Saturday, December 21, 2013

Starbucks Frappuccino

Starbucks Frappuccino (Mocha)

Let me start by committing heresy to some people:
       I am by no means a fan of Starbucks coffee.

That being said, let me clarify. I really dislike the Starbucks cafe coffees. This bottled variety found in many groceries and convenience store/gas stations isn't too bad. It's not high on my list of preferred cold coffee, but it's not as low as some things I have had in the past, either.

The flavor is actually pretty good. It really tastes as advertised on the label. You buy Mocha, you taste Mocha. Buy Caramel, you get *gasps* Caramel. One of my favorite upsides to this bottled coffee over the "fresh" variety available at the coffeehouse? This stuff doesn't taste burnt. This frappuccino actually tastes pretty sweet. Just the way I like it. It is also nice and light, so it goes great on a hot day as a sipper drink.

My only real complaint with this is the price. Nearly $3 for a drink that maybe lasts me about 5-10 minutes is a little much for a daily drinker, but if you have the money this is a fairly solid choice.

The Final Sip:

            -Weekend Worshipper

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Death Coffee

Also known as Sainsbury's Basics Fairtrade Ground Coffee.

Coffee creamer
Fourth cup of Coffee of the day without washing the mug in between

The first time I made this Coffee, I got sick. I won't bore you with the details, but I didn't feel right for a day. I may have made it too strong, though, so I'm trying again. One must review these things properly, of course.

The packaging is the standard Basics one, with the (rather long) tagline "Robusta beans, dark roasted for an intense flavour". And it holds true. It's made from 100% Robusta beans, and it is indeed quite dark. I'm not personally a fan of very dark Coffee, but I don't really mind it either. However I loaded up with Coffee creamer just in case.

The first sip isn't too bad. It's not great by any stretch, but it's about what you expect from the cheapest Coffee on the shelf. The smell leaves a lot to be desired though, and as you drink on you realise why it's the cheapest Coffee on the shelf.

I think I'd have to be rather desperate for caffeine before this became a voluntary choice again. But the pack has been bought so down it must go.





"Improved recipe" says the little green circle on the front of the packaging. I have to wonder what it was like before. About the only good thing with this Coffee is that it's Fair Trade. I like Fair Trade. It makes me feel good in that lazy way that only slacktivism can.

I made about two cups' worth of Coffee in the machine and all I can think now, most of the way through the first, is "oh [deity of choice], I have to finish another one as well!" Why do I do this to myself? Because it's Coffee! You don't waste Coffee. No matter how bad it is. Almost.

Ten minutes later, my stomach is definitely not happy. And this is without drinking that second cup. I'll just hope it doesn't live up to the nickname I've given it...

Note: While looking for a picture of this, I realised it's not on the Sainsbury's website. Perhaps they've stopped selling it? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Chianti Room at Pizzalley's--Espresso

If you ever happen to find yourself wandering around in the oldest city in America, right down the tourist hotspot of Saint George Street and decide you need a pick me up of pure divinity, this is the place to go.

A few weeks ago that's where I found myself, having brought the Weekend Worshiper into town to watch the Dr Who 50th and take a tour of one of my favorite historical spots.  We go there late and it was a cold day, plus we were edging on hunger.  Now, Pizzalley's has some of the best pizza you'll ever eat too, made in an old brick oven, it's absolutely fantastic.  It did take me a couple of tries to find the right place, but it was comfortable and out of the cold.

Though I'd already had some coffee that day, obviously there is no such thing as too much--after much debate about my budget, I decided to hell with it and ordered myself an espresso.

It came out in a perfect tiny cup, with a perfect tiny spoon, on a perfect tiny saucer.  Along with a stick of rock candy to sweeten it with.  I did, in fact, us the rock candy to sweeten it a bit before handing over the cane of espresso coated sugar to my toddler (what? Coffee love runs in the family!).  Slightly sweetened, this is absolutely lovely, some of the smoothest espresso I've ever tasted.  The nutty flavor really shines through.  My Coffee Snob tendencies were instantly pleased, and I'm certain you'd feel the same should you ever end up in the area.

Bottom Line:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nescafé Mocha

Yes, this is instant again. Yes, the Snob has made her feelings on instant quite clear. But this particular instant is so NICE.

This Coffee is pure heaven from the first sip until the last. Now and then, when I haven't been to a real Coffee shop in a while, it seems to taste exactly like real mocha. I know that's not true, but it's close enough that it tides me over at a fraction of the price.

The powder is a funny blend of white and brown tiny granules. Then the hot water goes in, I stir it, and chocolate Coffee amazingness is created. A little bit of foam, not as much as on real mocha but enough to show you that yes, this is Fancy Coffee. All that's missing is one of those chocolate powder thingies that make shapes. I like the shapes...

And then you drink it. And it's so chocolate-y. It's like someone took a milk chocolate bar and melted it and mixed it with water. And put a little bit of Coffee in it. And ...stirred it.

I think that last paragraph got away from me.

This Coffee is so smooth that it doesn't taste much like Coffee at all. You can sense a hint of it, but this is not, I repeat not, something you drink for the caffeine kick. This is pure pleasure. This is for rainy winter evenings (if you can drink Coffee that late), or for those mornings when you just can't be bothered and need a real pick-me-up. I mean... it's chocolate. Who can argue with that?

So after all that lyrical waxing and general waffle, why only four cups? Because it's still instant. It's not quite to the point of real mocha made with non-powdered ingredients. But if Coffee shops aren't your thing, this is actually a really decent alternative.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dilettante--Espresso Beans in Premium Chocolate

The Snob loves her coffee, she loves it so much, in fact, that she even likes to EAT it.  The hard part is peeling off those pesky chocolate shells, so she just grins and bears it and eats those along with the lovely espresso beans.

In all seriousness, sometimes a girl craves chocolate, and chocolate coated espresso beans are my go to chocolate (unless there are chocolate turtles available, then all best are off).  Usually I prefer to go straight for the dark chocolate coated ones that I'd get in the bulk bins at a gourmet grocer (yes, I mean the all organic and oh so fantastic ones).

Sometimes though, you want something cheap, tasty, and still good.  That's where these are fantastic.  You can get them at Wal-Mart (and if you're states side, you know what this place is) and they're only a few bucks for a bag--look in your candy aisle on the top shelf, that's where they are in every single Wal-Mart I've ever been too.

Every bag has a combination of dark chocolate, white chocolate, and milk chocolate coated beans.  The chocolate coating is much more generous than most varieties of espresso beans too--a LOT of chocolate around every single bean.  The chocolate isn't what I'd call premium, but it's a huge step above the candy bars you buy in the check out line.  The beans inside are tasty, and while it's very much sweeter than what I usually go for, it really hits the spot and cures my chocolate craving--along with giving me a lovely caffeine spike!

Bottom Line:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Java Monster "Mean Bean"

So, for my first review, I am doing the Java Monster of the Mean Bean variety. Now, the Snob may argue that this isn't coffee, but it is. It also has more caffeine than normal coffee, so I really don't see where she has room to complain. For people who like the caffeine kick of the Monster brand energy drinks, this is just as good. For people who like the taste of coffee, this is good. For people who love coffee and Monster energy drinks, this is pure Brilliance in a can.

The taste is fairly smooth. Not bitter at all like Black coffee, but not too sweet like most canned energy drinks that come out. Obviously, it's best drunk whilst cold or at the very least, chilled. It probably wouldn't taste too bad at room temperature, but I surely wouldn't recommend it. Especially during the warmer months. Well, if you live somewhere that HAS warmer months. Florida seems to be nothing but warmer months, so this drink definitely has to be cold for me to consume.

The kick is exactly what you would expect from crossing coffee with an energy drink. I consider myself to have a fairly high tolerance for caffeine, but if I drink this too fast, or on an empty stomach, I get jittery and shaky. If I have eaten, or take my time in drinking, this is the perfect little pick-up for long boring shifts at work. And trust me, on night shift in a nursing home, there are plenty of those.

Overall, I consider this to be one of my Go-To drinks when I need a little boost, and I feel like having some good tasting coffee during the warmer months.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our new Co-Admin and Reviewer, The Weekend Worshipper! *insert fanfare here*

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen! I am the new member of this little operation. Unlike the Philistine, I drink ACTUAL coffee (ish) instead of that instant swill. :P And unlike the Snob, I will drink the canned and bottled stuff that may or may not be coffee. With our powers combined, we are the Tweaking Triplets! ^_^

My relationship started when I was a kid and my dad would ask me to make his coffee, and I would sneak a sip here and there. The warmth and sweetness of the drink was amazing to me. Not to mention the quick buzz. Then in the military, coffee kept me going over the overnight shifts and the really boring shifts. Now that I work in Nursing, it helps me stay awake on the overnight shifts.

I earned the name Weekend Worshipper because I can't drink hot coffee during the summer months, and only sometimes during the Spring and Fall. Unless it's one of the cold drinks from the Gas station or Wal-Mart. I wanted to be called the Part-Timer, but I was outvoted. Apparently, it didn't sound good enough for the Snob and Philistine. So, here I am.

Looking forward to keeping you guys (and gals) educated! ^_^

Monday, December 2, 2013

Coco Cafe--Cafe Latte

I was really excited to try this, I imagined that, upon taking my first sip, the clouds would part, a beam of light would shoot down from the heavens to shine on me and me alone, and I would hear the sweet song of angels singing praise to the almighty coffee.

What actually happened was less thrilling.  I opened up the container, I took a sip.  I closed it and shook it up again, why was there a chalky texture?  It was slightly better upon second sip.  It tasted good, but nothing more than mediocre.  I was hoping for hints of coconut since it was mixed with coconut water, but really only tasted it when I strained too.  I'm sure most people would probably prefer it that way, coconut water is an acquired taste.

Other than the mildly offputting texture if it's not shaken up VERY well, it's rather good, definitely something I'd buy again.  The price though, it's what catches me.  While I can get a HUGE cup of black coffee for $1.69, this weighs in at almost $4 for a container half the size.  It's got the gourmet price sans the gourmet flavor.  Despite containing a shot of espresso, it also doesn't have the same pick me up as my usual coffee.

I guess overall, the most I can say about this is that it was also mediocre, not at all the divine experience I was looking for, but passable and a lot more portable than my usual coffee.  Also, it's served chilled, so it's much nicer on a hot day--of which we have plenty in Florida.

Bottom Line:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Coffee-Mate vs Sainsbury's Coffee Whitener


They taste the same.


Whitener is less sticky. And cheaper. And you get more in a pack. So... that's me sold.

Winner: Sainsbury's Coffee Whitener

Ow! Ok! Ok!

...The Snob has very kindly and gently pointed out that this is a rubbish review, so let me start over.

I've been using Coffee-Mate for a long time because I can't use milk (intolerance) and I don't like the taste of soy milk in Coffee. This means that I'm very, very used to the taste of this ubiquitous Coffee creamer.

I found the Sainsbury's Whitener while browsing the grocery section on their website, and at first I dismissed it because it has more cow's milk content than Coffee-Mate. But the thought stuck with me. And as my intolerance goes in ebbs and flows, I finally figured I'd try the Whitener while I was having a good period.

It turns out there is no appreciable difference.

No, seriously. The imitation creamer is actually really good. It's well worth trying out if you don't like/want milk in your Coffee and you don't want to use a brand name product for whatever reason, be it cost or, y'know, consumer conscience.

I'm very happy with this creamer and I will keep using it. So my conclusion stands: Sainsbury's Whitener wins it for me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Best Bean Coffee--Vanilla Nut

I'd like to preface this by saying that yes, this is gas station coffee.  When you're getting a hot cup from the same place that people fill up their tanks, you kind of have an idea of what you're getting into ahead of time.  It's better in some gas stations than some though, and that's why I'm happy to have a Gate station right down the street.  Where else am I going to get a coffee and blueberry croissant fix for under $5?

I drank this coffee black, how it's supposed to be drank--though for the purpose of the blog I promise to branch out sometimes.  It's strong and dark and you will not taste a hint of vanilla in it, but it does have a nutty aftertaste.  Most people will load this kind of thing up with creamer to take the edge off it, but I've grown to love the bitter taste of gas station sludge, it's like pure caffeine entering your veins, you know the rush is coming.

Anyway, back to the coffee.  It doesn't have the slightly burnt taste that most gas station stuff does, even though I know I got the bottom of the pot on this one.  While it is strong it's not "nurse's brew" strong--you know, the stuff you can stand a spoon in.  It's great for people who like their coffee cheap, strong, plentiful, and with a little something extra to make them feel special.  In other words, it's perfect for me.

While it has it's ups and downs, it's pretty decent coffee for the budget conscious that aren't brewing at home. I really wouldn't buy it unless I was desperate and between paydays though--which is pretty often.

Bottom line:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nescafé Original

Coffee creamer
Fourth cup of Coffee of the day without cleaning the mug in between
Drunk warm, not hot

Yes, Nestlé is evil. Yes, this means Nescafé is also evil. Yes, I'm evil for being a consumer who consumes Nestlé products.

That out of the way...

This is my go-to Coffee. It's instant, which is often looked down upon, but as a struggling crafter and general philistine, and not to mention generally lazy and impatient person, I find instant to be simple and affordable. And it doesn't taste too badly either.

Being my go-to Coffee, this may not get a fair review. Biases are everywhere, and I'm so used to the taste that, hey, don't listen to a word I say. Or do, because I'm a reviewer and you're here to learn.


As far as instant Coffee goes, this is very drinkable. It's not too dark, so it doesn't taste too strongly or burnt. It's not too light, so it still has a nice, round taste. Well, if instant can be said to have a round taste. I imagine it's a bit sharp if drunk black. I wouldn't know. With Coffee creamer it's fine, a good start to the day. Even better with a touch of cocoa powder. Hide the taste, right?

But seriously. This doesn't compare to proper Coffee. It just doesn't. It's a cheap, easy alternative if you drink Coffee a lot and don't care too much about how it tastes. It's for the caffeine junkies. It's for the people who want a hot drink right now. It's for the people, like me, who can't afford to drink seven cups of nice Coffee a day.

If you want instant Coffee, I'd recommend this. If you want good Coffee, get a Coffee maker and follow this blog for real recommendations.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Coffee Snob

I still remember my first taste of coffee like it was yesterday.  I was a little girl in my grandmother's kitchen, it was cold and rainy outside.  Grandma was standing at the counter in the kitchen carefully sipping from her steaming mug.  I asked if I could have a taste, "You won't like it," my grandmother warned.  "Yes I will!" my child self argued back.  So my grandmother said I could have a sip after it cooled a bit.  I was filled with anticipation, after all, my grandmother cherished this liquid, drinking it at all hours, hogging it to herself, it must be amazing, like chocolate or something!

Finally, it cooled enough that she let me take a sip.  It was in that moment that I knew my grandmother was insane, this was poison!  It was so bitter, disgusting, did grown ups have no taste buds? Where was the sugar? Where was the yummy taste I'd expected?  My grandmother was right, I didn't like it.  Grandma took her coffee black, and after one sip of the liquid that I then thought of as vile, I could understand why she hoarded it to herself, no one else wanted it anyway!

Over the years I drank a little coffee here and there though, always with lots of cream, sugar, syrup, things that were more dessert than coffee.  In college I had a sordid affair with vending machine cappuccino, sometimes having two cups before I even made it to my first class at eight in the morning.  Occasionally, thanks more to student loans than my minimum wage salary, I could afford to go to the local Starbucks for a cup here and there, and that's where real dessert was made.  For the most part, I was ignorant of what coffee should be because there were so many things added in that it no longer tasted of coffee.  That, and the town I went to college in was in the middle of podunk nowhere, so Starbucks was literally the best coffee sad.

At some point I found myself pregnant, and abstained from coffee during that time, after my daughter was born though, I needed a serious pick me up.  I pulled out my trusty coffee pot and brewed.  There it was, a fresh pot just done, but there she was, needing me again.  I had a choice to make, wait until my coffee was cold, or skip the cream and sugar.  I drank it black.  It was still vile, hard to get down, so bitter, my taste buds were not used to this at all.  I drank it black the next day too, and the next, and one day found myself drinking my coffee black even though she was fast asleep and I had plenty of time to add in my sweeteners.  My taste buds had adjusted.  This was no longer vile and bitter, I could taste the hints of nutty flavor now.  This was my brew, strong and dark, and...once I moved back to the city, as local as I could get.

A friend whipped up a genuine espresso at a local shop once, and then I knew love.  Oh, it was bitter, but it was delightful too!  While the companion that had come with me balked and asked for some sort of sweetener, I drank mine as it was.  I started to realize that I was becoming a purist then, those beautiful beans were good on their own, why everyone insisted on tampering with the brew and making them taste like something else was beyond me, why not taste it on its own?

I've tasted some of the best, and some of the worst coffee to exist, everything from what is dubbed "nurses brew" to green coffee imported from Kenya.  I don't see anything horribly wrong with adding a little something extra, but if you can't love the naked brew, get out of the coffee shop!

The Coffee Philistine

The Coffee Philistine does not drink black Coffee. Oh, no. She didn't like black Coffee when she first tasted it, and she doesn't like it now.

The Coffee Philistine didn't like Coffee at all for a very long time. Whenever someone offered a hot drink, she would instead request hot chocolate. Chocolate was her love above all. Hot chocolate with marshmallows was her Coffee shop drink of choice. How small her mind was.

One day she found out about mocha. Coffee and chocolate, mixed, in one drink? This intrigued the Coffee Philistine. With friends in a Coffee shop one fine Saturday she took the leap - she ordered a mocha! Her friend looked at her. "I didn't think you liked coffee." (The friend didn't know to capitalise Coffee.) The Coffee Philistine gave a scathing look. (Not really, but the story reads better that way.) "It's mocha. It has chocolate." The friend gave an understanding nod. The Coffee Philistine took one sip and was in heaven. This truly was the nectar of the deities.

Short on funds, the Coffee Philistine took to drinking instant mocha. First as a treat now and then, later every day. Sometimes twice a day. Coffee shop mocha was still the ultimate goal, but needs must. Then disaster struck. Her lactose intolerance spiked, and she could no longer drink her beloved mocha without stomach cramps. Being a creative type, she thought about what could be done. "What if," she reasoned, "I drank normal Coffee... with cocoa powder in it!" She borrowed her partner's instant Coffee and, with some trepidation, mixed in cocoa powder. She took a sip. And another. It had created a rich, chocolatey flavour completely unlike the mocha she had had to give up. But oh, it was nice.

And a new love was born.

Addiction soon followed. Then the religion. She now capitalises Coffee to show her appreciation.
But creamer and sweeteners are still necessary.
She is a Philistine after all.