Win A Free CBTL Kaldi Machine!

Ladies and gentlemen, get psyched. I have a VERY cool contest to present to you today (and I promise I won’t be a slacker with it). The good people at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are giving away a free (FREE) CBTL Kaldi single-serve coffee maker (it brews tea too!). This is a $150 value, and it can be yours for free FREE FREE!!

All you have to do is submit a recipe that incorporates a single-serve CBTL capsule (see the offerings here). Recipes can be for entrees, desserts, cocktails — you name it. Just make sure to incorporate coffee, espresso, or tea. As usual, there will be a bake off of the finalists, and the winner will receive the machine in the color of his or her choice (white, red, blue, black, or gold).

Submit your recipes in the comments section, and to read more about the CBTL Kaldi, check out my review here. Deadline is 10/12/11 at noon PDT.

Good luck!

Starbucks’ Secret Menu Revealed!


Just when you thought you knew your Starbucks inside and out, here comes a bombshell revelation: there’s a SECRET Starbucks menu. Dunh dunh DUNH. Much like the “secret menu” at In-N-Out, Starbucks has its own line of special coffee preparations, and now the Huffington Post has blown it wide open. Prepare yourself for the Green Eye, the Zebra Mocha, the Chocolate Dalmatian, and much, much more. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to take the red pill and go down the caffeinated rabbit hole…

Huffington Post: The Ultimate Guide to Starbucks’ Secret Menu

Judging the Southwest Regional Barista Competition, or How I Learned To Live With Abdominal Cramping

Photo via LAist

This past weekend I had the supreme joy of judging the Southwest Regional Barista Championship, which saw baristas from California, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado descend on Hollywood all with the hopes of advancing on to the U.S. Championships. Some of you may have read my tortured account of getting certification for this event, and I can assure you that a) training was much more difficult than judging, and b) my intestinal tract has finally returned to normal.

This was no easy task. I was in a world of pain Thursday night after having spent all afternoon sipping espressos and cappuccinos. Quite frankly, by the time Friday morning rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I was up for the challenge of enduring more caffeinated beverages. Luckily, being the intrepid blogger that I am, I persevered. A full account of my experience after the jump… Continue reading

B-Side Blog To Judge Southwest Regional Barista Competition


Wondering where my Survivor, Top Chef, and American Idol recaps have been? Fear not: I haven’t abandoned them. Instead I spent the day down in Long Beach, CA getting certified to be a judge at the Southwest Regional Barista Competition, and let me tell you something: it’s not easy. Aside from it being a terribly exacting process — prospective judges are trained in everything from taste balance to foam persistence and consistency — the certification has taken a full on physical toll. You see, here’s my problem. I don’t really drink coffee. I indulge in some foofy mocha lattes socially, and yes, on occasion I’ll enjoy an iced coffee, but espresso and cappuccino are not really my things. Furthermore, after half a coffee, I’m pretty wired.

Still, when I was invited to participate in this event, I thought it could be a ton of fun. What better way to earn coffee bragging rights than by becoming a CERTIFIED JUDGE?

Well, now I’m paying the price. I’ve spent the past five hours shaking with occasional sprints to the bathroom. This is not for the faint of heart, and I’m starting to think that I’m VERY faint of heart. Continue reading



Stop the presses! Esteemed beverage purveyor Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has forged ahead into the world of home brewing systems and the result is the CBTL line of single-serve beverage machines, which just hit the market in the past month. The sleek and stylish coffee (and tea) makers come in three varieties: the Contata ($129.95), the Kaldi ($149.95), and the Nautilus ($199.95), which unsurprisingly resembles the crustacean of its namesake (although, for some strange reason, it makes me think of Alien). I was lucky enough to receive a free CBTL Kaldi for review, and after ten days with the machine, I have grown warmly attached to it. With its bright red hues and curvy, shiny surfaces, the Kaldi appears to be one part Mac and one part Jessica Rabbit. But here’s the real question: does the Kaldi offer more than just an aesthetically pleasing addition to the kitchen?

Answers after the jump…

Continue reading