Home Shot: Intenso Espresso

Specialty espresso machines for home use can fetch very high prices from SGD500 onwards to a few thousands for a high-end one. Fret not, there are more affordable ones in the market right now such as Dolce Gusto from Nescafe, CBTL from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Nespresso. These machines have different range of pump pressure in making your cup of espresso. Of course, each machine will come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Well, we are not going into the technical comparisons here but just to shine a little light that it is possible to get a decent espresso machine without burning a huge hole in your wallet. Since I have a Dolce Gusto, we shall take a dip into their Intenso Espresso capsule.

Dolce Gusto, Intenso Espresso

Dolce Gusto, Intenso Espresso

Don’t dismiss this capsule due to it’s small size because it sure does packs a punch. This devil allows you to make a shot of 50ml espresso based on the guideline on the box. So we did the best we could to gauge the amount of water being pumped through the capsule since our Dolce Gusto Circolo is a manual operated one.

Dolce Gusto Circolo

Dolce Gusto Circolo

Looks cool eh? The bluish light glowing as you see your coffee being pumped out. But the heart of this machine lies within the pump pressure of 15-bar. That’s the measure of the machine to force hot water through the ground coffee in the capsule. Some might say that the optimum pressure would be at least 15-bar to get a good ‘crema’ or foam from your espresso. We shall see how the Intenso Espresso fares when it reaches our palates.

Intenso Espressp

Intenso Espressp

The Coffee Review:

Aroma: Smokey and burnt. As expected from espresso grounds as the beans tend to be roasted till dark brown or even black.

Acidity: A healthy level of liveliness in it. Like I said, it does packs a punch.

Body: Full-bodied.

Flavour: There was a slight bitter taste to it with woody tones. It has some lemon sourness as well. A very complex blend indeed.

Aftertaste: It left a dryness to the mouth and some tobacco-like aftermath.

Overall: 4/5. The liveliness of the coffee with tobacco-like taste suggest that it’s a great after dinner beverage. It gives a tender touch to the digestive system after a meal and was able to keep the night conversation going.

So there you have it, a simple machine that doesn’t disappoint the tastebud. In fact, the crema present on the espresso was enough to give that creamy start even though oil is barely present due to the dark roast. Do look around the coffee machine section in malls and I’m pretty  sure you’ll find some affordable espresso machines – even below SGD200. Happy hunting!

We’re Still Around!

Hey everyone!

Apologies for the lack of updates since our last review. We’re kind of juggling with our hectic day job and some personal projects. But fret not, we’re still around to do some coffee tasting at home and cafe.

Do take care of yourself given the hazy days lately. The air is smokey but doesn’t mean you can’t fix a mean coffee! Stay tune for our next Home Shot review!

Caffeine Shot: OldTown White Coffee

This little eatery/cafe/restaurant sits quietly within White Sands Shopping Centre displaying a decent store front and the bold yellow signage. So we thought, why not give this place a review since they are quite famous for their white coffee. Ever wonder what white coffee really is? I had the initial thought that their beans were white in colour but of course, that can’t be true.

OldTown White Coffee, White Sands

OldTown White Coffee, White Sands

OldTown’s white coffee is a special brew originating from Ipoh Town. Here is a short excerpt from Wikipedia on what is white coffee in the Malaysia context:

In Malaysia, the original white coffee started in the town of Ipoh, referring to a drink made from coffee beans roasted in margarine, brewed and served with sweetened condensed milk in a cream-color form.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_coffee)

The dark brown interiors

The dark brown interiors

I must say, their interior do need a little perk-me-up colours rather than the dark brown walls that makes the place a slightly dim. But the ambience was nice nonetheless especially during non-peak hours. They do seem to have shortage of staff as patrons waiting at the store front were not entertained promptly. Hopefully they’ll do something about it since the company has just received it’s Halal certification which spells an increase in customers coming from the Muslim market.

Alright, now let’s head right into their coffee. They do offer the original OldTown White Coffee but I had my eyes on the Iced OldTown Hazelnut White Coffee for brunch. Sounds pretty mouthful with the hazelnut on top of their special brew. Let’s see how they fare in our review.

OldTown Hazelnut White Coffee

OldTown Hazelnut White Coffee

The Coffee Review:

Aroma: A definite scent of hazelnut.

Acidity: None at all. This is highly due to the sweet condensed milk masking the coffee.

Body: Quite hard to gauge on this one given the strong sweetness covering the whole drink. If I were to give it a shot, I’d say.. Medium bodied.

Flavour: Err.. Hazelnut?

Aftertaste: A cool hazelnut aftertaste with sweet milk lingering in the throat.

Overall: 3 / 5. We can’t really compare this beverage with others in the gourmet class due to various factors. Coffee from kopitiam origins and the similar were meant to fill the working class patrons back in the olden days. However, it does say a lot about these coffee blends as they maintain their legacy and retain their place in today’s modern lifestyle. The simplicity of the drink gives a refreshing feel for a weekend brunch if you feel like having something sweet.

Well, coffee is not always black.

New Blend In The House

We’ve just got ourselves a local roast by Oriole Coffee and it made our noses tingling with excitement. A blend from Antigua Valley, Central Guatemala with such a fantastic aroma will surely not disappoint our tastebuds – hopefully.

Plus, a simple and wonderful coffee grinder has just landed on our shelf as well. Just a little update: we found ourselves surrounded by variety of coffee grinders in a shopping centre that we least expected. Do head down to: Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Level B1 where you can get your machines, grinders and even fresh coffee beans!

So do stick around as we whip up a review about the beans and coffee grinder very soon!

Leafy Facts!

The Tea Bag Accident:

Tea bags were not initially made for soaking in the hot water but tea samples in silken bag. It was around 1908, Thomas Sullivan, a New York merchant sent these tea samples to his customers. They thought that these silken tea bags were meant to be soaked fully like the metal infusers. Well, they did put it into action and commented to Sullivan that the bag was too fine.

Guess what after that? Yes, the first purposeful sachets made of gauze to hold the tea leaves was born!

Home Shot: Boncafe Viennese

A coffee lover will always find comfort in creating their own brew at home. Some might get their fix of coffee from espresso machines to lightning fast instant ones. But what if you want to get a fantastic brew without burning a hole in your pocket from those expensive machines?

We’ll be taking a look at the French press method – a medium range setup. The best thing about this method is that it produces a very direct translation of the coffee grounds to coffee drink. It retains more flavour and oils that makes the cup wholesome. Do remember to have a coarse ground from your beans when using the press so as not to allow fine grounds pass through the sieve when you are plunging it down. The size of the grounds will greatly affect the taste of your coffee if it’s too fine.

Given the absence of a coffee grinder at my home, I decided to ground a whole bag of 500g of Boncafe 100% Royale Viennese roast over at the supermarket itself for convenience’s sake. Viennese, also known as Full City to some is medium brown or moderate dark brown roast. You will experience a more full-bodied drink with muted acidity.

Fast Fact: Coffee loses its best flavour within a few seconds after being grounded. As it hits the surrounding air, oil will start to dissipates and flavour will be affected.

So lesson learnt: get a coffee grinder and only ground it before you make the drink.

Coffee grounds blooming in the hot water

Coarse coffee grounds blooming in the hot water

First off, start out with 2 tablespoon of coffee grounds for a 8 to 10oz  cup and experiment it a bit to suit your taste. Pour in the hot water (just below boiling level) and the grounds will start to congregate closely to each other. You’ll have to give it a little stir around the surface for the blooming to start. Subsequently, the grounds will get friendly with the water and produce healthy brew; let them sit for about 3 minutes as you close the top with the cover and plunger.

Fast Fact: Let the grounds sit in the water no more than 4 minutes or the bitterness will start to conquer your brew.

Alright, let’s get into the actual coffee review!

Boncafe Viennese

After 3 minutes.

Boncafe 100% Royale Viennese

Boncafe 100% Royale Viennese

The Coffee Review:

Aroma: A masculine roast smell. Some buttery tones.

Acidity: Almost none. Muted.

Body: Full-bodied with a satisfactory level of richness. Still maintaining a good amount of oil on the surface.

Flavour: There were some sour undertones which might be due to the grounds being exposed to the air for a few days. A mixture of bitter and sweet at the same time. Forgive me for the lack of better words but I do find some plastic/rubber taste hiding somewhere as well.

Aftertaste: The sourness lingered for a few good moment and a hint of spiciness/pungency. A well rounded flavour of coffee nevertheless.

Overall: 4.5 / 5. I think this roast has great potential if it is being stored carefully and of course, grounded immediately before brewing. This could be my favourite roast due to the low acidity and full-bodied richness. Minus the funky taste hiding in it, this roast  definitely requires the care it deserve.

For your  benefit, Papa Palheta has a simple hand grinder that doesn’t burn your pocket. If you happen to have other good and affordable coffee grinders, do let us know!

Last but not least, you can get your Boncafe grounds and beans from major supermarkets. However, I do find Cold Storage to hold more interesting blends. Good luck !

UPDATE: Do look around at major malls like Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Level B1 where they have a variety of coffee equipments and grinders. You’ll be surprised by the range they have.

Caffeine Shot: d’ Good Cafe

And our hunt for caffeine continues..

This time round, we’re heading towards the South side of Singapore to the infamous Holland Village. It’s an ecosystem rich with cafes and eateries from Japanese to Mexican. You name it.

It can be a quiet ‘village’ on a weekend afternoon with fair amount of people walking by but don’t let that fool you cos’ the cafes were bustling with life. A quaint building grabbed our attention with their huge convincing signage, d’ Good Cafe. It stood out with branches of confused design and photographs of coffee beans. But it does a pretty good job of making itself noticeable and it sure attracted a good number of patrons.

The signage that can never go unnoticed

The signage that can never go unnoticed

We took our chance and was blown away with their little coffee bar and cosy seats. Additional walking space in between would be greatly appreciated though.

A quaint and cosy ambience

A quaint and cosy ambience

The coffee bar

The coffee bar

They have a healthy range of coffee with brewing methods from French Press to V60 brew. There was the Jamaican Blue Mountain in the menu as well which got us pretty excited but unfortunately, that will be for another review. Since I love to get a good dose of oil from the grounds, we ordered an Indonesian Mandheling which was pressed the French way.

French pressed Indonesian Mandheling

French pressed Indonesian Mandheling

The Coffee Review:

Aroma: It caresses your senses with an earthly fragrant. Some level of dryness was detected.

Acidity: On the mild side, the kind where you would want to have it after a meal.

Body: Light-bodied as you sip it but changes gradually on the aftertaste.

Flavour: An interesting flavour that is slightly bitter with a hint of spice. It retains the Sumatra Mandheling characteristic of earthly taste in an alkaline-like form.

Aftertaste: It escalates from lightness throughout your palate to a heavy and complex taste in a split second. Trail of the coffee lingers afterwards for a few good seconds.

Overall: 3.5 / 5. A great way to wrap up your lunch or dinner. Somehow it left me with a bit of an acidic stomach feel after a few hours. The kind that gives you an illusion that you’re hungry.

We are definitely coming back to this cafe again to try other coffee which looks very very promising. Take an afternoon stroll along the streets and say hello to the baristas at:

273 Holland Avenue
#02-01/02
Sunday to Thursday (10am to 10pm)
Friday & Saturday (10am to 11pm)