Coffee is a very personal thing and everyone enjoys "their" special brew. Well the folks at Saeco have taken things to a new level and not only offer you the ability to customize your drink, but they also give you the ability to get that drink at the swipe of your finger. The SuperAutomatic espresso drink center can grind, tamp and brew your espresso while steaming your milk to create a great espresso drink, but maybe you want a larger sup, a stronger shot, more or less milk.
I had to pick these up when I recently ordered the Kazaar limited edition capsules. I am really a day-in and day-out Livanto drinker, so I opted for something a little different and bronze/orange that goes with about nothing in my kitchen, except of course the Livanto capsules that are laying around.
I generally drink out of quick shot glasses like the Bodum Pavina glasses when drinking at home as a stand around the kitchen. If I am going to sit down, I opt for a more traditional cup and saucer. So these Pixie Espresso cups are all about a quick shot and walk away.
They are double walled stainless steel, with an amazingly lustrous interior. The design is of course taken from the Nespresso Capsule design, and mirrors the Ritual cup design as well.
So while the Pixie cup itself looks massive in size, but due to its double walled structure, it is actually small inside relative to its look and feel. It holds about 80 milliliters, or a bit over 2.5 ounces; perfect for a typical espresso shot. The combination of the size, and weight makes it feel substantial. They are in colors that match many of the Nespresso Grand Cru series, so you can probably get your favorite variety in its own cup color.
With all of the metal, does the Pixie Espresso Cups cool the espressos off too much? I don't think so, but then again, I am standing here and drinking a shot straight off the machine. If I do a second one, the shot is noticeably hotter indicating that the first shot gave up a bit of temperature to the cup. I don't think this is a problem, because it generally makes the shot drinkable right off the machine, or within a few seconds. If you wanted to serve up a bunch to friends, I would recommend pre-heating the glasses first.
Sure it's a splurge, but I like the Nespresso Pixie Espresso cups - you can find them in the Nespresso Store for $30 a pair.
Illy is getting in on the good times and pushing a new ad campaign with their Live Happ-illy video. The 60-second ad offers a little romantic intrigue, a little pep in your step and an overall message that a moment with an illy espresso simply makes life better. I happen to agree with the idea that a little coffee in your day makes life a little better, and I life their take on it.
Nespresso got tired of hearing about how many people wanted to taste Kazaar again, and decided to bring it back in 2012. If you haven't ordered yours, you need to - it sold out fast in 2010 and I would imagine it is going fast now. I bought three times the sleeves this year knowing how much I liked it last time.
Kazaar is not for everyone, and its 12 on a 10 scale intensity is a bit of hyperbole, but not very far off. It is intense, and packed with flavors that while strong, are not overdone, not overly roasted just to make a strong impact. If you like "Classic" Italian espresso blends, you should try Kazaar. Those classic blends add Robusta coffee to add some base notes and a lingering finish to the cup. Nespresso took a 100% Robusta blend, as the goal, and started crafting the cup at the growing stage by improving the growing, processing and roasting steps in an effort to accentuate the positive and minimize the sometimes terrible burnt rubber flavors that can come along with a Robusta bean. If you've ever tasted Robusta alone, it's amazing to see that Nespresso has created Kazaar out of what is usually a barely tolerable bean.
The CBTL Americano offers another option for single serve espresso and coffee on a standardized platform that has jumped the ocean from Europe. based on the CaffeItaly platform, this capsule-based machine is a different standardization from other makers, but rests squarely on a firm infrastructure, offered in the US by CBTL.com They sent me this machine right around the holidays, and I have been using it ever since.
The machine line-up is concentrated in a more affordable price range of $139 - $179, as compared to other capsule-based systems. The CBTL Americano offers more brew sizes and a slightly larger footprint on your counter space versus the other models. With a 15-bar pump, and a single and lung setting, the machine is more of an espresso model versus a single serve coffee brewer, but they seem to have a trick up their sleeve in the making of the capsules to that they can create both well enough - more later.
The Americano is available at Bed Bath and Beyond as well as online at CBTL.com and Bed Bath and Beyond. CBTL offers a nice range of four espressos, a small handful of regular coffees, and some tea capsules. They also offer a few select decaf varieties in the mix. Cost is about $0.65 - $0.70 each with is roughly on par with other capsule based systems like Nespresso.
Read on for details on the machine, directed capsules and the espressos after the jump……
In preparation for Monday's release of the 2012 Kazaar, you might want to watch the video below that Nespresso put out on Kazaar, walking through the tasting steps. If you need a little more, check out our Review of Nespresso Kazaar when it first came out over a year ago. Personally, I have one capsule left over from the last round that I have kept in the freezer. I am pretty excited to have it back, and I won't be just ordering a single sleeve of this stuff. I expect it to go fast.
We announced that the very popular Kazaar would be back in 2012, back in November, and have been looking forward to it ever since. Yea, the "12 on a 10 scale" intensity rating is pure PR hype, but it works and may just be pretty accurate. I like it better than the Ristretto "10's" that are available each and everyday.
Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to cup coffee in the State Street Gimme Coffee location in Ithaca - a fun hour or so, and it taught me to take a step back, slow down and explore more flavors that I have in a long time. While we cupped coffee in a slurry brew in some very controlled conditions, you should try a few steps on your own at home to explore on your own:
Grab a Coffee Tasting and Flavor Wheel - it will give you a good start so you can taste some of these great flavors present in coffee.
Learn about tasting vs aroma - you can taste sweet, salt, bitter and sour; the rest is really aroma that really make coffee amazing
Brew up a pair of coffees, or espressos and taste them side-by-side - hopefully you can brew them easily and quickly so that they are similar in temperature
Smell the coffee, and look for aromas while using the aroma side of the coffee tasting wheel. There's a lot, but start in the middle and move out as you uncover new details.
Taste - notice where you taste the acidity; there is a lot of acid in coffee, and it really plays a huge role in how coffee. Look at the Taste side of the wheel, see what you taste, but then flip back to the Aroma side and see what you "Taste" when you drink it. It's great. Some use a spoon to slurp it, to aerate the coffee aromas as you bring it into the mouth. Go ahead; make some noise!
Finally, decide if you like the cup.
I like to pick up a new and different coffee or espresso on a regular basis, and cupping new coffees can be fun to learn what you like, and what you don't.
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