Coffee drinking is easy, while coffee tasting is not. This infographic, which is part of a series called The Truth About Coffee from The Bold Italic, sums up the process pretty well. Coffee tasting, like wine tasting, is a skill that you can develop by drinking lots and lots of high quality product. But the key is that you need high quality coffees where the flavors of citrus, caramel and earthiness – to name just a few – really stand out, so that you can easily identify them and learn to find them in other types of coffee.
ShopSmart is a magazine put out by Consumer Reports that presents an easy-to-reference guide to your favorite products. They always have great content, but when they set out to identify the best mocha iced coffee drinks in a recent issue (Aug/Sept 2014), I skipped everything else in the magazine and went straight for that page. The tasters at the magazine reviewed 8 different options and picked out the top five. Their top pick was Starbucks Discoveries Caffe Mocha. I really enjoyed the caramel macchiato version of the Starbucks Discoveries line, so I’m not surprised that it took top billing. The tasters said that it was the closest to homemade (or cafe-made) iced mocah, with a “nice blend of coffee, milk and cocoa flavors, with a touch of sweetness.” Compared to individually bottled drinks, the Starbucks Discoveries drink was very reasonably priced (less than half of some of the bottled drinks, per serving), but the International Delight Iced Coffee Sweet & Creamy Mocha was a little bit less expensive and was awarded the best “Bargain Buy,” for price-conscious shoppers that are looking for a milder coffee drink.
The other top drinks included the classic bottled Starbucks Mocha, Frappuccino, which had a good balance of coffee and sweetness, with a mild chocolate flavor, and Illy Issimo Mochaccino, which has a stronger coffee note than some of the other options. Across the board, the tasters did not care for any of the “light” or nondairy coffee drinks (the nondairy drinks really should have their own taste test!), though the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Light was their top choice from that grouping.
Coffee and wine are two of the world’s most popular drinks, but they’re not often drunk together. Soon, however, the two drinks will meet in a new product from Friends Fun Wine, the Florida company known for their easy to drink canned wines: Coffee Wine. The canned drink comes in two flavors – Cabernet Coffee Espresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino – and their are two servings per can, which means that there is plenty to share with a friend if you decide to take a chance and give the drink a try with someone as daring as you are.
The press release states “The Cabernet Coffee Espresso features a rich flavor of cabernet grapes, espresso coffee and a hint of chocolate, while Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino features sweet, refreshing Chardonnay grapes with vanilla cappuccino coffee and smooth hints of chocolate.”
To be honest, my initial thought is that this is a terrible idea. I don’t think that there is a big call for a product like this one from consumers looking to combine wine and coffee in the first place. But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and give it a try if/when I see it in stores to see if it exceeds my expectations.
Subway may specialize in sandwiches, but the popular chain also serves up a large breakfast menu and plenty of coffee each day. They’re not known for their coffee, however, especially after the breakfast hours when they make it available but don’t serve much of it to customers. Subway and Keurig have just reached an agreement to put Keurig single cup coffee makers into all of their US and Canada stores. More than half of Subway stores already use Keurig machines to make fresh coffee available at all times of the day. Individual k-cups may be more expensive than a cup of coffee brewed as part of a large batch, but since Subway shops are not typically where people go specifically to get coffee, it might be more cost effective for them because virtually no coffee will go to waste.