Articles Donald’s reviews of CBTL/Caffitaly capsules

A careful selection of the highest qualities, abortion
each decaffeinated individually to obtain a caffeine-free blend without affecting the taste or aroma. The optimal roasting level gives Caffé Cagliari Caffe Decaffeinatto a constant and reliable quality standard. No more than 0,1% caffeine.
A careful selection of the highest qualities, abortion
each decaffeinated individually to obtain a caffeine-free blend without affecting the taste or aroma. The optimal roasting level gives Caffé Cagliari Caffe Decaffeinatto a constant and reliable quality standard. No more than 0,1% caffeine.
A careful selection of the highest qualities, abortion
each decaffeinated individually to obtain a caffeine-free blend without affecting the taste or aroma. The optimal roasting level gives Caffé Cagliari Caffe Decaffeinatto a constant and reliable quality standard. No more than 0,1% caffeine.
A careful selection of the highest qualities, abortion
each decaffeinated individually to obtain a caffeine-free blend without affecting the taste or aroma. The optimal roasting level gives Caffé Cagliari Caffe Decaffeinatto a constant and reliable quality standard. No more than 0,1% caffeine.
A careful selection of the highest qualities, abortion
each decaffeinated individually to obtain a caffeine-free blend without affecting the taste or aroma. The optimal roasting level gives Caffé Cagliari Caffe Decaffeinatto a constant and reliable quality standard. No more than 0,1% caffeine.
I rate these capsules on the four star movie scale – 1/2 to ****. CBTL accurately rates the strength of each capsule (CBTL’s scale of 1 to 5) without attaching any quality meaning to it whatsoever. One other note: In general, rx many low-rated espressos can make fine Americanos (i.e. “coffees”) by adding hot water, but I’m only rating them on their espressos.

**** THE BEST OF THE BEST!

  • Ecaffe Intenso – As you can no doubt tell by its name, this is a very strong capsule with 30 percent robusta – much like Nespresso’s Ristretto. USA’s Caffitaly rights holder, CBTL, has no such capsule. Even their intense espresso capsule, “Italian”, while quite wonderful on its own, is strictly an American blend offering nothing resembling that which is traditional in Italy other than a dark roast. Ecaffe Intenso, however, fits the bill quite well with a fairly big crema, a nice robusta bite, and heavy body. I’ll bet this would work great as a cappuccino, but I wanted to enjoy this one as a straight espresso. Note: This was actually a “Dualit” brand, but it seems to simply be a rebranding of the Ecaffe capsule of the same name.
  • CBTL Premium Espresso – (espresso strength: 4) – This is very much a CBTL version of Nespresso’s Arpeggio. Like all of CBTL’s espressos, this is an all-Arabica blend. That is not necessarily a good thing, but it works very well with Premium. It’s a nice, smooth, earthy espresso with caramel-ish flavors. It likely has Sumatra and Brazil-based beans to give it a rich mouthfeel. It also produced a nice amount of crema so the robusta wasn’t really needed. Premium works well with milk or straight up.
  • CBTL Italian Espresso – (espresso strength: 5) – This is CBTL’s dark espresso, and another winner overall. Unlike Premium, this does not equate to Nespresso’s Ristretto in flavor, but it does in roast and intensity. It would be my number one choice if not for the lack of robusta, which makes its name – “Italian” – absolutely ridiculous. Not having robusta takes away that slight edge I prefer in a dark, intense espresso, but it does somewhat make up for that with my favorite flavor quality in an espresso – a lingering sense of dark chocolate. I don’t mean it’s a flavored capsule. I simply mean the slightly bitter, edgy chocolaty nuances from the blend come through well. What makes it even better is that the chocolate comes through at the end, which gives a long-lasting impression after the espresso is finished. Like Premium, this can make a terrific milk drink as well. Italian also has the most crema of all the CBTL espressos, but is still not a great amount. However, this appears to be a result of the CBTL system rather than the coffees.
  • CBTL 10% Kona Blend (Coffee) – (coffee strength: 1) – Wow, I didn’t expect this from a 10% Kona blend. It beats every 10% Kona blend I’ve ever had, and even stacks up nicely compared to other Hawaiian pures and blends I’ve had in the past. For a lighter roast (which is how Kona should be handled) it has good enough body, but also shows its Kona piney flavor along with a complex, lasting aftertaste. If you only have a CBTL/Caffitaly system, this is one you’ll always want to have on hand. Really good!

***1/2 EXCELLENT – I’d recommend any of these in almost any order

  • CBTL Continental Espresso – (espresso strength: 3) – This is the last of the three regular espresso capsules made by CBTL, but it’s still a good one. This medium intensity is similar to Nespresso’s Fall 2011 limited release Dhjana capsule although not as high an overall bean quality as Dhjana. It’s very smooth, and kind of sweet. I would guess it’s a Colombian or Mexican based espresso with Indonesian added for a little body and earthiness. However, none of the beans are roasted beyond medium-dark, if that, and its crema is slight. I wouldn’t make this into a milk drink because its flavors are already subdued, but it makes a nice, light and bright shot when you don’t want anything too heavy.
  • CBTL Costa Rica Brew (Coffee) – (coffee strength: 2) – This was a terrific cup – medium-bodied, bright, and complex with a wonderful, floral flavor. It’s almost comparable to top Costa Rican pods. This is very much worth having a box around.
  • CBTL Premium Decaf Espresso – (espresso strength: 4) – The problem with decafs, naturally, is you can immediately tell that it’s decaf – sometimes distressingly so. That flavor distinction is not entirely missing from Premium Decaf Espresso, but it’s still quite amazingly good enough to warrant this rating. It appears to be a straight decaf version of Premium Espresso, and a nice blend it is. Sure, it doesn’t have the brightness and crema of the non-decaf version, but it holds up quite well as CBTL’s lone decaf espresso and is also intense enough for milk drinks.
  • CBTL Viennese Brew (Coffee) – (coffee strength – 4) – Viennese is a medium-dark roasted blend featuring dark chocolate notes, medium body, and a decent brightness as well.

*** STILL QUITE GOOD – I’m still happy drinking any of these.

  • CBTL House Brew (Coffee) – (coffee strength: 3) – I thought I would like this the most of the CBTL coffee blends, but it wasn’t as medium roasted as its 3-intensity rating would suggest. It was more of a medium-light roast with bright, floral notes. Central American beans are prominent in this blend, perhaps from Honduras, Mexico, or Costa Rica. It’s a nice, pleasant morning cup that I wouldn’t ever mind having, but it’s not really special.
  • CBTL House Decaf Brew (Coffee) – (coffee strength: 3) – Like the Premium/Premium Decaf espresso twins above, this coffee is a decaf version of the regular House bland. The decaffeination is certainly not invisible here, but it’s not prominent, either. As a decaf It’s typically flat, but makes a decent cup when decaf is what you need.
  • CBTL English Breakfast Tea – I’m really not a tea expert, but it’s my wife’s beverage of choice so this is where she put it with a simple, yet unexcited, “Yeah, it’s good.” One problem with single serve tea is, of course, that tea is usually already single serve. The larger problem is that, whether by bag or loose, the flavor comes from steeping for some period of time in hot water. In fact, steeping tea releases – in order – 1) caffeine, 2) color, then finally 3) flavor. Think about how fast water runs through a single serve capsule in a machine. Can that really substitute for steeping time? Still, they seem to have cut the leaves small enough so that enough flavor gets extracted in this capsule. As CBTL calls for coffee and tea to be extracted with the same button, I would go with the reduced amount of water I suggested in the coffee reviews above.
  • CBTL Tropical Passion Tea – Another fine tea that defies the usual steeping requirement. This one has a guava, pineapple, and passion fruitiness that works well hot or iced.
  • CBTL French Brew (Coffee) – (coffee strength: 5) – French Brew is another perfectly adequate CBTL blend, this one a dark roast. Although I don’t generally like dark roasts, this medium bodied one isn’t too smoky and you can still discern some of its nutty, caramelly, malty flavor. This is one of the better dark roasts I’ve had.

**1/2 – DECENT, BUT NOT SPECIAL

  • CBTL Colombia Brew (Coffee) – (coffee strength: 3) – This is a quite bright, low-bodied, nondescript, medium brew. It’s a little hard to classify, but perhaps a little woody. It’s too mellow to have any kind of quality, lingering aftertaste. This is really not special especially when compared to top Colombians available in other systems.
  • Ecaffe Cremoso – This is a lungo capsule and, as such, is not much as a regular espresso. It has little crema, but is very smooth and very mild. It’s obviously all Arabica coffees, none of which are very bright. It’s probably a Colombian base and maybe with a Mexican added because I don’t detect much body or substance in it. While there’s nothing wrong with its flavor, I would have to say it’s just kind of dull.
  • Ecaffe Tea Naturale in Foglie – A strong, black tea from Kenya. This is more powerful and disarming than the more delicate English Breakfast Tea offered by CBTL.
  • Ecaffe Bevanda al Cacao – This is hot cocoa designed to be pulled as a lungo or even a lungo plus an espresso. It has no coffee in it at all. It works OK as a single serve hot cocoa, but making one manually is really a lot better. Be sure to run a couple of blank water shots through your machine after making this one to properly clean out the line. Note: This was actually a “Dualit” brand, but it seems to simply be a rebranding of the Ecaffe capsule of the same name.

Read whole Donalds chart at Single Serve Coffee Forum.

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