Since Nespresso lost the patent on their espresso pod design last October, a whole host of compatible pod suppliers have been popping up. I have reviewed Big Cup, Little Cup, I have seen the French company Carte Noire‘s pods on sale in super markets, but one company that fills me with enthusiasm is The Fine Coffee Club.
Not only is The Fine Coffee Club cheaper than buying direct from Nespresso, but they also offer a similar range from Cru coffees coming from individual locations. I’ve had a quick taste of a couple of these prior to diving into today’s espresso bender for this review, and I can assure you they are the cat’s arse! I had an awful night’s sleep and my body is screaming out for caffeine so let us dive in with espresso number one!
I start off with the Fine Coffee Club Mild Roast Espresso. Now, obviously being a man of powerful passions and vigorous humours, I would rightfully think that most things describing themselves as ‘mild’ were utter shit. Mild cheddar, mildly spicy, mildly amusing – all bollocks. So obviously I am vexed and irked no end that the Fine Coffee Club Mild Roast Espresso is actually rather good. It is only mild in terms of roast, it is not one of those god-awful super-roasted French coffees I detest so much. Mild roast it may be but it has good concentration and a nice caffeine kick. I feel improved imbibing its fragrant, subtle characters and I definitely feel improved now I’ve downed a double and the caffeine is starting to hit my veins. This is not really a coffee to get you going first thing in the morning, it is an all-day drinking espresso. The only things I can think of better than drinking espresso all day are drinking Riesling or Burgundy all day, and then I would not be able to type. I will have another double just to check…
Yes, good… It has a light crema, not having its essential oils roasted to buggery, but that crema is delicious to eat with a spoon. The aroma is lightly perfumed with roasted nuts and grains and it tastes just lovely. at £0.19 a pod this is a truly delightful thing to keep you going so I say, “Oh yeah! Give it to me, baby!”
Unfortunately, The Editor has just ordered that I do not have twenty espressos in the course of this review (I’ve had four already), so damned and blast I am going to have to switch to singles.
Next up, the Fine Coffee Club Dark Roast Espresso. This displayed a very roasted aroma when it was being squirted out of my machine, and whilst the crema is wonderfully thick and unctuous, it is just too roasted. It tastes like French coffee (see above). So the thing to do is put a sugar in it before I taste the coffee itself. Joy! This is proper espresso, the overly roasted flavours have been replaced by properly powerful, complex ones and it is a mega power hit. That is freaking triple-A with a sugar in it and I’m going to have another and stir the sugar into the crema.
The crema still tastes a bit overly-roasted but the coffee itself is a superb entity of power, sophistication and class. Really complex flavours that persist for a long time. This is only described as strength nine, but it poos all over the strength ten Nespresso Ristretto from a great height. One big sugar per shot definitely required, though, to bring out the class.
Now you can see from this picture:
That I was sent some sent some Fine Coffee Club Dark Roast Lungo pods. As I have stated in a previous review, I think Lungo coffees are for sissies. There is nothing particularly wrong with being a sissy, but I am not one of them. Moreover, The Editor is on my back about having too many espressos and I want doubles of the next two so I’m going to skip them.
So, we move onto the strength seven Guatemalan Fine Coffee Club pods, and I’ve tried this before and loved it so it is going to be a bloody double. Nuts to The Editor!
A wonderful, heady, complex aroma filled the kitchen as this was dripping out of my Nespresso machine – earthy and nutty. The crema is also earthy and nutty, thick and velvety too, really attractive. The coffee itself is the perfect balance between strength and refinement. It has a really complex, nutty, grainy, toasty set of flavours that really last. This is a totally superb coffee and at £0.22 a pod it is a real scream of a bargain. If you don’t need ultimate strength this is all you could ask from a cup of espresso, it’s quite brilliant and I am savouring my double to extract the maximum amount of pleasure from its heady complexity. Top bunny!
This coffee shows that, just like it does not always have to be the most mature Old Winchester cheese and one can have fresh, young Lyburn Gold instead, you don’t have to have the most ludicrously strong coffee to have a good time. That was a truly brilliant espresso. And there was me thinking Guatemala was only good at making drugs and terrorists.
I am afraid to say I got so carried away with the deliciousness of the Fine Coffee Club Guatemalan coffee I had rather a lot of them and I had to spend the rest of yesterday coming down from an incredible caffeine high. That means I come to the last coffee, the Fine Coffee Club Rwandan strength eight pod fresh and ready to be perked up!
The crema is rich and flavoursome, deliciously eating into your teeth with its complex array of essential oils. The coffee itself is quite, quite brilliant. It is as complex, earthy and toasted as the Guatemalan but just a shade stronger. The flavours really persist and you get a whack of caffeine in your system pretty bloody sharpish. This, along with the Guatemalan, is one of the best coffees I have had from my Nespresso machine. It may not be the crazed strength eleven of Dharkan, but by my hairy toes do these two keep me happy. It’s impossible to choose a favourite between the two, but given they are £0.22 a pod rather than Dharkan’s £0.28 per shot it is pretty damned obvious where my limited funds are going in future.
It is obvious that the Fine Coffee Club provides excellent coffee, and it does so at a more wallet friendly level than Nespresso. The pods from the Fine Coffee Club are not only cheaper than Nespresso, but they also offer free delivery if you order one hundred or more. At Elitistreview we are concerned with the best, but we cannot deny being pleased if the best comes in at a reasonable price. The Guatemalan and Rwandan coffees are two of the best I’ve had, immensely enjoyable, and since they are considerably cheaper than my previous favourite coffee I count myself amongst what I hope are the Fine Coffee Club‘s many new customers.