January 24, 2013

Coffee's Win is Soda's Loss

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The Atlantic has a short article that talks about coffee's popularity. Let me break it down for you.

Coffee as a category of drinks is up 50% in the last ten years, while the value of soda sold is down 40%. It's not necessarily the volume of coffee drunk, but the value…. yes, with 14-19 year olds more likely to claim to have had a coffee daily, and the fact that the coffee is espresso based, the cost of that cup adds up.

With coffee bean prices up, consumers are paying more all over the place, while also trading up from a cup o' Joe to en espresso.

ReadMore at the Atlantic

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January 22, 2013

Homemade Portafilter Handle


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Do you read Instructables? I've found a bunch of good things there, and this one came up; thought I'd share it. Instructables is a website where users can upload step-by-step directions on how to make things; just about anything actually.

This Instructable is a handmade Portafilter handle and it shows a step-by-step process for taking a local branch, and milling it to make your own replacement handle for your Portafilter. I think the project came out pretty good, and shows a great way to put a little sweat equity into making your espresso machine a little more customized.

Check this Instuctable out by NoahW - Wooden Handle for Espresso Portafilter

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January 21, 2013

Coffee Rust Fungus Affects Central America

The cost of coffee could be headed up in the near future for higher quality beans as up to 30% of Central American coffee is affected by a coffee fungus. The Rust Fungus (Hemileia vastratrix) infects the leaves of the coffee tree. The infection drops coffee harvest amounts and has been reported in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The effect can ultimately devastate the producers who may have small farms, that if infected could bankrupt them with only one or two years of low production.

The fungus is spread by physical contact as well as wind and rain.

ReadMore

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January 20, 2013

Trader Joe's Espresso Pillows


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Did anyone pick up a tin of these this holiday season? I did, and I had to go back for more. Trader Joe's has a great little pick-me-up available in a stylish tin that will fit in a small pocket, briefcase, kitchen drawer, or anywhere you'll need a little sweetness and a shot of caffeine.

The tin is classic, and has a satisfying snap to it when it closes. The see-thru window gives you a quick chance of the beautiful treats inside; it also gives you a reason how much is left, with a clue to see if anyone has been downing your Espresso Pillows without your knowledge.

The Espresso Pillows are not just chocolate covered espresso beans, but instead have a sweeter layer of toffee coating the bean, then with a layer of dark chocolate on top to finish it off. These really aren't pillows, and are not fluffy, but instead are strong flavored and a bit crunchy - not sure who named it, but I don't really care. They are pretty good.

These are better than your average chocolate covered bean; the light sweetness of the toffee with its buttery notes, make this a better, tasty treat, and because it comes in a closable tin, a far better option than the usual cellophane bag for run of the mill beans.


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January 18, 2013

Nespresso Expands Capsule Production - Planning Third Factory

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UPDATE: April 25, 2013, Nespresso has broken ground on the new facility and plans on having it operational by 2015. The symbolic "stone" laying includes the unveiling of a large aluminum coffee bean that was made from the aluminum of about 800 nespresso capsules (shown above).

Nestle's Nespresso brand is growing, and they expect it to continue at a break-neck pace; new ads in the US, and a new Nespresso U machine globally keep the pressure up on the growth side. the new facilities will expand their Nespresso Capsule capacity significantly to keep up with global demand.

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Nestle, the parent company of Nespresso is investing about $200M in a current production facility at Avenches, Switzerland, adding production lines, quality assurance labs and more. Meanwhile they are investing over $300M in a new facility in Romont, Swizerland that should be completed and online by 2015.

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January 10, 2013

Bialetti Mini Express Single Serve Espresso Machine

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Most people know Bialetti for its iconic Moka Pot brewer that boils water in the bottom, forcing it up through the espresso cake and into the top reservoir. It brews at about 2-3 bar and makes a decently strong cup of coffee/espresso. They have also announced a new single serve brewer that uses capsules to brew espresso at 20 bar, giving users the espresso flavor, look and taste that they look for these days.

The Bialetti Mini Express espresso machine is designed to fit in a small space, and give great authentic flavor brew after brew. The 20 bar extraction system assures a great extraction every time, with plenty of crema and flavor in each cup. There is a 20 ounce reservoir, and a spent capsule bin that holds up to 10 used capsules.

There are five capsule varieties available, including:

  • Milano - "An espresso that is always smooth and light-bodied,with a pleasing aroma." this is a light and balanced espresso.
  • Venzia -"A round and delicate espresso, with rich vanilla accents." Light with a vanilla note.
  • Roma - "An intoxicating coffee aroma with a rich, bold taste. " Strong profile with dried fruit notes.
  • Napoli - "A full-bodied and intense espresso, with a unique aroma." Full flavored with a hearty body and full finish. I would suspect this has a hint of robusta in it to give the full body and flavor finish.
  • Italia Deca (Decaf) - " A decaffeinated aromatic coffee with a velvety, enveloping texture." Medium to light body.

This machine and capsules are different than the iconic but weird Bialetti Mokona single serve espresso machine.   

On sale now at a discounted $149 at the Bialetti Shop


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January 6, 2013

Nespresso Capsules Upcycled to Watches

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While you may be good about recycling, are you up cycling things around your house to new uses? I've been using the Outpresso to recycle my Nespresso Capsules, but I never thought I would see a watch face made from a crushed Nespresso capsule. The flattened capsule forms a uniquely designed face of a beautiful wrist watch. Each one is slightly different given the crushing behavior of the used capsules.

The watchmaker, Blacier, uses a hand winding mechanism, and proudly displays the non-battery, green state of their watch's mechanism via the clear glass back plate. The hand winding should last for approximately 42 hours according to their website, so daily winding is recommended.

Cost of the Blancier watches start at 495 Euros…. at Blancier Watches - Grand Cru Watch

Another way Nespresso Capsules are being used is that they are being recycled into Pixie side panels. Seems like a nice closed loop system…..

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January 1, 2013

Resolution: 5 Ways to Learn More About Coffee

There are tons of resolutions out there; most made to be broken. One that might stand a better chance is to learn more about coffee, its origins, roasting techniques and how to be a better brewer.

Your odds of keeping this resolution are probably better than let's say losing those twenty pounds….

Here are a few ideas to kickstart the process:

  1. Learn how to cup coffee - cupping is easy, and fun, we've written about the flavor wheel, and if you have a high quality coffee roaster/cafe near you they might even help you learn. We've been to cupping sessions at Gimme Coffee (Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine), where they walk you through the process. If you are a regular at a local coffee shop, they might run a session just for you and a few friends for some kind of consideration.
  2. Read About Coffee - might sound boring, but learning the differences between Robusta, and Arabica is important to understand how to get a great cup of coffee, and why Robusta isn't all bad. You might start with a book like: Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee, or simply a magazine like Roast, an industry zine that talks to roasters and conneseurs alike. They have a few articles available each issue for free at the Roast Magazine website
  3. Find a locally Roasted Coffee - a lot of people are happy to drink pre-packaged coffee from the grocery store, or pre-dosed single serve capsules fro single serve brewers, but tasting locally roasted coffees hours or days after roasting is a vastly different experience. Buy a couple of roasts that are of different origin, brew them up and look for the differences. Learn what you like, and what you don't. If the coffee is really fresh, drink it over a week's time and notice how it changes. We have a local roaster who sells at our local farmer's market. Not always my favorite type of coffee, but always fresh and amazing to taste.
  4. Buy Cup of Excellence Coffee - Cup of Excellence is a program to recognize, and auction off some of the best coffees grown in the world. Several roasters sell these highly regarded coffees, and pay dearly for the micro-lots that are truly some of the best in the world. Search the CoE directory for a Roaster, read up on their available coffee and mail order it.
  5. Brew in a new way - Not all of us can buy a new Marzocco espresso maker, but trying a new brew method might just help you learn more about how the brew method changes the coffee flavor. There is a french press, a pour over cone(not only plain cones, but something like a Chemex Drip Coffee Carafe , a pour over cone with a steep time (Clever Coffee Dripper), Espresso (of course), electric or stove-top percolator (yes, this is worth trying to experience the body that develops in this brew method), a Moka Pot espresso type. or even an Ibrik/Turkish Coffee Pot. Lots of methods, each with its own flavor appeal, and a way to appreciate the art of the brew just a little more.

Happy New Year.


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