling this machine more often. - $99 street price
- Nescafe Dolce Gusto Melody 2 - The original model in the line, now refreshed, with a few siblings to share the spotlight and a broader range of available capsules. - $129 street price
- Nescafe Dolce Gusto Circolo - A new take on the brewer, offers a fresh design and a cool blue light that highlights the cup while brewing. - $149 street price
- Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa - The top of the line unit offers custom brewing as it remembers how you like your coffee while giving you a little more insight through the top mounted LCD display. - $169 street price
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Capsules
All of the machines take the Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsules that offer a fairly wide variety of espresso and espresso drinks, with focus on ease of preparation and taste. While the capsule systems lock you into that single source of coffee, the variety of drinks available makes the trip a lot more appealing.
Cost on the single capsules are about $9 retail, for 16 capsules (net of $0.55 per cup), while the double capsule drinks give you 8 drinks for the same price coming in at a little over a dollar a cup.
The line of capsules include include:
So, this is not your typical espresso machine line, and is a step more towards the mainstream from Nestle's Nespresso line, especially given the focus on full drink sweetened espresso drink preparation from the capsules. With the full 15-bar pressurized extraction and the selection of espresso offerings, this might just help a lot of users bridge the gap from drip coffee to more of a coffee house experience. Simply put, the 15-bar pressurized extraction make it interesting enough for us to pay attention to it.
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa for Review
We will be getting the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa model into the SingleServeEspresso test kitchen in the coming weeks to put it through its paces and see if it lives up to our expectations.
More Information on the Nescafe Dolce Gusto from Nescafe at the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Machine website
October 28, 2010
Nespresso launched their Limited Edition Kazaar capsule a few weeks and continue to sell it at a fast pace. See our Review of the Kazaar Capsules for more on information on them.
Nespresso Ritual Ristretto Cups Back in Stock!
The Kazaar launch was also paired with the announcement of the Nespresso Ritual Collection of cups and saucers along with spoons, mugs, bowls and yes a special sugar packet holder.
At the time we originally reported on the Nespresso Ritual Collection, the Ristretto Cups were out of stock; they are now back and ready to be ordered.
The full line of Cups and Saucers are in the following sizes:
- Ristretto - 60 ml (2 Fl. ounces) - $25/pair
- Espresso - 80 ml (2.7 Fl. ounces) - shown above - $25/pair
- Lungo - 170 ml (5.7 Fl. ounces) - in a similar shape and profile to the Espresso Cup - $30/pair
- Cappuccino - 170 ml (5.7 Fl. ounces) - Broader shape - see below - $30/pair
- Mug - 270 ml (9.2 Fl. ounces) - no saucer - $30/pair
October 27, 2010
Starbucks is going to sea on Royal Caribbean's new ship the Allure of the Seas, the first time the Starbucks name has been used onboard a cruise ship. The GIANT ship also sports a "Central Park" (image above), water parks and an ice rink, yes, an ice rink. The ship will sail this December.
Most people know that the coffee chain was named after the first mate in the book Moby Dick. Hopefully the Allure of the Seas won't have the same fate as the Pequod, or have a run in with that giant whale....
October 22, 2010
11/30 UPDATE: Nespresso Variations are available NOW! We just ordered up some, got our shipping confirmation and are excited to welcome in the Nespresso Variations 2010 season.
UPDATE: We Announced the New Nespresso Variations Flavors for 2010 - see the details and more.
In addition to the Kazaar Limited Edition that was recently put out, Nespresso brings some holiday treats our way in the form of flavored espresso capsules that meld interesting worldly holiday flavors and their espresso coffees to create drinks that challenge the drinkers to explore and have a little fun for the holidays.
Nespresso Variations 2010 - What will the Flavors be?
To think about looking ahead, we have to look back. A quick review of flavors lead us to some predictions.
Nespresso Variations 2006
- Absolute Vanilla - clean and obviously vanilla
- Spicy Apple - hints of cinnamon
- Anise seed - surprisingly good flavors
Nespresso Variations 2007
- Almond- Nice Roasted true almond flavor
- Cardamon - delicate but polarizing
- Chocolate Orange - classic holiday flavor
Nespresso Variations 2008
- Caramel - subtle, best with sugar and milk
- Mandarin - bright, basic orange flavor
- Crystalized Ginger - true ginger flavor that lingers; breakthrough favorite that I drank for months
Nespresso Variations 2009
- Chestnut Creme - intense aroma from this one was better than the flavor
- Gingerbread - strong ginger with subtle spice, not nearly as good as the Crystalized Ginger
- Apricot - juicy and intense apricot flavors were my absolute favorite this year and surprisingly wonderful
Let's take a look at these and they break down to four categories (they include some double counts):
- Spice - Crystallized Ginger, Cardamon, Ginger(bread), Absolute Vanilla, Anise Seed
- Confection - Caramel, Chocolate (Orange), Gingerbread
- Fruit - Mandarin, Chocolate Orange, Apricot, Spicy Apple
- Nut - Almond, Chestnut Creme
One has to think that this year will grow out of the last three year's worth of concoctions. I would predict that we get a spice flavor based in some of the popular coffee shop flavors like nutmeg, or cinnamon. If that's too boring and unadventurous they would move into the sweet spice area and not the savory area. I would like to see some more surprisingly good fruit ones this year, potentially other citrus or acidic style fruits. Nuts would be a logical one with hazelnut being a strong omnipresent contender that might be too obvious. Who knows, we'll see in a little over a month. they usually hit the store in late November, to early December.
The Nespresso capsules can be brewed in the new super slim Nespresso Citiz, the Nespresso Essenza C-100 or the Nespresso Le Cube brewers.
October 19, 2010
It's not much, but you definitely can get some power from making a battery from used Nespresso capsules. Nespresso did the demonstration at a design fair in Europe to promote Nespresso Capsule recycling that is common in Europe, showing off the fact that the difference in electric potential will in fact generate a small amount of electricity (about 1.5 - 1.7 volts) when coffee and the aluminum skin of the capsule is used.
The battery cells consist of copper strips, the aluminum Nespresso capsules, salt water and old coffee grounds.
The battery was devised by mischer'traxler and installed in the window of a Nespresso Boutique in Vienna. About 700 capsules were used in total, with the six cells powering a clock in the window. The installation won a sustainability and design award during the exhibition.
ReadMore on the Nespresso Battery at Inhabitat
October 18, 2010
Everyone who has a Nespresso machine should check this out, because everyone has some sort of storage issue. Stacks of cardboard sleeves in drawers, capsules sitting in containers on the counter, and general disarray. While my basic Nespresso Capsule storage solution is probably the most utilitarian and ugly, it doesn't come close to matching the cool curves of this creation.
Handmade in Toronto out of bamboo, industrial felt and stainless steel fittings, this rack featured at UrbanProduct is not only for sale, but you can also request custom sizes. The wood is hand rubbed with food grade hemp oil before it is finished off with a layer of wax. If you have a need to have one in your favorite hardwood, they can work with you on that too.
Prices start at $140 Canadian for the 40 capsule size (10" x 11" x 1.25") up to $170 Canadian for the 70 capsule size (10" x 20" x 1.25")
More on this Handmade Bamboo Nespresso Capsule Holder at UrbanProduct
October 15, 2010
If you around the Big Apple last weekend, you may have checked in at the New York Wine and Food Festival (NYWFF) where Illy was brewing up a Make your Own Espresso Sundae. You had the choice of 20 high quality ingredients to create a fun, caffeinated wonder.
Not sure if you have heard, but Giorgio Milos, Illy's master barista, has been traveling around the US, meeting with the public and sharing his knowledge on coffee, espresso and Illy. At the NYWFF, Giorgio hosted one hour sessions covering coffee and espresso topics in a small limited attendee setting. I talked with Illy and Giorgio will be in the US into next year hosting these sessions around the country. Stay tuned for more information on his speaking tour and how to get in.
Illy also did their share of beautifying life in the city by hosting an art exhibit in the AuthentiCity Lounge (shown above) featuring artwork Illy's sponsorship of the New York School of Visual Arts. The exhibit entitled "Revealing Purity and Authenticity in Urban Life" comes from their aim of challenging new artists to explore their environment.
October 14, 2010
It's no surprise that companies are making a push for the holidays, but the WSJ reports this morning that the single serve coffee and espresso marketers are starting to push hard this year after what appears to be a milestone 2010 for them. Again, the WSJ is reporting that single serve coffee sales are up 101% over year ago, which is partly why the makers are looking to make the 2010 holiday season a big one. (Data from Symphony IRI which most likely does not include Nespresso direct sales and definitely does not include WalMart.) That compares to a 3% gain on the overall coffee category; whoa, big difference!
Single Serve Coffee/Espresso Machines - Big Holiday Sales
The other reason is history, again the WSJ reports that the sales of single serve coffee and espresso machines are heavily weighted towards the holiday season citing that 60% of the sales occur in that time period. Because only 7% of US households claim to have a single serve brewer, across the board from maker to maker, the WSJ cites that ad campaigns are kicking off with increased spending this year on robust sales and anticipated rewards this coming year.
The article didn't touch on the launch of the Dolce Gusto line of single serve makers by Nestle, which will surely be a focus at retail stores this season for Nestle, as they try to play both the coffee and espresso markets with the Dolce line and the Nespresso line.
That may not mean great prices and huge discounts for us as consumers, but it does mean that we'll be in good company come the new year, with increased attention and sway in the marketplace.
More on Single Serve Coffee and Espresso at WSJ
October 13, 2010
According to Nespresso, their Ristretto capsule is the most popular seller among the line of 16 Grand Crus as they call them. I would imagine that for the periods of time that include the seasonal offerings the Ristretto takes the back seat on the popularity contest, the month in and month out results sit firmly with the strong, dark, most intensely flavored of their regular blends.
Tasting Notes for the Nespresso Ristretto Capsules
Nespresso describes their Ristrettos Capsules as: "Strong in flavour and body, Ristretto combines the best South American Arabicas, from countries such as Colombia and Brazil, East African Arabicas famous for their citrus flavour, and a touch of Robusta for added zing. The slow split roasting of the beans creates a contrasting bouquet, bringing together subtle fruity and acid notes, with intensely roasted and chocolate notes."
October 6, 2010
I Tweeted about Starbucks Flavored Via (Follow SingleServeEspresso on Twitter) being in stores yesterday on the first day of the launch as I was out and about. The new Flavored Via was announced about a month ago and the local stores are starting to launch it big with window clings, stand alone displays and a perky sales pitch at the drive through and the counter on my two visits yesterday and today.
It's big business for SBUX, and adds the opportunity to grab sales for in home and away from home coffee occasions when users can't get to the store.
Limited Time - Buy Via - Get a Free Tall Drink
I also received the coupon below for a free tall drink when I buy a 6-pack of Flavored Via ($6.95) - It's only good for a few days, as they are trying to drive up trial among their loyalists. If you are remotely interested in Flavored Via, hit the local store before the end of the day 10/6, ask for the coupon below and grab a pack to get your free tall drink. Don't skimp, and try the new Starbucks Toffee Mocha or the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Big Online Push for Flavored Via
Starbucks has advertised on NYT.com before, and they are not being subtle this time either with this ad online about the Flavored Via launch. Don't say they didn't try to get the word out......
October 1, 2010
The Nespresso Limited Edition Kazaar Capsules were announced a couple of weeks ago, and after a few sleeves of capsules brewed in my machine, I will say that I like them a lot. The Kazaar capsules are pitched as a 12 on a 10 scale for flavor intensity, and they definitely are a different level than the other capsules, with a lot of flavor fullness swirling around. Let's take a look at the background.
The Kazaar coffees reportedly have a majority of their coffee from the Robusta variety, which is usually a filler coffee in regular ground coffee that is looked down upon for its off flavors and its general lower quality. Rubber tire flavors and general astringency plague the lower quality Robustas that find their way to the regular coffee markets.
"Classic" and "Southern Italian" espresso blends often use Robusta coffee to broaden the flavor profile with the effect of lengthening the base coffee note as it lingers. When well done, the espresso can be a very nice cup, balanced while offering a nice finish free of off flavors or harsh transition.
Nespresso sought to change the negatives and accentuate the positives here with Kazaar, starting at the growing stage, and carrying the improvements through the processing, roasting and grinding steps. If you have ever tasted a bad Robausta, it is hard to believe that Nespresso can get such a non-rubbery tasting coffee out of a mainly Robusta blend. Clearly they worked hard at this one.
Nespresso Kazaar Tasting Notes
The Nespresso Kazaar espresso does in fact have an intense flavor that lingers, warranting it's 12 on a 10 scale rating when you compare it to the cleaner Ristretto variety; previously the strongest of the line. the flavors are peppery with some dark fruitiness and a streak of dark roasted bitterness in the finish that lingers with the base coffee flavor.
As a short ristretto and when brewed as an espresso, the flavors are compact and intense. Hot; I like it. Cold; not so much. The bitterness is accentuated in the finish and doesn't offer a sweeter tasting more mild flavor that I've come to like in a cold coffee. The Kazaar certainly stands up to milk and does fine as a latte. While this dilutes the impact of the Kazaar blend, the strong notes are still there.
Review Summary - Nespresso Kazaar
The Nespresso Kazaar is strong, full flavored, and most likely a polarizing capsule. On the one hand a solid offering that delivers a lot of flavor, and remarkably clean finish given the amount of Robusta in the blend. I like it for its dark flavors and the layers of current, and peppery flavors that awaken the mouth. With that said, I like higher quality "Classic" espresso blends for their longer coffee finish. If you do too, you should try the Kazaar.
If you are one who likes only a cleaner Arabica only finish, without a lot of dark roasted swirling flavors and base notes rolling around, the Kazaar might not be for you. For those who like dark roasted espressos, I say wade into it and try it, even if you like only the clean Arabica blends. If you like lighter roasted clean Arabica style espressos, I would recommend moving on.
Nespresso has also announced the Nespresso Ritual Collection in conjunction with the Kazaar launch. They range from the ristretto to the "mug", and include bowls and saucers.
The Nespresso capsules can be brewed in the new super slim Nespresso Citiz, the Nespresso Essenza C-100 or the Nespresso Le Cube brewers.
At the Nespresso Club Store - Kazaar Limited Edition