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August 11, 2008

Peet's Tanzania Peaberry

Peet's Coffee & Tea is offering a special August 13 roasting of its amazing Tanzania Peaberry, with a reduced shipping charge.

A few weeks ago I bought a pound of this. It is one of the best coffees I have tasted, and I immediately ordered two more pounds. So this is a very special opportunity and I encourage readers to try it.

It is shipped immediately after roasting. The coffee arrives in a shipping box, inside of which is a special sealed foil bag. So you don't have to worry about the distance it might have to travel to reach you -- the bag will keep it fresh.

The first pot you make is the best, of course, because it is the absolute freshest, but also because it is the first experience of this coffee. It's a bit like a Kona, rich and creamy, with no bitterness. I use a French Press pot. I recommend ordering whole beans because you can grind them when you brew the pot, keeping the freshness.

And while we're talking about Peet's, I see that they are offering their Panama Esmeralda Geisha! This is an amazing, distinctive coffee with an almost blueberry hint in it. It is rare, so it is somewhat expensive -- $24.95 for a half pound. I absolutely love this coffee but I'll let you know it is a very special, distinctive coffee that some will love and others might find a bit too different.

October 13, 2007

Peet's Watering Down Coffee?

I have more frequently been having disappointing experiences at Peet's lately. Coffee has on occasion seemed watered down. This morning in Redwood City it was very thin.

In the past there was an occasional problem where they would forget to turn a switch on a machine, and the decaf coffee could be made half-strength. This is because at a certain time of day they start using half as much coffee, because they sell fewer cups. So they put half as much ground coffee in the machine and change a switch that causes half as much water to be used. But if they forget to throw that switch the result is the same amount of water used on half as much coffee! The result is of course half-strength coffee. Sort of like a brown water -- or a Starbucks.

But this is not what has been happening lately. I have good reason to believe that - at least at Redwood City - the manager has started using more water and less coffee ON PURPOSE! So is the corporate management starting to reduce the quality of Peet's coffee, or is this just a local phenomenon in one store?

If the coffee is going to be weak I can go to Starbucks - and at least get wireless.

October 25, 2006

LA Times Makes Coffee

Advice for the ... beginner.

The new coffee connoisseur - Los Angeles Times,

Think you know how to make a great cup of coffee? Think again. It's all about the best beans, a careful roast and optimal brewing.

MY first stop was my local coffee roaster, where they have a pretty good selection of beans roasted on the premises.

The beans are at once the most complex part of the equation and the easiest to solve. At first glance, the choice seems bewildering. Walk into any moderately stocked coffee bean purveyor these days and you'll find more than a dozen choices spanning two or three continents and a range of roasts.

... When constructed by a good roaster, these blends can be among the best coffees you'll ever taste. But choosing one can be confusing, since each shop is free to name its blends whatever it feels like. One place's "Caffé Roma" can be made from the same beans as another's "Morning Sonata." On the other hand, it's a pretty sure bet that no two "Breakfast Blends" will be exactly alike.

There are different degrees of roasting as well. The darker the roast, the more earthy and chocolate flavors will be in the coffee — up to a point. Particularly when you're talking about the very dark roasts that are popular these days, the overpowering flavor is charcoal. Whether these roasts are popular because people prefer milky drinks such as cappuccino, or whether people prefer milky drinks because the roasts are so dark is hard to say. One thing's for sure — extremely dark roasts are not intended to be drunk straight.

Continue reading "LA Times Makes Coffee" »

September 5, 2006

Science of Coffee

Cosmic Variance has a very interesting post on the Science of Coffee,

One part I particularly enjoy is the chart titled Cumulative Chemical Composition of Espresso with Increasing Extraction Time, which simultaneously tracks the concentrations of multiple compounds as a function of extraction time, side by side with a key that explains their role:
Compound : Aroma
2,4-decadienal : RANCID
ethylgujacol : SMOKE
2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine : CHOCOLATE
2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazine : CHOCOLATE
Go see the rest.

April 26, 2006

I've had Blak, not sure when I'll go bak

A few days ago I came across Coca-Cola Blak for sale and decided to give it a try. If you haven't heard of it yet, Blak is a new Coca-Cola soft drink combining the flavors of cola and coffee. Carbonated coffee drinks have been tried before without much success, but I was still curious to try this one out.

I like Coke, I like coffee, and I can see how the two could be good together. And Blak does a pretty good job pulling off the combination. It's sweet and the coffee flavor comes through cleanly. It could maybe use a little more carbonation and could drop the aspartame to take away the "diet" taste (it's already sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, perhaps overly so), but all in all, not bad.

The problem is that I'm not sure when I will drink it again. Once is great for novelty, but I can't see it becoming a regular beverage of choice for me. When I want a Coke, I'd rather have a regular Coke. And when I want coffee, I'd rather have fresh coffee. It could be a good option for long drives when I want caffeine without having to resort to gas station brew, though even then I'm not sure I'd choose it over other bottled coffee drinks.

If my reaction is typical, Coca-Cola will have a hard time finding a sizeable market for this stuff and the coffee soda market will be left to niche players like Manhattan Special. Anyone else tried Blak? Love it? Hate it?

February 7, 2006

Russian Caravan

I was in a Peet's today to get a large decaf, and they had just put out a pot of their Russian Caravan tea. I tried a taste and wasn't ready for what happened. I'm not a big tea drinker, but I had an immediate, strong, positive reaction. This is a bold-tasting tea. It has a smoky flavor, a depth, the over-used word "dark," but smooth and not bitter at all, and for some reason I had an almost emotional reaction. I actually felt for a second like I was in a tent on the steppes hundreds of years ago, a fire heating us, surrounded by Cossacks and Mongolians, haggling over furs.

I am not a tea buyer I'm a coffee drinker. But I bought a tin of this, and will be enjoying it on occasion.

Here is the Peet's description of Russian Caravan,

Well-rounded blend of China blacks, with a full, smooth, slightly smoky flavor.

This tea is not of Russian origin, but is a blend in the tradition of the 19th century Russian tea trade. Horse and camel caravans would spend sixteen months making the roundtrip journey to eastern China and back, arriving in the Russian capital laden with chests of tea. The tea quite likely aged a bit during its long journey, and “Russian Caravan” tea probably improved with the opening of the trans-Siberian railroad. Peet’s Russian Caravan is our own blend of China black teas with a full, smooth, and smoky flavor.

February 3, 2006

Peaberry Especial

The new Peet's Peaberry Especial is fabulous. I brought in a one-cup travel-press unit and they made me a sample.

Peet's says the coffee is a blend of Columbian, Tanzanian and New Guinea peaberries. It has a smoothnes that reminds me very much of their Kona Reserve.

January 18, 2006

Starbucks or Peet's

Ah yes, the premier question of our time. Starbucks or Peet's? Let's start the discussion right at the start of the blog itself. Let no one say that the Smelling the Coffee blog avoids the tough national controversies! In the future we'll have Starbucks and Peet's proponents writing here, and lots and lots of stories about the great independent coffee shops and roasters around the country.

I'm sitting in a Starbucks writing this, drinking a half-caf (but watery) Americano. Not to fault Starbucks Americanos, though, because I order them for a reason -- that they're almost as good as a regular old Peet's coffee (to me), for when I just have to sit at a table and get work done. You see, Peet's doesn't have wireless Internet service for computers! Can you even imagine that? And Peet's doesn't even begin to understand coffee-shop atmosphere. So for work, it's Starbucks.

Continue reading "Starbucks or Peet's" »

Like Water For Coffee

I'm working on a Starbucks ot Peet's post, but I have to ask, do you sometimes get a coffee that seems almost like water? (No this isn't a build-up to a Starbucks vs Peet's comment.) I mean, you go in every day and get a good, solid, rich coffee, but once in a while it's like half-strength and watery.

Is it just me? Do I have "special" needs on some days that the regular brew just doesn't keep up with? Or is the coffee like water sometimes because they do something different?

Today I'm leaning toward "my special needs" because it's an Americano and I SAW him add a fourth shot after I mentioned it and it's still like water.

I know this will lead to a heated discussion.


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