Nespresso Variations 2010 - Caramel. Vanilla and Almond
Starting today, Nespresso Variations are available for purchase through the Nespresso Club website. Each year the Variations line helps to ring in the holiday season for Nespresso fans who like the flavored espresso capsules.
For 2010, the Nespresso Variations website offers a whimsical look at what a world of Nespresso Variations might look like, with balloon races and clouds of whipped cream. They show a "Race" page that appears to be a voting area for your favorite Nespresso Variation flavor. The most popular Nespresso Variation flavor appears to be Almond, then Caramel and Vanilla pulling up the rear.
They appear ready to offer Nespresso Variations screen savers, backgrounds and downloadable concept art that seems to have been the early workings for the splashy holiday site.
According to multiple sources today, Starbucks and Kraft are continuing their battle over the distribution agreement that was largely responsible for getting Starbucks coffee in the hands of millions of US households. Back in the Day, you ordered from Starbucks, a little chain from the West Coast that figured out coffee didn't come in a can. Now you can get it at any grocery store thanks to the strong arm of the Kraft distribution machine (they also do Maxwell House Coffee..... in a can).
Starbucks recently announced that they want out of the agreement due to Kraft not honoring the terms of their agreement that runs through 2014. Starbucks is reportedly making this move to gain control over their distribution and potentially costs.
Kraft argues that Starbucks is quitting the deal which requires a BIG payment.
Starbucks into a K-Cup?
If Starbucks totally divorces itself from Kraft, it would mean the end of the Starbucks Tassimo Discs. With a huge share of the single serve market, and everyone in k-Cups from Folgers to Emeril, it might be time for Starbucks to jump on the k-Cup band wagon. Barrons is reporting that Green Mountain might be a benefactor in this little spat. This might be just in time for the K-Cup patent expiration in 2012, which will open up the doors to anyone making the popular single serve package.
Pressure Brewing at Home for Starbucks?
So while Starbucks still offers ESE Pods for espresso machines, a move to K-Cup would keep it out of a major pressure brewed system, like the Nescafe Dolce Gusto or Nespresso type system - both from Nestle. Maybe they are preparing to launch their own Nespresso beater in the US? The ability to create home-brewed coffee house drinks at a quality level that pressure brewing can offer seems like a missed opportunity for Starbucks, and one that they won't leave on the table forever.
If you like Starbucks and the holiday season then this promotion is for you. The 12-days of sharing promo is about to start, that has them offering special deals and offers for the first 12 days of December. This year they are using SMS Text messages as the promotion route to bring their sharing message to the consumers. So while promos at Foursquare, Facebook and Gowalla are all the rage, Starbucks must want to reach a broader audience who may not be in the 4% of the population who have tried the check-in services.
How to Sign Up for "12 Days of Sharing" Starbucks Promotion
The Promo starts 12/1; hurry if you want to sign up. It takes seconds to sign up.
Just text "12Days" to 29943, and you will receive notification everyday about what the deal or special offer is that day. They will send back a confirmation text that says "Thanks for signing up to get 12 Days of Sharing texts. Everyday there'll be a great offer from Starbucks. Text STOP to end, message and data rates apply."
While Starbucks is busy cranking out mass-market appealing coffee drinks, Illy is taking a decidedly upscale approach to expanding their brand. Illy has teamed up with several high end hotel brands to offer a Euro espresso experience in the hotel cafe, while also offering Illy Y1 units as in-room brewers.
In a WSJ article this morning, Illy detailed their accomplishments to date: 2,000 hotels worldwide, expecting to double that in the next five years. They recently opened up a cafe in the Miami JW Marriott, that also pairs with the poolside espresso service. To make sure that the cafe delivered its best, Illy sent its head barista from Italy to make sure the standards were up to par.
The illy brand is maybe uniquely qualified to do this venture on a global basis; Starbucks is well known but due to their everywhere approach, lacks the exclusive cache, Nespresso has the machine and capsule appeal to the right target audience, but not an authentic grind and extract heritage that an espresso bar needs. For illy, the careful mix of image, appeal and authenticity melds with product and quality of execution to make for the right fit and chemistry in upscale brands like JW Marriott.
Nespresso has a new Aeroccino 3 out; offering not only a color choice, but the ability to store the whisk tips in the base. The Aeroccino is a great companion to many of the Nespresso makers, like the regular Citiz and the Essenza, delivering frothed milk for drinks like lattes.
The Aeroccino both heats the milk and froths in about a minute. The Aeroccino comes with two small stirring wandsthat attach magnetically on the bottom of the non-stick milk chamber. When you pick the whisk version, you get a firm foam that works well for lattes and cappuccinos, and is a thick firm texture. The wand-like paddle gives you hot milk, fast.
Making its rounds today is a fun story about a coffee shop creation that was attainable by any coffee shop, but one took the reins. The Pulp and The Bean offers a "Dieci", or italian for Ten; a 20 ounce cup of 10 espresso shots. Pure and simple jet fuel according to the owner of the shop.
At $8 each, the Dieci is a bargain in my mind compared to the $5 cocktail espresso concoctions served up to the willing masses each day at various Starbucks. The caffeine level has some worried, and wired at the same time. Maybe Mr. Pacemaker and Mrs. Lipitor need to sit this out and let Johnny Energy Drink try it first.
This design struck me as fun if you are settling down for a small coffee on a weekend morning. The white ceramic cups are offset by the strikingly plain bamboo saucers and tray. I like the simplistic way that the saucers ft into the tray, allowing you to bring the whole serving set with you out on the deck or in front of the fireplace; whichever the season allows.
Saw this ad in the paper the other day; Starbucks is starting a Buy One Holiday Drink and Get One Free during the hours of 2PM - 5PM. The promotion should help people get through a busy shopping weekend with a little late in the day pick-me-up; the offer is valid 11/18 - 11/21.
Here's a Nespresso ad for TV is out; most likely reaching the airwaves overseas, that shows George Clooney walking out of a Nespresso Boutique, dying and going to heaven meeting John Malkovich's St Peter at the gates. The two have a few bits of dialogue, with some insider talk about how heaven has no movie producers or managers, and how there re billions of sexy angels around. Not sure it translates to a 30 second spot, and the humor is pretty predictable, but it's worth a watch anyway.
In a simple change of design, Nespresso has a two position design for its Nespresso Citiz and Co machine, positioning it for the office coffee market where a single head brewer might not keep up with the office demand. I don't think I've ever run into a traffic jam in my kitchen at my Citiz, but I think I want one anyway.
The machine is not sold in the US, but I found it on the UK's Nespresso site, and on the UK Amazon site where it is available for about $420. The US is trying to push the Nespresso Gemini system of brewers for the Office crowd; with a slightly different "pod" that is saucer shaped.
This is one of the cooler espresso cups I have ever come across, the crushed Espresso cup from designer Rob Brandt. The cup is reminiscent of the ubiquitous plastic cup that gets served at all kinds of food service institutions, and then tossed in the trash, headed to a landfill. This version is ceramic, "pre-crushed" and ready for re-use with a quick wash.
The new re-launch of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewer line puts renewed energy behind the consumer focused coffee drink station that packs 15-bar pressure for a more true espresso extraction type brew. Nescafe/Krups provided me with the new Creativa brewer showing off the new capabilities of their top of the line product. The LCD screen allows you to pick your brew, resulting in the right amount of water to be pushed through the capsule; ranging from a short couple of ounces with an espresso to a full eight ounces with an Americano.
Unpacking the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa
Obviously the Creativa comes well padded and wrapped for transit, giving you an easy view of the machine's profile after breaking into the styrofoam outer packaging. Included is a movable tray (with a blue film wrapper - take it off and see the shiny drip tray cover), and a knock-box type spent capsule graveyard container. Fill the back reservoir, plug it in and the unit is ready to go. The directions indicate that several rinses are required before brewing your coffee. The LCD screen gives you a "Rinse" option to make it easy.
Sampler - Variety Pack of Nescafe Dolce Gusto Capsules
The Creativa comes with a small set of capsules in a variety pack, allowing users to experience a few of the drinks that the Nescafe Dolce Gusto line is capable of brewing. The variety includes an Espresso, Caffe Lungo, Caffe Americano, the dual capsule set of the Cappuccino, Chococcino, and Latte Macchiato. The "Map" on the underside of the lid offers you a guide to brewing the products that will get you going on your way to Dolce Gusto-ness.
In no time we were brewing a Cappuccino in the machine, milk capsule first, then the coffee shot from 100% all Arabica ground beans.
We have a large assortment in of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsules, the espresso provided by Nescafe, and the rest, I shopped for locally. I will say that not a lot of stores (read "none") have the capsules in stock, or even have slotted them into the shelf plans, except for WalMart, who has taken a position and is selling the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Piccolo brewer. I have also searched out online providers like CoffeeWiz who has a full assortment. (This is also where I buy my K-Cups by the case).
I'll report back on the performance of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto and give it a full review. I certainly do not believe that this is targeted at the high end aficionado who is into roasting his or her own beans on a regular basis, but instead as a transition machine for those who are interested in taking their coffee love beyond a cuppa joe.
If you haven't checked out Roast Magazine, you should - they offer a great set of articles that are focused on the coffee trade primarily, but also articles that regular consumers might enjoy too. The most recent magazine has their awards for Roaster of the year including Micro Roaster and a Macro Roaster categories.
The Boulder, Colorado based Conscious Coffees roaster is this year's winner as they expect to roast about 85,000 pounds of all organic coffee this year. The six person operation takes such steps as to deliver their coffee all over town by bicycle - a work looking bicycle with a cargo container on the back (hit the link below to see an image). The roaster also puts their coffee in steel, not the throw away plastic laminated bags that many sell their coffees in. the move, which happened in 2009, allowed them to get into a reusable and recyclable packaging material that also protects their product well.
Hey, we know that you buy a lot of coffee and espresso, and a lot of people trust Amazon for good prices and good customer service on coffee and espresso items. As such we thought we would pass this along; the chance to win a $100,000 Amazon sweepstakes. We figured that with the economy as it is, and $100K up for grabs, you might just want to take a shot.
The deal is that you need to add and then use the Amazon Wishlist toolbar to your browser; a bit of a pain, but a small task if you end up winning the grande (and only) prize of $100K in the form of a gift card.
We are pretty excited to announce that this year, the Nespresso Variations 2010 will refocus on the past popular flavors that helped to create the buzz that helps Nespresso fans welcome the holiday season. Can't wait to get our hands on these festive Nespresso Holiday Flavors(again). The flavors are as follows:
Vanilla Espresso Variation- "a balanced harmony between the rich and velvety aromas of vanilla and the mellow flavor of the Livanto Grand Cru creates a blend distinguished by its full, enveloping taste, infinitely smooth and silky on the palate." Brought back from the 2006 line.
Caramel Espresso Variation-"the sweet vanilla flavor of caramel softens the roasted notes of the Livanto Grand Cru results is a delicate gourmet union which evokes the creaminess of soft toffee." Brought back from the 2008 line - See our review of the 2008 Nespresso Variations Capsules.
Almond Espresso Variation - "the sweet and lightly toasted almond notes accentuate the roundness of the Livanto Grand Cru and this melt-in-the-mouth blend evokes the mellow taste of Amaretti biscuits." Brought back from the 2007 line - see our review of the 2007 Nespresso Variations capsules.
Recall that these are layered on top of the Livanto base capsule roast that brings its mid-darkness roast profile and its acidity to help brighten and deliver the layers of flavors.
If it were up to me, my three favorites were Crystalized Ginger (2008, amazingly fresh and surprisingly good), Almond (2007, true almond that goes will with milk and a hint of sugar - humm what about as an almond mocha?) and last year's Apricot (2009, fresh and bright flavors that burst juicy goodness that shouldn't go with espresso but melded well).
Nespresso Variations 2010 Availability
This year the Nespresso Variations capsules will be available starting on December 1st to a small set of users and to the general public on December 6th.
FrancisFrancis/Illy's Y1 brewer is a modern take on the espresso machine with its new lines, innovative shape and its use of the illy iperEspresso capsules. 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.
We wanted to test two of the more popular varieties, the Medium Roast (Red Can) and the Dark Roast (Black Can) to see what they offered and which one I might start drinking with looking ahead.
The two roasts are noticeably different to the naked eye, but not dramatically so. While I expected a darker roast and a more dramatic difference, the flavor differences were obvious and certainly had a right to exist as different offerings.
Medium Roast - Chocolate like flavors with a slight sweetness reminiscent of syrup that also offered a tangy acidity that one would see in a high quality arabica blend.
Dark Roast - again tangy acidity, but with a slightly smoky and darker medicinal flavor. It is distinctly dark roasted without the ashy hollowness of being over-roasted.
For me, the dark roast is the more pleasing variety offering a bit more robust flavor in the cup to balance out the tangy acidity.
The Illy Issimo Line of RTD Coffee is looking to expand next year by adding a Mocha/Chocolate flavor to the line-up. The current Ready to Drink (RTD) line-up has three products with a Latte Machiatto, a Cappuccino and a straight Caffe. With Mocha's being a popular drink, it's not a surprise that they are moving in this direction.
The Starbucks Eggnog Latte is back in cafes helping to mark the holiday season along with cooler weather and election day. The nog-licious drink is pretty polarizing, but I'll admit to having a few in in Christmas Seasons past. I plan on gulping a few down this year too. They will be serving them up in their signature Red Cups starting soon also.
Gaggia is a well known brand of italian espresso makers and they have just designed a machine for the Illy iperEspresso capsule system. the new machine features the easy use and clean up that you would expect with a capsule machine and the brewing capability for a traditional espresso machine offering quality high pressure brews and a wand system for steaming milk.
The height adjustable tray allows you to brew into a number of cup sizes, while the spent capsule chamber holds about a dozen used capsules before it needs emptying. The one liter water tank should carry most users for a solid week's use, while the 15-bar pump will deliver good extraction.
Sure I know it's a basic question, but I thought we'd take a crack at offering a bit of information for our readers to know what these great little pods are.
The ESE Pod, or Easy Serving Espresso pod, is made under agreement to fit certain specifications and thus fit the ESE certified machines to brew up a high quality shot of espresso. It is intended to be standardized and single use so that pods of all manufacturers will fit in all machines that are made to take an ESE Pod.
The ESE pod is 44-45 millimeters in diameter, and usually comes in a "single" that contains approximately 7 grams of finely ground espresso coffee. The sometimes seen "double" is approximately 14 grams of coffee and must use special modified holders to accommodate the larger pod.
The ESE pods do NOT fit in a "Single Serve Coffee" machine like a Senseo that take 55 millimeter pods and do not brew under high pressure (usually 15 bars) like an espresso machine.
The hope is that the ESE Pod offers convenience and higher quality results when users brew espresso across machines and different brands of espresso. The pod approach eliminates grind size issues, mess, dose issues and sometimes a lot of mess. The downside of a pre-dosed pod is that it does not offer the freshness of a locally roasted coffee that is ground for each brew.
A pretty good place to cruise through some amazing espresso cup designs is Etsy.com, the artist's storefront for all kinds of products. I recently came across this set of cups that happen to combine my passion for biking and my love of espresso. Hand printed on porcelain cups and saucers. Dishwasher safe and not very expensive.