July 25, 2012

Peet's Coffee Goes Private - $1B sale


Peet's is one of the big names in specialty coffee here in the US, and while some think they may have gotten too big to be cool, they certainly hold true to keeping a reasonably high expectation for quality coffee distributed throughout the country and through their shops.

A private German firm, Joh. A. Benckiser, has bought Peet's for $1Billion. Not bad for a little coffee company that was started by the Dutch born Alfred Peet, in Berkley CA, back in the 1960's.

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July 23, 2012

Best Coffee Offer Ever? - Beanstock Coffee


This is one of the coolest coffee offers I have seen in a long time - buy a year's worth of coffee, pay up front and you get a 50% coffee bonus, plus some goodies like a canister and a travel mug. That's four bags of coffee a month for a year; that's a lot of coffee.

The specifics are at their Facebook page, where you'll find their phone number to set up the deal. It's limited to the first 30 to sign up.

Beanstock coffee got their start over a decade ago in Wellfleet, MA - on Cape Cod. And yes, they have an espresso.

Beanstock Coffee Facebook Page, and the Beanstock Coffee Website

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July 22, 2012

DIY Espresso - Make Your Own Espresso Machine

So, I've roasted my own coffee before, but I've never brewed my espresso in my own espresso maker. If you have ever done some electronics work, you might be interested to see how this was put together. Sure the "shot' is about 200 mls, but it's pretty evident once you look inside that this is homemade. If I made one of these, I'd have to knock a wall down to get enough counter space.

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July 18, 2012

Great Summer Coffee - a Cool Treat


Warm sun, long days, and a great coffee? Yes, coffee in the middle of the summer - it's not just for the cool seasons anymore. With a single serve espresso machine, or even a single serve coffee brewer, you can brew a quick coffee over ice, and enjoy a cool coffee drink that welcomes in the heat of the day.

Here are a couple of ways to enjoy a cool coffee this summer:

1) Brew and Cool your own espresso - Iced Americano take a shot(s) of espresso, ice, a splash of milk and sugar to taste. I use a couple of shots and brew right into the glass to get a tall glass of refreshment.

2) Save the morning coffee for a cool drink later - If you are using a drip coffee maker, brew a little extra, and chill the left-overs as soon as you can in the refrigerator. Pour over ice later in the day or tomorrow.

3) Ready to Drink Chilled coffees - Starbucks and their Doubleshot are the best ones for my taste, and they are available in most grocery stores, but look around; you'll find Illy Issimo, and others too. Buy a few and see which ones you like, and you'll have a quick pick-me-up when you need it.

4) Hit the coffee shop - sure, you can make it at home, but sometimes it's great to indulge. Set aside some time to explore a few different ones in week. The next time you want a quick drink, you'll know what you like.

TIP: If you are brewing your own, I would recommend an all Arabica coffee blend. I've had a few Robusta espresso blends over ice and that solid coffee flavor that is so classically Italian as an espresso, comes across as a sour burnt rubber flavor on ice.


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July 15, 2012

Nespresso Pixie Made from Recycled Nespresso Capsules


So, I'll be the first to admit that brewing a shot of espresso from a capsule made of aluminum is not the most environmentally responsible thing I could do, but I love the ease of use of single serve shots in a compact form. Nespresso has extensive recycling efforts in Europe for their capsules, and they are closing the loop per se on that waste stream. Nespresso is using that aluminum from the capsules to make the aluminum side panels for the new Pixie - a clever way to reduce their footprint just a hair in the grand scheme of things.

When I reviewed the Nespresso Pixie, I thought it was a solid little machine, with other "green" features, like an auto shut-off that comes pre-set to shut down the power after a few minutes of non-use. If you want to by-pass it the short time-out, you can change a setting, but I am pretty sure most consumers won't.

Via Slashgear

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July 13, 2012

Fiat 500L - Small People Mover, Espresso Included


Leave it up to the Italians, mixing life on the road with an espresso maker. The new Fiat 500L will be equipped with a new on board espresso machine that includes a small spoon holder. The espresso machine was designed by Lavazza, and while I am sure it makes a road-worthy shot of espresso, one has to wonder if that's going to work while driving.

The machine has to work on ESE Pods; can you imagine trying to tamp and then extract? Even still, I think a good round at home or a travel mug might just work well too. But if you need the novelty, or have a really long commute through traffic, you can try this option out (if you buy this car in europe - it's not planed for the States), or you can check out the HandPresso Auto - the first Espresso maker for a car that I've seen.


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June 30, 2012

Iced Espresso - CBTL Premium Espresso This Weekend


I picked up some CBTL Premium Blend and am brewing up some cool iced coffee this weekend. The Premium Blend is a little less intense than the Italian Blend, but still holds up to milk and ice. I fill a glass with ice and brew right on top of the ice. If you're worried about the glass breaking, you can use a mug, or try out the Bodum glasses that are made from borosilicate glass - laboratory glass, that stands up to the heat and cold conditions.

The CBTL line of capsules are from Italy and fit the CBTL brewers; a quick and easy brewing machine that allows you to drop in a capsule and crank out a shot of coffee/espresso in a few seconds. I reviewed the CBTL Americano machine that offers a few bells and whistles, mainly in the convenience area, allowing you to brew up different sizes with the push of a button.

The capsules are available locally at a few big box stores, and online at the CBTL website.

More at CBTL

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June 29, 2012

Nespresso Zenius - Connected Office Coffee


Nespresso has brought out the Nespresso Zenius, a connected coffee maker targeted at the office coffee market. Simply drop in your Nespresso disk, and out comes a great shot of espresso. Do it enough times, and the Zenius makes a call to the Nespresso store to automatically order more. I like the steampunk look that makes it look like it's going to blow steam out its sides every few minutes for good measure.

Of course it delivers the same high quality shots that you've come to expect from Nespresso. the line of eight capsules are more limited to than the home version. The line of eight is split up into Espresso, Lungo, Decaf, and Ristretto.

The functionality is supported by a SIM card that is inserted in the machine, making calls out over the mobile phone network. Not only can it auto-reorder, but they will also run diagnostics on the machine to make sure it's working properly. There are several settings that can be changed, like brew volume on the three programmable keys. Just in case some clown in the office readjusts all of the brew settings to what you don't like, there's always the factory reset.

No word on a US debut, the Nespresso Zenius is available in Europe.

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June 6, 2012

Cafe Latte from a Vending Machine? Seattles Best Launches Rubi


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's Best 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.

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June 5, 2012

Starbucks Buys Baker - Seeking to Own Coffee Occasions


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.

McDonald's Theory

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.

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