[For the Love of ‘Fee] Ninja Coffee 12 Cup Programmable Brewer

“For the Love of ‘Fee” is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you’d know that I love my ‘fee percolated. So I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads wondering why I am reviewing a drip coffee maker.

With this pandemic, our household has been fortunate to continue to keep working. However, the hubs works shift outside the home, and often rolls out of bed before the crack of dawn to hit the road…it’s a schedule that doesn’t really bode well with stove-top percolation: a brewing method that can take over 20 minutes from start to finish.

So, in early December when the hubs informed me his hours would be changing again to an even earlier start time, way before the Sarca wakes, I knew converting to instant coffee wasn’t going to cut it. Time to pull out our old programmable drip coffee maker from storage!

Well, our memory’s taste buds are definitely short, ’cause the coffee coming from that maker the first week wasn’t great; it vacillated between weak and bitter. To add to injury, the heating element was going, making the coffee stone cold before I got a cup in. On day three of the new schedule, we were talking about finding a replacement coffee maker.

It has been years since I bought a drip coffee maker (the model we replaced was a raffle prize won and gifted to us by Kevin’s parents). Buying one can also be a depressing experience in Canada, with our choices being cheaply made and cheaply made with a computer. I wanted to up my ‘maker game a bit, maybe get one that will do it all – a portable Starbucks barista if you will. It had been almost a year since I stepped foot into a coffee shop… and I’ve been dying for a flat white… But, in the end I wanted something that had one job and did it well.

Criteria I consider necessary in a coffee maker:

  • Must make 12 cups (less will not do!)
  • Must have a programmable timer.
  • Makes a HOT cup of coffee (um, if it doesn’t, then what’s the point?)
  • Doesn’t have a large counter footprint. (I mean, I’m not running a coffee shop after all…)
  • I don’t need a Master’s degree to use it. (I has dumb sometimes.)

Wish list:

  • Comes in black to hide stains.
  • Easy to keep its guts clean.
  • No big fancy computer inside that wants to think for you.
  • Automatic shut off can be shut off or extended past 2 hours (hard to find one that DOESN’T turn off after two hours…)
  • Choice of brew – bold and regular – hey, a coffee girl can dream.

After some research, I settled on the Ninja Coffee 12 Cup Programmable Brewer (called the Ninja 12-Cup going forward for brevity), ordered off of Amazon. It pretty much ticked all my required boxes, and satisfied most of my wish list. My experience with the Ninja brand comes in the way of a 1000 watt Ninja Professional blender I use every morning to make smoothies. It hasn’t busted in 3 years so there might be something to say for brand power.

The Ninja 12-Cup itself is black with some stainless steel, so it integrates well with the look of my kitchen. It also doesn’t take too much space on the counter, although I had to reconsider my original spot when I discovered its steam vents were located right at the top of the coffee maker, so steam would be released right on the underside of my new cabinets; a move to a different location fixed that.

This coffee maker has one exciting element that piqued my interest immediately: it has a removable water reservoir which you fill and the machine draws from. This is unlike typical makers that have you fill your coffee carafe and pour the water into the maker. I went with the removable reservoir with the hopes of keeping the insides clean, and since I’m not contaminating the water by pouring it into a vessel that has been holding coffee countless times, I’ll avoid that “stale coffee” taste out of the gate.

I wanted this maker to make a HOT cup of coffee, and the Ninja 12-Cup actually boasts a consistent brewing temp of ~201.5 F (~92 C). The maker utilizes a “blooming” method of brew that uses an extra-large “showerhead” that lightly soaks the coffee grounds before dispensing the coffee. This impressed me as other makers I’ve had appeared to have small spray nozzles that just dump the water on the grounds and drain into the carafe.

The carafe itself has an interesting removable lid that locks in place instead of snapping on, and has what Ninja calls “a flavour straw”. Not sure of the point of it, other than maybe it prevents over-flowing. The maker itself uses #4 cone filters, which I’ve never used before (I’ve only ever used the typical basket size). Our model did not come with a reusable coffee filter basket, but models that include one apparently exist (I’m guessing the American model has them).

There are some main programmable features to the Ninja 12-Cup, and a couple that were unexpected. There is the standard digital clock where you set the time, and program the start brew time. Other programmable options include small batch brew (for those times you just want to make 4 cups or less of coffee), as well as your choice of rich or classic brew. Honestly, I didn’t notice much difference using one or other type of brew setting. Rich brew is supposed to hold up its taste when adding cream and sugar, while classic brew is just your average cuppa. There is also a clean setting, where you can add a coffee cleaner solution (or your own vinegar and water mix) to the water reservoir and it will go through a cleaning cycle. I’ve already tried this and not much to say other than it takes about a half hour to run through its cycle…

The Coffee Maker computers want to take over…or Sarca’s a control freak

As much as I like complete control over my own appliances, there is just no escaping the tiny computers manufacturers are compelled to install in them. The Ninja 12-Cup attempts to maintain some control over their human overlords…The maker itself is easy to use and runs quietly – until the brew cycle ends when it announces the coffee is ready by way of 5 short beeps in succession. Unfortunately, you can’t shut that feature off, but at least the beeps aren’t sirens. Now, why would there be an alarm on a coffee maker?? People should just be able to wake up and smell the ‘jo. Ninja Dude, we don’t need your help. Ninja isn’t the only one to adopt beeps at the end of the brewing cycle…my Mother-in-law’s Breville maker does the same thing.  What I’d like to know from coffee maker manufacturers is why so many beeps?? Wouldn’t one do? Why beep at all??

Typical among coffee makers, you can only program one start time with the Ninja 12-Cup, except with this one, If you program the maker and then decide to change anything with the time or type of brew, the maker will blink and beep a dozen times warning warning warning you that a program has already been set! Do not mess with the program! This was one “feature” I did not expect.

One complaint I generally have about coffee makers is that a lot of them insist on turning off automatically after two hours; I’ve heard the reason is to reduce risk of fire. I have always hated that: “Why can’t I tell you when to turn off?!” Sadly, the Ninja 12-Cup won’t let me turn off that feature either, but, it provides a compromise where I am able to change the shut-off window from 2 to 4 hours. Yay, finally some control!

I am not an expert here, only that the Ninja 12-Cup will now be our 6th drip coffee maker to be carried over our threshold in 22 years (not to mention the PARADE of electric percolators we’ve owned too!). That said, I’m not going to say the Ninja 12-Cup makes the best coffee ever tasted, because it doesn’t. But, between the hubs and I, we both agree it makes a pretty decent cup for what you can get out of a drip maker. The coffee was hot and its warming element maintains heat, but again, it’s still not nearly as hot as we are used to with percolated coffee made on the stove (likely because we are not dealing with boiling water with a drip coffee maker). Something has to be said for the taste though, and the Ninja 12-Cup gives probably the best tasting at-home drip coffee I’ve had in a long while.

So, all things considered, if you are seeking a new drip coffee maker, the Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Brewer gets a nod from me.

[For the Love of ‘Fee] Rise Up Coffee Roasters Organic House Roast

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

The Cartridge Club Con in Chicago, July 2018

The main purpose for our travel to Chicago, Illinois this summer was to meet up with some friends from the Cartridge Club. We’ve known most of them for a long time, and some we’ve only had an online friendship. This trip, I was excited to meet the Retro Nonsense Crew, Duke and Tara, and their three children in person. They are from Maryland, and were just as excited to meet us. When we met, Duke told me he had some local coffee from Maryland for me to try; Rise Up Coffee Roasters’ coffee. He handed me half a pound bag of their organic House Roast and explained this is the place they like to go. Let me tell you, the beans did not disappoint!

Maybe it’s because we have been finishing off old freezer coffee from Kevin’s mom’s house for the last month, but when I broke into the bag of Rise Up beans, the kitchen smelled like a coffee shop! Them beans were aromatic! The bag boasts that the blend therein has chocolate undertones, and I could certainly smell that. It just smelled so good, I wanted to jump inside!

And then I ground the beans…the place smelled heavenly! The percolator did them justice, and the brewed coffee was delicious with only hints of sweet from the chocolate. Those beans permeated the house so well that even after a long day out of the house, we could still smell the coffee that had been brewed at 6 AM. I was not disappointed!

According to Rise Up’s website, they sell only 100% Organic Fair Trade coffee, which says something about who they are. In fact, their opening page says, The farmer who grew this coffee should receive the glory. We are among the fortunate who get to roast their beautiful coffees and share them with you.” Indeed!

My mug depicts Lawren Harris’s “Lake and Mountain, 1928”. Only the best for this ‘fee!

A big Thank You goes out to Duke and Tara for sharing this Maryland favourite. Kevin and I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘fee, and I can see why this has become a favourite of yours!

[For the Love of ‘Fee] The Endless Plight of the Perfect Perc: Stovetop vs Electric

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Our electric Hamilton Beach percolator started to eff up in January. Yup, that one; the one I wrote about last June. I thought we’d at least get a year out of the new one. Wow, they really don’t make ’em like they used to. Blast!

We had decided when we replaced the last percolator last summer that we’d need to have a replacement in the cupboard, but we never thought we’d need one so quickly. Then, after Christmas, for a week straight we dealt with cold half-brewed coffee. We can’t have that! What to do when the only two types of electric percolators for sale in Canada are Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart. I’ve had both, and haven’t been able to hold on to one for longer than 2 years.

I can’t say that I have been 100% satisfied with the electric perc as an appliance when they did work. Aside from the convenience of plugging it in and walking away, there are some design flaws with them that aren’t great. They are hard to keep clean. Coffee grounds go everywhere (and I am not sure how when I grind to the coarsest setting…). You can’t submerge them in water for a good soak. In some cases, there are water indicator windows that clog up with coffee that will never see a bottle brush. And some of ’em won’t even fit my lady hand in through the top for cleaning which has been the case with the Hamilton Beach. Simply for those design reasons, my percs have – on occasion – looked like they have been pumping out sludge coffee in a backroom steel mill since the 80s. Nope, plug-in percs will never get the Good Housekeeping seal from me.

Before this latest percolator passed, the hubs and I revisited the idea of a stove top one like we had when we were po’ church mice 20 years ago. Back then, we were donned this new-fangled thing called a stove top percolator…It was aluminum and had these parts that were unfamiliar. I was used to drip coffee makers! But, hey we figured it out. And, it made the best coffee; I had never tasted coffee so good! Looking back, I am sure a lot of the magic with stove top percs is you are in control of the heat and brewing time. Now that we were under the gun with getting a working perc, we pulled out our old Black and Decker drip maker (the backup of the backup ;)) while a search was on for a stove top perc on Amazon.

Amazingly, we found one in a company from Quebec – Fresco. It’s a stainless steel 12-cup perc. And since the hubs has Prime, it arrived in under two days. The experience has been great!

It looks great! No coffee grounds in the coffee! It’s easy to keep clean and it’s dishwasher safe! I have also used some cleaning vinegar to keep the insides in good order.

About the only thing I can say that would make this the PERFECT PERC is if the top knob were made of glass. Fresco thought it was a good idea to use a plastic knob on the top. The plastic cracked up within the first two weeks, and got all stained. WHY PLASTIC, FRESCO?

Others on Amazon are not satisfied with the plastic knob either. But, one guy on there had the right idea and shared he bought a glass knob that fits a wide range of percs. Amazon sells it for $15. Great idea! I found that knob for cheaper – $6 from Home Hardware down the street. Thank you very much! Works like a charm.

NOW I have the PERFECT PERC. It looks awesome and works awesome. Finally!

I concede it does take us 20 minutes to make coffee. Most people would not want any of that, but sometimes if you want great things, you got to work for it. Take that, Tims!

Waiting…waiting patiently for deliciousness


Keeping the coffee hot after brewing is an area that was a sticking point with me and what was preventing me from moving to a stove top perc in the first place: I didn’t want to keep the stove on all morning. But, I was lucky to acquire a big Stanley Thermos that holds a good amount of ‘fee and keeps it hot. So this situation has turned out to be a win-win!

Enjoy your cuppa! I certainly am!

[For the Love of ‘Fee] A Word on Instant Coffee (and a Hack)

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Let me put this out there – in my opinion, instant coffee isn’t that great. I have not been its biggest fan since… forever! To me it tastes bitter. It can do a small tapdance on my tummy. And, frankly, it is no substitute for real brewed coffee. Yet, I still drink it.

I work on a college campus, and believe me, there is no lack of places to buy coffee; there is a Tim Hortons, a Starbucks, a Williams Coffee Pub, the student-run café that sells Lavazza coffee, Roasters coffee, the Second Cup…dude, the campus ain’t that big, but holy Toledo, there are places to buy coffee. It might seem simple to just buy a fresh cup of brew and be done. Sure, I’ll buy coffee on occasion, but it can add up!

Budgets being what they are, I bought myself a 4-cup coffee maker a few years ago and would brew my own coffee for a time in my office. But going on almost a year ago now, the department I work for relocated into a new building. Where the office is situated, there is no kitchenette with a sink close by where I would be able to clean out the carafe and throw away the grinds properly. So instead, I boil some water in my little kettle to make some instant coffee. Although a sink with running water is out of the question, I am not in a complete food desert – I have a drawer in my office where I keep dry condiments: salt, pepper, sugar, as well as tea bags, Coffee Mate, and of course, instant coffee. I do have access to fresh water, by way of a filling station around the corner from my office. And even though I have Coffee Mate (because there is no milk close by) and sugar that I use in my instant coffee, these condiments don’t seem to help to lose the bitter taste.


My usual practice: Boil water using a kettle. Place a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals in a cup. Add boiling water to crystals and stir. Then add sugar and Coffee Mate. Seems pretty common, right?

Earlier this week, I decided I had endured instant coffee as I have known it for the last time. I took to the internet to see if I could hack those crystals into a more palatable beverage. Some solutions were idiotic: “why don’t you quit instant and brew a pot of coffee?” Another site suggested I buy a higher quality instant coffee; now that solution would make sense in theory. My problem is that no matter what kind of instant coffee I have tried, they all seem to have a similar taste. Besides the fact there is nothing fancier for sale around here than Nescafe, Folgers and generic brand (Equate, Compliments, No Name…). In any case, I have resigned myself to hacking whatever crystals I have available.

So, thanks to some Googling around, the solution I came up with is as follows:

  • Boil fresh water.
  • Add a teaspoon full of crystals to your cup.
  • Add sugar and coffee mate* to the crystals.
  • THEN, add fresh water* (a little less than a quarter cup) to the dry mix in your cup and stir.
  • Add boiling water to the cup and stir.

Voila. Coffee!

Two things I noticed with this method: no strong smell and no bitter taste.

Why mix the dry ingredients first, then add liquid? Common sense: powder mixes better when you add liquid to it, not the other way around. Science!

Why add fresh water to the dry mix first? No reason, other than it works! I have read that boiling water is excellent for tea (for the steeping), but that the water in the coffee maker doesn’t quite reach the boiling point when you brew a pot of coffee. Apparently, if you have the water too hot it can marr the taste of the crystals. Adding some cold water obviously tempers the hot water, and added bonus: you can actually drink the coffee right away once it’s prepared. Makes sense to me! I have been using this method the last three mornings, and have been enjoying instant coffee for the first time in recent memory.


Do you like instant coffee or hate it? Do you have any coffee hacks? Share in the comments!

*Cold milk would probably be a decent substitute for the Coffee Mate and fresh water. I just don’t have access to it on a regular basis.

[For the Love of ‘Fee] Eight O’Clock Coffee

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Lately, I have only been surviving on one cup of coffee a day. I blame my busy work schedule and the pressure to get moving in the morning, so I haven’t made time to sit and enjoy my usual cup. I guess that isn’t a bad thing per se, but I have to say that I am glad it’s the weekend so I can actually sit and enjoy more than one cup. And this morning, I sit with a cup of Eight O’Clock Coffee.

coffee and paper

If memory serves, Eight O’Clock Coffee is exclusive to Metro and A&P stores. My first taste of this brew was back when my sister and I lived together in London, Ontario, which is actually where I had my first cup of coffee. It was inexpensive on a student’s budget, aromatic and delicious, even when brewed using our 4-cup Mr. Coffee drip-o-matic.

There is something nostalgic and familiar about Eight O’Clock coffee…the light and friendly scent that reminds you of sitting at the kitchen table with fresh toast and peanut butter, a newspaper, and a fresh hot cup of coffee. As a household coffee standard, its taste surpasses Maxwell House and Folgers, in my opinion. Never bitter, smooth taste.

I love grinding these beans and smelling that aroma, especially after you spent the last week with another flavour that you got tired of*.  And I get three glorious cups of it! Yes, please.

cupface initech

If you are ever searching for a decent generic coffee that smells good, tastes good and is an excellent stand-by coffee, Eight O’Clock Coffee is your brew.

8.5 / 10

*Kicking Horse Pipeline, if you must know. Not a bad one, but Kicking Horse make better flavours. I have written about them previously here.

Trivia time: What company is represented on my mug in the cupface pic? Where have you seen this company before?

Update on a previous ‘fee story…

Remember this cup from my Moonbeam Devil’s Brew ‘fee review?

Caseys cupThis is a mug from Casey’s Bar and Grill, a restaurant that originated in my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. Its Kingsway location still existed until this past summer when they shuttered the joint to become…another phony authentic Irish / Scottish / Whothehellknowsanymore pub chain Fionn MacCool’s? Bah! (What makes it worse, is that Sudz already has one of these in the South End.) RIP Casey’s

[For the Love of ‘Fee] To go: McDonald’s McCafe Coffee

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Raunchy Ronnie’s, McDohNo’s, Starchy Archies…however you like to call McDonald’s, it’s hard to beat the plastic food rap.

I was a frequent flyer at McDo’s growing up, but an awareness of healthy eating and a necessity to save my pennies over the years put a serious damper on that. Truth be told, I have not eaten at McDonald’s since 2003, around the time they came out with those breakfast sandwiches with the syrup-infused french toast (blech). I also recall their coffee as being an afterthought, and pretty watered down. Really, I would expect a place the caters more to children to care more about what goes into a Happy Meal than what goes into their coffee. If the food doesn’t agree, and the coffee tastes bad, I really have no reason to go to McDonlad’s, right?

The hubs and I were talking take-out coffee recently. He said these days his coworkers swear by McDonald’s coffee, preferring it over Tim Hortons coffee (which, to anyone not Canadian, is the number 1 take out coffee shop in Canada). The opposite is true were I work. Having a Tim Hortons, Timothy’s coffee (no relation to Tim Hortons), three other coffee take-outs and most recently a Starbucks right on our college campus, there is no lack of coffee joints, but the favourite seems to be Tim Hortons. I don’t have a dog in this fight in case you are wondering…I’ll take my coffee cheap and tasty, please. I don’t care where it comes from! But, I pass by several McDonald’s and never think about going in.

It was our recent trip to North Bay, and lack of caffeine that made us want to try something different. We made a stop at a McDonald’s in Sturgeon Falls to try this so-called great coffee. Gone are the days of Higgins and Burke coffee (what McD’s served way back in the day), replacing it with its own brand and brew called McCafe. The hubs and I ordered two large coffees with milk, and paid just over $3 for both.

Well, bad coffee at McDonald’s is a thing of the past, folks! The votes are in and I am now a convert! The coffee was aromatic the instant I flipped open the lid. Although the cup had a “Caution Hot” warning, the temperature of the coffee was not a usual “nuclear hot” so I was able to take a slow sip immediately.

The coffee tasted great, almost like I would have made at home; bold with a smooth aftertaste. I felt comforted by its aroma to the extent it made me sad to see the bottom of my cup. Seriously, I was surprised this came from McDonald’s!

MCafe cupface

So, if you are wondering what happens to be safe to consume at Mickey Dee’s these days, rest assured the coffee is pretty damn good.


[For the Love of ‘Fee] Moonbean Devil’s Brew :)

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂


This coffee came into my life a couple of weeks ago, thanks to my friend Aaron at Keeps Me Alive! (Read more on that here!) A recent jaunt to Toronto offered him the opportunity to stop by his favourite coffee destination, Moonbean Coffee Company and pick up one of his favourite roasts, Devil’s Brew. Of course, being a java lover myself, he was gracious enough to send me a lb of beans through Canada Post.  I imagine its smell intoxicated the mailman, and everyone I share a community mail box with as it was obvious coffee was packed in the box Aaron sent me –  a bold, but glorious aroma of coffee permeated. I must submit, Moonbean is quickly becoming a favourite coffee of mine, even though I have never stepped foot in the joint!


When I first looked at the bag of beans, I originally thought the name of the brew was “Devil’s Bone”* which, wound up to be just how Aaron scribbled the name on the bag. I confirmed the true name via email, and Aaron and I had a good “LOL” (insert dirty minded thoughts about bags, beans and bones here. Go on, guys…I’m waiting…;)).

After I had finished my bag of Kicking Horse Three Sisters coffee, I then started in on the Devil’s Brew, and just enjoyed it every morning, until we arrive at this morning when I discovered I only had enough grounds for one more pot of this glorious brew!

Oh oh! Better get on that ‘fee review before it’s ALL GONE!

How It Smells and Tastes

Devil’s Brew lives up to its name, particularly when the beans are ground. The aroma is robust, almost fiery! I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but I can smell hints of hickory, chilies and…garlic? as an after-scent. The whole house smells divine! The taste of this coffee is also something to behold: not as bold in taste as the grounds would have you believe, but it’s smooth with a slight kick that will get your bag of bones going in the morn’!

So. If you are ever in Toronto proper (which I avoid most of the time) near Kensington Market, check out Moonbean’s brews. They are the Devil’s Brew, and they are divine!


Thanks again to Aaron at Keeps Me Alive for enlightening me once again with the gift of coffee! 🙂

More from the Moonbean line: Heaven Roast

A word about the cup (’cause I’m sure you wanna know…)

Caseys cup

“Coffee, tea and R n’ B. We’re really cookin’ ! What exactly, we’ll leave that for you to figure out…”

Casey’s Bar and Grill is a restaurant chain that originated in Sudbury, Ontario, but has several locations around Ontario and Quebec. In 1996, they had a promotion where if you order dessert with your meal, you’d get a free coffee and a keepsake mug. The mug, as you can see, has poorly executed caricatures of four popular recording artists, excluding B.B. King (RIP). I somehow wound up with three of these mugs at one point, thanks to a thoughtful less ex-boyfriend who jokingly figured that my one mug I acquired at a birthday dinner wasn’t enough. (In an unrelated bitter story, the cheap bastard actually wrapped one of these up for me for Christmas! Cool story, bro.)

My husband hates this mug. I hang on to it because of B.B., the practicality of having something to drink out of and for shits and giggles, but it is quite unattractive drinking coffee out of a mug with Mick Jagger’s face looking like it was hit by a bus…


[For the Love of ‘Fee] Lavazza Coffee and Lapaininmyazza

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Lavazza is one of those coffees I noticed at the local grocery store, but never bought it because of its cost. At $6 for a 250 gram bag, it never seemed like good value to me, regardless of taste. Available in several different brews, it just went largely ignored by me, until there was a sale on it.

Lavazza is a boastful coffee: in flavour and in its claim of it being Italy’s favourite coffee. According to its website, it comes in about twelve varieties. I’ve tried three: Crema E Gusto, Qualita Oro, and my most recent try, Qualita Rossa. My initial purchase for each flavour was pre-ground coffee that came packaged in freeze-dried bricks. I couldn’t help but revel in the fact that all three had a strong aroma of fresh-ground coffee when opening the package.

Crema E Gusto was the first flavour I tried, and ultimately wound up being my favourite of the three. A delicate blend with a nice creamy texture, Crema E Gusto was my go-to brew for a good couple of weeks. Qualita Oro had a stronger taste than Crema E Gusto, but didn’t pack nearly the punch that its sister brew, Qualita Rossa, had. Rossa was very robust in its flavour, and if the packaging hadn’t identified it as a medium roast coffee, I would have sworn it was teetering on the dark roast. All things considered, having tried three flavours, I feel Lavazza is a decent coffee, if a little pricey. I would recommend it more, especially on sale, if it weren’t for one problem I experienced…

Unlike other pre-ground coffees I’ve tried for this exercise, Lavazza sold a very finely-ground coffee. Ignoring the labels, I didn’t realize it was actually an espresso grind. Lavazza says it’s a “caffe espresso” on the back of the package (not the front!), so although I really shouldn’t have been, I was a bit surprised to open the brick of coffee and find the grounds with the same consistency as hot chocolate mix. With Lavazza emblazoning its packaging with pictures of four different types of coffee makers, I was given the impression the coffee grounds could be used in every type of coffee maker on the market. Being a percolator girl, that assumption ran me into problems.

For all intents, one could use a fine grind in any coffee maker, however, the fine coffee grounds make a mess of my percolator. The result was coffee grounds everywhere in the coffee, including piles of dregs at the bottom of my cup. And the rest stuck to the bottom of my percolator. I took to using paper filters in the coffee ground reservoir so the coffee grounds wouldn’t run out of the basket completely. It worked to a degree, but it didn’t prevent grounds from bubbling out the top of the percolator’s basket. It was a small fail, but out of that screw-up I still managed to somehow get an okay cuppa out of that mess.

In any case, with that mess in my percolator, I was scrubbing down the carafe after every brew, trying to get rid of caked on coffee grounds that stained the bottom of the carafe. I was going through S.O.S. pads something fierce. Lavazza was starting to become a Lapaininmyazza, and not worth its taste, especially when there are better coffees out there. Yep, my laziness and practicality were winning here. Next!

I could end the story there, but hold on..it isn’t over, people!

One day while eyeing my next coffee adventure at my usual grocery store, I came across something I had never seen before…Lavazza Qualita Rossa in whole bean form! It wasn’t cheap (regular $22.99 a 2lb bag, bought on sale for $16.99), but I felt it was worth trying out. I have a burr mill which is a device I use to grind the whole beans to a coarser grind to accommodate my percolator. I have to say, the whole beans have a similar aroma to the fine coffee, but the brew tastes better since I am not having to deal with burnt dregs.

With all that has been said, this is my round-up on Lavazza: it’s no-doubt a decent-tasting coffee. If you decide to try it for yourself, I would recommend you buy the whole beans and grind your own if you can, unless you like eating your coffee.


[For the Love of ‘Fee] Kicking Horse Coffee

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Okay kids, time to put on your itchy Sunday best – Sarca’s taking you to church!

The Church of ‘Fee that is! Please turn to page Coffee in your hymnals. Today, we sing the praises of Canada’s own Kicking Horse Coffee.


I was first introduced to Kicking Horse Coffee at my work. Every March, my work has a staff appreciation week, providing interesting workshops and such to the support staff of the college. Three years ago, I attended the best seminar ever – on coffee. There, we were able to try different methods of brewing coffee – from French Press and Percolated to Italian espresso and Turkish brewed. It was this day I was introduced to the likes of Kicking Horse Coffee – a Canadian certified organic roastery based in British Columbia.

At first introduction, the name Kicking Horse conjured up thoughs of kicking ass, which also made me think this coffee would do just that – kick my ass. Never mind, when I heard the beans we were trying the day of the coffee seminar were actually called Kick Ass, I knew I was going to fall in lust. Time to put the devil horns on! The Kicking Horse Kick Ass coffee beans were ground and brewed for us. Like the feeding of the five thousand, a little pot of Kicking Horse Kick Ass coffee managed to make the rounds in a room full of 50 people without the pot running dry.

And it was good. Tasty.

Kick Ass is considered a dark roast, which is a type of roast I am not partial to at all, but I did enjoy this one very much. It didn’t taste like the burnt sludge from the bottom of the office’s coffee carafe. I enjoyed it so much that when the guy conducting the workshop asked if anyone wanted any beans to take home I enthusiastically raised my hand in an “oh oh pick me!” gesture and was rewarded with half a pound of Kick Ass beans. For the win!

One week, my local grocery store had a massive sale on coffee, including Kicking Horse coffee. Let me put it out there – Kicking Horse is not the cheapest coffee. A one-pound bag can cost upwards of $16. So, when I see it on sale for under $16 at my local grocery store, I say let’s scoop some up! Unfortunately that day, my prayers weren’t answered – there was no Kick Ass roast left. But, there was what turned out to be the next best thing: Three Sisters Roast.

Bible study time!


Named after a three-peak mountain formation that looks like three nuns in habit, Three Sisters is considered a medium roast. Like the entire line of Kicking Horse roasts, the beans are packaged in a black foil bag. A clean-looking logo, representing the Three Sisters roast is printed on the front, as well as Kicking Horse’s logo. The package states that Kicking Horse is certified organic, and is considered a fair trade product which, in my opinion, is a cause to support. The package also states the beans are a combo of Indonesian, Central and South American beans, and are roasted in Canada.

The description says Three Sisters is “Smooth, Savoury, Seductive.” Ooo, are these nuns naughty?

First Impressions

In opening the bag of beans, I was hit with a comforting aroma of wood-burning fireplace with undertones of hot-air-popped popcorn (yes, popcorn!). Here’s something else I found interesting: the whole beans’ colour was not in one standard tone. They varied in tones of brown and black. My guess is, the varied tones mean some beans were deep roasted, while others were not. Or, maybe it comes from using beans from different locales…?

How It Smells and Tastes

The coffee is fragrant and tasty, as simple as that. This is not your average church potluck luncheon watered-down coffee. It’s better than that! This is full-bodied, smooth and flavourful. Sinfully secular! Pass the potato salad!

Worth the Price?

The Kicking Horse Coffee brand isn’t cheap, and that might be its sin. But, if you can manage to find some on sale, I definitely recommend you pick some beans up. There are other roasts available beside Kick Ass and Three Sisters, including cool-sounding Bugaboo, Grizzly Claw, Hoodoo Jo and Mocha Yoho, in varied roasts from light to dark and decaf varieties.

Kicking Horse Coffee is a 10/10!

For more info on this awesome coffee, go to:

Now, can I get an AMEN up in here? 😉


[For the Love of ‘Fee] Moonbean Heaven Roast Whole Bean Coffee

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Do I have a surprise for you all!

I didn’t buy this coffee – it actually came in the mail from friend, fellow reader, and charter member of the Cupface Crew, Aaron from KeepsMeAlive! He and Mike stopped into Moonbean Coffee Company while on their third annual “Record Store Excursion” in Toronto, Ontario. Aaron emailed me upon his return to say he had something for me and voilà, the gift of coffee arrived in the mail this past Friday! A total surprise to me, and complete Cool Beans! WOOHOO!


I used my Cuisinart burr mill on medium coarse setting to grind the beans. I percolated the ground coffee using a Hamilton Beach percolator and cold water from the tap.


There isn’t much to report about the packaging of this coffee… the beans came whole in a paper bag with Moonbean’s logo on it. Aaron had written what looked like “Haven” on it. Later, he relayed that the coffee was in fact “Heaven Roast”. I will say this: the box the coffee was mailed in smelled awesome. So awesome, in fact, I thought for sure the Canada Post guys would have torn it apart to get to the beans inside. When I opened the coffee bean bag this morning, I was immediately hit with the aroma of COFFEE. No Pepe LePew, no burnt. Just divine java.

I have very little intel on Moonbean Coffee Company, except it’s in Kensington Market in Toronto…I am not even sure I have ever been to Kensington Market! I wish now I had more information on these beans to share with you all. Moonbean’s website, unfortunately, is moldy…no update since 2012! Too bad.

First Impressions

Opening the bag, I couldn’t help but notice these beans don’t look burnt. Upon grinding them, the familiar and pleasant scent of coffee filled my kitchen, and continued whilst percolating.

Now to taste this coffee! C’mon! Brew faster!

How It Smells and Tastes

Calling this coffee “Heaven” is no misnomer. I have already covered the odour of this coffee, but allow me to hit it home once more…let me just say that after three cups of coffee, my husband and I went outside to rake leaves on our property. When we came back inside two hours later, the smell of Heaven coffee was still in the house, and almost inspired us to brew another pot. Yup, if God brewed a cuppa, this coffee would be his jam. I could go on…

The taste? Incredible! The coffee has a velvety flavour that tastes good going down. Robust but not overly strong. Just a very fragrant and tasty cup o’ brew. I could definitely see myself drinking this coffee regularly.

Worth the Price?

Well, haha, I didn’t pay for the beans, but if I ever get to Kensington Market, I plan to check out Moonbean Coffee Company for more of their Heaven Roast! Thanks again, Aaron!