Big Cup Little Cup

Let us face it, caffeine is essential. In all honesty, probably more essential than the life-giving booze. Unless you were a Fleet Street journalist in the Seventies or an Oxford University student on the tasting team in the Nineties more work has been finished at the last minute in a panicked hurry thanks to caffeine than thanks to booze. The resulting headaches have been far more tolerable, too. But, as with all things, it has to be done right. The people who have very nearly done it perfectly are Nescafé with their Nespresso system. Mention these to some people and they’ll start mumbling things about washing your own grinder and freshly roasting beans before you quickly start yawning ostentatiously and walking away. The other thing that non-converts to this brilliant system might start moaning about is the price. Well now, thanks to Big Cup Little Cup, you can get the misanthropic moaning ninnies to cork their freaking cry-holes. Affordable Nespresso has arrived.

Big Cup Little Cup make Nespresso machine-compatible pods which they sell for far less than the original pods. They contacted me after reading my Dharkan and Kazaar review to see if I would be interested in reviewing some. “Are they strong?”, I asked cautiously. “Oh yes!”, I was assured. “OK, are they good?”, I cunningly probed. “Oh yes!”, they parried and thrusted. “I’m your man!”, I declared. So at 10pm I am now on my third double espresso of the night to thoroughly test their claims. I’ll let you know how the count continues as I write. I’m not sleeping tonight so I avoid early morning psychosis so this all fits in with my schemes perfectly.

The pods are slightly different to the Nespresso pods I’m used to. Firstly they come in little sachets rather than in boxes of precisely ordered rows. Here’s a sachet:

Big Cup Little Cup sachet of coffee pod

These sachets are filled with nitrogen as the pods are packed in them to keep the coffee fresh. Why is the nitrogen needed, you ask. Well, the pods are not the little metal stormtrooper helmets of Nespresso but pre-perforated plastic pods:

Big Cup Little Cup coffee pods

We are told that these pods can be recycled at your local plastics recycling centre. I asked Team Elitistreview where one recycles plastics in Winchester and only got the confused reply, “The bin?”. As well as being recyclable presumably their main advantage is that they are cheaper to make than individually molding bits of metal around the heads of stormtroopers a la  Nespresso. But we care not for how it’s packaged, is the stuff any good?

The strength 10 (double) espresso I am about to finish off (Miller’s Yard Espresso, number 4 of the evening) doesn’t have the most persistent of crema‘s although what there is tastes super and it smells yummy. With beans sourced from across the globe and freshly roasted in Blighty before packing in gas this would seem the equivalent of a Nespresso Ristretto capsule so I’ll go and buzz up a quick double one of them (number 5) to see how they compare.

Very well, it seems! The Miller’s Yard is slightly richer and fuller than the Ristrettos bitter directness but as far as raw quality goes there’s hardly a saleman’s genuineness between them. Now, this is where things get good given the quality equality. A pod of Ristretto will set you back 29p whereas Miller’s Yard is only 23p. That means if you are *ahem* like me a simple one double espresso drinker per day you’ll be saving £3.60 a month switching to Big Cup Little Cup. That’s enough for a pint and a cherry bakewell bomb down at your local JDW’s – ace! If, on the other hand you are a more enthusiastic practitioner of the art of sleeping (as some scrimshanker’s known to Team Elitistreview most definitely are: we can think of one chap who’s a lawyer, one accountant and one plumber in the time it’s taken me to type this) and are on twelve double Ristrettos a day to ward off your bedly predilections, switching to Big Cup Little Cup will save you £43.20. You’ll save the effort of writing a bill for half an hour’s work, and the bother of having to actually pretend to do it, whilst getting the same money and being able to hang around drinking ace coffee as well.

Now that last point is the one to note. We at Elitistreview like to recommend a bargain, but basically we are far too profligate to give two hoots about saving money as long as we get the best. If you are normally happy with Ristretto you will be losing nothing in terms of your coffee-drinking experience. Miller’s Yard, the espresso I’ve tasted thoroughly having four doubles tonight (I have now run out), is a perfectly good, strong, characterful espresso that’ll keep you feeling tip top and it’ll save you 21% of the cost of Nespresso‘s basic strongest effort. Top marks, Big Cup Little Cup!

That being said, when I drink my espresso of a morning I drink Indriya or Kazaar because I want my coffee to be of the highest quality. Alas, these two are 10p per pod, nearly a third, more expensive than Big Cup Little Cup. Big Cup Little Cup are not so bad I will be horrified to drink them when Team Elitistreview need to start borrowing our caffeine budget from the local church mice.

Big Cup Little Cup refers to the fact that they supply the large coffee cup capable Lungo-style pods as well as espresso pods. My contact at Big Cup Little Cup clearly didn’t know I find the phrase “A large cup of coffee, please” as diseased as “I’m a vegetarian and proud of it” so they sent me some ‘big cup’ Highwire Lungos too. Large cups of coffee dilute the essential complexity and purity of the drink, and I bet people who drink them are all sissies.

They are not as bad as those warped freaks who make enormous milky coffees. Milk, even *spit* ‘non-dairy creamer’, chelates the caffeine and tannin in coffee. This makes it less demanding to drink, if you think that is some kind of positive thing, you pervert, we live to be challenged; but it also makes it weaker and taste less, which are definitely negative things. I have nothing against foaming milk per se, I just don’t want it with my coffee, I would rather it was double cream and I would rather it was with chocolate.

Consequently, my sketch of the Highwire (double espressso number 6 of the night) is based on using two pods and pressing the correct (espressso) rather than vile and impure (lungo) button on my Nespresso machine.

You know what? For coffee presumably mainly drunk by men who wear frilly panties to work, when made at the correct strength, it’s really rather good. With a bit of rough from the addition of Rubusto beans it’s even more like Ristretto than the Miller’s Yard. There is a good whack of bitterness, nice persistence of flavour and a real focus to it’s reasonably complex, fruity tones. Delicious, just make it the correct way.

To summarise I would heartily recommend the strong espressos from Big Cup Little Cup. I strongly suggest that, unless you are willing to pay well over their asking price for super premium coffees, you order a trial pack and expect to get on well. Personally I’d just go for their strength 10 ones as 5 double cups of them (and a Nespresso Ristretto – for comparative purposes, you understand)  have left me feeling most charmed (and quite alluringly activated) tonight. Thumbs up!