September 2011

Starbucks Bali Coffee

Starbucks Bali CoffeeThis has been a cock-up from start to finish. First off, it got made with a kettle of COLD water in a catastrophic user error. Then there's the fact we opened it a month ago and still havent reviewed it. Then the re-make turns out to be as anemic as hell. There is a flavour in there, but I'm not getting it in the usual 6 spoon cup. Scoring badly at 4/10 for now until we turn it up to 7. Maybe you need the "dark chocolate torte" rammed inside the cup at the same time?

Average: 6.8 (4 votes)
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Asda Extra Special Java Volcanic Island Coffee

Asda Extra Special Java Volcanic Island CoffeeWe've had two of these in the same day. The reason for that?  It's 'effing blinding, that's what. Post my visit to Taylors lab last week, we've sharpened up our act in the kitchen. We've now got a timer to make sure we do a standard 3 1/2 minutes for each brew, and we're not going to open a new packet until we've finished the last one - or left it in the kitchen for the peasants to finish off. There's nothing to fault this on - it's thick and heavy, full of flavour yet no bitter aftertaste. I found out last week that these Asda Extra Specials are, infact, made for Asda by Taylors themselves - which explains me going out of my way to find an Asda just so I could try one. There's a big range too. Excited. No question - it's a 10/10

Average: 7.5 (17 votes)
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Douwe Egberts Cafetiere Blend Coffee

Douwe Egberts Cafetiere Blend CoffeeA standard, always available coffee. No matter where you go, you can pick this one up, and to be honest, it’s nothing special. It's not overly strong - we just did 5 spoons for 2 cups. The flavour is there, but it's the kind of coffee I'd expect to be served in a restaurant or something - just a generic filter coffee. It's got something of a dry aftertaste too which lingers around. Drinkable enough but I just wouldn’t rush out and buy it unless it’s all that’s available. Scores just a passable 5/10 at this point.

Average: 5.3 (9 votes)
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Starbucks Kenya Coffee Beans

Starbucks Kenya Coffee BeansThis looked great straight away - a nice gentle foam on the top. The only thing that detracted was it seemed to have an oily surface - almost like a mini oil slick swirling around in there. Once you get over that though, the taste is right up there. Us judges now know about the whole Kenya/Altitude/Citrus thing (thanks, Mike Riley of Taylors) so when we read about it on the side of the pack, we were ready to believe it. What was the first thing Judge Coughee said when he glugged it?  It tastes of fruit! Hank's still not quite having it though. I'm on it though - a definite lemony twang. It hits you the second it's in your mouth, but it doesn't linger on. When it's gone, it's gone. It's like a fruity bullet just grazing your tongue as it speeds past. A great coffee - would be a 9, but at the usual Starbucks extortionate price of £3.95, it can only score an 8/10 from me.

Average: 7.4 (15 votes)
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Illy Espresso Medium Roast Coffee

Illy Espresso Medium Roast CoffeeWe've been putting off this one for some time on the grounds of cost. How can anyone justify £6.13 for a standard pack of coffee? It would have to be phenomenally good. Errrr - it is. From the moment you hold the sturdy tin with its brushed aluminum lid in your hand, you know it's gonna be good. The lid unscrews with an engineering precision - this is not just any old Ikea storage jar. Inside, the coffee is again sealed with a ring pull membrane, which opens with a satisfying rush of air. As far as coffee packs go - this is as good as it gets. We've done two cups today and both are packed full of flavour and somehow feel fresh. Like the coffee is straight out of the roaster. There is definitely a hint of the "floral note" they claim on the tin - maybe slightly citrus even. The grind is very fine - which means some care is needed to press it down slowly, otherwise you could end of with a mouthful of grinds. All in all - it can't be faulted. But sorry - it cant get a 10 score - at over six quid a tin it's just crazy money. It's more of a gift package than an every-dayer. Come on Illy - make us one in a standard vacuum pack for half the price and we'll be on it everyday. Until then it's a 9/10 from this Judge.

Average: 8.8 (36 votes)
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Grumpy Mule Organic Bolivia Cafe Femenino Coffee

Grumpy Mule Organic Bolivia Cafe Femenino CoffeeThe first one of these was exactly as they described it. Creamy. I don't know how this happens, but it was definitely a sickly sweet, milky brew. Now if that's your thing, then all well and good. But it's not mine and I had real trouble finishing the first one - it was scoring a 4/10. They also claim a lingering finish - and they're not wrong. The taste just doesn't go away. It Kinda Lingers.  So for this afternoon I broke the rules, went to 7 spoons for three cups and held back on the milk a bit. This time we get something which has lost it's creamy-ness for sure, and for me is more palatable. But as ever when having to spoon a coffee up to high strength levels to mask its failings, there's a price to pay. It's slightly harsh with a bit of an aftertaste. This coffee is nothing more than OK. It actually tastes like a cheapy - yet in our local deli it's a whopping £4.50 a pack. All in all then, a lowly 6/10.

Average: 4.8 (5 votes)
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Lavazza Qualita Oro Coffee

Lavazza Qualita Oro CoffeeThis one has been a real puzzle. First time round it had a creamy taste to it. Like it was crying out to be made stronger. It was also quite sweet tasting - I was definitely thinking that this is a coffee for girls. Then every time we've made it since it just got more bitter - now is this a part of the aging process? Can it change that much, over 2 days, kept in a sealed tin? Or is it some kind of reaction to us emptying the stupid vacuum pack out into the uber-cool Illy tin? Whatever, I needed a tiny bit more sugar to make this to taste for me. In the end though, it's a 7/10 while you're drinking it, but it does have a bitter after taste, which pegs it down to a 6/10.

Average: 7.4 (20 votes)
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Marks and Spencer Colombian Coffee

    Marks and Spencer Colombian CoffeeArriving at the office first thing on a Monday morning we find that the carpets have been cleaned over the weekend. Now they didn't seem that bad last week, but the assault on the nose this morning was like the Charge of the Light Brigade armed only with lemons. It seems that if you run out of carpet shampoo, Lemsip makes a good alternative. This coffee is claiming a "fruity acidity" - yet this morning everything has a fruity acidity. This is not a good neutral environment for a Judge. So it comes back out over the next few days - and it proves tricky to get right. Even though were sure we make it exactly the same each time, one is foamy, one is heavy and dirty tasting and one is even light and creamy. How can it vary this much? The final one though comes good. There's plenty of depth of flavour and no after taste at all. But still no sign of the fruit. Not one I'd rush out and buy again, but perfectly fine. (6/10)

Average: 5.9 (9 votes)
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Blasõn Jaltenango Chiapas Coffee

Blasõn Jaltenango Chiapas CoffeeOne of the judges has managed to sort himself a nice little Mexican Señorita. Now, the rest of us have never met her, so it could have just been a cover story for his frivolous nights spent on Hampstead Heath. But then, low and behold, he disappears for two weeks and turns up with a real life Mexican coffee, thus adding indisputable weight to the "Señorita story". What ever the truth - we're having the coffee. It's all new - a bigger packet (340g) and super coarsely ground. There's no real smell when we open the pack - which doesn't bode well. It just smells like cheap coffee. The usual dose in the pot gives as an un-drinkably weak cup. So much so, all I could taste was the milk, so I left mine. We tried again: stronger. Still no cigar. One last chance today - and I took charge of the pot and really loaded it up. EIGHT spoons f'chrissakes! That just about nailed it - we can finally taste coffee. But it's still a washout - there's no depth of flavour and there's plenty of aftertaste, due to us having to make it so strong. They claim some acidity - and that fruityness is just about there - but it's disguised under several layers of mud. It's a holiday coffee, let's face it. Presumably you can buy it near Hampstead Heath. (4/5)

Average: 8.6 (13 votes)
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Taylors Coffee Tasting Visit

Coffee Strength Guide

You've seen it all over the coffee packs - what does it all mean? Let us guide you through it. The strength depends on the roasting time. NOT, as you might think, on the caffeine content. So it's possible to have a strength 3 with more caffeine than a strength 5.

Like a late night curry - coffee strengths tend to be a real macho thing. All the lads order a Vindaloo.


Strength 1: doesn't even exist. Like 1* hotels - no-one would admit to being that bad


Judges Verdict Guide

Ratings 1-4 mean we would never buy this crap again.


1. Undrinkable - we could not finish the cup. This shit should not be on sale.

2. As bad as 1) but we did manage to get the whole cup down without vomiting.

3. Still terrible and we drunk it. Reaction was not vomit inducing. This is the entry level for something actually being classed as coffee.

4. The only level of bad coffee where we would consider having a second cup. Would still never buy it though - you would have to buy it for us. And make it. And serve it on the thigh of a virgin.