Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shipping times

This time of year people seem to expect major shipping delays when ordering online. This may be true for some of the huge brick-and-mortar stores and their online sites, but generally online shopping runs no more than a day or two behind the usual schedule.

People ask us "Can I get this by December 19th?" when they are ordering on the 5th... well, we pack orders Monday through Friday and generally we ship within 24-48 hours of receiving an order. Most orders go by USPS Priority even if we quoted UPS Ground rates, because we use the USPS Priority Flat rate box whenever possible. So yes, if you ordered on the 5th (a Saturday) you will probably get your order by the next Wednesday (the 9th!). Exceptions would be very bulky or heavy orders sent out by UPS Ground, which can take up to 5 business days. We ship from Massachusetts, so West Coast orders could take 7 calendar days to arrive. However, 80% of our orders to the West Coast are sent in a Priority Flat Rate box, if they fit.

When in doubt, just ask us. Put the date you need it by in the message field of your order form. We usually will reply within hours and tell you when it will ship and when it should arrive.

We want everybody to get their coffee and tea on time. If you have any unusual requirements just let us know!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The best gift under $20 for coffee lovers?

We have been the exclusive authorized distributor for Trung Nguyen Coffees on the web since 2005. In all that time, we have never seen a coffee that has such a universal appeal as the Legendee Gold. Every type of coffee lover, whether already a fan of Vietnamese coffees or even a Dunkin' Donuts or Peet's lover, is always impressed by a cup of Legendee. Even people who say they don't like coffee seem to be impressed.

Throughout Southeast Asia there is no more single respected brand and blend than the Legendee, served in thousands of coffee shops and sold in 17 SE Asian countries

Here in the USA the fan base grows everyday. The Legendee Gold simply has a lot to love-- created from the most select Arabica and Excelsa, and treated with the natural enzyme soak that simulates the action taking place in civet (weasel) coffee, the result is described by aficionados in many ways:

"I love to sneak a little bit from the early drip from my coffee machine into my cup for a concentrated hit of the most incredibly bitter-free and intense coffee experience" (D.M., MA)

"I have two favorite coffees, the Liberica and the Legendee. Some mornings my biggest dilemma is simply which to brew. Other mornings, my infant sun creates more fundamental dilemmas..." (D.Y., MA)

"I couldn't get the Legendee to equal the experience I have had with civet coffee until you told me about the low-temperature brewing. I put water at 185° in my Phin this morning and said 'Yes, there it is!'" (W.B., WI)

These and thousands more fans find the Legendee to be among the best, if not the best, of the coffees they have ever had. So that is why the Legendee makes such a perfect and simple gift for any coffee lover. This year we came up with a very easy way to present a gift of Legendee. We found these wonderful gold lamé bags that fit a Legendee (and many other of our coffees) perfectly. It's a simple and elegant presentation and a perfect gift under $20 for every coffee lover. Spread some Legendee Gold happiness this holiday season!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Highlands Coffees are here!

In our quest to bring you all the best coffee that can be exported from Vietnam, we are proud to announce our new distributorship in the USA for Highlands Coffee, the fastest-growing producer in Vietnam.

Highlands Coffee shops (~60) are found mostly in the central business districts, tourist destinations and waterfront locations. Highlands is a progressive company with the mission of bringing traditional Vietnamese coffee roasting and serving techniques to the modern world, in vital areas of Southeast Asia and now to the USA and Canada.

We are carrying two coffee ranges from Highlands, including 4 popular roast & ground coffees and 3 truly incredible espressos. The Full City Roast Espresso (Italian style) is our own personal favorite! And the natural water-process DeCaf is exceptional. When we serve it in our test kitchen people agree that it could pass for good non-decaf espresso in most coffeehouses.

We are featuring the coffees also in a Highlands version of the Ultimate Coffee Kit (in samples and gifts) and in a discounted sampler on the main Highlands shopping page.

Highlands is great coffee-- if you love the taste of cafe coffee in Vietnam, you should try it! And if you are an espresso fan, these espressos may become your new favorites.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New coffees arriving

We are excited to see so many new coffees arriving this week and next.

We have flown in a new shipment of Liberica, Liberica/Excelsa Blend, and Coffee Alamid from the Philippines, arriving tomorrow on October 13th. Finally, this long-awaited coffee will be available in quantities for general sale on our website, ultra-fresh due to air freight expediting. We had an advanced shipment of the Liberica, a once-vanishing coffee species, in-house last month and it sold out in two days through our exclusive customer mailing list. We hope to have the coffees up on the website in the next couple of days.

We have ordered 30 ESE pod brewing machines for test marketing of our new office/bakery/restaurant coffee service and these are also arriving this week, along with Splendour Coffee's exeptional Classic Blend of Indonesian Java Highland Estate mixture of Arabica and Robusta. This is one of the company's "house coffees" that is supplied with the state of the art coffee vending machines that actually grind a fresh cup and brew it while you wait. This blend scored very high with our test group in open office hours and we had many requests to carry the coffee, so we have purchased several cases to make it available to our general market.

Next we have the new shipment of Nacha Thai coffee, the incredible rich and fragrant Arabica Typica-based Original and the Typica/Catimor blend called Classic. These coffees are the new production of the coffee that won Best Asian Coffee in Long Beach in 2007, beating Kona and other competitors for the title. A little darker in roast than the original coffee, we have tested the new lots with our local fans and they are thrilled with the new blends. Nacha is also supplying the popular Souvenir Canister that we carried briefly last spring, which sold out quickly.

Finally, we are getting in a new shipment of Trung Nguyen whole bean along with our new line of Tam Chau teas and 4 styles of Phin filters. For years we have looked for a wholesale supplier of larger Phin filters, for our customers who want to brew a cup of 8 or 10 ounces instead of the standard 6 ounces, and now we will be carrying all three sizes. We also have a new shipment of the screw-down filters for those who prefer that type.

Now we just have to try to keep from being totally over-caffeinated as we sample all the new coffees... it's a rough job, but somebody has to do it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be a "preferred customer"

Once a month, approximately, we mail the list of our customers with news about special pricing on new products, or unusually good pricing that is a temporary special that we want to reserve for a limited number of customers. If you love unique, fabulous, gourmet coffee and tea and want to be on our mailing list, you can use the Contact Us form and simply enter the message "Please add me to your Preferred Customer email list."

Upcoming products

We are excited to be featuring several new product lines coming up this fall.

We brought back our first shipment of coffee from the Philippines and sold it out through the newsletter in two days, except that we saved a few Coffee Alamid bottles for sale on the web, which should be appearing on the site around September 1. The Liberica was an overwhelming hit and we have a lot of reserve orders for more. We have placed our next order with Arengga and we will keep you posted.

Sometime in mid-December we will be receiving our initial supplies from Highlands Coffee, Vietnam's second-largest coffee producer and coffee shop operator. We will be launching a new site at, and will feature the coffees through our newsletter. Highlands makes some very superior espressos, and we will have them in ground, whole bean and ESE pod form. We are featuring their Full City Roast and their water-process DeCaf, our first DeCaf coffee.

We have finally found a new tea producer as well. Tam Chau, a well-know producer in Vietnam, features the only Green tea and Jasmine scented Green Tea that we have taste tested and found equal to, or better than, the discontinued Tra Tien teas, which we cannot buy any more. They also have whole leaf tea bags!! Now everybody can enjoy some of the finest tea in the world, by the cup using a teabag or brewed with loose leaves.

Tam Chau is also famous for their Oolong teas... they feature several of the rare, numbered Oolong teas, and we will be trying two of their products on the Vietnamese Coffee site.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Here comes the Philippines!

We have been trying for years to find an exportable supply of the indigenous Liberica coffee, known locally in the Philippines as kapeng barako, that is grown in the Batangas region. This threatened species of coffee is one of the last 4 "great" species of coffee left in cultivation of any significant volume. The original stocks were brought to the Philippines as early as the 1500s.

Almost extinct at one point, the kapeng barako has been saved partly by government initiatives and local efforts, both economic and environmental. Liberica coffee grown in the Philippines is somewhat distinct genetically from the few known sources elsewhere in the world. Like all non-Arabica species, it is quite misunderstood by most self-appointed coffee experts, most of whom have never traveled to the Philippines or tasted a fresh cup.

Liberica has long been enjoyed as the only coffee in the region, until recent times. My Filipino wife grew up seeing the large, oddly shaped Liberica beans selling in the local open markets by the scoopful. The coffee is extraordinarily stable and survives many types of brewing... a version of "campfire coffee" is the most traditional method of preparation... the coffee is boiled in water and then strained into a cup. But the coffee brews optimally in a French Press or cone drip.

While many people rate Liberica as having a strong, earthly, almost objectionable taste, these reviews usually come from coffee that is stale. When fresh, the Liberica resembes very much the earthly tones of Sumatran Arabicas. It has a unique characteristic of "ripening in the cup". The taste is superb and smooth, almost free of bitters and very easy on the stomach. Yet you can step it up by brewing it stronger to get an entirely different experience. It's a fabulous cup!

We have recently brought back a small supply of the Liberica from the Batangas region, produced and roasted by Arengga, a very enlightened coffee company that is single-handedly revolutionizing much of the coffee industry in the Philippines, or at least, the production model and environmental manifest. Liberica coffee is not only the world's most unique coffee in terms of physical characteristics (huge beans grown on tall trees), but stands poised to effect great economic and environmental changes in the Philippines and beyond.

We have become a distributor of this coffee, and are now the only known exported source in the USA, and we will be able to offer it in higher quantities starting in late September. Stay tuned for more stories and news on Liberica coffee!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

That Good Ol' Legendee

In 1996 Trung Nguyen made a serious investment in creating some coffees and coffeehouses that set new world-class standards.

One of their major projects was to hire a team of German scientists to learn why Kopi Luwak (weasel/civet/chon) coffee tastes so incredibly different and good. Trung Nguyen knew they could never service 800 coffeeshops and the mass market with Kopi Luwak, which is a painstaking and slow coffee to process. So they reasoned, why can't we duplicate what the furry little beastie is doing to the coffee beans when they are in his stomach?

The German scientists, being what they are - the world's top coffee scientists in R&D - were successful in isolating six natural enzymes that are responsible for the partial digestion of the bean cellulose structure, bringing the release of flavor elements that were previously unavailable, and also neutralizing any bitterness in the bean.

When TN first applied this process to their coffee, they chose a mix of beans that was popular in the cultivation of Kopi Luwak, a mix of Arabica, Robusta and Excelsa. This bean mix creates a bold profile underlying the smooth and bitter-free nature of the Kopi Luwak process.

However, as time went on and the world embraced more and more an all-Arabica fetish, many Kopi Luwaks were produced by feeding civets 100% Arabica. This creates a Kopi Luwak that has incredible high tones and a wonderful aroma that permeates the room upon opening. Arabica enthusiasts were pleased, but many people felt that the brewed coffee was not bold enough.

Trung Nguyen created the new Legendee Gold in ground format to approximate the taste of 100% Arabica Kopi Luwak. This was fine and wonderful, but they also stopped exporting the original, bolder formula. Since 2007 we have not been able to get the "Classic" Legendee, but recently we were able to buy it from the factory in Vietnam and have it shipped to us here.

So, Classic Legendee is back! At least, in the bean form. We celebrated by hosting our coffee social at our warehouse with Classic Legendee "on tap" and drank ourselves silly and hyper on Legendee.

We hope you share our excitement in the return of this Classic.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Today's coffee prices

I have been surprised to see the grocery store prices of many coffees coming down. Importing costs are incredibly high right now, and Customs and the FDA are requiring more paperwork from originators than ever before. There was a day long ago (4 years) when paperwork was simple and customs saw its job as to catalog everything that came in and watch out for specific problems. Now, customs' job seems to be to prevent all importing. Between multiple exam fees and two extra rounds of paperwork and double fees, it is obviously either a hidden tariff situation or simply a bald attempt to put small importers out of business by making the importing cost exceed 300% of where it stood 4 years ago. More on that another time...

So, with all coffee importer prices going up, why are we seeing bargains at the grocery store?

Take one example that I decided to follow through: New England Coffee placed a huge stand in all the Market Baskets in our area with 10-ounce bags of coffee selling 2 for $5.00. 2 for $5.00??? That wouldn't cover the cost of decent beans, much less packaging and marketing and the store's markup. What's up?

First, when coffee sales are down, coffee companies try to offer themselves as sacrificial lambs to the supermarkets. Coffee is one of the time-honored "loss leaders" that supermarkets use to pull customers in. That means, they sell the coffee on promotion for a small loss and hope to make it up on the grocery bill.

Second, coffee producers often target a special blend or different coffee for these promotions. Often, these blends will use inferior beans or have some other issue. To whit:

I picked up several of the sale coffees and turned them over to look at them. They looked like the usual New England Coffee product but they weren't. Nothing written about the coffee... just the flavor. Yes, they were all flavored coffees. I noted the one-way vent and squeezed the bag to sniff the aroma. Nothing happened. Thinking the bag was defective I picked up another and squeezed. Pop! The bag exploded all over me. Oops, time to hang the head and look contritely at the stocker down the aisle until her wan smile tells me that it's okay, it happens, and they will clean it up.

But now I look down at my coat. It is covered with fine brown powder that does not resemble coffee grinds. I try to brush it off with no success; it has permeated the fabric. I note that the grind of the coffee is totally uneven, much of it simply a fine powder. Other coffees brush off my clothes, this clings. What's more, it reeks of artificial caramel-vanilla fake hazelnut flavor. I smell like a bad room air freshener.

So now we see what is going on. I look closer and see that the apparent one-way-valve is a fake, it is not a valve, it is a sticker that looks like a valve. It's flat. Or else, it's a new cheap type and none of them are working. And the quality of the coffee and the overwhelming artificial scent tell me that we have cheap coffee poorly ground, loaded with artificial flavor to cover up low quality.

Now I understand the 2 for $5.00 special, it is just a specially-developed loss leader. None of the coffees on the stand are part of the company's regular line at all. It saddens me to see things like this at the market and I wish companies would not sully their names with this sort of thing. But I move on, embarrassed to be the dodo that spilled the coffee at the store, but at least secure in understanding how this special price can seem to buck the trend of coffee pricing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kopi Luwak - poor misunderstood civet!

Like most gourmet coffee information available on the web, there are many conflicting stories and information about this gourmet delight. It always amazes me how little effort many reporters, for instance, will go to to verify their information on a story.

Kopi Luwak coffee is "processed" by the palm civet, a shy cat-like creature who hunts at night and likes to dine on the ripest of coffee berries (coffee comes from the bean, around which are the berries, or "cherry" fruit. The (relative clean and vegetarian) animal leaves the coffee seeds in their droppings, which are collected, thoroughly cleaned, and roasted. The digestive enzymes of the civet break down coffee's typical acids and structures in a way that no other processing can duplicate, accomplishing two things: Creating the world's smoothest coffee and releasing flavors that cannot be accessed by normal roasting or handling.

The result is truly the world's "best" coffee by many definitions. The aftertaste is haunting and persistent, and one cup calls after another... which would be a terribly expensive thing if one was to believe the hyperbole about $60-a-cup coffee.

In reality, we recommend people carefully measure out their beans before they brew, allotting about 50-55 per cup, and if brewed a cup at a time, Kopi Luwak comes down to about $2 a cup. That's less than a latte at Starbucks. So, while people like to conjure images of tycoons burning $100 bills and drinking $60-a-cup coffee, that's just a fantasy.

Some Kopi Luwak myths:

Myth 1: All Kopi Luwak is similar in taste. Not true - the civets can dine on any number of coffee species and the resulting brew will be quite different. What is consistent is the smoothness and hidden aromatics that are released... but the basic flavor of the coffee can change quite a bit.

Myth 2: All Kopi Luwak comes from Sumatra.
The civet palm and its close relatives are found throughout Malaysia and certain regions of South East Asia, plus the Philippines. The Philippines offers up a notable version of their civet coffee, called Cafe Alamid (Civet Coffee), which typically comes from a civet feeding on mixed coffee species of Liberica, Arabica and Robusta. This civet coffee has a totally different and bolder flavor profile than Sumatran Arabica. But it still "tastes" like Kopi Luwak. It's hard to explain, but even though the coffees are different, you know it's Kopi Luwak each time. It's almost like recognizing a particular roast, like French Roast. The coffees may be different but French Roast has a particular characteristic you can't miss.

Today I tried an experiment. We have been carrying the My-Kap product that allows people with Keurig K-Cup brewers to brew any coffee in re-used cups. It was painful, but I measured out 55 or so beans in a scoop and ground them relatively fine, then put them in an empty K-cup and snapped on the My-Kap and brewed myself a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee. Sacrilege, perhaps. But I had to know.

The result was somewhat to be expected. There was nowhere near the bright, fresh flavor of brewing in a Vietnamese Phin Filter, Melitta one-cup or French Press. But the cup still tasted like Kopi Luwak and it still carried that incredible aftertaste that stayed with me for a half an hour after enjoying the cup. I wouldn't recommend this as a way to optimize Kopi Luwak, but it did produce a cup of coffee that most people would have found exceptional, and it told me that people who buy the coffee and brew it in their Keurig will probably not be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I'm not a big fan of good old table sugar. The flavor is ...boring, and not worth the calories, not to mention the headache I get from it. I don't know if it's the sugar itself, or the chemicals involved in processing and refining it, but sugar = headache within about 15 minutes.

As a result, I usually use one or another sugar substitute to sweeten my tea and coffee - either Splenda or aspartame (Nutrasweet), not Sweet-n-Low, which has a funny aftertaste. But I'm always open to trying new things, and in moderation, other sugar alternatives don't bother me.

So when my local Market Basket started carrying a xyltiol-based granular sugar substitute that looks just like sugar, doesn't degrade with heat, is all-natural, and has been shown to reduce tooth decay by up to 70% (just ask Wikipedia), I was pretty excited. Check it out - it's sold under the brand name Ideal.

There's also the old standby, honey, for tea; it adds flavor and sweetness. It's no so great for coffee, though; the flavors don't agree, in my opinion.

Instead, I've started using Agave nectar, a syrup becoming more available as it appears in Stop and Shop and other large grocery stores. Agave is the cactus originally used to make tequila, but its juice is a rich and delicious source of a soluble fiber called inulin, now used as a supplement in products like Fiber One's granola bars. The juice's fiber breaks down into sugars as it is processed into syrup for sweetening. It's pretty affordable, and adds a caramel-like flavor and enhanced body to any coffee. It's also got a gram of fiber in every spoonful!

So check out your local grocery store; you might find some sweet surprises!

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm looking forward to Espresso Pods!

I have to admit, I'm lazy. Any mess I DON'T have is fine by me. The idea of getting my favorite espressos in a portion-sized, no-cleanup Pod is pretty exciting. And, once we get these Pods, not only will I not have to clean up coffee grounds anymore, but I won't have to worry about using the bag up in time, either, since the Pods are in sealed packaging.

Espresso is one of my favorite coffee types because I don't usually drink coffee black or American-style, but instead prefer iced lattes, blended drinks, espresso mochas, and so forth. I love getting the flavor of a full glass of coffee with the richness of the milk - and, as an iced coffee fan, espresso works for me because it's easier to keep the ice from diluting it.

By the way, look for new ice cream recipes soon: I got an ice cream machine and I'll be experimenting with recipes for a while. Espresso's great for ice cream for the same reason it's great for every other specialty - all that flavor in a tight package!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New item: My-Kap for Keurig K-Cup Brewers

My-Kap for K-Cup Keurig brewers
The new My-Kap is an exciting new invention that fits over the top of an existing K-Cup, enabling you to re-use the Cup several times. Each time, you can fill it with your choice of coffees, including our delicious Vietnamese coffees.

Each My-Kap comes with detailed, illustrated instructions on using, storing and cleaning it, but after using it once, you will find it delighfully intuitive and simple to use. Also included is a little tool that helps get the My-Kap back off of the K-Cup after using it.

While Keurig's own My K-Cup does not require the used K-Cup and many customers like it, we have found the My-Kap easier to use, store, and clean, and we prefer the flavor of the coffee brewed with the My-Kap.

To learn more about My-Kap, visit our store.

Coffee Hours in Medford, MA

We're happy to tell you that we will be hosting coffee hours in our Medford, MA office every weekday. Our office is at 200 Boston Avenue in the Cummings Properties office building, on the bottom floor - just go in the front door, down the stairs, and turn right.

This coffeehouse is open to everyone, and is especialy convenient for other people who work in the Cummings Properties network. Fresh-brewed cups of coffee are free, and so are the delicious homemade pastries that Pearl bakes for us. Bagged coffee is available for purchase as well.

This is a great way to try new varieties of Vietnamese coffee, and probably a big step up from whatever coffee is in the break room - and the price is right! (Yes, it's really free!)

Our hours are 8:30 to 10:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 8:30 to 5:30 on Wednesday.