Coffee Notes from All Over

Coffee Notes from All Over

It’s getting stupid busy around here, and so to make sure that I keep up with things I’m challenging myself to do more, not less. (That right there… that’s likely the stupid part of stupid busy.)  As always, there’s more coffee reviews coming… and at least some of them will be covering coffees you wouldn’t want to give to your worst enemy. Yes, once again I will drink bad coffee so you don’t have to. Here’s the new twist: why don’t you tell me what coffees I should taste and review for your warped, twisted and not at all spirit-of-the-season type pleasure? Leave your ideas in the comments, below. And think evil thoughts. I dare you. Also, while we’re at the height of that gifting season, I have a bunch of new hardware to try… in particular, several single-cup coffee machines. New to the Bloggle coffee labs are the completely revamped Tassimo by Bosch, the extraordinarily odd-looking NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto by Krups, and the new “Mini” B30 brewer by Keurig, dressed in a sassy new holiday red (which may not help it brew a better cup of coffee, but delivers lots of eye-candy appeal.) Finally, Bloggle is now iPhone friendly! Which is damned ironic, given that’s its still near impossible to own an iPhone in Vermont. Is it frustrating to test your own web site on an emulator for a device that you can’t own? Why, yes. Yes it is. (Word on the street is that’s soon to change. I’ll believe it when I have one in my own grubby, little...
Keurig vs. Tassimo: A Single-Cup Showdown Update

Keurig vs. Tassimo: A Single-Cup Showdown Update

Autumn has blown into our neck of the woods with a mighty draft of whirling leaves, the aroma of wood smoke wafting from neighbors’ hearths, and — hey, this is new — a raft of folks banging on an increasingly-dated review of single-serve coffee machines here on Bloggle. I guess there’s nothing quite like a cold spell to put folks in touch with their inner caffeine junkie… or maybe folks are already looking ahead to their holiday gift lists. Whatever the reason, an update to the single-serve marketplace is long overdue. So, let’s get to it… The Tassimo Lineup Designed and distributed by Braun1 , manufactured by Saeco, and with its coffee supply produced exclusively by Kraft and its army of licensed brands, when the Tassimo launched two years ago it painted itself as the smartest single serve coffee brewer yet. Certainly the Tassimo’s got brains. Like the Keurig brewers, this brewer relies on a micro-processor to manage brew volume and temperature. More, the Tassimo automatically adjusts brew volume, temperature — and even some aspects of how its pump drives the brew cycle — to match the parameters of beverage you wish to brew. How? Well… it reads, of course. But we’ll get back to that. Offered in two models –the TA 1400, and the TA 1200 (which I can’t seem to find to link to) — the Tassimo fits the same kitchen counter real estate as the Keurig (and the Senseo, and the Bunn Home Café — let’s face it, these machines are all of them fairly compact). In overall looks the Tassimo is singularly rounded and squat....
Revealed: The New and Improved Keurig B70 Brewer

Revealed: The New and Improved Keurig B70 Brewer

There’s a new single-cup brewer in town… two of them, really. But you might not notice, ’cause Keurig slipped them into production without much fanfare. The first is an updated Keurig ‘Elite’ B40… the entry-level single cup model. The new model adds a second, larger-volume brew button to its control panel. It’s a feature probably most welcome to tea-drinkers — and it’s especially welcome for iced tea fans — as a 9.25 ounce setting isn’t one I’d recommend for getting the most flavor out of a coffee K-Cup — even an Extra Bold selection. And then there’s the update to Keurig’s ‘Platinum’ B70… It’s a tiny change — one that you wouldn’t notice to look at it — but you can’t help but notice in the cup. Keurig has tweaked the brewing system itself — specifically, the brewing needle that pierces the K-Cup. The change creates more turbulence within the K-Cup during brewing, which, in turn, extracts more flavor from the coffee. (Turbulence — along with dwell-time and temperature — is one of the critical factors for brewing coffee.) The results? Pretty remarkable, really. I’ve been brewing coffee with one of the first production B70s daily for several weeks now, and it makes a decidedly bolder cup at all brew volumes. More, it makes a cup with more distinctive flavors, too. Green Mountain’s Extra Bold Espresso Blend now finally reveals its dry berry top note, the Extra Bold Kenyan AA offers distinctive wine and blackberry flavors, and the Extra Bold Fair Trade Organic Sumatran Reserve is at once rich, and earthy and ever so slightly mossy. That’s not to...

Green Mountain’s Game-Changing Kenya AA

Rating: [rating:4/5] I have long been ambivalent — or at least something of a fence-sitter — where the whole single-cup coffee thing is concerned. Single-cup brewers are, by design, a study in compromise between convenience and quality. Do you want cup-at-a-time accessibility? Or do you want the full range and nuance of aroma, flavor body and balance that only grinding and brewing fresh-roasted beans can offer? I’d kinda like both. But the Clover is out of my price range and wouldn’t fit in my kitchen anyway. I’ve had my hands on what I believe to be most every at-home single serve coffee machine on the market. That would include (in no particular order) machines from Senseo, Tassimo, Keurig, Nespresso, Melitta, Bunn, Grindmaster, Flavia, Juan Valdez, and Black & Decker. Have I missed any? Oh yeah… the Aeropress. While I’m long overdue in writing a full-blown roundup of the single-cup machine landscape — judging by the numbers of folk who flock to single-cup posts in the Bloggle Archives, anyway — this isn’t that article. Instead it’s about a coffee Green Mountain has just released for the Keurig brewer. A coffee that’s something of a game-changer. Green Mountain’s Kenyan AA (the traditional, whole bean version) has won accolades from Kenneth Davids at Coffee Review, where he awarded it a whopping 96 points and described it thusly: A coffee at once voluptuous and austere. Delicately complex aroma: flowers, chocolate, tobacco leaf, lemon grass. In the cup an amazingly rich, wine-like acidity, sweet flowers, and a gently crisp, dry berry fruit. Hints of chocolate re-emerge in the cleanly long, almost perfect finish. Nice....
Single Cup Coffee Showdown: Tassimo vs. Keurig

Single Cup Coffee Showdown: Tassimo vs. Keurig

[green_box] It’s been two years since I wrote this comparison. I’ve since updated it. The updated version of this article can be found here. [/green_box] Just when you thought it was safe to cast your lot and pick a single cup coffee brewer (be it a pod coffee machine, K-Cup, capsule or pouch) there arrives on the scene a spiffy new machine — the Tassimo. Designed by Braun, manufactured by Saeco, and with its coffee supply manufactured exclusively by Kraft, the Tassimo paints itself as the smartest single serve coffee brewer yet. It’s not the first single-cup brewer to go to market with a “smarter is better” approach. The Keurig line of home brewers — the B50, and more recently the stripped-down B-40 and the souped-up B60 — have leveraged micro-processor control since their initial introduction a year ago (about the same time the Tassimo was announced.) So how does the new kid on the block stack up against the Keurig brewer? Let’s find out — Certainly the Tassimo’s got brains. Like the Keurig, this brewer relies on a micro-processor to manage brew volume and temperature. Unlike the Keurig, however, the Tassimo automatically adjusts brew volume, temperature — and, it would appear, some aspects of how its pump drives the brew cycle — to match the parameters of beverage you wish to brew. How? Well… it reads, of course. But we’ll get back to that. While it fits the same kitchen counter real estate as the Keurig (and the Senseo, and the Bunn Home Café) let’s face it, these machines are all fairly compact) the Tassimo is singularly rounded and squat....
Are You Pod People?

Are You Pod People?

The PR machinery is running full tilt! It’s single-cup coffee machines — or, pod machines — everywhere you look… Phillips’ Senseo, Melitta One, Black & Decker Home Cafe, and the Keurig Brewer, to name those most buzzed about at the moment. The Senseo reigns at the top of the buzzheap by a large margin, and you can easily find reviews of all stripes, from the usual tech “news” flaks, to geeks with laser-guided temperature probes… even fellow coffee blogger Randy Glass gets in on the game with his own hands-on review. Given the mass-marketed hype, and being a skeptic, I was fully prepared to dislike the Senseo. A lot. Turns out, I don’t dislike it all that much. But keep reading. The Senseo is a smartly-designed and smart-looking home coffee machine. It’s fabulously simple to use, and it appears to be built to stand up to frequent use [the same can not be said of some of its competitors]. I have lingering concerns about its brew temperature. While Randy notes a brew temp of a respectable 190 degrees F. the folks at GadgetMadness record brew temps of a mere 138 to 140 degrees F. which is nowhere near acceptable. I have no particular reason to doubt either report, so I’m left to wonder if there might be a really high temperature variance from machine to machine… that would be a serious problem. Temperature issues aside, it’s not the machine I have a problem with at all. It’s the quality of the coffee — and the source of that coffee — that leaves a bitter taste. Currently, the only coffee...

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