June 30, 2012
I picked up some CBTL Premium Blend and am brewing up some cool iced coffee this weekend. The Premium Blend is a little less intense than the Italian Blend, but still holds up to milk and ice. I fill a glass with ice and brew right on top of the ice. If you're worried about the glass breaking, you can use a mug, or try out the Bodum glasses that are made from borosilicate glass - laboratory glass, that stands up to the heat and cold conditions.
The CBTL line of capsules are from Italy and fit the CBTL brewers; a quick and easy brewing machine that allows you to drop in a capsule and crank out a shot of coffee/espresso in a few seconds. I reviewed the CBTL Americano machine that offers a few bells and whistles, mainly in the convenience area, allowing you to brew up different sizes with the push of a button.
The capsules are available locally at a few big box stores, and online at the CBTL website.
More at CBTL
June 29, 2012
Nespresso has brought out the Nespresso Zenius, a connected coffee maker targeted at the office coffee market. Simply drop in your Nespresso disk, and out comes a great shot of espresso. Do it enough times, and the Zenius makes a call to the Nespresso store to automatically order more. I like the steampunk look that makes it look like it's going to blow steam out its sides every few minutes for good measure.
Of course it delivers the same high quality shots that you've come to expect from Nespresso. the line of eight capsules are more limited to than the home version. The line of eight is split up into Espresso, Lungo, Decaf, and Ristretto.
The functionality is supported by a SIM card that is inserted in the machine, making calls out over the mobile phone network. Not only can it auto-reorder, but they will also run diagnostics on the machine to make sure it's working properly. There are several settings that can be changed, like brew volume on the three programmable keys. Just in case some clown in the office readjusts all of the brew settings to what you don't like, there's always the factory reset.
No word on a US debut, the Nespresso Zenius is available in Europe.
June 6, 2012
Sure there are super automatic home brewers that make espresso drinks from freshly ground whole bean, and there are vending machines, purveyors of amazingly average coffee, but did you think that you could get the mashup of the two and get great coffee? Seattle's Best thinks so. The subsidiary of Starbucks has been working with vending machine giant, Coinstar (also the maker of Redbox video vending machines) to create a Cafe worthy machine that gets you freshly ground and brewed coffee. not only can you get freshly ground coffee, but you can order up cafe style drinks like a Latte, and a mocha.
The Northeast and West Coast regions will see the first machines in Grocery, Drug and Mass merchant stores.
June 5, 2012
Starbucks is buying a San Francisco baker, La Boulange, as the coffee purveyor is looking to own all things coffee. They have carved out a nice segment of the market and realize that they want to and can control significant portions of revenue for users who come into the stores.... and after they leave too.
So, other than a few brands that grace the inside of the McDonalds, namely Coke, Newman's Own coffee and a few others occasionally, you walk in and you get McDonalds stuff, period. Starbucks clearly realized that they don't need to settle for a small mark-up, but instead have the right to own the entire offering in their stores, while also controlling much of the experience. Pastry not delivering the right taste and brand experience? Buy the baker yourself.
Coffee All the Time
Starbucks has shown that they aspire to be all things coffee, not only in the store, but away from the store. Remember when Starbucks offered bulk coffee for grinding? I mean real bulk coffee? That format is fading fast in favor of K-Cups, Via Instant, and soon, the Verismo system. With these offerings, they have 1) The largest installed base of single serve coffee machines on the market addressed, 2) A better away from home beverage, and 3) a new way to drive growth int eh high end of the market, respectively.
Don't like the char-bucks flavor of coffee that they once touted as the signature flavor, with the notion that without it, you weren't drinking real coffee? Well, that's remedied, with the introduction of ever lighter coffees that can finally show off some subtle notes apparent only when more lightly roasted. Far from stupid, this opens the their market up even more.
Single Serve Wars; Verismo vs. Nespresso vs. Keurig Vue
Green Mountain/Keurig is betting on their own Keurig Vue maker to deliver high end users, while Nespresso, the massive player everywhere but the US, has started TV advertising in the US ahead of the Verismo launch later this year. Clearly, Starbucks realized the power of their brand about two decades ago, but have recently extended their reach with more offerings, a broadening of the market they address, and specialization with talent to bring them to the grocery channel in a big way. Don't expect them to be content with a few facings of Starbucks Via, or Starbucks Ground Coffee in 12 ounce bags or K-Cups. I expect that they will continue to make the coffee aisle their home.
June 4, 2012
File this under interesting, a Swiss inventor has patented a reusable Nespresso compatible capsule. The two-piece construction allows you to unscrew the top, add the coffee and screw it back together. The fact that it doesn't have any parts that get ruined during brewing make the capsule super long lasting. The sturdy construction and the fact that it can withstand the 18 bar pressure during brewing makes this a candidate for experimentation. Add this to the wish list.
I've tried the NexPod and the Capsulin Nespresso Compatible capsules and while interesting, each had their downside when compared to the convenience of dropping in a regular capsule.
Try the Google Translate Version (English) or the Original French- Via our sister site, SingleServeCoffee
The latest machines to come from Nespresso are the Maestria line, targeted at the user who wants to make milk-based drinks, while still enjoying the convenience of the capsule based system. The Maestria line comes in a couple of versions, one with an actual steam wand, something I didn't know if we'd see that coming out of the Nespresso launches anytime soon, and one with the more familiar Aeroccino sidecar to automatically heat and froth the milk. The design language is straight from the recent successes in the market of the Citiz and Pixie; vertical, with some extra strong features to communicate the strong capabilities and added features.
I would call the base machine, shown above, comes with and all aluminum body, the milk steamer, the ability to "fine tune" coffee volumes, and a 1.4 liter tank. Other automatic machines like the Citiz and Pixie are able to change up their brew volumes, but not easily. They are set-up to run the same volume consistently - a short and a long. This seems to be a reasonable approach to accessing the market for milk based drinks without going full-automatic, like the Nespresso Latissima+, without venturing into a fully ground coffee arena.
The second machine style, called the Gran Maestria adds the Aeroccino sidecar, as well as a cup warmer to the side.
The base machine Maestria C500 or D500 is $549, while the Grand Maestria D520 is $699.
At Nespresso and at Amazon the Nespresso Maestria Espresso Maker