January 23, 2008

Starbucks $1 Coffee and Free Refills


Apparently Starbucks is trying to get back to their small town coffee shop roots and getting a little competitive with other coffee outlets that are trying to steal some business by getting in the decent coffee game. Starbucks is offering in some Seattle locations $1 brewed coffee with free in-store refills. We'll see what happens, as Starbucks is claiming that this is not a new business model. After losing the focus on the consumer, maybe they are trying to find that magical brand-building experience again.

More at AP

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Brewed Coffee - The Next Espresso?

So, let's face it, espresso drinks have become a pretty big part of American's lives thanks to a bunch of coffee shops and a few big corporations. A few weeks ago, we posted a story about Clover, a pretty advanced and pretty expensive machine that makes some reportedly excellent brewed coffee. The idea being that gentle heating and extraction coaxes the subtle flavors out of the freshest, most flavorful beans.

The NYT wrote up a nice article today that walked through vacuum extraction using a siphon bar and the Clover. A lot of the leading coffee houses across the country are using such techniques to show their customers a more complex, bolder brew.

“Siphon coffee is very delicate,” James Freeman, owner of the BlueBottle Cafe said. “It’s sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it’s almost moussey.” Says the NYT.

If you don't believe the NYT, you can go next door to our sister site, SingleServeCoffee.com to check out their impression of the Clover and see what delights were had on a recent trip to Velouria Espresso in Jamaica Plain, MA to investigate and review the Clover for themselves.

Below is a video that shows a Clover creating a cup of coffee from freshly ground beans....

For more on the Clover and Siphon Coffee - NYT

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January 22, 2008

SingleServeEspresso - Month of Great Coffee Giveaway


It's the middle of winter and we're drinking a whole lot of coffee these days staying awake and staying warm. So we thought we'd share the warmth and give away a month's supply of coffee to one lucky winner so that you can enjoy some great coffee too.

So on February 1st, we'll draw a name from our mailing list and award one lucky winner a month's worth of coffee. Your choice on the form - Whole Bean, Ground, Nespresso Capsule, or ESE Espresso Pods. We'll try to pick a great selection of coffee for you.

Sign up today to enter and you'll get our newsletter in your mailbox once a week and just so you know we never share your email address.

If you're already on our mailing list, you're already registered!

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January 16, 2008

Espresso Voyeur - The Tamp-cam

This one in from BoinBoing was spied in the Melbourne airport, a crank-style tamp that has a little spy cam on one side and a small LCD on the other so you can check out the barista's tamping action. Maybe there's a problem with rogue barista's slipping a little somethin' somethin' into the puck before the shot is pulled?

Via BoingBoing

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January 10, 2008

Handpresso - Coolest Espresso Maker?

Well, fresh off the SingleServeCoffee.com forums, comes this story, the Handpresso a portable espresso maker. Tired of lame coffee away from home? This portable espresso maker gives you 16 bar in your back pocket for a quick and easy shot of espresso. Of course you need hot water out on the trail, so bring the thermos or another heat source.

I already wrote the company, to see if they are available in the US. The price isn't cheap as 99 Euros is around $140 each.

Here's the video

More at the Handpresso website

At Amazon - The Handpresso Wild
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January 9, 2008

Ultimate Single Serve Machine?

Have you seen one of these around your favorite Espresso cafes? If you are hanging around some of the best coffee shops around the country, like Intelligentsia or Stumptown, then you might have seen one of these Clover machines in the corner as a way to sample some of the best brewed coffees in their shop. Let's face it filter coffee hanging around in a big urn can be bad stuff. Well this wonder of engineering is a commercial grade machine that is ready to go with a tweak-eriffic number of settings to dial in the perfect brew. The unit also based around a 4500 watt boiler that can run on 240 volt service! This thing is serious business.

The idea is that an espresso cafe can set these up to run fresh grounds through whenever a customer orders up a coffee, much like how the espresso machine runs. I recently had the pleasure of having a Cup of Excellence coffee at Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca NY, where it really was a great experience to have it in a french press. With such a high quality coffee at these shops, you want to have a fresh cup.


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Pessimist's Mug


I saw this and had to pass it along; it's about that time of year when cabin fever starts in and you might just feel like this mug is for you.

Check it out at Despair where you can also find a whole bunch of other sad downer items to fit your middle of the winter blues feeling.

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January 8, 2008

A Billion Dollars in Them Thar McLattes


So the Golden Arches has been citing potential sales figures of $1 Billion for McLates, McEspressos, Mc Capps and McCrappy espresso based drinks, along with other bottle waters and assorted drinks. I was just saying last week how bad my McLate was, flat and lifeless, was probably another way to talk about it.

It sounds like they are happy to provide lower quality drinks than a place like Starbucks and feel there's some profit there; they already have a separate barista position in 800 restaurants across the country selling these things.

Somehow I find it ironic that HOward Schultz once aspired to be the "McDonalds of Espresso Drinks" in describing how he wanted to standardize the espresso experience... well there you go.

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January 2, 2008

Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine Mini-Review


While on vacation I had the opportunity to play a bit with a Saeco Aroma espresso machine, and have to say that I like it a lot. The specs are pretty good but they don't convey the overall high quality of the device. It's got a 15 bar pump, a 950 watt stainless steel boiler and the ability to brew from both ground and ESE Pods as a result of the special portafilter inserts that come with the machine.

The unit comes in either black or stainless steel, and is pretty heavy, offering you a bit of insight into its overall build quality. Not a lot of ABS plastic here; metal left and right. The reservoir is quite large, spanning the back of the unit, and coming in at 85-ounces. Plenty for days and days of espressos. The heat that comes off the boiler rises up to warm the cups that are stores on the top of the machine.

The unit has an on/off rocker switch, and a brew rocker switch down the left side, while it has the steam controls down the right side of the front panel. The steam wand swings to allow you to put the frothing pitcher under it, but the nozzle does not swivel up and out of the way, which makes you tip the frothing pitcher a bit to get it under the nozzle.

Espresso brew quality with the Saeco Aroma? Well, it all comes down to this, right? Well, I was impressed with the brew quality of the Saeco Aroma, and think that it makes a pretty respectable shot of espresso. It has a pressurized portafilter which means that it creates the back pressure without having to grind and tamp the espresso perfectly. With that said, I definitely saw a better shot of espresso coming out of the Saeco Aroma having given a nice light tamp to the espresso to set the ground coffee and make sure that a proper extraction occurs. We were using coffees from Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca NY, and the espressos were very tasty.

Net I am impressed with this classically designed little wonder, and have no issue recommending it.

The unit is available in one version:

  • Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine, Stainless steel

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  • December 31, 2007

    Crap Coffee for the Holidays?

    Don't know about you, but I spent some time on the road, and as a result went from heaven to hell as far as the coffee quality goes. For a lot of the holidays I spent time in Ithaca NY, stopping by Gimme! Coffee for some delicious lattes and some Cup of Excellence coffees (La Virgen and La Union), that they bought at auction. The COE coffees were excellent and a nice diversion from the typical espresso drink.

    The Lattes were fantastic, beautiful Latte Art designs and the milk was so well done that it lent a nice sweetness to the latte negating any urge to add sugar. They were serving their espressos in Bodum Paula cups - very cool.

    The hell came when we hit the McCafe on the way home. I know I should have expected it, but a watery mess was all I got, worse than I had hoped for unfortunately. Ahh, well, I guess I'll just have to settle for home made Leftist coffee from Gimme! while I await another trip to Ithaca.

    BTW - If you are interested, Gimmie! Coffee sells their coffees over the web, including their COE coffees.

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