Mukka Express Cappuccino Maker from Bialetti

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Bialetti has released a cappuccino maker dubbed the Mukka Express. There is not much floating around the web on this nifty little gadget, but here is what I’ve found.

Apparently not a new product from Bialetti, it’s marketing campaign has recently been ramping up. Although I cannot rate first hand how good/bad the quality of the maker is, I have to say I am drawn to its design concept. I think the cow motif is fitting for a cappuccino machine. Mucca=cow in italian. Also comes in aluminum. Suitable for 2 cups of cappuccino or milk coffee.

The shape of the Mukka Express is very similar to the one of Bialetti’s traditional espresso maker, but with rounder curves. You fill it in with both water and milk … and coffee obviously, and you pour out a perfectly well mixed cappuccino. You can check how it works looking at the demonstration video (click on the link at the top of the page).[Popgadget]

From the Has Been site:

The new Mukka Express is the first, fully patented ‘Stove-Top Cappuccino’ maker. It combines the traditional stove-top style of coffee maker with a large size pot for holding the milk. Place the water in the bottom section, coffee in the middle and fill the top section to the maker with milk. Then place on the stove-top and as the water boils to make the coffee, the resulting steam is passed through the milk to froth it. Ideal for 2 mugs of cappuccino or caffe latte. The Mukka Express can also be used without milk for an ordinary espresso.

Available at LaPrima Shops [backordered].

Link via Popgadget

Trees Organic - Revised Review

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I have revised my review of Trees Organic based upon a wider sample of coffee. Basically, to sum up, I dropped my rating from 4/4 to 3/4. I still maintain that they have the city’s best drip coffee, but I am not positive that the baristas are trained well enough to make a high quality and consistent espresso.

Go here to read the full review, including updates.

Coffee 80%
Atmosphere 85%
Service 90%

Take 5 Cafe Review

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Take 5 Cafe Review
Arieanna & Ianiv give it 4 stars

Coffee 92%
Atmosphere 95%
Service 88%

A review of Take 5 Cafe is long overdue. I have been going to Take 5 for a few weeks now, and have never encountered a bad Americano. Actually, I’ve been very impressed with everything I’ve had there. Ianiv has noted one occassion of a slightly watery Americano, but I have yet to experience this. The coffee is super smooth with a nice whole bodied flavour. Never bitter or tart. I like that it is both bold and subdued at the same time.

I really love the atmosphere of the cafe. Slightly upscale, really comfortable, and so well designed. The materials are top notch - I especially love the little corner nook with the couches, chairs, and table. Great for casual meetings. And for that ‘wow’ factor.


I have had food from Take 5 on a couple of occasions. I have had one sandwich, amazing bread and really outstanding and creative fillings, as well as a very yummy cookie. Roland has given high praise to Take 5 food and coffee, and I intend to go back more often for a lunch of soup & sandwich. The prices for the food are higher than most cafes, but well justified in the gourmet quality you receive.

Take 5 Café™ has been developed to satisfy the needs of today’s business community. Take 5 Café™ offers healthy breakfast, gourmet sandwiches/panini, wraps, salads, baked pastas and desserts. All food items are made fresh in the Take 5 Café™ Central Kitchen and delivered fresh to our Cafes daily.

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Travel French press…real life field test

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I was in Vancouver yesterday and my portable French press came with me-of course!  I also found the website for the company-PlanetaryDesign-though the style I have doesn’t seem to be available any more-coffee storage in the bottom.  So how did it perform?  Very well.  It started off with regular coffee and the regular lid-the mug holds almost a full four cup pot, btw-and as you would expect it kept the coffee warm for a good long time.
Later in the afternoon, when I needed a nice pick me up, I pulled out my little reseviour of Rhumba, heated some water, and press-to1!  Coffee!  Usually, I have to say, I’m not a fan of French press coffee black., but this was okay.  Next time I’ll make sure the water is quite hot and add some milk before I put the plunger lid on.
A good travel mug for sure!
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Why I drink cheap coffee in the morning…

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I live in a place where you can’t swing a stick downtown without hitting organic coffee.  All the grocery stores on Island carry organic coffee.  So, why do I drink cheap-o MJB coffee?  Well, it’s cheap.  The other thing is that I’ve found that no matter how good the coffee is a basic auto-drip machine wrecks the coffee.  That hotplate just makes anything taste like dreck.  So, since my first mugs of coffee are intended as rocket fuel, not a taste celebration, I drink cheap coffee first.
Now, for that afternoon cup.  Something to sip a savour a bit.  Oh yeah, I go for the good stuff.  Right now it’s a medium/dark blend by Creekmore Coffee called Rhumba.
Of course for company, company gets the good stuff.  At least most of the time ;-).
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Wifi Cafes in Vancouver

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I think this is the best resource out there so far on where the wifi cafes are in Vancouver. Just click the mugs on the map for info on the locations. Now all this needs is integration with some good reviews… :)

Link thanks to VanEats

World Barista Championship

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The World Barista Championship will be held in Seattle April 15-18 of this year. The winner of the much touted US championship, Phuong Tran, will be competing for the title.

The WBC aims to foster quality and creativity in coffee, and to promote friendship and the sharing of coffee knowledge among baristas, roasters, growers and the public, around the world through showcasing the talent and professionalism of baristas.

The World Barista Championship is the ultimate barista competition testing every element that is required to produce a great cup of coffee: From technique and personal presentation, to beverage quality and taste, each competitor represents the best of their nation against the best of the world.

Barista’s will be judged on technical and sensory merit for making espresso, cappuccino, and one signature beverage. Technical points go for things such as Extraction time, Correct dosing and tamping, Understands grinder, and even how well the barista cleans the equipment. The sensory score is based on taste balance, colour/consistency of crema, presentation, temperature, explanation of custom beverage, and even customer service skills.

I think it would be worth while to attend myself (thinking about it - it’s free), and especially educational. There is a lot left to learn on my part about what makes up an exceptional espresso, just based on these judging criteria.

Coffee Poll

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I have yet to implement a good poll, but I am very curious about people reading our blog so far. Are you coffee lovers? Coffee addicts? Just curious?

So, here is a little get to you know you kind of poll:

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? What is your coffee of choice?

My answer is 1-2; usually 1. Americano, if I buy it. But I do load up on tea as well.

Melita/Cone brewing tips

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According to Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen the cone brewing system made popular by Melita is the best way to brew…for now.  Okay so what’s the best way to do it?
The key, they say, is for your coffee to be done brewing in 4-6 mins and using something like 180 deg F water.  Now I neither time my brewing or test my water for temperature, but I have found that if I make coffee in my 2 cup cone filter in the following way I get a great cup.
My favourite mugs are 1.5 cup mugs.  Don’t know why, just happens to be so.  So I heat 1 2/3 cups of water up in the microwave.  Regardless of what you think of microwave energy, this is an energy efficient way to heat the water.  My microwave takes about 4 mins to get the water to the right temperature.
So while the water is heating I either scoop two scoopers (the little conical coffee measures) of ground coffee or two scoops of beans.  Grind, if needed, other wise I put the coffee into a #2 unbleached coffee filter in my little 2c holder.  I like unbleached filters for environmental reasons, not only am I not supporting the use of chlorine in the bleaching process, I compost the filter and ground and don’t want it in my garden, thank you.  That being said Thrifty Foods sells cone filters bleached with ozone (O3) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).  These are fine and used a whole pack and didn’t notice any odd flavours in my coffee.
Okay once the water is hot I pour enough to cover all the grounds well then stop.  I let this drain through and site for about another minute.  This gives the grounds a chance to moisten and expand.  Coffee grounds are hydro-phobic (repel water), so this step helps the brewing process tremendously.
Once the grounds are good and wet, I pour in the rest of the water, slowly.  If I’m careful and go relatively slowly I can get the rest of the water in this way without a pause.  Then I wait, and often forget, for it to finish.  When all the water has perked through you’re done.  Now, this is all going into the mug I’m going to drink out of, so if you’re brewing into a larger vessel, you’ll have to pour in stages or the cone will overflow (bad, and messy).
I’m a stickler for the proper water to coffee ratio, so if I had a larger cone and vessel I’d either still heat the water in the microwave or heat it in a tea kettle and pour into a measuring cup (this would also cool the boiling water a bit so you don’t overbrew your coffee making a bitter cup).
Hope this helps you make a great up o’ Joe!
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Creekhouse Coffee Rhumba review

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I’m a fan of the medium-dark blended coffees.  Nice balance, not too bitter or strong.  I’m also a fan of supporting local roasters who sell organic, shade-grown, and fair-trade coffees (sometimes you have to mix and match these three).  Recently I found a new roast by Creekmore Coffee of Qualicumm Beach (sorry, can’t find a website) at my local Country Grocer store.
Rhumba is an organic, shade-grown, and fairly traded coffee.  It’s 2/3 medium, 1/3 dark blend and very lovely to drink.  I’ve had a couple cups of it now, brewed two different ways, and I’m happy to say that this coffee is going to be a regular member of my coffee stash.
First brew was a three Melita scoop, ground in my Braun coffee grinder (about 3 10-second pulses) and made in my Roasting Company French Press cup.  Very nice.  I let it steep for a while (like 5 mins) before  I pushed the plunger (I also added milk before plunging).  Nice, rich brew.  Lots of coffee flavour, but not bitter.
My next cup was in my two-cup Melita cone (two scoops beans, 3 10-second pulses) into a regular mug.  I did my usual-as per Cook’s Illustrated-pour a little hot water in to thoroughly wet, warm, and soak the grounds, then pour in the rest of the water slowly (some folks might pour the remaining water in two stages, but I’ve found that it didn’t make an appreciable difference in taste).
This cup was mellower, of course, but also smoother and I think a nicer coffee flavour.  Nice for sipping over a little while.  I also kept it on my coffee warmer (I know, gasp, the horror), and the coffee didn’t even start getting burnt or bitter after several minutes.
As they say on the bag…this is a coffee you’ll dance over.
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Prado Cafe

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Thanks to Roland’s suggestion yesterday, I went over to Prado Cafe on Commercial & 4th today.

Was a little mixed on the whole minimalist vibe, though I quite appreciated the woodwork. Coffee wise, I am not sure yet. First off, it must be admitted that I was a tad off put by the milk dispensers - didn’t quite get it at first. Not your standard dispenser. Simple, yes, but yet I managed to overpour. So, my rating of the coffee is going to be held back until I can give it an official second go.

However, milk accident aside, I did find the coffee smooth if not rather on the weak side. No trace of bitterness, overroasted beans, or other obvious flaws. But I think perhaps too weak tasting - not enough power. The kick was still there, don’t get me wrong. It put me into the brisk walk type of mood, but I was not overly impressed. I would put it along the lines of a Take 5 type coffee in terms of its taste, but perhaps a little under par.

I will not comment further until a second try. Yes, it was good but it did not wow me. Perhaps I am getting to be a better judge of coffee after having tried many good varieties at this point. I am even rethinking my earlier high ratings of some cafes in light of comparative samples.

So, that’s it for now. Go try it and tell me if you disagree with my assessment. But don’t take pictures. Apparently that’s not allowed.

Grinder out of whack?

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If you have a grinder, it may not be doing its job, especially if it’s not tuned properly. A good shot of espresso needs a fine grind. It needs to achieve that crucial 25second shot for most midrange espresso machines.

All the tips you need for your grinder are here!

Thanks Coffee, Tea or Blog? for the link!

It’s a straw thing

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I just made a nice Americano with coffee we purchased from Trees. And I got the itch to use a straw. Not an uncommon thing with me. For no apparent reason, I really enjoy drinking coffee/tea with straws on occassion.

But it does look odd. I know.

The starbucks experience

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Via the Coffee, Tea or Blog?
Origin - gapingvoid

JJ Bean review

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JJ Bean review
Arieanna gives it 4 stars, Ianiv gives it 4 stars

Coffee 89%
Atmosphere 84% (chain average)
Service 90%

We’ve been drinking JJ Bean for a couple of weeks now. Always very impressed. We have so far tried the location at Granville island and today went over to the newest location at Main & 14th - so new, it’s not even listed on the JJ Bean website.

I know you must be getting tired of seeing such high ratings on many of our reviews. Well, at this stage we’re just seeking out cafes that other people rave about. And really, no coffee we rate highly is exactly the same. We like them for different reasons.

Why do we like JJ Bean? Well, it has a more distinctive taste, I think. It has more of a tartness to it. More bite, but really not an overpowering bite. I think it has a rich flavour.

I really enjoy patronizing local roasting houses, because the coffee is just so much better for its freshness. JJ Bean roasts 3 times per week. They have great info on their site about how they roast. I don’t want to overpost on that.

Anyway, great coffee, great baristas - I’ve never encountered anything but an interesting, animated barista. And I love the brand itself - look at the coffee sleeve and you will notice it says “Moo” in place of “Milk.”

Anyway, go try it. :)