Liquid Gold, a Carte Noire coffee moment.

I start my day with a strong black coffee. The fresh roast produces a smell that invigorates the senses, stirs the body into motion and makes the morning seem a little less daunting.

After my daily dog walk I take 10 minutes to gather my thoughts and devise my day’s plan whilst savouring a calming, deep cup of coffee, the warmth spreading down to my toes and warming my resolve to be productive.

My working day is punctuated by momentary breaks and doses of espresso after espresso, short thick shots of luxurious delight.

A rare moment of laziness is to lie back in my cosy nook, basking in the heat of the sun and indulging in peaceful reading with a large cup of satisfying, comforting coffee.

Friends stop by for a cuppa, or we meet in cafe’s to dissect the latest gossip over a fresh brew.

You might say that coffee is a large part of my day.

The new Carte Noire espresso range.

The new Carte Noire espresso range.

I’ve always drunk it black. I find milk disguises the taste of the roast. Considering the time and expertise that developing such delicious nectar has taken, to deliberately douse such accomplishment seems a travesty.

(Okay, that was a little poncy. I just don’t like the taste of milk, to be honest.)

Maybe seven years ago I bought my first Nespresso* machine. When that wore out, I replaced it with my current Citiz in Fire Engine Red. Since then it has, almost daily, chugged out delicious cup after cup.

Now Carte Noire has brought out a new range of coffee capsules which are compatible with the Nespresso machine, opening up new options to dedicated Nespresso customers who could previously only get capsules delivered by post.

Sensibly, they decided to send me a large box to taste test for them, on account of my undoubted experience in this area. It even came with 2 Bodum espresso cups, which not only added to the experience but also are pretty cool and shall be used a lot!

Carte Noire sent me this huge box!

Carte Noire sent me this huge box!


And in it was coffee! Lots of coffee! And some cute little espresso cups to drink it with.

And in it was coffee! Lots of coffee! And some cute little espresso cups to drink it with.

Carte Noire is well known. Their range of coffee is vaunted as being born in their Fire and Ice roasting process, using a shower of cold water to instantly stop the roasting process at the moment of perfection to create a balanced taste.

There’s no need for me to try to describe the flavours of Carte Noire and convince you they are delicious. In part because of their own reputation and in part because coffee is individual. Some like it milky and sweet, some prefer it bitter and intense. So, if we assume that you will like one of the flavours, at least, we can move on to the details.

The new Carte Noire collection consists of four expressos as follows –

  • N°3 Élégant is an exceptional pure Arabica coffee with a smooth and subtle taste enhanced by cereal notes.
  • N°5 Délicat is a pure Arabica coffee with fruity notes and a silky texture
  • N°7 Aromatique is an aromatic pure Arabica coffee with delicate hints of cocoa
  • N°9 Intense is a rich, intense blend of pure, darkly roasted Arabica coffee

I shared some of my samples with GMB, on the basis that she is also slightly obsessive about her coffee. On one of our recent shopping trips I convinced her into a Nespresso machine of her own, and I don’t think she has come down off her self-induced caffeine high yet. (She jitters. A lot!)

Together we have sampled each flavour, following the Four S’s of Coffee Tasting as prescribed by Carte Noire – Seeing, Sniffing, Slurping and Savouring.

My Nespresso machine at work, pouring out delicious Carte Noire gold.

My Nespresso machine at work, pouring out delicious Carte Noire gold.

We discussed the colour and considered the appearance of the coffee, agreeing that it was rich, dark and fulsome. We sniffed each capsule and each glass of espresso and debated the enticing, earthy and smoky aromas.

We slurped. And to be sure, we slurped again. Violently and noisily. Finally we savoured. We noted the weight of the coffee, the body of the liquid laying in our mouths with substance.

(Basically, we played at being coffee connoisseurs. Great fun was had. We will be applying these principles to wine tasting very shortly!)

We agreed in the end that they were full of flavour. GMB remarked that they had a lovely aftertaste and were not watery, as some expressos can be. (Clearly she drinks in the wrong places!) 

We both preferred N°7 and N°9. They are truly drinkable, with strong tones. I prefer the deeper coffees generally and found that, even when adding a bit more water to make these a longer drink, the taste remained true. I have enjoyed testing them and will be very likely to buy more, which is, after all, the best sign of approval I could give.

It does help that, in addition to being available on the supermarket shelf, the capsules are slightly less costly than Nespresso’s own. On the other hand, Nespresso’s delivery, although pricey, is beyond efficient and arrives on the doorstep, usually within 24 hours..

The only sour note (see, a flavoursome pun) I have for Carte Noire, which is more query than complaint, is this. Each capsule is individually wrapped. As you open each sachet a delicious waft of sensuous aroma rises. It’s truly delightful. But does this really keep each, already sealed, capsule fresher or is it a little bit of an overkill on the packaging, in this day and age where unnecessary waste is such an issue?

My conclusion. Delicious coffee and a definite option/alternative to Nespresso. I look forward to Carte Noire producing some lungo versions. After all, one cannot function on espresso alone!

What's with all the packaging for 10 little capsules, Carte Noire?

What’s with all the packaging for 10 little capsules, Carte Noire?

Now for the formal bits!

“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 <LINK>

*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:

I have received payment for this review, however all opinions expressed are my own – and those of guest taste tester GMB. 

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