Posts tagged espresso

Coffee shoot-out results

Well, someone commented that matching up the Starbucks Christmas blend against 5 Senses blend is like trying to get the Malaysian football team to play against Brazil or something.Well, a shootout is a shoot-out.

Well, in the end, that may be true. It’s 5 Senses by a 4-0 score (and out of 4 tasters too).


Pop open the 5 Senses bag and you get immediately hit with that aromatic caffeinated goodness that coffee is all about. The Christmas blend from Starbucks, well, it has that coffee aroma but it doesn’t hit you in the face so much. Pour the beans into the grinder and it doesn’t offer up much aroma either. Grind up a couple of shots worth of 5 Senses and your kitchen is guaranteed to smell like a coffee shop. 5 Senses 1, Starbucks 0.


I can’t say when the Christmas blend was roasted but I managed to pull quite a number of shots with crema on it. This contrasts with many of the other Starbucks coffees where pulling a shot with any volume of crema is close to hitting the lottery or something. It’s fresher than their other coffees but against the 5 Senses is like night and day. A friend whom I’ve given the coffee in ziplock bags labelled A and B commented — pull one shot and you already know which one is fresh and they other not. Again, the score is not pretty. 5 Senses 1, Starbucks 0.


Guess which coffee tasted over-roasted and a bit burnt? Don’t need to say more do I? All four tasters including myself came to the same conclusion. The Starbucks Christmas blend tastes like burnt Christmas pudding or something. Bitter, burnt flavor was prevalent, hiding the generally spicy flavors that the beans had. After a couple of shots, I had to resort to adding syrup to my coffee which doesn’t bode well. On the other hand, four out of four agreed that the medium bodied 5 senses really had that nutty, fruity smoothness that comes from careful blending and roasting of select beans. Again, it’s a 1-0 score.

Finally, let’s talk economics. a 1kg bag of 5 senses will set you back about RM190.  They’re only a week old from roasting though and compared to the Christmas blend which retails for about RM40 for 250gm bag (or RM160 per kg), the numbers don’t stack up well. For only a few more ringgit (18% to be exact), you get coffee that’s guaranteed fresher, more aromatic and full of flavor. If you’re counting espresso shots, it’s RM2.67 per double-shot for the 5 Senses and RM2.25 for the Starbucks Christmas blend. Knockout!

I know that 5 senses is my Christmas coffee this year and years to come. So much so that I’m getting my bag of Yirgacheffe single origin the week before Christmas. If you don’t agree with me, swing by my place and let me pull you two shots and you’ll taste the world of a difference.

If you’re coming in to our Studio for your photography sessions, I’ve got 5 senses for ya!


Coffee Shootout, part 1

In one corner, we have 5 senses blend from Australia, roasting date was 7 November and in another corner, we have the popular Starbucks Christmas blend. Unfortunately, Starbucks doesn’t list their roast date so I wouldn’t know. However, since the Christmas blend is usually produced during the year-end period, it’s at least in late October or early November.

Well, our freshness test will tell soon enough. I’ve beans distributed to a couple of friends with espresso machines and who’ve come to know what good coffee tastes like. Results are trickling in and I should be able to have the results tallied by end of this week.

The judging criteria: freshness, aroma and taste. Of course I expect taste to be subjective but at least your home should smell lovely after grinding and pulling a shot or two and you should have some lovely creme on top your pulled shot. My score is done but I’m not telling/sharing until I get the other results in.

Tallying the results now so stay tuned for which Coffee is going to be served at my place during Christmas!

Coffee Ritual, SS14, PJ

I’ve been hearing about coffee ritual for some time now from my coffee loving friends but have not even had the time to drop by this entire year. No time until yesterday. I was actually going to pick up my coffee grinder (Isomac Professionale) from one of Malaysia’s coffee connoisseurs, KF Chan of Coffee in Malaysia fame.

Since I wasn’t there to really to savor the food, I won’t comment on them. Coffee was great however. After testing out the grinder, we had some shots pulled from from a Vibiemme Domobar Junior. All in, the coffee is superior to any coffee chain in Malaysia except for the milk. I prefer my coffees with milk although I do occasionally drink them black. The problem is our local milk really doesn’t taste that good. Perhaps a change to farmhouse brand Australian milk might help.

Home Espresso shots (continued)

The past three weeks have been kinda strange as I’m been mostly in my home (and home office and home studio too!).

Obviously, that meant that I’ve lots of time to work on my espresso pulling on my Evolution. So far, I’ve found that fresh beans will produce superb crema and obviously, taste and aroma as well. Starbucks beans are nicely roasted but are weeks old when you buy them at their stores. Even this pricey tin of espresso from Illy wasn’t fresh enough.

For regular people like me who love their coffee but aren’t too anal about 100% freshness, Coffex provides the easiest solution. As the beans are roasted in Australia and air-flown, you are mostly guaranteed some semblance of freshness. How fresh? No beans I’ve tried (Boncafe, Illy, Starbucks, etc) provided me with instant lovely crema right out of the Evolution and the aroma is absolutely fantastic. My house smells like a little cafe after pulling a couple of shots.

Here’s 18 grams of Coffex Superbar tamped nicely and ready to go!

And of course, the results! Look at that lovely crema!

And my morning double-shot ready to get me started!

One double shot coming right up

I’m pretty much a coffee person. Personally, coffee can sometimes make or break my day. Bad coffee stinks and is pretty much undrinkable. This is sadly the average coffee scene here in Malaysia. We don’t really get fresh ground beans and many cafes serve instant coffee powder anyways. So far, I get an acceptable cup at Starbucks or Dome. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a forgettable cup. Of course if you’re after the local brews of robusta beans then I find the ones in Yut Kee in KL and Bentong pretty respectable. For arabica bean coffee, it’s a rare cafe that serves up anything fantastic.

You know what they say… if you want it done right, you do it yourself! Easier said than done considering the high import tax this country slaps on Espresso machines… Since I’m pretty much making shots for myself, I decided that an entry level machine will suffice. I’ll splurge on a good grinder and freshly roasted beans instead.

So, the new addition to my kitchen counter top was a brand new spanking Gaggia Evolution. It’s pretty much the “kancil” of espresso machines. I would really love a Nuova Simonelli Oscar (in red) but it doesn’t really justify the cost at this time. Maybe when I’ve perfected the art of pulling shots with perfect crema and latte art will I upgrade my Evolution.

More to come once I’ve gotten some practice in 🙂

p.s. if anyone’s looking for a gift for me, a nice knocker would be a lovely gift 🙂