Feb 5, 2013

Consumer Reports tests K-Cup Alternatives

K-Cups

Single serve coffee makers are, hands down, the most convenient way to make coffee at home. The Keurig machine takes just a few minutes to warm up, the coffee is prepacked and and there is virtually no cleanup. The downside is that K-cups are fairly expensive (unless you are a very savvy shopper) and they can add up quickly if you drink a lot of coffee. Consumer Reports recently (March 2013) set out to see if there are K-cup alternatives that would work as well, but that could save you a little money in the long run.

They estimated that someone who drinks one K-cup a day ends up spending somewhere from $220-$275 on the little cups over the course of the year. They tested both disposable and reusable cups that work with Keurig machines but that are designed to be filled with coffee by the user. The original K-cups were still winners when it came to convenience, but they found at least one good alternative that could save you some cash in the long run.

Simple Cups are disposable cups that you fill with your own coffee. They cost less than the K-cups, but not by much. CR estimated that a cup-a-day drinker would still spend around $185 a year with these, including your own coffee. EZ Cups are reusable cups with disposable filters inside, and you also use your own coffee. They turned out to run about $135 a year, including coffee. Neither model was as easy to use as a K-cup and could be difficult to close.

The winner when it came to saving money and ease of use was the Keurig K-Cup Adapter, with its reusable cup and filter system. It’s only about $18, so your only cost after that is the coffee, at about $80 a year. It does require cleaning, but it offers a good value and was Consumer Reports top pick for a K-cup alternative.

Feb 1, 2013

Tea to My Heart Infuser

Tea to My Heart Infuser

Tea infusers have a lot more personality these days then they used to, and you’ll even find some that are specially designed for the holidays. The Tea to My Heart Infuser is a design that I’ve seen that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. The silicone infuser has a heart with an arrow through it. The main portion of the infuser is the heart, which opens to allow you to put loose leave tea inside. The shaft of the arrow is about 8-inches long, so it will be easy to retrieve even in large mugs. It’s also machine washable, so it is easy to clean.

While this would make a good Valentine’s Day gift (along with some nice tea), it is a gift that will keep on giving because it will last a lot longer than a box of chocolates will. And your loved one will always think of you when they’re having another cuppa.

Jan 31, 2013

Starbucks Reserve Cameroon Mt Oku, reviewed

Cameroon Mt Oku

I must have had the Cameroon Mt Oku coffee from the Starbucks Reserve line dozens of times by now and I’ve been meaning to write this review ever since I had that first cup. The coffee is from the slopes of Mt Oku, a huge volcano in the western part of Cameroon. Cameroon is not a country that you might automatically associate with coffee – and that isn’t because coffee doesn’t grow there, it is simply because much of what what they grow is robusta and doesn’t exactly make it into the spotlight. This coffee is quite different from any other African coffees, it is rich, smooth and has a very low acidity to it. You’ll get floral and pepper notes from the coffee, and very few berry or earth tones. The flavor develops slowly as you drink it and, while the flavor can be quite complex, it is so smooth that it almost sneaks up on your. I think the focal point is how enjoyable and easy to drink it is and, honestly, that is what keeps me coming back time and again.

This coffee is an outstanding value and, honestly, tastes like it should be quite a bit more expensive. I’m certainly not complaining about that, however, because its price point just makes me that much more likely to order it when I’m at a store with a Clover machine.

Jan 29, 2013

Zevro Incred-a-brew Direct Immersion Coffee Maker

Zevro Incred-a-brew Direct Immersion Coffee Maker

If you are a coffee lover, you have probably used a french press at least a few times and know that you can make some great coffee with them. There are only a few small downsides: it can be difficult to clean them and it can be hard to get out all of the coffee without getting any grounds in that last cup. These are small things and aren’t going to stop me from using my french press anytime soon, but they are enough to make me keep my eyes open for other brewing options. The Incred-a-brew Direct Immersion Coffee Maker from Zevro is just one of these choices – and it looks like a good one.  I’ve used their Simpliss-a-Tea tea maker, which features the same design, many times with great results.

The Incred-a-brew Direct Immersion Coffee Maker lets you steep your ground coffee in hot water (much like a french press), but instead of pressing the grounds through the coffee and then pouring from the top, you can actually dispense the coffee directly into your cup through the bottom of the coffee maker. The gadget has a very cool release valve on the top that that dispenses the coffee directly into a cup when you place it on top of one – and, more importantly, it instantly stops the flow when you lift the coffee maker. It only makes one (large) cup of coffee at a time, so it is great when you want a single serving and it doesn’t take quite as much babysitting as a pour-over filter set up.

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