Today - the critical nature of this belief became terrifyingly clear to me.
Coffee Review's review of Pod espressos...
Nespresso Ristreto Capsules - 91 points
Island Joe ESE Pod - 90 points
To compare, here are some espressos that many of us would consider to be "leading lights" of the industry...
Stumptown Hairbender - 90 points
Ecco Caffe Reserve - 90 points
Intelligentsia Black Cat - 88 points
So - what we have here is a clear indication that consumers should not be buying coffees from these pesky "boutique craft coffee companies" and shouldn't bother with things like freshness but instead should just buy cheap pod machines and bulk produced "generic" coffee in pre-ground packaging.
So what's wrong here?
For a simple illustration - let's look at the review of the Hairbender (simply because it's a coffee I know very well).
Smoke, toast and a hint of flowers in the aroma. In the small cup medium-bodied and smooth in mouthfeel, balanced, rich, simple, with hints of cedar, dark chocolate and toast. Sweet finish. In milk lean-bodied but lush, dominated by a smoky semi-sweet chocolate.This doesn't sound like Hairbender, right?
Well.... actually, if you were to give some Hairbender to a marginally trained barista and have the pull shots with the "wrong" parameters you could easily replicate this. Say you were to set the machine at a little over 201F. Now dose around 15 grams in a double basket. Pull a 1.75 oz double in around 29 seconds.
The problem is that Hairbender is actually best at around 198f (a full 3f colder). And it's best at around 19 grams in a double basket (more than 25% more coffee). And while a 1.75 oz double is about right - you'd want to do it in around 27 seconds. And, of course, most of all you want this done by a trained barista. Of course... if you had a trained barista - they wouldn't have pulled the shot with the wrong settings.
So what do these odd and seemingly shocking review results really tell us?
Should we really all just switch to pods?
Well... if you're the kind of person who likes coffee but can't be bothered to be a barista or learn about things like brew temp and extraction parameters then yes.
But that's pretty damn obvious.
On the other hand... this really (really) clearly indicates that Coffee Review is not a viable or appropriate resource for espresso reviews.
And we don't have anything else.
So someone... please...
Start a legit espresso review magazine or website or service.