Nespresso Unveils New Trieste and Napoli Coffee Pods; I Become Lazier Than Ever

Does anybody want a really fancy espresso machine? It’s only been used once, and it was very expensive when I bought it, but the darn thing takes so much work to operate–grinding and pressing and priming and brewing–that I’d have to quit my job to use it properly. It’s a Saeco Espresso Classico, it’s taking up space on my counter, and I’m never, ever going to use it again. Fortunately, I just got one of those Nespresso machines, where you pop in a coffee pod, press a button, and it does all the work for you, so I don’t have to. I love good espresso, but I’m lazy about making it and too cheap to buy it at a coffee joint, so this solves every one of those problems. And the coffee in those Nespresso pods is better than ever. The company just came out with a couple of new, limited edition blends, Trieste and Napoli, and they’re as good as any fancy-pants coffee I’ve ever tried. So I have a free Saeco espresso machine for the first taker. Just drop by and I’ll give it to you. I’ve moved on, and I’m never looking back.  

I was served samples of Nespresso’s Trieste and Napoli blends in a nice Italian restaurant in Manhattan called Naples 45, and each was delicioso. Do you remember those old Folgers commercials, where they go to an upscale restaurant like the former Tavern on the Green and "secretly replace the fine coffee they normally serve with dark, sparkling Folgers crystals"? It was kind of like that. Well, there were no secrets, but they did replace the fine coffee normally served at Napoli 45 with Nespresso Trieste and Napoli blends, and both were great.

It was a lunch announcing the launch of these blends, and we’d been eating pizza and drinking wine, which made the post-meal espresso jolt all the more welcome, but they seriously tasted like every other fancy espresso pulled from those fancy machines like the one I’m getting rid of. They’re easily of a quality level befitting an upscale Italian restaurant in New York. 

The Trieste and Napoli coffee pods are designed to evoke the heritage and flavors of the two Italian cities. The Napoli blend is inspired by Naples, in the south of Italy, and features Arabica beans from South America, Africa, and Asia, with a hint of Robusta beans. It has an aggressive taste with smokey notes, and I liked it a lot.

I enjoyed the Trieste even more. It’s named after the northeastern Italian port city, which is a mix of German, Italian, and Slavic cultures, and served as the gateway to the coffee-mad Austro-Hungarian empire. Trieste is a blend of 100% Arabica beans from Brazil and eastern Africa, and has flavor notes of chocolate and hazelnut, which might be why I liked it so much.

I also preferred it for a random, weird reason: the bathyscaphe used by Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard for his 1960 descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench–the deepest part of the ocean–was named Trieste, and I interviewed Piccard about the experience before he died. That interview was later made into a short movie by German film maker Roman Wolter that you can watch here.

But back to the coffee. It’s great, and you should try it, even if you’re not as lazy an espresso-maker as me. Even when the Trieste and Napoli blends have disappeared from store shelves, I’ll still be using my Nespresso U with its other blends, because it’s easy, fast, and makes great espresso. That is, unless it starts saying nasty things about me. That might be more than I can bear. 

[Related: Official Nespresso site; BlackBook City Guides; Listing for Naples 45; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Get Ready To Know Your Barista’s Name

Starbucks, which turns out to be not merely a chain of free public restrooms but a business that sells some noxious dark liquid in cups, has spoken: all its employees must now wear name tags. Special apologies to any barista who goes by Joe: the puns will be just terrible.

I know, I know—you don’t want to put a name on the service industry automaton operating the cappuccino machine. Or maybe you do, because it’ll make it that much easier to Facebook stalk her! Complicating the entire deal are the blackboard-like tags themselves, which are all too easily modified to display inaccurate or purposefully illegible name information (also known as nimformation).

Ah, maybe I’m being too cynical. This move could genuinely bring a baristas and his customer together. Couldn’t it? Maybe they run into each other on the street in a neighborhood far from their usual Starbucks, and one asks the other if they’d like to grab a cup of coffee. A Starbucks is right around the corner. They go in and greet the barista working there by name, even though they don’t know each other. All three of them share a laugh. This is the happiest they’ll ever be.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

The Top NYC Bars To Hook Up With Hipsters

How does it feel to tear off someone’s skin-tight lycra shorts and mismatched striped socks? Are coffee-guzzling, liberal arts majors better at talking dirty? What’s a hipster’s morning-after go-to spot ? If you cannot answer any of the above questions, it’s time you consult our list of the Top NYC Bars To Hook Up With Hipsters. This is a species that travels in packs, and where there’s one, there’s many. We are confident you will find lots of single, attractive, and nimble hipsters here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Los Angeles Openings: Coffee + Food, The Phoenix, PizzaRev

One doesn’t normally boast about Australian food; it’s usually a boring blend of ‘80s American and British dishes that include a lot of ‘chips,’ and other overpriced menu items. But here’s one thing about Oz: their coffee is twice as good as that organic swill you’re French-pressing every morning. They always use espresso beans, and they use them well. At the new Coffee + Food over on Melrose, stop in for a flat white or a long black or just a cappuccino, and you’ll really feel what the buzz is all about. As for the ‘+ Food’ part, there’s a nice selection of paninis, salads, pastries, and more.

The rustic and game-friendly Phoenix bar rose in Beverly Hills a bit ago, offering old fashioneds, sazeracs, craft beer, and one food item: steak frites and salad.

And in Studio City, PizzaRev brings a Chipotle-style ‘build-your-own’ food to artisan pizza. No matter the amount of toppings, it’ll be under $8.

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Press Button, Receive Coffee: A Call For The Return of the Automat

I keep quarters for laundry in a little cup on the corner of my desk in a ceramic version of the classic Greek diner coffee cup, or the Anthora cup, which apparently littered New York in the ’60s and ’70s. One of my secret wishes since moving back to the city—up there with dating an Olsen twin—has been to order a cup of coffee to-go and have it served in one of those blue and white, “we are happy to serve you” paper gems. It’s been a year now, and no such luck on either front.

But a visit paid the other morning to the Lunch Hour NYC exhibit at the New York Public Library pushed my coffee nostalgia a few decades further back. In 1912, Joe Horn and Frank Hardart opened their flagship H&H Automat in Times Square, serving cheap plates of baked beans and beef in burgundy sauce. If less than appetizing, the Depression was enough to bring the droves around to school-lunch fare. But their delicacy was always known to be the cup of mud with one drawn on the side, or coffee with cream. Pop a nickel into one of these incredibly ornate silver dispensers, throw down your ceramic mug, and with the push of a button you had a hot, fresh cup! It wasn’t until 1950 that they bumped the price up to a dime, which I guess alienated a sizeable chunk of the fan base. The last Automat officially closed in 1991, but by then New Yorkers had sort of lost their regard for cheap java. I was born in 1989 to two residents of a building on East 3rd Street featured in People Magazine for yuppifying the Hell’s Angels’ block. For shame. Five years later, Howard Schultz opened the first Starbucks in New York, and all went to hell.

Though it appears now that Starbucks may be on the decline, known less as an espresso haven and more as a convenient place in Midtown to move one’s bowels. Last fall, both GOOD and The New Yorker reported on the upswing of coffee shops like Stumptown (in fairness, the Ace Hotel is also a great place to use the bathroom) and Intelligentsia, which put the focus on quality beans brewed in press pots and served black. Many of the employees even wear suspenders and cute hats, in keeping with the old fashioned ethos. But a copy of the Coffeeman’s instructions from H&H, as interpreted by someone who’s read the aforementioned articles, seemed to suggest that Automat coffee, if recreated, may give the artisanal cup a run for its nickels.

I showed a transcript of the recipe to the Coffeeman at Crop to Cup, an importer and purveyor of ethical beans down here in Gowanus, and he said it appears to have been a good, full immersion brew. That is, you had French press-quality coffee supplied to the urns fresh every hour. The exhibit placard said H&H used a “special blend of six different [beans] plus a little chicory”—perhaps not of the quality of the Uganda Bugisu beans he used for my pour-over cup, but serviceable no doubt. And the instructions were laced with plenty of other wise turns, such that they ultimately won my confidence (e.g. “Be especially careful in the early morning of making coffee properly”).

And so, my call goes out to you, entrepreneurial Brooklynites. Revive the Automats as coffee shops, with those art deco placards, elegant dispensers and urns of full immersion-brewed, chicory-laced blends. Just retrofit the nickel slots to take quarters. I’ve got a cup full of ’em. And besides, it’s Brooklyn—who needs to do laundry anyway, am I right?

Follow James Ramsay on Twitter.

Those Who Want To Meet For Coffee Vs. Those Who Want To Meet For a Drink

These are the only two kinds of people, as far as I can tell, and never the twain shall sip comfortably together.

I, for one, detest coffee and everything it stands for—jangled nerves, geopolitical angst, humanity’s tolerance for terrible-tasting beverages—but that does not mean I never have to meet for coffee. Afternoon coffee is often the plan suggested by a potential employer, and I always go along with it, and the minute I order a cup of tea I know I’m done for. You don’t drink coffee? Why didn’t you tell me! UH, I DON’T KNOW, JUST TRYING TO CONFORM HERE. Coffee meetings are also popular for non-committal dates and tête-à-têtes with professors (N.B. these two things are exactly the same in every respect). Basically, coffee is what you go for when nothing will be accomplished and you didn’t want to go in the first place.

A bar, on the other hand—overflowing with the sweet nectars of Dionysus—now here we can make some progress. Loosen up! Say what you really mean! Do a shot! After a year of trying and failing to sell a novel, you know how I finally made the connection that would result in its publication? OVER DRINKS. Who the fuck since the Federalist Papers ever got business done in a coffee shop? It’s too full of people pretending to be busy and important, sitting alone, plugged into laptops, worried about what everyone else in the coffee shop thinks of them and working up the courage to ask out the manic pixie dream barista.

Really, if you insist on conducting your social affairs in a terminus of western civilization, at least let it be one with a jukebox.

LCD Soundsystem Shares Clip From Biopic

On July 18, Shut Up And Play The Hits, a documentary about New York’s beloved electro party band LCD Soundsystem will open for one night only in theaters around the country. (Check out a list of participating cinemas here). 

But if you need a little something to tide you over—something other than listening to the band’s albums on repeat for days at a time—today’s your lucky day. A clip from the film has found its way online, thanks to Pitchfork.tv, and shows the band playing fan favorite “Dance Yrself Clean,” from last year’s album This Is Happening, at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden. It was, in fact, the band’s final show, which also serves as a linchpin for the (totally awesome, we’ve seen it) movie. 

The release of the film brings up all sorts of burning questions about what LCD frontman and mastermind James Murphy will do with himself now that the group has been dismantled. One possibility: barista.

After the film’s screening at Sundance, Murphy—who spends a lot of time in the film making coffee—told New York Magazine, “"For my birthday, my girlfriend got me a training course with the world champion. That’s what I’m going to do when I get back to London.”  

Murphy also revealed that he was planning to develop his own blend of java, but wouldn’t go into detail.

"I can’t talk about that because I’m still in negotiations," he said. "I love that we’re here and talking about a film, but I’m like, ‘I can’t really talk about the coffee.’”

Mixing Coffee and Tea For a Cool Summery Treat

It took a while for New York to accept that it’s springtime, and it’s finally starting to get warm enough for the switchover from hot coffee or tea to iced.  But what if you can’t decide? Do you want rich, creamy, body-shaking iced coffee to perk you up in the afternoon, or will you go with soothing, not-as-bold-but-not-as-harsh iced tea to go with your lunch? In a perfect world, one wouldn’t have to make this decision, and, luckily, at Davids Tea in the West Village, you can have both.

That’s right: the Canadian cafe serves a tea-and-coffee blend, and, oddly, it doesn’t taste like either ingredient. The geniuses at Davids Tea use a toasted Pu’erh tea, an ancient blend from the southern Yunnan province in China that goes back over a thousand years. This tea has natural chocolate notes that mix well with the whole, dark-roasted beans that lace the blend. To make the iced version of the Coffee Pu’erh, the barista (wait, what do you call a tea shop girl, and, since it’s both coffee and tea, would it be a combo of the name? Discuss.) doubles the amount of tea, about three tablespoons for a 12-ounce vessel, and seeps it for about four to six minutes. Into a cup of ice goes a half pump (about one teaspoon) of agave nectar to add a bit of sweetness and to bring out the chocolate notes.

Once the tea is brewed, you just pour it over the ice, add a bit of soy milk and voila! A light, refreshing drink that tastes like a mocha without the harsh caffeine jitters of coffee but enough of a jolt to put some spring in your step. Even if this sounds odd to you, it’s a crazy combination that works so well, and coffee and tea drinkers both have exulted its praise. Just make sure you ask for it iced for the full summer experience.