How many S’s are there in Nespresso? 3? Correctomundo. How many S’s are there in Carte Noire? Ha ha, trick question? There are in fact 4 and you’re about to find out why…

When Monkfish Towers were invited to partake in a coffee challenge we thought, yep, we can do that. We love a good brew, consider ourselves ‘flat white’* aficionados, and we do like to drop in the appropriate ‘coffee’ buzzwords at the right moments – V60, single origin, innovative brewing techniques, pre-infusion, you get the picture.
*flat white noun /Austral. flaat whyette/ /NZ flet wyte/
1 An antipodean style coffee which is served as a strong shot of espresso served in a small cup with textured milk; a damn good strong coffee. 


We also know it’s hip to like coffee these days, but that’s fine too. Mrs M does a good line in hip and hangs out with the best of them, you can find her all over the place, from BrewLab in Edinburgh to Allpress in Shoreditch. If she could grow facial hair she’d definitely be joining the bearded hipster gang. Mr M, well that’s a different matter….

It’s not all about being seen out and about with your flat whites though, we like to be able to brew up at home too. We’ve been through a few coffee machines at the Towers but investing in a Nespresso** Krups Pixie a while back was definitely money well spent. Zero mess, guaranteed brilliance every time, the joys of being able to choose different types of coffee when you both don’t want to drink the same. All good. Doubly delighted we could order our pods online and they arrived within the blink of an eye. Not so delighted when we ran out and had to wait….and wait…albeit not that long…for the postie to drop off the new order. But now, even more delighted (and then some), as Carte Noire have developed their very own capsules for our very own machine and we can buy them at our local supermarket! Get your trolley on!

3579-01Currently there are 4 intensities in the range numbered three, five, seven, nine, surely a nod to Mr Tom Robinson?
3-5-7-9 on a double [flat] white line Motorway sun coming up with the morning light
Press play, you know you want to….

So, if you’re going to accept a challenge then we wanted to do it properly and learn a few things along the way. Let’s get back to those 4 S’s and have a dance around the kitchen to Tom while we’re at it.

Seeing – we like to think we know if our coffee’s going to be good just by looking at it. You know those buckets of hot milky pale slush you can purchase on the high street, well eradicate that thought from your mind immediately…when we put the Carte Noire capsules into our trusty Pixie what came out was dark and clear with a perfect crema forming on the top as it brewed. Just the look of it, pre-taste test, was 10/10. All four intensities looked very inviting, couldn’t wait to give them a slurp…but hold on, we’ve got to do the next S first….


Sniffing – sniff sniff sniff….who doesn’t like the smell of a good brew? Does it make your taste buds tingle because of the heady delights of what is to come? With four mighty fine espressos lined up ready for the taking we weren’t sure how long to spend sniffing each but we wanted to give each a run for their money so got right in there with the nose. As they say in whisky tasting (which we’re partial to) on the nose each one had it’s own identity, smoke, chocolate, caramel, fruit, nuts, biscuits, they were all there.

Number 3 ‘on the nose’ had a hint of one of our favourite retro biscuits, the trusty malted milk, remember those?

Number 5 ‘on the nose’ was delicate, like an Earl Grey, that one might ‘take’ in the afternoon. More tea vicar?

Number 7 ‘on the nose’ was a bit more rugged, Mrs M was definitely getting the caramel notes, Mr M was sniffing earth, peat, like a good single malt. Mmm, could be one for an ‘irish coffee’….hold that thought.

Number 9 ‘on the nose’ was getting serious, intense yes, smokin’ yes, now this is the type of coffee we both love. It was shouting full on flavour. Let’s get on with the shlurping, pronto.


Slurping – following on from the sniff test it was a mad scramble as to who was going to shlurrrrp Number 9 first tbh. Not necessary though as it turned out we both thought all four had got their own personal highlights.

Number 3 was an absolute winner if one was going to dunk whilst slurping. Dunking is a highly revered activity at the Towers and at least two dunks per week are par for the course. Yes, number 3 capsules were going to feel quite at home next to the biscuit tin.

Number 5 was considered a post lunch coffee, not too intense, very quaffable and easy going, a kick back and relax kind of coffee.

Number 7 was considered a possible early morning brew, strong enough to get the brain cells buzzing and one that would definitely be slurpable with your cheerios.

Number 9 was considered to be the answer to our mid morning coffee cravings. The intensity and richness will set you up for the day.


Savour – mmmm, yes please. Most of our coffees at home are slurped on the run to the next thing, the next job, the next chore. Funny then, that when we go out for coffee, savouring becomes part of the experience and the pleasure. Might be something to do with the fact that we’re professional people watchers and like sussing out the hipsters sitting behind us sucking dry the free Wifi and making one flat white last THREE hours…you know who we’re talking about!

We digress…in an effort to do the coffee capsule challenge justice we savoured 3, 5, 7 and 9 and treated them like our new best friends. We shared them with the Sunday papers, a few (many) malted milks and a couple of bowls of cheerios. They were with us for a while, taking in the atmos and enjoying the early spring sunshine at the Towers. They were sorely missed when they were gone.  


Job done. Tick. Coffee Capsule Challenge completed. We’ve learnt all about the 4 S’s of Carte Noire and hope you have too. Imagine how entertaining you’re going to be at your next dinner party, serving up number 7 as an after dinner Irish coffee…..you’ll even have Tom Robinson on your Spotify ‘dinner party’ playlist. Your friends are going to love you and your capsules…


**Nespresso® is a registered trademark of a third party without any link with Mondelez International group. Compatible with all Nespresso®* machines bought before July 1, 2013. After that date, compatible with most Nespresso®* machines bought. For additional information regarding compatibility, please see UK: www.CARTENOIRE.co.uk/compatibility

“This post is an entry in the Foodies100 Espresso Collective Challenge, sponsored by Carte Noire. Each box of Carte Noire Espresso capsules contain 10 single servings and are available in supermarkets at an RRP of £2.79 and are available in four intensities. To find out more about the new Carte Noire Collection Espresso click here.



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