Sure there are super automatic home brewers that make espresso drinks from freshly ground whole bean, and there are vending machines, purveyors of amazingly average coffee, but did you think that you could get the mashup of the two and get great coffee? Seattle'sBest thinks so. The subsidiary of Starbucks has been working with vending machine giant, Coinstar (also the maker of Redbox video vending machines) to create a Cafe worthy machine that gets you freshly ground and brewed coffee. not only can you get freshly ground coffee, but you can order up cafe style drinks like a Latte, and a mocha.
The Northeast and West Coast regions will see the first machines in Grocery, Drug and Mass merchant stores.
Starbucks is buying a San Francisco baker, La Boulange, as the coffee purveyor is looking to own all things coffee. They have carved out a nice segment of the market and realize that they want to and can control significant portions of revenue for users who come into the stores.... and after they leave too.
So, other than a few brands that grace the inside of the McDonalds, namely Coke, Newman's Own coffee and a few others occasionally, you walk in and you get McDonalds stuff, period. Starbucks clearly realized that they don't need to settle for a small mark-up, but instead have the right to own the entire offering in their stores, while also controlling much of the experience. Pastry not delivering the right taste and brand experience? Buy the baker yourself.
Coffee All the Time
Starbucks has shown that they aspire to be all things coffee, not only in the store, but away from the store. Remember when Starbucks offered bulk coffee for grinding? I mean real bulk coffee? That format is fading fast in favor of K-Cups, Via Instant, and soon, the Verismo system. With these offerings, they have 1) The largest installed base of single serve coffee machines on the market addressed, 2) A better away from home beverage, and 3) a new way to drive growth int eh high end of the market, respectively.
Don't like the char-bucks flavor of coffee that they once touted as the signature flavor, with the notion that without it, you weren't drinking real coffee? Well, that's remedied, with the introduction of ever lighter coffees that can finally show off some subtle notes apparent only when more lightly roasted. Far from stupid, this opens the their market up even more.
Single Serve Wars; Verismo vs. Nespresso vs. Keurig Vue
Green Mountain/Keurig is betting on their own Keurig Vue maker to deliver high end users, while Nespresso, the massive player everywhere but the US, has started TV advertising in the US ahead of the Verismo launch later this year. Clearly, Starbucks realized the power of their brand about two decades ago, but have recently extended their reach with more offerings, a broadening of the market they address, and specialization with talent to bring them to the grocery channel in a big way. Don't expect them to be content with a few facings of Starbucks Via, or Starbucks Ground Coffee in 12 ounce bags or K-Cups. I expect that they will continue to make the coffee aisle their home.
File this under interesting, a Swiss inventor has patented a reusable Nespresso compatible capsule. The two-piece construction allows you to unscrew the top, add the coffee and screw it back together. The fact that it doesn't have any parts that get ruined during brewing make the capsule super long lasting. The sturdy construction and the fact that it can withstand the 18 bar pressure during brewing makes this a candidate for experimentation. Add this to the wish list.
I've tried the NexPod and the Capsulin Nespresso Compatible capsules and while interesting, each had their downside when compared to the convenience of dropping in a regular capsule.
The latest machines to come from Nespresso are the Maestria line, targeted at the user who wants to make milk-based drinks, while still enjoying the convenience of the capsule based system. The Maestria line comes in a couple of versions, one with an actual steam wand, something I didn't know if we'd see that coming out of the Nespresso launches anytime soon, and one with the more familiar Aeroccino sidecar to automatically heat and froth the milk. The design language is straight from the recent successes in the market of the Citiz and Pixie; vertical, with some extra strong features to communicate the strong capabilities and added features.
I would call the base machine, shown above, comes with and all aluminum body, the milk steamer, the ability to "fine tune" coffee volumes, and a 1.4 liter tank. Other automatic machines like the Citiz and Pixie are able to change up their brew volumes, but not easily. They are set-up to run the same volume consistently - a short and a long. This seems to be a reasonable approach to accessing the market for milk based drinks without going full-automatic, like the Nespresso Latissima+, without venturing into a fully ground coffee arena.
The second machine style, called the Gran Maestria adds the Aeroccino sidecar, as well as a cup warmer to the side.
The base machine Maestria C500 or D500 is $549, while the Grand Maestria D520 is $699.
Well not exactly an espresso, but this is something you should check out. I am a fan of Kickstarter, the start-up micro-fnding site, and came across the Jiva cube offer. Here's the concept - need a quick offer anytime, anywhere (who doesn't?), drop a Jiva Cube in the cup, add hot water and go.
the Cubes are made of Colombian coffee and a form of sugar, called Panela, a whole sugar that helps hold the Jiva cubes together. I like the innovative spirit.
If you want to check out the food category over at Kickstarter, you'll see some of the mix if ideas needing a little capital. They range from micro coffee roasters, to cafes and beyond coffee like Food Trucks, and You-Brew start-ups.
Nespresso has been growing at a strong pace for a long time globally, but has only scratched the surface in the US. They are trying to change that with the introduction of Nespresso ads on US television starting today. The ads will run, telling consumers that they have the best cafe right in their home.
The Ad features the Nespresso Latissima Plus machine - a small machine that can froth milk at the touch of a button and create a whole host of cafe style coffee drinks. It's not a Clooney based ad series, like they run in Europe, but the idea is to introduce the Nespresso concept, not continue growth among consumers who are already aware of Nespresso.
Have you ever wondered how green your coffee is? I am not talking about the quality of green coffee, but instead the environmental impact of one of the most popular habits in the world. Let's face it, a lot can go wrong;
Product is grown in a developing nation where environmental standards may be low - equipment belches pollution, erosion and runoff can be a problem in mountainous areas, etc.
Uncertain use of chemicals to kill insects, weeds, fungus, and to help fertilize the coffee plant all take their own toll on the environment
Shipment to your local roaster from half way around the world
Roasting with fire - can you say "Global Warming"?
Packaging - almost all coffee packaging uses a barrier of some sort. That usually means plastic, metal or both
Package that coffee up in a K-Cup, and you have a nightmare on your hands. I don't think things are really that bad, but you get the idea.
Over the last twenty years, there have been a lot of developments to counteract the perils above, enact change and improve the world through the coffee crop. One shop in Hamilton Ontario seems to be taking things to an extreme. Coffeecology sources their coffee with an eye towards sustainability and economic impact. They have also taken the notable step of packaging their coffee in mason jars that consumers return for a deposit. Want a weekly delivery of coffee? Sure, they handle local deliveries on their bike.
Read more at the Coffeecology website and at Treehugger who detailed out some of the greener steps that coffee shops and companies can choose to take.
Handpresso has a mission to get you espresso wherever you want it, and they just introduced the Handpresso Auto - a new espresso maker that not only heats the water, but creates a great looking espresso with 16 bars of pressure.
The Original Handpresso versions required a bit of pumping like you had a flat bike tire to get the pressure, and required you to have access to hot water. Two varieties allowed you to use either ground espresso or ESE Espresso pods. The New Handpresso Auto can turn out an espresso in just about 2 minutes; pretty good for a 12volt, go-nearly anywhere machine.
If you're worried about "making-while-driving", the folks at Handpresso clearly think stopping to make your espresso is a good thing. Check out their video below.
Price is $149 Euros or about $200. It will be shipping in Europe this Spring with no news on a firm US launch.
Yea, this blog writing it tough business, and sometimes we have to think a little outside the box; which is what we were doing when we saw the Voli news come across the Single Serve Espresso desk.
Voli is a vodka line that boasts about several great vodkas, flavored and regular, while offering lower calories that other brands of vodka. When I saw that there was an Espresso Vanilla Fusion flavor I had to bite. In addition to the Voli Espresso Vanilla Fusion, Voli also has a "Lyte" (think straight) version, a Raspberry Cocoa Fusion, an Orange Vanilla Fusion, and a straight Lemon flavor. The folks at Voli sent us on a few bottles, including the Lyte, the Espresso and the Raspberry Cocoa versions. I went out and supplemented what they sent with some more locally sourced bottles.
Last weekend, we had some friends over and we experimented with them, mixing up a few cocktails. The Espresso Vanilla Fusion Vodka felt right at home with a shot of espresso and a bit of sugar to sweeten things up. I liked it hot or cold, and even experimented with a little frothed milk on top - not needed, the Espresso and Voli were good on their own. The coffee flavor is certainly amplified, and smoothed with the fusion of flavors. Tasting the Voli straight, shows you the origins; darker roasted coffee flavors, void of bitterness, with a rounded vanilla note. I like it…. on to the second.
We also played with the Raspberry Cocoa Fusion in and around expresso shots, and I have to say this created some fun drinks. The best was a shot of espresso , over ice, milk, half a teaspoon of sugar, and the Voli Raspberry Cocoa Fusion. We served them up in martini glasses and they pretty much rocked. The Raspberry is fresh, and true without being to jammy sweet, and the blend with mocha gave the whole cocktail an indulgent cool chocolate bar feeling.
We also kicked the Lyte around the block a few times and liked that too creating a few old favorites with it. The flavor is good; clean, sharp with a nice finish and hey, the bottle design is eye catching too.
Voli Espresso Vanilla Fusion (Left) and Raspberry Cocoa Fusion (right)
Summary: The line of Voli Vodkas offer reduced calories, and with a bit of sugar and sometimes a splash of milk added, these cocktails were enjoyable and came in right around 100 calories. The flavors were a nice departure from the usual drinks, bringing a little mixology session to the espresso maker for a change. If you enjoy a drink or two, and since you are here at an Espresso blog you might like playing with these flavored vodkas along with espresso too.
You can read more about Voli at the Voli Website - they also have a search capability to see where you can buy it too.
The CBTL Americano is getting a push from Bed Bath and Beyond with a feature on the front page of their circular this week. The Espresso, coffee and tea maker features high pressure brewing, a large reservoir and several selectable cup sizes. The CBTL capsule system is based on the Caffitaly platform, and offers over a dozen different varieties of drinks.
On the back of my circular, there is a coupon for $5 off a $15 dollar purchase, making the resupply of capsules a little bit easier.
Ironpeddler: Looks like the espresso capsules are different than the current read more Ironpeddler: Looks to be a bit pricey at $599.99 for a read more ludo: We have it in store in New Hampshire. read more John Grabowski: The Targets near me (Northern California) all have Nespresso machines. read more Ironpeddler: While they all look good, they are so problematic. Either read more