Like tea bags. But with coffee.

Beverages I don't remember the first time I drank a cup of coffee. I remember my first beer -- a Budweiser at the Leeds Jazz Festival in 1995. I still have the bottle. But coffee -- I must have been very young. I do know it's only in the past decade I've been drinking black, desperate for that kick which I know will jump start my system for another couple of hours.

These days, I drink more coffee than alcohol and since like wine there are a seemingly infinite number of ways in which it can taste, too little coffee, too much water and you've either got a damn fine cup or black/dark brown hot water. Even in Starbucks I don't think I've ever had two mugs of coffee that taste the same. I like that.

Some don't. Some want to have the same coffee experience over and over again, and I understand why. Sometimes you don't want to surprises, you want something you can rely on. That's why machine manufacturers pour so much energy into creating a machine that will produce that perfect coffee experience over and over again and hire George Clooney to be their prophet. And why there are such a thing as coffee bags. Like tea bags. But with coffee.

I quite like instant coffee, so this isn't really a problem for me, but I know many connoisseurs deplore the somewhat unsubtle taste of you get from granules and I'd imagine may still clamouring for a convenient way of enjoying filter without having to deal with washing anything more than a mug and spoon afterwards. This is designed for them.

I've wanted to try coffee bags for a while but didn't want to buy a box full in case they turned out to be a wrongen and didn't see the point if I them had to simply empty the bags into a filter machine after all. Recently, Lyons were giving away samples at their website so finally I've had my chance. Here's the silver pocket it came in:

Coffee Bag Packaging

I snip off the top and inside there's this:

Coffee Bag

You can't tell from this photo but the coffee bag is about twice a large as a tea bag. You need more coffee than tea to fill a cup it seems. But it is roughly the same design. I miss corners.

Pop it in the mug, add the water as directed:

Coffee Bag Brewing

Problem: It's not entirely clear how big the cup/mug should be (not all are created equal) and how much water to use. I decide to only half fill the mug. Yes, that is what it looks like, and no it wasn't stolen. Earlier in the decade, Starbucks actually sold their corporate china instead of the fancy designs you get these days. I wish I'd bought more than two, it's the perfect size usually. The instructions recommend that the bag should sit for three to five minutes. I leave it just slightly longer, because I like my coffee very strong.

Stir. Stir some more. The coffee, looks like coffee. A little bit cloudy. Squeeze and lift out the bag:

Used Coffee Bag

I can't believe how well lit that photograph is.

Half A Cup of Black Coffee

Half a mug of coffee.

Flavour? I did get the kick, but unfortunately, that's all. The bag probably contains a relatively mild blend, but this brew has the taste which happens when I've put too little of the stuff into a filter machine, weak and a bit soapy, with the flavour of the water coating my tastebuds more than whatever the rest of the solution is.

Which could mean that I've put too much water in, scorched the contents of the bag somehow, this just doesn't work as a concept, or it's just not strong enough for my tastes. It's a bit of a disappointment. One of those occasions when you really do only get a result which reflects the work you've put into it. Nothing comes from nothing.

But they've been on sale for a few years now and the sales must be high enough to make them worthwhile. Even the most innovative products are removed from sale if they're not flying from the shelves. Someone must like them. Perhaps hotels buy them.

Personally, I'll be sticking with my cheap Argos filter machine and the chaos of not knowing what comes next. It might not be terribly convenient, but at least you end up with something that tastes like coffee. Sorry Lyons.

10/01/2012 I recently noticed Amazon UK are now selling something which might well be these coffee bags. As an experiment I've added a couple of links below to see how being an Amazon associate works and how much of a cut they'll send through to me if anyone buys one. I've never tried this before so we'll see:

Lyons Coffee Break Coffee Bags Bulk Buy (150 bags)

Lyons Coffee Break Coffee Bags 125 g (Pack of 4)

Lyons Gourmet Italian Coffee Bags Bulk Buy (150 bags)

Lyons Italian Coffee Bags 125 g (Pack of 4)

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:50 pm

    I think this is a really good idea to put coffee into a tea bag. Why don't they sell it in estonia?

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  2. The nature of coffee (unlike tea leafs) is that it needs moving water around coffee particles to release flavour. One physicist had patented his concept: he uses microwave oven. This way coffee heats more than water around it, making a flow. The problem is to keep the bag below the surface of water while heating, since the gasses released by the coffee make the bag float and release flavour into air. Try it in microwave :)

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  3. I just thought of one more approach:
    Since coffee needs flow of water to release its aroma - try putting the bag into the boiling water for a while (1-2 min.)
    - Or just mix it with a spoon while in a cup of hot water.
    The problem is - grease. Coffee particles (unlike tea) develop a greasy membrane which prevents them from releasing flavour into water. This coffee might not be as mild as it seems here. You got the most out of it by squeezing the bag.

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  4. That looks a lot like a pod bag for espresso machines. Are you sure it is meant for brewing like this? was it a fine grind of a large grind? (if you remember)

    How long did you brew it? I would suggest 3-4 minutes. That is about how long you want to brew coffee in a french press. Though it really depends on the size of the grind. sturing every minute or two would probably be a good idea

    I swear I remember seeing teabag like things with coffee in them at some store, but I have no idea where.

    If you are really looking for a good cup of coffee for fairly cheap I suggest getting a cheap french press (I got one at a consignment shop for $1.25)

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  5. I did follow the instructions which were on the reverse of the sachet (not shown and no I don't still have it). I brewed it for about five minutes I think.

    I have a £5 filter machine from Argos which does is fine. Otherwise, Starbucks Via turns out a nice cup, though I know that's, ahem, not to everyone's taste ...

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  6. The nature of coffee (unlike tea leafs) is that it needs moving water around coffee particles to release flavour. One physicist had patented his concept: he uses microwave oven.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous6:36 pm

    can any one tell me the concept of coffee bags??
    why it so? and how much coffee bags are useful nowadays

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous8:08 pm

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/01/business/patents-a-tea-bag-for-brewing-coffee-in-microwave.html http://www.docstoc.com/docs/41247035/Device-For-Brewing-Coffee---Patent-4948601#viewer-area
    Why you don't use a heavy plastic for the microwave idea if in a hurry?

    ReplyDelete