July 21, 2011

TRU Digital Single Serve Coffee Pod Brewer


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The TRU Digital Single Serve Coffee Pod Brewer produces café quality gourmet coffee, and features a touch pad control system. Like it's ECO Brew cousin, the TRU Digital uses 1 or two coffee pods to deliver coffee or tea. The TRU Digital comes with 108 Supremo regular coffee pods.

The Ultimate Brew System uses a pump feature enabling it to extract the coffee extremely well from the pods unlike other pod brewers that simply boil and drip water through. The Unit has a slide-out POD chamber as well as a two-piece drip tray, along with a removable water tank. We like this design over the ECO Model only due to the removable water tank for easy refilling. However if ECO is your life, the TRU seems to not be as ECO friendly and you may just want to pay $50 for the ECO over $130ish for this model.

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July 20, 2011

TRU Eco Single Serve Coffee Brewer

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The TRU Eco Single Server Coffee and Tea pod brewer uses just 800 Watts - 45% than traditional coffee pod brewers. TRU Eco uses coffee and tea pods, and creates a crema like top in the hot beverage of your choice.

  • Use 1 or 2 Coffee or Tea Pods
  • Auto Shut-Off Following Use (No Wasted Energy)
  • Green Brew Light, Drip Tray
  • Compact - Easy to Use
  • Clean and Take Along

The video of the TRU Eco single serve coffee brewer highlights many of the features above.

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May 31, 2011

Part VI: Conclusions on Comparing Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems from Nespresso, Lavazza, FrancisFrancis X8, and CBTL

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All the systems worked flawlessly with one exception. The FrancisFrancis X8 developed a pump problem almost immediately. One email to Illy though and they immediately shipped out a replacement unit as well as a FedEx Return Label. It took two days for shipping and the FedEx delivery person picked up the old one. Service was fast, sure and the replacement machine has worked perfectly.

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Click image for a larger chart...

Which one to chose depends on your individual priorities.

If counter space is the biggest issue, then the Nespresso machines have the smallest foot print, followed by the CBTL Caffitaly Contata, the Illy FrancisFrancis X8 and the Lavazza LB 1010 is the largest, about the same footprint as my cutting board. The Nespresso is also the lightest of all, by a considerable margin.

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May 27, 2011

Part V: The CBTL experience - Comparing Espresso and Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is one of the oldest of the California Specialty Coffee chains and may even be said to have been the one that started it all. It is a world wide franchise today but still reminds me of its California roots. As I mentioned in the introduction, it is based around the Caffitaly open standard capsule so that the coffees reflect the individual roasters, in this case the coffees and teas of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

I moved out to California not very long after the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf opened their first stores. Having grown up on the East Coast I had vision of California but it took a while for the reality to set in. One of my first hints that California might be more than expected was the nightly weather reports. Not report, but reports. There were five different and distinct weather reports every day, Beach, Valley, Low Desert, High Desert and Mountains.

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May 26, 2011

Part IV: The Illy FrancisFrancis X8 experience - Comparing Espresso and Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems

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The time is the very late 50s and very early 60s and Ike was retiring back to his beloved Gettysburg and a new young Boston Brahman and US Senator was entering the political stage and in Pennsylvania Dutch country the carriages were adding reflectors, some even lights, for safety on the narrow country roads. A few miles north of Lancaster was the small town of Lilitz, population maybe 4000 during the summer and the home of the Wilbur Chocolate Company.

Spring in Northern Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania in that era was wondrous. It was an area of small family farms on some of the most lush and fertile soil in the US worked by Amish and Mennonite families, a land of great but simple foods, rolling hills with a new and startling view around almost every bend. It was easy to see why this area had been desired by both the Penns and Lords Baltimore, desirable enough to fight over and fight over it they did.

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May 25, 2011

Part III: The Lavazza Experience - Comparing Espresso and Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems

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Baltimore in the late 40s and 50s was a Blue Collar town of ethic neighborhoods, Polish, Jewish, Black, Greek, German ... and then there was Little Italy. Around Christmas time each year Dad would take us all for lunch at Di Pasquale's. We'd sit with Mom at a little table while Dad ordered for us at the Deli and we all got stuff we liked. I'd always get a bowl of Pasta Fagioli and an Italian sandwich and my little brother always wanted fried chicken but they never had it so he would get the chicken with provolone and Mom always got one of their salads that had grapes and tomatoes and cheese and we had a plate of olives, green and black and big and small and each one tasting different and all the people there were tall and had wavy black hair and talked in a strange language.

But it was after lunch that was the best. They had a big cake called Panettone that was round and tall and they would slice out a big wedge and Dad would cut it into pieces for us and it had raisins and dried orange and nuts in it and my brother and I would get hot cocoa and Mom and Dad got espresso in little white cups and on the ride back home we sometimes fell asleep.

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May 24, 2011

Part II: The Nespresso Experience - Comparing Espresso and Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems

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On very special weekends when I was young, maybe just starting school, Dad would take me and my little brother to Mt Royal train station in Baltimore. It was a long grey stone building with big arched windows and a tall square tower with a big clock on each side and the trains came in down on a lower level and you walked down wide stairs and I'd tell my little brother to hold my hand and hold the rail and soon we would be down at the bottom and there would be lots of people and you could hear a whistle as the train got near the station and everyone looked and it was really big and noisy and you had to put your hands over your ears and when it pulled in great clouds came out and then when it stopped the steam engine hissed and panted while people got on and off.

Dad would take us to Mr. Theodore. He was the conductor and he told the train when it could go and Mr. Theodore always told Dad he would take good care of us and bring us back on the 5:30 and Dad asked us if we would do everything Mr. Theodore said and we said "Yes!"

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May 23, 2011

Part I: Comparing Espresso and Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems - Nespresso, Lavazza, FrancisFrancis X8, and CBTL


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We've prepared for you a multi-part article that gives a comparison of the Nespresso, Lavazza, FrancisFrancis X8, and CBTL (Coffee Bean Tea and Leaf) espresso and single serve coffee systems (a special thanks goes out to JAR for all of his efforts on these articles). We'll have 4 experience articles, followed by a conclusions about all four systems. In this article Part I we compare the four systems to each other.

Comparing Espresso and Single Serve Coffee Capsule Systems

Prepackaged single serve espresso system are becoming increasingly popular. They offer consistent dosing, tamping, easy cleanup, reliable and most of all, repeatable performance. There are two basic formats, the ESE pod and capsules. In this series of comparisons I will be looking at four of the capsule systems available today.

Probably the best known example is the system from Nespresso.


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Nespresso is one of the Nestlé's companies and they do a great job of marketing their product and in their personal customer service. They sell directly and through a series of Boutiques found in many major cities. Online or phone ordering is easy, their people are polite and knowledgeable and delivery is fast. If you call them you can even specify a preferred carrier if one gives better service in your area.

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May 20, 2011

Contata and Kaldi Single Serve Coffee, Tea, and Espresso Machines from CBTL


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We recently received the Kalda single serve coffee, tea, and espresso machine from CBTL, but wanted to also tell you about the Contata machine that is a bit more compact and a bit different in the aesthetic design than Kaldi.

What's interesting is the the color difference and how the Contata which is only 1 inch less deep really does look different. Also if you prefer black over a bright blue coffee, tea, and espresso machine on your counter the Contata may be for you. The Contata is also $20 cheaper at $129 versus the Kaldi for $149.

Whichever you choose they both have the full feature set below. Personally we like the Kaldi because it's just so bright and round, and we do like the Contata but that sleek black smaller design is currently filled by our Nespresso Essenza.

Both the Kaldi and the Contata Single Serve Coffee, Tea, and Espresso Machines feature:

  • automatic proportioning
  • accommodates variety of cup sizes
  • easy capsule insertion & automatic ejection
  • used capsule drawer holds 10 spent capsules
  • removable water tank capacity
  • electronic temperature control
  • energy saving function
  • maximum pump pressure 15 bar
  • diagnostic lights

At CBTL

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May 6, 2011

CBTL Hot Tea, Espresso, and Coffee System Arrives for Review

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Coffee Bean Tea and Leaf has sent over their CBTL hot tea, coffee, and espresso system to review. The system features coffees from the CaffiItaly system, and the machine design is both modern and interesting. The CBTL system uses a twin pressure system that puts out 15 bars of pressure to make pre-portioned espresso, coffee and tea. The machine also will accommodate a variety of cup sizes, and the large capsule drawer will fit 10 used capsules.


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We also received their milk frother, which allows you to make cappuccinos and lattes paired with the various coffee and espresso offerings. They also offer a two flavored powders from vanilla to dutch chocolate to make a mocha or flavored drink.

Espresso and Coffee varieties of the CBTL CaffiItaly system include:

  • Italian Espresso
  • Continental Espresso
  • Premium Espresso
  • Premium Decaf Espresso
  • Viennese Brew Coffee
  • French Brew Coffee
  • House Brew Coffee
  • House Brew Decaf Coffee

Tea varieties of the CBTL CaffiItaly system include:

  • Chai Tea
  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Tropical Passion Tea
  • Moroccan Mint Tea

We'll have a full review soon. Thanks again to CBTL for sending us the CBTL system and beverages to review.

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