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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April 4, 2011

KRUPS Cup-On-Request - On Demand Coffee Maker


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KRUPS will be introducing next month the Krups Cup-On-Request on demand coffee maker. The KRUPS Cup-On-Request coffee maker brews a full pot of coffee, but will dispense it one cup at time keeping the coffee hot in a reservoir. There are settings to have it brew automatically in the morning or evening, and there are also cup size settings for manual, small, and large. We'll have more details on this coffee maker as we get them. The KRUPS Cup-On-Request will be priced at $199.95.

More at video over at You Tube of the Krups Cup-On-Request

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March 23, 2011

Nespresso Pixie Launches at Williams Sonoma

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As our sister site Single Serve Espresso has teased, the Nespresso Pixie is now available at Williams Sonoma nationwide and online. The Nespresso Pixie is a multi-colored Nespresso single serve coffee and espresso machine that utilizes Nespresso's coffee capsule system. We saw the Pixie in person, and the industrial design is striking. The Pixie is also not that much smaller than the Nespresso Citiz but it is indeed Pixie in size.


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At Williams Sonoma

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March 18, 2011

Review: Mr. Coffee BVMC-KG1 K-Cup Single Serve Brewing System

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The Mr. Coffee BVMC-KG1 Single Serve Brewing System was released this past Fall, and we've just spent the last 3 weeks using it as our main K-Cup brewer. Like the Keurig Mini Plus, this is a pourover model allowing you to get one single serve coffee mug's worth of water and then brewing one cup of coffee using a K-Cup. Having a reservoir might be a concern for those who want to brew multiple cups of coffee one after the other, but for most coffee drinkers having one cup of perfect coffee in the morning is the priority and the Mr. Coffee single serve brewing system delivers cup after single serve coffee cup.

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March 4, 2011

Nespresso Pixie Now at Williams-Sonoma

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Right now Williams-Sonoma has the exclusive sale in the US of the Nespresso Pixie. Starting yesterday on 3/3 you can purchase the Pixie in a variety of eye catching colors (we like the green), and enjoy a super-compact silhouette with superb espresso-making abilities from Nespresso. This is the smallest Nespresso machine ever, and we think the compact design is a winner.

Features:

  • Stylish, ultracompact espresso machine brews one perfect cup at a time.
  • Brewing is fully automatic – simply pop in a coffee capsule and select your cup size.
  • Works exclusively with Nespresso’s premium coffee capsules (16 are included) for locked-in freshness and convenience with no mess.
  • Heats up in 25 to 30 seconds – faster than most single-cup models on the market.
  • Two top buttons allow you to select a shot size, a 1-oz pour or a 2- to 3-oz pour.
  • Machine can be programmed to brew a specific duration based on your preference.
  • A 19-bar pressure pump ensures maximum extraction of flavor.
  • Innovative Thermoblock technology guarantees precise temperature control.
  • Spent capsules are neatly ejected into an internal receptacle that holds up to 10 used capsules.
  • Removable water tank is easy to fill.
  • Drip tray flips up to accommodate larger cup sizes – handy when you’re making a latte or cappuccino.
  • Easy-to-read backlit buttons.
  • Auto shut-off after 9 minutes.

The Nespresso Pixie comes in 6 colors: Electric Steel Blue; Electric Lime; Electric Aluminum; Electric Indigo; Electric Red; Electric Titan. Pricing for the Nespresso Pixie is $249 for any color machine.

At Williams-Sonoma

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