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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Escaping the “Anywhere, USA” phenomenon

In his latest cigar review for Partagas – Spanish Rosado, Bob Hritsko addressed an interesting topic in the introduction.

Whether you travel a little or a lot, you can’t help but notice the “Anywhere, USA” phenomenon. This is the term that I have for the incorporating and franchising of Americas cities, where no matter what city you are in, it is getting more difficult to find something original, especially restaurants, bars or even retail stores. Whether I am in Dallas, Charlotte, Las Vegas or anywhere, there they are — McDonalds, Starbucks, Applebee’s, Chili’s, etc. They can usually be found near the suburban malls with all the stores you know, right across the street from the Holiday Inn, Marriott Courtyard, etc.

Many of you know that I will often seek out cigar-friendly bars and establishments in the cities I visit. The draw of doing so is simply to escape the boring, repetitive convenience of traveling to Anywhere, USA, at least once in awhile. I have found the cigar-friendly establishments to be often unique venues in themselves; all the big chains have to be politically correct and ban any type of smoking, so they don’t upset their mainstream client base. The other advantage of a cigar-friendly joint is that it tends to be a little more social in nature, as a smoke is a commitment of a chunk of your time. If you are in a hurry and want to be left alone, a cigar lounge is not the place for you. Chatting with the folks in these establishments will usually provide you with the local information about other original places to experience in town.

I recently had the pleasure of doing so recently in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., visiting one of the original cigar bars in Florida, Macabi Cigar Bar on Las Olas Blvd. Once inside this dimly lit, quaint bar, I knew I stepped off the beaten path. The founder/owner, “Pat” Patel, was on hand to greet me. The plentiful selection of cigars was presented openly along the walls of the bar, a concern at first, as I wondered if the cigars could be properly cared for and maintained in this atmosphere. I was assured that the humidity and temperature were monitored. I selected a Partagas cigar and settled in for an excellent selection of beers on tap.

We’ve lost quite a bit over the years as our country has become dominated by suburbs and strip malls. Like Bob, many of us appreciate it when you can find a unique spot. That’s why cities like New York and New Orleans still have so much charm – you don’t have to look hard at all.

  

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