Starbucks has their Gingerbread Latte version in their Discoveries ready to drink line out of the holidays. We thought we’d grab it and take it for a spin as we decorated the house this weekend.
I happen to love gingerbread, gingerbread cookies, and gingerbread flavored baked goods in just about any form or fashion. When I saw this Starbucks Discoveries Gingerbread Latte in the refrigerated section of th local store, I thought it would make a great coffee-flavored indulgence.
The Discoveries line of ready to drink coffee drinks has been out for a while, and can be found in the refrigerated section in pourable cartons. The 1.5 liter carton is easy to pack, and easy to handle, but is fairly tall so some people may need to lay it down in the refrigerator.
Nespresso has a very special reserve capsule out, Maragogype Special Reserve, that on the heels of the Kona Spcial Reserve looks set to usher in a new tradition of rare blends that come with a rarefied cost. While your regular capsules may cost $0.80 each, the Special Reserves cost $2 each. Yes, if you're doing the math, that's over $100 per pound at these rates. Insane? Maybe, Expensive? Sure. Worth it? Why not give it a try?
The Maragogype Special Reserve is a blend of beans from Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Colombia. The Maragogype bean is an Arabica mutation that is known for large beans, and was first discovered by the Brazilian town of the same name. Nespresso uses split roasting to coerce the flavors out of each variety, blending after roast to give the ending cup more complexity. Nespresso says that they have a fine flavor with a creamy crema, and mild, slightly sweet notes on a rounded finish. You know it's something to take care of when it comes; it's got its own bubblewrap treatment.
Bubblewrap on the sleeve - protects your $20 investment.
The Moka Pot has been used for decades to create a richer, pressure brewed coffee. Steam pressure from boiling water in the bottom, pushes up through the coffee puck on the way to the top chamber, it extracts more solids and flavor from just a bit of water.
Blue Bottle Coffee has teamed up with designer Joey Roth (Not his first trip to the Moka Pot design table) to create this new spin on the classic, with striking lines and some evolved functionality. The steel bottom and water chamber have been optimized relative to the coffee holder to create a rich brew and more volume. The top, being ceramic, is designed to hold the heat better than metal. The long handle is more like an ibrik, turkish-style. pot keeping your hand cool via a cork guard.
Bialetti is the well-known maker of stove top brewers and they have made the jump to single serve espresso brewers in a capsule format.
The Bialetti Diva has a lot of the same characteristics we've come to know in a single serve espresso maker; easy access to the brewing chamber, spent capsule bin, easy-fill reservoirs, and more. The Bialetti Diva brews an espresso in just a few seconds using 20 bars of pressure to brew. The machine measures just 4.5 inches wide, 10 inches high and 14 inches deep.
The approach to espresso is different if you are an Italian-based company, and Bialetti does. They have named their espresso range after the regional tastes of Italy, and offer a set of five different capsules that should be able to capture most peoples' espresso tastes. Northern Italian blends are more typically Arabica blends that are lighter, and less aggressive, while the southern blends tend to use the less expensive Robusta, that is cultured into a bold expression of coffee with a lingering coffee flavor.
Roma - a medium roast with hints of cocoa; a 50% Arabica, 50% Robusta blend
Venezia - a light roast with a hint of vanilla notes; 80% Arabica, 20% Robusta blend
Milano, a light roast with a lighter body, and floral and fruity notes; this is a 100% Arabica blend
Napoli - a bold, darker roast with bitter cocoa flavors; this is a 70% Robusta, 30% Arabica blend
Torino - a medium roast that has nutty flavors, and a smooth finish; a 75% Arabica, 25% Robusta blend
Decaf - a medium roast with cereal and toast notes, moderate body; 60% Arabica, 40% Robusta blend
It's that time of year, when the holiday flavors come flooding to the market, and Gevalia/Tassimo is not alone. On the heels of Pumpkin Spice, comes the Gevalia Peppermint Mocha T-Disks. Winter, and especially the holiday season seems to have the aroma stitched into its fabric, so it's natural to have the Gevalia Peppermint Mocha around to to help welcome the holidays.
The Gevalia Peppermint Mocha comes with eight large T-discks of peppermint flavored chocolate syrup, and eight Gevalia Espresso T-disks. The extra heft of the chocolate syrup disk may be a little surprising the first time you open the pack, as they are about twice the size of the espresso T-disks, and as a result, the package contains two boxes (4 per box) of the chocolate syrup T-Disks to the one box (8 each) of espressos.
Today, we're making the Peppermint Mocha on a Tassimo T-20 made by Bosch. More after the jump.
La Marzocco has announced a home version of their legendary commercial machine. The machine is designed for the espresso lover who wants to dedicate a little extra cash and a lot of extra love to their espresso habit. The machine is a dual boiler set up with a dedicated 3.5 liter steaming boiler that will operate to get you the steamed milk you want at the right temperature and pressure for the task. Don't like filling a boiler? Yea, they thought so, you can have this directly plumbed into your house water supply.
The La Marzocco Home can be customized with a black finish, stainless, or with wooden accents of maple or walnut. Very cool. You can also take a quick shortcut and get it set up as fully manual or a pre-programmed auto-volumetric draw for consistent, but not very customized shots.
For this level of excellence, it will set you back around $7,000 - customizations can move the price up a bit.
Nespresso released their 2014 Nespresso Variations capsules this past week in the US, and took a dessert theme this year. In past years, they have been all over the place with wild flavors that may not seem to go with coffee (Ginger, Chai, etc.), but are surprisingly good. My personal favorites were the Crystalized Ginger from the 2008 Variations, and the Apricot from the 2009 Variations, both unexpectedly good. Great ones don’t have to be wild either - a classic caramel is a great choice, and was popular enough to become a regular capsule that can be ordered anytime.
The capsules come reminiscent of little wrapped packages, and use the multi-colored print designs that they have been using recently to mark the special production runs. Even the ends of the boxes look like little wrapped packages.
But are they any good? Sadly, this year isn’t going to go down in my “Best of” category. Nespresso tends to have a light hand with their flavors, favoring a Euro style taste.
Limited Edition variations 2014 are:
Apple Crumble - I thought this was the best of them all, with a nice baked apple aroma, slightly sweet, great with a hint of sugar to transform it into a sweet indulgence.
Chocolate Mint - Chocolate is tough to do in coffee, and neither flavors comes through strongly enough to make it great. Sorry Nespresso.
Hazelnut Dessert - Tried over and over, and it just comes off as a chemical soup of hazelnut flavors. Nut flavors can be hard to replicate, and this one misses the mark.
I really like the Livanto capsule as a base coffee capsule (I tend to drink this regularly), and had been anticipating the release of these since they published the poll results back in the early part of 2014, but they just didn’t deliver for me on the Chocolate and Hazelnut versions. Glad I ordered a couple of sleeves of the Apple Crumble.
If you are interested, they tend to go fast, and sell out by early December.
Prices are going up for Nespresso Capsules, including the Original Line and the Vertuo Line. The price increases are being blamed on Green Coffee cost increases. For those who down a lot of their coffee the price increase will be minimal; hey if you’re already shelling out for a $200 machine and like ordering capsules mail order (for many), a nickel increase might not matter. Original Line base Grand Crus will rise to $0.70 each, while the popular Kazaar will go from $0.70 to $0.75.
What might hurt the coffee capsule giant more are the optics of the VertuoLine increase on those capsules from $0.95 each for a coffee capsule to $1.10. The move above a dollar a cup may slow demand a bit more than the fact that it is only a $0.15 hit to the wallet.
Nespresso is probably in for a busy weekend; prices increase on November 10th, and sent out an email to remind people to get their orders in ahead of the increase. Clear some room for the coming Variations doing later this month….
Not missing a beat, the fine folks over at Hi-Line coffee dropped this graphic out to their mailing list yesterday. I think it says it all.
As summer winds down, Nespresso releases their Limited Edition into the stores; this year we are looking at the Cubania, a very robust little capsule that tips the scale at a 13 on the Intensity meter.... that used to go only to a 10, until Kazaar broke the scale at an 11. Hang on.
Nespresso bills this as a Cuban inspired coffee, and no Cuban coffee beans were hurt, or even used in the making of this blend. Given the state of trade relations here in the US with Cuba, that makes some sense.
This capsules is "Inspired by the passion, and warmth of the Cuban way of life.... a bold blend of Arabicas with a specially prepared Indian Robusta, steam treated to obtain a dense texture and a powerful bouquet with complex aromatics and inimitable strength of character, but without an overwhelming bitterness."
Dualit is selling (in the UK) nespresso compatible tea capsules in the UK. The original line capsules are available in five varieties, including English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Kenyan Gold, Peppermint Infusion, and Blackcurrant Infusion.
The capsules contain a microfilter to keep the fine tea particles int eh capsule. Given that the average lung takes around a minute to brew in a Nespresso Machine, one has to wonder how they get enough flavor coaxed out of the teas in that time, given it doesn't have a proper steep.
Nespresso Vertuo to Brew Tea?
Nespresso has toyed with a capsule-based tea machine in the past, called the Special T machine. With the product still selling in France (the website is still up), you have to wonder if they have set their eyes on introducing a newer iteration that works with the Vertuo Line machine. Recall that the codes on the lip of the Vertuo capsules allow the machine to brew at different conditions, and maybe one of those conditions can be used to brew tea?
More at Dualit for tea capsules. the price is 3.30 GBP per ten capsules or about $5.70 US.
Illy has introduced the Illy Y3 Espresso maker targeting those kitchens that want to save on space while offering an easy to use capsule-based espresso maker. The Y3 espresso brewer gives you a slim profile, and a one touch brew cycle that allows you to brew espresso and lung coffees. Want your own size to fit your favorite cup? No problem the brew buttons are user settable for easy use day after day.
Nespresso has announced a new espresso machine to fill in at the value end of the "Original Line" as they call it after the Vertuo Line launch.The small machine is roughly the same size as the Nespresso Pixie, with a slightly different design, and a much lower price target of $99 (vs. the $229 for the Pixie).
The Inissia Machine has the same manual operation of inserting a capsule, 2 automatic brew sizes (shutting off when it reaches a set brew size), a quick 25 second pre-heating cycle, and a 24-ounce reservoir capacity that will get your through several brews before re-filling.
The Inissia machine still features the same energy saving mode that has become standard over the last few years that shuts the machine down after nine minutes of inactivity; I like this so I don't forget and leave it on all day after I get distracted drinking the espressos.
At $99, this might just be a machine that gets Nespresso going in the value end of the market, where pressure-based machines dominate. Available in the US in Red, Black and Cream.