Sep 21, 2014

Coffee, Chocolate and Waffle Cones, a New Coffee Trend?

Chocolate Dipped Waffle Cones with Coffee! Yum!

Sometimes it just takes a little bit of publicity for an idea to take off. This was the case for the Cronut, a donut-shaped, deep fried croissant. The first “cronut” wasn’t the first time that someone thought to deep fry laminated dough, but it was the first time that the treat came with some killer pr. The Alfred Cone doesn’t have as catchy of a name, but it is a new way to serve coffee that certainly has a lot of potential as a novel way to enjoy a quick cup of your favorite brew.

The Alfred Cone is a chocolate-rimmed waffle cone that is shaped like a small cup. They are being served up at Alfred Coffee & Kitchen on Melrose in Los Angeles as a novel way to enjoy an espresso or macchiato (other drinks are simply too large for the adorable and tasty cups). They’re a fun way to take your coffee because the chocolate rim melts as you sip, leaving you with a mini mocha with every mouthful. The edible cup is a upcharge from a regular espresso and it is currently being featured on a not-so-secret menu that you need to ask for (there is a photo near the register, in case you forget).

Not everyone is going to want to pay a few dollars more to enjoy their coffee this way, but the coffee shop reports that they are in pretty high demand with their customers. Many people want to try one just for the experience – not unlike first time Cronut-tasters – and those who are fans come back to them when they are feeling a little bit indulgent. The waffle cups are pretty easy to replicate, so keep an eye out for them at higher end cafes in your area. And if you do find some, try to see if you can add a small scoop of ice cream to yours, since the cup is the perfect way to enjoy an affogato.

Sep 18, 2014

Starbucks Tests 10-oz Mini Frappuccinos

Starbucks Tests Mini Frappuccinos

The biggest problem with Frappuccinos – those delicious ice blended drinks from Starbucks – is that people like to complain about them. Opponents of tasty frozen drinks constantly harp about what calorie bombs they are, annoying the rest of us who want to drink our frozen treats without a guilt trip. It’s true that a super sized Frappuccino with whipped cream has a lot of calories, but so do a lot of other foods. If you don’t want a giant drink, simply order a smaller size. Starbucks is currently test marketing a mini Frappuccino, for those who want the option to order the smallest possible drink.

The new Frappuccinos are currently being tested in Houston and Denver, after a smaller test in San Diego earlier this year. They are 10-ounces – 2 ounces smaller than the current Tall option – and come in a mini cup with their own mini lid. They give customers a slightly less expensive way to taste a new Frappuccino flavor, as well as a slightly lower calorie option than a full size drink.

Sep 17, 2014

Iced Salted Caramel Mocha

Iced Salted Caramel Mocha

During the fall, Starbucks releases its Pumpkin Spice Latte for pumpkin spice fans everywhere. The drink is so popular that it sometimes overshadow’s the brands other offerings. I do like the PSL, but I have to admit that my favorite drink right now is something a little bit different. On warm fall days, I’m opting for an Iced Salted Caramel Mocha when I want to indulge a bit. The Starbucks version uses mocha and toffee nut syrups for a drink that is a blend of chocolaty and nutty flavors, then it is topped with a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. I don’t have toffee nut syrup at home to make an exact replica of the drink – however you don’t need to have it to whip up a fantastic homemade version of this decadent drink.

My version of the drink starts with strong coffee, hot chocolate mix and salted caramel sauce. Salted caramel is so popular now that it is easy to find the sauce being sold at most grocery stores. I used a particularly buttery salted caramel from CC Made. If your store doesn’t carry it, you can use any caramel sauce that you like (thick sauce, not syrup) and add in a generous pinch of salt to contrast with its sweetness. Mix the strong coffee with hot cocoa and salted caramel sauce, then pour over ice and top with a splash of milk, a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel.

I recommend using double strength coffee or even espresso when making this drink, since the coffee will dilute when you pour it over the ice and you don’t want you drink to taste watered down. You can start out with iced coffee, however it is much easier to incorporate the cocoa powder and caramel if you are starting with hot. Continue reading »

Sep 15, 2014

Trader Joe’s French Roast Single Serve Coffee Cups, reviewed

Trader Joe’s French Roast Single Serve Coffee Cups, reviewed

Trader Joe’s Single Serve Coffee Cups, made for Keurig machines, have been around for about a year now. They’re made with their signature Joe’s Blend, a medium roast coffee that has a pretty broad appeal and is easy to adjust in strength by selecting different cup sizes on your brewer. That said, Trader Joe’s offers a lot of great coffees and I know that I wasn’t the only one interested in seeing some more of them offered in K-cup form. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s recently released some new French Roast Single Serve Coffee Cups. These cups are sold in packs of 12 for $4.99 (at my SoCal store), which brings the cost to about $.41 per cup. French roast has been a long-time TJ’s coffee staple, so it’s not surprising that they opted to make it their second K-cup release.

The format for these cups is the same as the originals: the pods have soft coffee-filter walls and plastic lids, and are individually wrapped for freshness. I found that the cups worked well in my machine, though I know that others have reported leakage from the soft walled cups.

I liked the idea of a darker roast for my k-cups and do enjoy the regular Trader Joe’s French Roast from time to time, but I wasn’t wowed by these new k-cups. The French roast is a bit dry, with a toasted cocoa flavor that is smooth and fairly flat, without much complexity. The coffee is easy to drink, but it is also a bit boring. You could blame the packaging for the coffee not tasting as good as fresh-brewed, however I felt that the original Joe’s blend k-cups packed a lot more flavor into their pods, and the packaging is all the same. Overall, it’s a good effort and the cups do brew a darker cup of coffee if you are looking for a strong cup of joe to kick-start your morning. That said, I’ll probably stick to the originals for now and keep my eyes out for any other k-cups that Trader Joe’s releases!

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