April 23, 2008

Frog Espresso Pod Brewer


Saw this and had to pass it along. Not sure if I like it, but it is unique in it's looks, and may just look as much like a frog as it does Jar-Jar Binks from the Star Wars Trilogy.


Anyway, like most pod-only brewers, it's got a pretty easy operation style that allows you to heat, slip in a pod, pull on the lever to lock the brewing chamber and hit the brew button; 30 second slater the shot is ready to go. Comes in Yellow, Blue, Gray, and Red; sorry no Gungan Warrior version.

At 1-800-espresso.com

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April 17, 2008

Super Auto vs. Bialetti

BusinessWeek of all magazines has taken a look at some extremes, comparing the high end versus the lower end to try to figure out if it's worth the big up-charge to enjoy the life of luxury. Thought I would pass it on, they thought that the Krups XP 7230 Super Auto was a better brewer and all around value than the Bialetti. So, go ahead and spend the extra $950 on the super auto..... what the heck.

I do admit to really liking my Bialetti for some brews, but agree a high pressure brewer is a better cup of expresso. I typically brew a Cuban style cafe au lait drink when I make coffee in a Bialetti. I don't see that as a drink that's even close to the espresso that I drink on a regular basis out of my other machines like the The Cuisinart EM-200 Espresso Machine, or my reviewed the Nespresso Essenza C100. For me, like BusinessWeek, there is no comparison, but I don't think you'll need to spend a grand to get great coffee.

BusinessWeek goes on to compare some other unuasual products; check it out.

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April 16, 2008

Krups XP7230 Super Auto Espresso Machine

Krups has a couple of Super Automatic Espresso machines out on the market, and this is one that caught my eye for a couple of reasons. The first is that its got some decent credentials, but the second is its more compact size; 30 - 50% smaller than other models. Many of the Super Automatics are about 17 inches deep makes for a pretty prominent appliance on your counter - sticking out from under a typical cabinet by six inches. The Krups XP7230 is only 12.5-inches deep, making it pretty much fit under the profile of a typical cabinet, just like most coffee makers.

It's also a pretty sharp looking machine, with a stainless look that is going to fit into a lot of kitchens these days. The unit takes in whole beans, grinds, tamps and extracts to make anything from an espresso all the way to "pressure brewed coffee" - a good choice for a regular size cup. The XP7230 of course has a steaming arm to create milk based lattes and cappuccinos. The unit does give up some features for the compact size like a by-pass doser which allows you to add ground coffee directly to other machines. convenient for a de-caf shot late night. The grinder has three grind settings, down from a usual 6 or 7 on other machines. Finally the water tank is only 40-ounces. Great for shots alone, but will be a more frequent trip to the sink when you start pounding out bigger drinks and steaming milk.

I like the design of a couple of aspects though. The machine packs the grounds bin in the side, a couple of floats on the drip tray to warm you when you need to empty it, and an easy to understand dial and selection system for the interface. The XP7230 also comes with a water cartridge filter.

More at Krups

Available at Amazon


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April 15, 2008

Crap-tastic Espresso - Now $9.90


This little bad boy is showing up all over the place first we saw it on Amazon, and now it's at Staples. So, if you missed this terrible looking machine with the high likelihood of brewing some questionable coffee for $12.99 at Amazon, you now have the chance to grab it from Staples for $9.90. Hummm, if it were only closer to that Yankee Swap gift exchange at work when everyone brings in crappy gifts and you get stuck with some re-gifted junk; I might have jumped on it. Instead I think I'll stick with a real espresso maker.

At Staples

Thanks Adam for sending this one in.

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April 14, 2008

Coffee Trips and Trekking

Have you ever wanted to take a little vaca and learn a bit more about where coffee comes from? JavaVentures is a company that can help you do that. There are trips that can take you to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and others. Many of these are planned for later in the year during normal harvest times, so you can see how the picking and processing works, which I am sure can be a great time on a coffee farm. One past trip to Peru was also focused on FairTrade coffee, learning about smaller coffee farms, and organic growing. The stops at Macchu Picchu and Cusco sound cool too.

Check it out at JavaVentures

There are several other options that are available, and this article over at Frommers is a great place to start your Coffee Adventure Planning.

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Free Coffee for a Year!


I'll admit that I am partial to Peet's and have their Italian roast in my usual rotation of coffee feeding my espresso machines, but when I came across this, I thought I would pass it along. Peet's has been around a long time and some credit them with starting the craft coffee revolution so many years ago.

This contest has you writing a short essay, and if you are picked, you could win free coffee for a year; in fact you and up to 5 friends can win. If your essay is selected, you can win a 12-month Comparative Tasting Tour where you'll get 2 lbs of coffee a month for 12 months. It will walk your through some of their best blends, and is valued at $299.

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April 10, 2008

Design Your Own Starbucks Card


OK - so you can't do whatever you want, but there are some fun ways to customize your Starbucks card if you want to. Pick from different backgrounds, patterns and design themes. You can even add your own message - subject to the Starbucks Censors, but hey, you can't have everything.

Don't forget; in April, you'll be getting free flavor shots and free refills on brewed coffee when you use a card.

Design your card at Starbucks.com

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April 7, 2008

Starbucks to Debut Pikes Place Roast Tuesday


Apparently Starbucks is launching a new blend and new policy on Tuesday; the Pike Place Roast, which is a smooth and lighter blend will be available every day along with the flavor of the week. The new blend will be a nod to their first store location in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Interesting to think that the char-bucks flavor that was sold as the must have flavor for discerning palettes isn't the way the market is going. Delicately roasted and carefully selected coffees can make for some wonderful cups.... maybe something that is a bit better in a china cup and not a paper cup.


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April 3, 2008

WalMart Goes Fair Trade and Organic


Yup, it's true, WalMart has a new line of coffee coming out under the Sam's Choice label that will include Fair Trade, Organics and even a "Carbon Neutral" coffee. Now some cynics will say that they've just ruined the world (again) by getting consumers to consider this potentially bad coffee instead of a "Real" do-gooder quality coffee. I say good for them and good for us.

I am am pretty confident that I am not going to buy WalMart coffee anyway, but I would suspect that the growers who are getting paid extra from the world's largest retailer are pretty happy to put a little extra jingle in their pockets. Isn't that the goal of Fair Trade? The cynic in me that keeps me from heading off to WalMart on a daily basis says that WalMart will cut a deal and then force Fair Trade prices down in some kind of Every Day Low Prices scheme, but until I hear that, I am on board.

The other aspect is that this will hopefully get the average WalMart shopper paying attention to better coffee. Once they see the difference between the cheapest tin on the shelf and a bag of high quality arabica coffee, they might not want to go back. That puts them on the road to nirvana, or at least the road where life may be a little bit better because they can appreciate some of the wonderful flavor discoveries in a cup of coffee instead of their usual "Hot-Brown" cup every morning.

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March 27, 2008

Red Espresso in the US


We reported on Red Espresso a few times, even going so far as to try to brew a little Rooibos Tea Espresso on our own. Red Espresso is a trademarked name for an espresso that is made from the Rooibos Tea, a tea that is grown in South Africa. Naturally caffeine free, the tea is said to have plenty of antioxidant kick. With a combination of naturally occurring antioxidants and the high temperature, high pressure extraction method of brewing, RedEspresso claims to have more antioxidant power than a cup of naturally steeped green tea. RedEspresso is available at Whole Foods

Find out more about RedEspresso at their site.

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