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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Coffee & Tea

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Topperfino Chocolate Coffee Toppers

Our Top Pick Of The Week gets high points for innovation, flavor and beauty.

The clever folks at Topperfino have hand-crafted discs from premium Belgian chocolate, with a lovely assortment of designs. When a disc is placed atop a steaming cup of coffee or cocoa, the beverage transforms into a work of coffee art.

The thin disc then melts into the cup, releasing a captivating chocolate aroma and—oh, yes—adding chocolate flavor.

The best Topperfino experience is on a coffee with crèma on top, such as cappuccino or latte. But we tried it on everything, including plain coffee, hot milk and rooibos and chocolate tea blends. (Numi, Republic Of Tea and Zhena sell chocolate tea blends. Our favorite is Buccaneer from Serendipitea.)

And, per the company’s suggestion, it even works on a bowl of hot cereal (which might finally get the kids to eat their oatmeal and drink their milk).

Topperfino is a memorable gift for anyone who drinks coffee or hot chocolate, and will delight adults and kids alike. Each disk has just 25 calories, and you can skip the sugar so the calorie switch is even.

Gently place the Topperfino chocolate topper on top of your coffee cup and watch it melt into a creamy chocolate-y flavorful addition to your morning Joe!


Topperfino discs are made in dark chocolate in plain chocolate plus caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut, in more than a dozen designs. Milk chocolate toppers are available in caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut.


Topperfino Chocolate Cup Toppers

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TOP PHOTO: Two different designs turn cups of coffee into art. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gift box. Photos courtesy Topperfino.

And what lovely designs: animal prints, circles, coffee beans, geometrics, hearts, music, orbs, paisley and snowflakes, for starters.

What are you waiting for? Get yours at Each box of 10 toppers is just $13.99. There’s free shipping with two boxes or more.

TIP: We used some aerosol whipped cream that made it easier to place the disc on the hot beverage. When your toppers arrive, you’ll see what we mean.

TRIVA: Topperfino happened ­by mistake! The inventor, an artist, loved to drink coffee with a bar of chocolate on the side (in France and Italy, a square of chocolate is oftened served with coffee). One morning, a piece of chocolate accidentally fell into his coffee and floated for a short time. The light bulb turned on. After countless tests, he created the unique blend of art and chocolate that he named Topperfino.



TIP OF THE DAY: Café Liégeois

We made this recipe yesterday, for National Coffee Day.

Instead of our favorite after-dinnner coffee—a steaming cup of French or Italian roast with a shot of coffee liqueur, substituting for dessert—we celebrated with a Café Liégeois (lee-eh-ZHWAH). It’s a parfait with layers of iced coffee, ice cream and whipped cream (which is called chantilly—shon-tee-YEE—in French).

We highly recommend it as an easy-to-make dessert for coffee (and especially iced coffee) lovers.

While the original recipe does not contain alcohol, no one is stopping you from adding a shot of coffee, chocolate or vanilla liqueur.

If you don’t have parfait or sundae dishes, use what you do have: beer glasses, wine goblets, any tall glasses, glass mugs. You can even make the recipe in conventional coffee cups, although part of the eye appeal is looking at the layers through glass.


Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 cup iced coffee, black or lightly sweetened
  • 2 scoops coffee ice cream
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
  • Whipped cream
  • Optional liqueur

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cafe liegois benoitbistro 230

    A modern variation of Café Liégois. Photo courtesy Benoit Bistro | NYC.

  • Optional garnish: crushed roasted coffee beans or chocolate-covered coffee beans, shaved chocolate

  • Add a layer of cubed brownies, pound cake, or crumbled cookies.
  • The Chocolate Liégeois replaces coffee ice cream with chocolate ice cream for a mocha effect.
  • In the photo above, Philipe Bertineau, pastry chef at Benoit Bistro in New York City does his own take: coffee granité, chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

    Chocolate Liégois. Photo courtesy Relais de l’Entrecôte | Hong Kong via Kee Hua Chee.



    1. MAKE the coffee and refrigerate. Also refrigerate or freeze the dishes or glasses. When ready to serve…

    2. FILL each dish or glass with ice cream and pour over the iced coffee and the optional liqueur. Add the whipped cream, garnish as desired and serve immediately.


    According to Wikipedia, Café Liégeois did not originate in Liège, Belgium; it was originally known in France as Café Viennois (vee-en-WAH), Viennese Coffee.

    Following the Battle of Liège in World War I, in which the city of Liège put up a resistance to the advancing German army with its Austrian-made guns—Paris’s cafés changed the name of the dessert from Viennois to Liégeois. Curiously, notes Wikipedia, in Liège itself, the dessert continued to be known as Café Viennois for a while.


    In the U.S., both ice cream desserts are made from the same ingredients. The difference is in how the ingredients are presented.

  • An American parfait shows its ingredients in layers: ice cream, syrup, fruit. It is traditionally served in a tall, narrow, short-stemmed glass, and topped with whipped cream.
  • A traditional sundae dish is a wider, tulip shape with a scalloped rim. First ice cream is scooped into the dish, and it is topped with syrups, fruits, wet walnuts and crowned with whipped cream a maraschino cherry (today a fresh strawberry is often substituted). Crushed nuts and sprinkles can also be added. The sundae was invented in the U.S. Here’s the history of ice cream.
  • A French parfait differs from the American version. It is a frozen dessert made by folding fruits, nuts and/or other ingredients into whipped cream or egg custard—more like a semifreddo or frozen soufflé. See the different types of ice cream.


    FOOD FUN: Spilled Coffee Art

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When it gives you spilled food, make art.

    That’s what Italian artist Giulia Bernardelli does. She’s become a specialist at turning spilled coffee, honey, jam and other foods into wonderful canvases that look as if they were created by accident.

    Animals, landscapes and portraits art so beautifully crafted that they really look like an accidents.

    Giulia doesn’t plan her work in advance but develops the ideas as she eats the food. At one breakfast, for example, she imagined the footprints left by a cat who walked into the jam.

    You can see that and other images at For more images, go to Google Images and search for Giulia Bernardelli.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/spilled food art giulia bernardelli 26 230

    Spilled coffee turns into a landscape with people and animals. Photo courtesy Giulia Bernardelli.




    TIP OF THE DAY: How to Recycle Coffee Grounds


    You can toss your coffee grounds, or re-use
    them in multiple ways. Photo courtesy


    September 29th is National Coffee Day. If you brew your own coffee, what do you do with the spent grounds?

    Here are green alternatives from Folgers Coffee and our own archives.



  • Body scrub: Add grounds to warm water or coconut oil and use as an exfoliating scrub.
  • Antioxidant facial: Mix two tablespoons of grounds with an equal amount of cocoa powder. Add three tablespoons of whole milk or heavy cream and a tablespoon of honey. Spread on your face; remove in 15 minutes.

  • Dye clothing or “antique” paper.
  • Scented candles: Mix the grounds into the wax of homemade candles. You’ll get a coffee scent as they burn.
  • Soap: Add grounds to homemade soap. They work as an exfoliator also impart some caffeine through the skin.

  • Marinate meat: The acid in the grounds is a tenderizer. A small amount added to a marinade gets great results without imparting the taste of coffee.

  • Use as plant food: The nitrogen-rich coffee grounds nurture houseplants and garden plants. Mix one part coffee grounds with four parts water, and water your plants with it once every other week. You can also sprinkle the grounds directly over the soil or blend them into the soil. Don’t use un-brewed coffee; it’s too high in acid and can burn the plants.
  • Compost, along with the paper coffee filter.


  • Touch up wood scratches with grounds and a cotton swab.
  • Clean the fireplace: Scatter grounds over the ashes to reduce the spread of dust as you sweep it up.
  • Use as a deodorizer, to remove strong smells (curry, fish, garlic). Rub some grounds over your hands or kitchen counter; then wash them off.
  • Remove unpleasant odors from garbage cans, closets, shoes, etc. Leave a cup of coffee grounds (or a smaller amount as appropriate) inside them overnight.

    Folgers has an online coffee calculator to tell you exactly how much water and ground coffee you need, based on the number of people.

    Note that in the coffee industry, a serving size is 6 fluid ounces. An American mug typically holds 12 ounces.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/coffee soap offbeatandinspired 230

    Homemade coffee soap. Here’s the recipe from




    UPDATES: New Flavors From Product Favorites


    A nutritious, easy breakfast is just a crunch away. Photo courtesy belVita.


    If we reported on all the updates to products we’ve previously reviewed, we’d need another full-time staff. Each year flavors come, flavors go; and on an all-too-regular basis, packaging changes.

    While we can’t keep on top of it all, here are recent updates to some of our favorite products.


    There are seasonal ciders, just as there are seasonal beers. Angry Orchard’s Summer Honey is a perfect poolside drink—or it would be, if we had a pool. Instead, we’re enjoying it in the great air-conditioned indoors.

    Here’s our original review of Angry Orchard Cider. The company website is

    Ever since we published our review of the best organic hot dogs, Applegate has become our brand of choice.

    Applegate has always used meat from animals that are humanely raised and antibiotic free. Made with only beef, water, sea salt and spices, the dogs are also lower in fat, with less salt than other brands.

    Now, the beef is 100% grass fed, something of interest to healthier eaters. Compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef typically has:

  • Less total fat.
  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E.
  • More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks.
    Learn more at


    Since their launch by Nabisco in 2012, belVita has been a favorite breakfast and snack item at our office and a Top Pick Of The Week. We prefer the original crunchy biscuits to the subsequent Soft Baked and Biscuit Bites variations.

    Recently, Cranberry Orange was added to belVita’s crunchy flavors. Along with Blueberry and Chocolate, it’s a favorite. The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Discover more at

    Halfpops, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, has added two new flavors to originals Butter & Sea Salt and Aged White Cheddar.

    The newcomers, Caramel & Sea Salt and Chipotle Barbeque, are equally delicious. The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU, and certified gluten free. Find the retailer nearest you at



    Nonni’s Thin Addictives, a lower-calorie alternative to biscotti, has released Mango Coconut Almond Thins.

    It joins Banana Dark Chocolate, Blueberry Oat Almond, Cinnamon Raisin, Cranberry Almond and Pistachio as a crunchy side to coffee and tea.

    The line is certified kosher (parve) by MK, a Montreal certifier (the product is made in Canada). Discover more at


    Flat, crunchy Pretzel Crisps are another favorite snack. We used the Dark Chocolate & Peppermint and White Chocolate & Peppermint flavors as stocking stuffers last December, and extolled the Sriracha & Lime flavor more recently.

    Now, there are four gluten-free varieties that taste just as good as the conventional versions: Gluten Free Original Minis, Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Flavored Crunch Minis, Gluten Free Salted Caramel Minis and Gluten Free Vanilla Yogurt Flavored Crunch Minis.

    From Deli Style to Minis to Modern Classics to Everyday Indulgents and Holiday Indulgents, there are quite a selection of Pretzel Crisps. See the whole line at The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU.



    Chipotle Barbeque joins Caramel & Sea Salt in the Halfpops line. Photo courtesy Halfpops.


    Quaker has introduced new Quick 3-Minute Steel Cut Oats, which delivers the same hearty texture and nutty taste that has made steel cut oats our favorite—but with a far more convenient cook time.

    Available in plain oats in canisters, and flavored individual pouches: 3-Minute Blueberries & Cranberries and Cinnamon and Sugar. Discover more at

    Some people like a lighter brew for the hot weather, and Samuel Adams offers a good selection. Two new lighter brews for summer refreshment include Downtime Pilsner, a “laid-back” golden pilsner, and Rebel Rider IPA, a hoppy West Coast-style IPA with a lighter body. These new brews are joined by traditional summer favorites, Boston Lager, Porch Rocker and Summer Ale.

    Also new, from the Small Batch Collection, is Honey Queen, a blend of mead and beer. Dating back to the 12th century, this combination is known as a braggot—a new word for our Beer Glossary. It’s brewed with three different honeys, complex hops and chamomile for a tart sweetness with a lovely honey finish.

    Learn more at



    GIFT: A Camera Lens Mug

    Here’s a special gift for a mom, dad or grad who’s into photography: This camera lens is actually a mug!

    Totally detailed, it looks and feels like the real thing and holds a hefty 15 ounces of beverage. The lens cap sip top doubles as a coaster or a dish for nibbles.

    A stainless steel lining keeps beverages warm longer (like a thermos), and the screw top lid (the lens cap) provides spill-free transporting. The lid’s sip-top slides and locks to prevent spills.

    The Camera Lens Travel Mug is $29.95 at

    We promise: Everyone will ask where you got it.



    Drink from the camera lens—it’s a mug! Photo courtesy What On Earth Catalog..




    TIP OF THE DAY: Decaf Coffee Facts

    According to the National Coffee Association, 10% of coffee drinkers in the U.S. opt for decaf. Counter Culture Coffee, a coffee house in New York City, reports that 18% of its coffee sales come from decaffeinated coffee.

    There are good things about decaf, and less good. First, the good: In addition to avoiding jitters and helping you get to sleep, decaf in general is better for your health*. Here’s some reporting from Diana Villa at It’s not a comprehensive discussion, but we offer it as a starting point to those who wonder if decaf might be better for them.

    Decaf coffee is good for your liver.

    In a study of more than 28,000 participants over 10 years, one study found that people who drink at least three cups of coffee a day had lower levels of four liver enzymes often linked to damage and inflammation.
    Decaf coffee reduces diabetes risk.



    At least one in 10 Americans opt for decaf. Photo courtesy Filicori Zecchini.

    In another study, compared with people who drink no coffee, those who drank six cups of regular coffee a day had a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. But those who drank one cup of decaf per day had a 6% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk.
    Decaf coffee cuts prostate cancer risk.

    In a study of 47,911 men by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that those who consumed six or more cups of coffee a day—regular or decaf—had an 18% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, and were 60% less likely to die of it. The results suggest that it’s the coffee antioxidants, not the caffeine, that offer the protection.
    *This article is not a medical advisory; people with certain conditions or the potential to develop them should restrict caffeine. Discuss your caffeine intake with your healthcare provider.



    Decaffeinated coffee has more benefits than simply avoiding the jitters. Photo courtesy Filicori Zecchini.


    Now for the caveats:

    Decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free.

    According to FDA regulations, coffee must have 97% of the original caffeine removed in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. If you drink five to ten cups of decaf a day, you can still be consuming the caffeine equivalent of a cup or two of regular coffee.
    The amount of caffeine in decaf coffee varies significantly.

    While a cup of regular coffee usually contains about 100 mg of caffeine, a 2007 Consumer Reports test of 36 popular brands found some cups of decaf that had more than 20 mg of caffeine. In this study, a cup of decaf from Dunkin’ Donuts had 32 mg of caffeine!
    Decaf might raise your cholesterol.

    According to the American Heart Association, decaffeinated coffee may raise your LDL [bad] cholesterol. Researchers tracked three groups of participants: those who drank three cups of regular coffee a day, those who drank three cups of decaf, and those who drank no coffee. Three months later, the decaf group alone experienced an 8% spike in apolipoprotein B, a component of LDL cholesterol.


    Not all decaf is created equal.

    There are different ways to decaffeinate coffee; some use chemical agents. Look for a Swiss Water Process or a brand that uses the CO2 method to decaffeinate. These two are also the only certified-organic methods to decaffeinate.

    And now, it’s time for our first cup of coffee of the day. We’re going for an espresso, caffeinated.


    PRODUCT: Keurig 2.0 Coffee System

    The Keurig 2.0 was launched this past fall, and was on Christmas wish lists for more than a few Keurig fans. If Santa didn’t bring you one, it may be the time to pick one up.


    Make single cups with smaller capsules, or a
    small carafe with a larger capsule. Photo
    courtesy Keurig Green Mountain.


    The 2.0 is a game changer in the single-serve coffee category. It makes both single cups, and 28-ounce carafes; the latter provides a bit more than four six-ounce pours into eight-ounce cups. (Alternatively, it will fill almost three mugs, if you pour ten ounces of coffee into a 12-ounce mug.)

    Here are the changes that may or may not affect you:

  • It requires a new size of K-Cup. The original Keurig K-Cups won’t work in the 2.0. The K-cups for the 2.0 are larger, similar to the Keurig VUE cups, which will work in the 2.0 for as long as the company keeps producing this green packaging (which for whatever reason was made in a different size and required a different Keurig machine entirely, which has been discontinued).
  • You can’t use cups not manufactured by Green Mountain, owners of Keurig. The 2.0 has an RFID reader that reads an RFID chip in the new cups. Nothing else will work. Keurig’s K-Cup patent expired in 2012, which made way for lower cost, third-party cups (also called “aftermarket” cups). Keurig could decide to sell aftermarket manufacturers a license, but don’t expect the lower prices if they’re paying a licensing fee.
  • The K-Cups seem to cost the same. Individual K-Cups run $17.99/$16.19 for 24 cups, or 75¢/67¢ per cup.

  • Similarly, there are no coffee filter baskets for outside coffee. If you have been using a refillable cup with your favorite, non-Green Mountain coffee, it won’t work with the 2.0. Hopefully, Keurig will manufacture a compatible basket down the road.
  • You need still other cups to make a carafe. These are called carafe packs, and they’re larger than K-Cups. The new opportunity: You can brew a carafe and stick it in the fridge for iced coffee. The carafe packs are selling on the Keurig website for $14.99/$13.49 for members, for eight units. That’s $1.87/$1.68 per carafe, or 47¢/42¢- per cup.


    The Keurig 2.0 Brewing System comes in three sizes, with an option that includes a variety of K-Cups and K-Carafe packs for an additional $10.

  • All three models brew single cups with K-cups and carafes with the K-Carafe Pack.
  • All three have “strength control,” allowing you to brew a stronger or weaker cup.
  • You get another 10 ounces of water in the reservoir, or another mug of coffee, with each size increase.
    The differences:

  • K300/350, $149.99, 60-ounce water reservoir. The clock is not programmable and the touch display is monochrome.
  • K400/450, $169.99, 70-ounce water reservoir. The touch display is in color, the clock is customizable and you can save favorite settings.


    The coffee cup isn’t included, but the basic package includes the carafe. Our suggestion: Upgrade to the sampler kit. Photo courtesy Keurig Green Mountain.

  • K500/550, $199.99, 80-ounce water reservoir. The touch display is in color and large, the clock is customizable and you can save favorite settings. There’s a customizable night light and wallpaper, and a feature called hot water on-demand, if, for example, you need hot water to use with your own teabag or hot chocolate mix.
    Our philosophy is, when offered decisions like these, spend the extra few bucks and go deluxe. If you’re counting your dollars, you shouldn’t be paying more for coffee via a single cup system.

    For more information, visit



    RECIPE: Nutella Latte


    The latte for Nutella fans. Photo courtesy
    Cherry Street Coffeehouse | DeLonghi.


    To all those who enjoyed our recipe for Nutella French Toast, here’s the drink to go with it:

    It was created by Laila Ghambari, U.S. 2014 Barista Champion, director of coffee at Cherry Street Coffee House, a Seattle mini-chain, and a spokesperson for De’Longhi premium coffee machines.

    She recently developed this easy-to-make Nutella Latte recipe, and De’Longhi shared it with us.


    Ingredients For One 8-10-Ounce Drink

  • 1 teaspoon Nutella
  • Prepared espresso
  • 2% or whole milk, foamed
  • Garnish: whipped cream, chocolate powder (sweetened hot chocolate mix), chopped toasted hazelnuts

    1. ADD 1 tablespoon of Nutella to the bottom of the cup. Combine with prepared espresso and stir, then top with foamed milk.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate powder or chopped toasted nuts.


    If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like Nutella, here’s another recipe Laila created. There are no chestnuts or pecans (the typical nut for praline) in this drink, but she created it to evoke those flavors.


    Ingredients For One 8-10-Ounce Drink

  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey or caramel syrup or hazelnut syrup
  • Prepared espresso
  • 2% or whole milk, foamed
  • Garnish: whipped cream, shaved chocolate or mini chips, chopped toasted hazelnuts

    1. WARM up the peanut butter and sweetener. Combine with the prepared espresso then top with foamed milk.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate or chopped toasted nuts.



    Mock Chestnut Praline Latte. Photo courtesy Cherry Street Coffeehouse | DeLonghi.




    GIFT: Nespresso Inissia


    The Inissia: just 4.7 inches wide by x 12.6
    inches deep. Photo courtesy Nespresso.


    So many of us these days can’t live without a great cup of coffee, often leaving our posts one or more times a day to obtain one.

    The folks at Nespresso want you to have a great cup at your fingertips. They’ve created a new petite model, the Inissia: a single-serve coffee maker with a teeny footprint that fits in small spaces, from office desktops to dormitory rooms.

    And it’s only $99!

    Streamlined for maximum efficiency and simple to use, the small footprint (4.7 x 12.6 x 9 inches) weights a bit more than five pounds. The Inissia uses the same premium coffee capsules as the larger models. The water will be read in 25 seconds: an espresso (including the shorter ristretto and the taller lungo) or a full cup at the touch of a button.

    You can make up to 9 espressos without having to refill the water tank.

    A great gift for a college student or new member of the workforce, the Inissia is available in:
  • Blueberry Blue
  • Intense Black
  • Lime Yellow
  • Pure White
  • Ruby Red
  • Vanilla Cream
    It can be bundled with Nespresso’s wonderful Aeroccino Plus milk frother for $149.



    Another Nespresso innovation this year is the Vertuoline. It handles the larger American-style mugs as well as espresso cups, and tops both with rich, luxurious crema.

    Available in Black, Chrome and Red, the VertuoLine is priced at $299 and takes a new, flatter, rounder capsule than the original Nespresso machines.

    Check out the entire line at



    A side view of the petite Inissia. It’s just 4.7 inches wide x 12.6 inches deep. Photo courtesy Nespresso.




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