April 11, 2011

Coffee Prices High; Fair Trade Price Going Higher

The Fair Trade coffee program seeks to pay farmers a rate that allows for sustainable growth of coffee and thus economic growth of their communities. Coffee prices have recently floated at historically high levels, and with this as a backdrop, the Fair Trade organization is piling on a bit more.

Foodnavigator recently posted that the Fair Trade International group is raising the premium on coffee paid above the market rates. With prices at 14 year highs, it would seem like farmers are getting enough, but Fair Trade International contends that we are at near all time highs because we haven't invested enough in coffee farming across several years, and that this lack of investment has caught the supply side off balance. Recent weather issues, have cut supplies, exacerbating the issue. With more investment, comes more high quality supply.

So with oil at $100+ a barrel, I guess I can handle the modest increases in a cup of coffee. Fair Trade International is only requiring a modest $0.10 increase per pound for Fair Trade Certified regular coffee and an increase of the "Organic Differential" from $0.20 to $0.30 per pound. The modest difference will hardly be noticed by me, but should make a difference in the local coffee growing communities. I don't predict any sit-in protests in the suburban Starbucks locations over this one.

Via Treehugger

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February 13, 2011

Starbucks Working on Single Serve Product: Confirmed


The Chicago Tribune confirmed recently that Starbucks is working to bring a single serve coffee/espresso product to the marketplace. The question will be what is it and what form will it take?

Espresso Based?

Starbucks at its heart is an espresso drinks company. Will the single serve product be a capsule based system like a Nespresso? If it is, they will need to make the appealing part of the espresso drinks easy to make. Most Starbucks drinkers want a milk-based drink, and most won't want to steam milk. So the solution may be a Nescafe Dolce Gusto type machine where the whole process is self contained makes sense for them.

Drip Coffee Based?

If Starbucks wants to make volume inroads into the grocery channel they will want to deliver drip coffee; the type of coffee most Americans drink. This means a K-Cup type product (non-pressurized/low pressure), maybe even K-Cups themselves. Paying royalties for the next year or two until Keurig patents start running out might be the most attractive proposition given the large installed base of machines in the US.

Regardless, the launch will certainly be in Starbucks Cafes and in the Grocery Channel. Separating from Kraft is all about the grocery channel and the ability for Starbucks to control its distribution and its feature and display better. The other not so subtle reason is that they may need to separate in order to push the a new non-Kraft single serve coffee product.

The Starbucks Via launch appears to be doing well, mostly on the back of the cafe volume - from what I can tell the volume through the grocery stores I visit is minimal at best (the Via Packages have dust on them). Starbucks is going to have to work hard to push the new product in grocery to overcome the barriers they see with Via. Picking a standard like a K-Cup would make it easy for grocery and consumers to understand the product and buy it.

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February 3, 2011

Anti-Oxidants in Your Coffee Cup

A recent study coming out of the University of British Columbia is telling us about the level of anti-oxidants in our coffee if generated by the roasting process. While there are a class of anti-oxidants in green coffee, those are generally destroyed by the heat of the roast, while a different class of anti-oxidants develops as a result of the browning during the roast. The naturally occurring anti-oxidants in Green Coffee, called chlorogenic acids, decline about 90% in that roasting process, while Maillard Reaction Products are the new generation anti-oxidants that develop in the roast. Maillard reactions take place in all kinds of browning processes, bringing about flavor changes and color changes as a result.

Darker Roast is Better?

So, no, darker isn't better, because at some point the coffee darkens too much and even the new class of anti-oxidants starts to decline. So that Italian Roast might not be as packed with anti-oxidants as that Full City Roast.....

More on Anti-Oxidants in Coffee at the Vancouver Sun

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January 17, 2011

Sara Lee L'OR EspressO Capsules Update


Sara Lee is making the news lately with its success and expansion of their L'OR EsspressO capsules that are compatible with Nespresso machines. The pitched battle has Nespresso crying foul, concerned that the capsules violate the layered product patents covering Nespresso design and functionality, while Sara Lee see opportunity in selling a capsule that they must believe lie outside that patent barrier.

In a recent conversation with company spokesman Ernesto Duran, I learned that Sara Lee is pleased with their sales so far of the L'OR EspressO capsules in France and their recent launch is the Netherlands is on track to perform very well too, as results are exceeding expectations. In France, Sara Lee has sold over 100 million L'OR EspressO capsules, while reaching over a million households there since April 2010.

In the Netherlands, the capsules are sold online and through the company's Douwe Egberts corner café-stores that allow for quick and broad distribution. The result is that the L'OR EspressO capsules are already one of the best selling products in those stores cafes. Douwe Egberts was founded in the Netherlands, and with that strong distribution channel it is easy to see why Sara Lee chose the Netherlands for their second market. If you can't reach a café-store, Sara Lee opened up an online market, allowing consumers to get the capsules shipped directly to their homes.

No Current Plans for US Launch

While Sara Lee’s the L'OR capsules "have the potential for global success, it would be premature to talk about any specific plans beyond the existing markets," according to company spokesman Ernesto Duran. So while we can hope to have more variety of capsules here in the US, there are no public plans to launch them here just yet.

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December 27, 2010

ESE Pods, Capsules and Espresso, Oh My

OK - so you've nabbed that new espresso maker, and you need to try that baby out; what does it take and what's the best pod or capsules for it? I don't have the answer for you, because it's really a personal preference, but I can help you to find what you like best.

Classic (Robusta and Arabica) Blends vs. 100% Arabica Espresso

At a very high level, there are two varieties of espresso out there, that can be sub-divided when you consider origins, roast intensity etc. The Classic Variety is usually a blend of Robusta and Arabica coffee that in general gives you a potent flavor of coffee throughout the flavor profile, leaving a strong coffee flavor in the finish. I like this type of blend for hot espresso, with a balanced back end; never overdoing it with too much Robusta. The 100% Arabica espressos are cleaner and crisper overall, often with a higher acidity content. The backend is always a cleaner, crisper finish without a lingering dirty flavor in comparison to the Robusta blends. These don't seem as full nor as robust as a hot espresso for me, but are my hands down favorite for an iced drink anytime.

ESE Pods

If your machine takes ESE Pods then you probably want to check out a good selection and learn what you like best. I think that this discovery process is fun, and regularly explore new coffees, roasts, pods and capsules to try out what's new and learn what I like and don't. I would recommend a variety pack of both types of espressos, giving you a way to explore a wide set of espresso products. Figure out what you like and what you don't, then re-order what you like. Check out this Espresso ESE Sampler at Amazon

Capsules - Nespresso

There are over a dozen capsule varieties with Nespresso. Most are Arabica products, and the space covered is remarkable, from light bodied florals to heavy dark and impressive ristrettos. While the Ristretto is the most popular Nespresso Capsule, it may not be your favorite. Luckily, last time I checked, Nespresso still offers a nice variety sampler in the box with new makers, and then you can follow-up with the one that you like. I would recommend finding a range of capsules you like and then keeping a variety on hand. For instance if you like the Livanto at an intensity of "6", you might also like to keep the Rosabaya and the Capricco on hand as ways to explore. Explore the Nespresso Capsules with their capsule map at their website to learn more about capsules and alternatives. Check out how to make a Nespresso Capsule Holder to hold all of those new capsules.

Ground Espresso

Again, there will be different varieties and blends, but I would invest in several packages and brands to explore what you like and what you don't. It's a good process and a fun one too. Don't think that you need to drink or finish all of the package if you don't like it. Most of the time, you can blend it into a pot of drip coffee and enjoy it that way if you don't like it as an espresso. If not, it's usually only about $5 in coffee; throw it out! Life is too short to drink coffee you don't like. Keep notes, and don't make the same mistake twice, it won't end up costing you that much in the end.

Espresso Cups

Sometimes, you'll need espresso cups for this new brewer; we've covered a lot in the past, and there are two to point out; the simple white Konitz espresso cups that are inexpensive at Amazon, and my favorite for my own drinking the Bodum Pavina double walled espresso glasses.

Have fun, enjoy your new espresso machine and stop back to SingleServeEspresso.com to read up on all things espresso; including reviews, espresso and coffee news as well as deals and promotions. If you want to get the news delivered weekly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

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December 7, 2010

Nescafe Dolce Gusto Ad

Below is the Nescafe Dolce Gusto ad for the new line of Dolce Gusto machines launched in the US. I recently reviewed the maker here at SingleServeEspresso noting that the unit puts out 15-bars of pressure, putting it in a espresso class of makers. Read the Review of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa for more information, and watch the upbeat ad for the new line.

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December 3, 2010

Julia Roberts Ad for Lavazza

Reportedly getting paid $1.5Mil for her role in this ad, Julia Roberts strikes a pose for the Lavazza coffee company.

I say good for her and I hope Lavazza has a great holiday season with the ad.

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November 30, 2010

Starbucks and Kraft Battle over End to Distribution Agreement - What's Next?

According to multiple sources today, Starbucks and Kraft are continuing their battle over the distribution agreement that was largely responsible for getting Starbucks coffee in the hands of millions of US households. Back in the Day, you ordered from Starbucks, a little chain from the West Coast that figured out coffee didn't come in a can. Now you can get it at any grocery store thanks to the strong arm of the Kraft distribution machine (they also do Maxwell House Coffee..... in a can).

Starbucks recently announced that they want out of the agreement due to Kraft not honoring the terms of their agreement that runs through 2014. Starbucks is reportedly making this move to gain control over their distribution and potentially costs.

Kraft argues that Starbucks is quitting the deal which requires a BIG payment.

Starbucks into a K-Cup?

If Starbucks totally divorces itself from Kraft, it would mean the end of the Starbucks Tassimo Discs. With a huge share of the single serve market, and everyone in k-Cups from Folgers to Emeril, it might be time for Starbucks to jump on the k-Cup band wagon. Barrons is reporting that Green Mountain might be a benefactor in this little spat. This might be just in time for the K-Cup patent expiration in 2012, which will open up the doors to anyone making the popular single serve package.

Pressure Brewing at Home for Starbucks?

So while Starbucks still offers ESE Pods for espresso machines, a move to K-Cup would keep it out of a major pressure brewed system, like the Nescafe Dolce Gusto or Nespresso type system - both from Nestle. Maybe they are preparing to launch their own Nespresso beater in the US? The ability to create home-brewed coffee house drinks at a quality level that pressure brewing can offer seems like a missed opportunity for Starbucks, and one that they won't leave on the table forever.

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November 22, 2010

Illy Making Inroads into High End Hotels


While Starbucks is busy cranking out mass-market appealing coffee drinks, Illy is taking a decidedly upscale approach to expanding their brand. Illy has teamed up with several high end hotel brands to offer a Euro espresso experience in the hotel cafe, while also offering Illy Y1 units as in-room brewers.

In a WSJ article this morning, Illy detailed their accomplishments to date: 2,000 hotels worldwide, expecting to double that in the next five years. They recently opened up a cafe in the Miami JW Marriott, that also pairs with the poolside espresso service. To make sure that the cafe delivered its best, Illy sent its head barista from Italy to make sure the standards were up to par.

The illy brand is maybe uniquely qualified to do this venture on a global basis; Starbucks is well known but due to their everywhere approach, lacks the exclusive cache, Nespresso has the machine and capsule appeal to the right target audience, but not an authentic grind and extract heritage that an espresso bar needs. For illy, the careful mix of image, appeal and authenticity melds with product and quality of execution to make for the right fit and chemistry in upscale brands like JW Marriott.

At the Wall St. Journal - Read more on Illy in upscale hotels

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November 18, 2010

Wanted: "Buzz" - Solution "Jet Fuel"

Making its rounds today is a fun story about a coffee shop creation that was attainable by any coffee shop, but one took the reins. The Pulp and The Bean offers a "Dieci", or italian for Ten; a 20 ounce cup of 10 espresso shots. Pure and simple jet fuel according to the owner of the shop.

At $8 each, the Dieci is a bargain in my mind compared to the $5 cocktail espresso concoctions served up to the willing masses each day at various Starbucks. The caffeine level has some worried, and wired at the same time. Maybe Mr. Pacemaker and Mrs. Lipitor need to sit this out and let Johnny Energy Drink try it first.

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