Starbucks Verismo Coffee Maker

Single serving coffee makers are all the rage, so you can expect to hear a lot about them this holiday season. Naturally they make great gift for many people on your gift list, from the busy professionals, young students to moms and dads.

We tested the new Verismo System by Starbucks and liked the system very much. Starbucks knows coffee, so any coffee maker with their brand name on it can be expected to meet a high level of quality, and the Verismo system lives up to that standard. As soon as you pull it out of the box you can tell that it’s well-made and beautifully designed as you can see from the photos above. It has a small footprint so it will fit in nicely on most kitchen counters without taking too much space.

We tested the 580 model pictured above, and a slightly larger and more advanced V-585 system is also available. The system is very easy to use, and all of the parts work seamlessly together. It’s easy to add water, clean by rinsing and also adjust the drip tray grate to adjust for different size cups. The machine warms up quickly in about 15 seconds so you can get your coffee fix right away when you need it.

The system uses pods like other single serving coffee makers, but here you use Starbucks pods that use the exact same coffee that Starbucks uses in their cafes and in their packaged coffee. The Verismo can be used to brew an espresso, regular brewed coffee, lattes and even an Americano. Instead of using milk, this system uses 100% natural dried milk pods so the lattes are very easy to make and you don’t have any messy cleanup. The results were impressive. The espresso in particular comes out great with the crema that espresso lovers expect and the taste is excellent. You can learn more about the available pods here.

Overall, this is a premium single serving coffee system that makes for a great gift idea.


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Drink of the Week: Pumpkin Irish Coffee

Pumpkin Irish coffeeYes, I know, I haven’t covered real Irish coffee yet and here I am writing about a rather non-classic variation on same. I have my reasons. First, I want to acknowledge the start of Halloween Weekend 2011. Second, even in Southern Calfornia, the weather is finally cooling down and it’s time to run DOTW’s first ever warm beverage. Finally, more than traditional Irish coffee, this drink, promulgated by the good folks representing the reliably tasty Bailey’s Original Irish Creme, brings back many fond memories of countless youthful late night/early morning sessions of blackjack and craps fueled by even more countless rounds of allegedly free Baileys and coffee. How can you not love any drink combining the four basic food gambling trip food groups: caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and fat. I was certainly happy to get a free bottle of the key non-coffee ingredient in the mail.

Anyhow, this version is a nice autumnal variation on the Baileys and java theme that adds a dash of something extra, but not a speck of actual pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Irish Coffee

2 ounces Irish cream
4 ounces strong coffee or espresso
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Whipped cream
3 espresso beans (optional garnish and/or snack if you want to get extra wired)

Combine Irish cream and pumpkin pie spice (a melange of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, but no pumpkin) as best as you can in a small coffee cup. Pour in four ounces, or maybe a bit more, of freshly made and hopefully very hot coffee or espresso. Stir again, rather vigorously. Top with whipped cream and, if you want to get fancy, three espresso beans. Sip, and remember, whatever you do, don’t split 10s and never bet the farm on hard 8.


I actually altered this recipe somewhat, cutting down the pumpkin spice from a full teaspoon to just a half. While the spices definitely add an extremely nice flavor to the coffee and alcoholic cream combo, they also have proven to be somewhat resistant to dissolving, even with the hot coffee. The result is a sludgy residue at the bottom of the coffee cup that I didn’t love. Cutting the amount of pumpkin spice in half, however, has also resulted in cutting the residue down to acceptable levels. Using actual super-hot espresso from a machine might also help on that score. If you do so, certainly feel free to experiment with going full pumpkin.


Espresso Girls and Fiat

We had the chance to attend a party at the new Fiat dealership in LA to check out the new Fiat 500 during the LA Auto Show. Fiat is finally coming back to the United States and the company unveiled the hot new 500 at the party.

With the Italians involved we weren’t surprised at the incredible food served at the event, and of course they had beautiful women serving espresso as well. We were also struck by the elegant and modern design of the dealership that helped to highlight the impressive new design of the Fiat 500 that was tailored for the American market. The company also had a vintage 500 on hand at the auto show which of course was promoted by a beautiful booth babe. The Italians are reintroducing sex appeal to the auto business, and we couldn’t be happier!