I’m a coffee snob. I buy the best coffee I can afford. I grind the beans and make pour-over coffee by the cup. And I’m a purist. I like the flavor of coffee so I don’t order a double caramel, mocha, peppermint swirl when I want a cup of Joe; I order coffee, neat. So when Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen sent samples of their Pronto! coffee concentrate to our offices, I was skeptical. Really skeptical. When I realized they were flavored coffees, I thought, “Oh no.” However, I stand corrected and a bit humbled. Pronto Coffee is real coffee with subtle flavorings and it’s incredibly quick and convenient.
Pronto! Is a new wrinkle in the convenience coffee market. Currently, pod coffee made in individual cup coffee makers is all the rage. While pod coffee is convenient, the coffee pods contain pre-ground coffee that tends to dry out, leaving you with less-than-perfect coffee. Pronto! is a different animal altogether. They make their coffee concentrate using cold brewing. This is a process in which ground coffee is steeped in room temperature or cold water for an extended period, usually 12 or more hours. The grounds are then filtered out of the water. The result is a coffee concentrate that can be diluted with water or milk and served hot or cold.
Cold brewing produces a different chemical profile from conventional hot coffee brewing methods and results in coffee that’s naturally sweeter and lower in acid. This method of brewing is quite popular in Japan and Holland, but relatively new to North America.
With Pronto! they’ve done all the hard work for you (and you don’t have to wait 12 hours for a cup). They cold brew 100% Arabica beans and put the concentrate into portable, single-serve packages and the concentrate dissolves quickly in hot or cold water. The coffee concentrate is shelf stable. So, unlike ground coffee or coffee beans, you don’t have to worry about the coffee going stale (the packets do have a “best by” date). And the flavor, while it isn’t quite as hearty as my freshly brewed pour-over, it’s pretty close.
One of things I appreciate about Pronto! Coffee is the convenience. In the late afternoon, I often rush out of my office for a Pilates class. Tired after a long day of work, it’s not unusual for me to stop in route for a cup of coffee to get me through the rigors of my hour-long instruction. Instead, I tried taking along a cup of Pronto! It was as quick, if not quicker, than stopping to buy coffee and it was about half the price (about $1 per serving).
The packets are small and you can easily slip them into your purse or pack to take long with you when you’re on the go.
Another thing I like about Pronto! is their flavorings are subtle and don’t hit you over the head. The flavors, which include crème brulee, Hawaiian hazelnut, Southern Pecan, Blues Cool (rum, caramel, maple), and Santa’s White Christmas (coconut, nuts, caramel, vanilla), are actually flavorful and don’t leave your mouth with that lingering chemical flavor of many overly-flavored brews.
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen also makes two non-flavored Pronto! Personal Brew Coffees: French Roast and Barnie’s Blend. We didn’t sample them. However, it’s on our list of things to do.
The folks at Pronto! claim it’s good cold, too. I enjoy iced coffee and, as soon as the temperature gets above 30 F., I’m going to try it as an iced coffee. In the meantime, I did add Pronto! to a milkshake and it was quite good. I was feeling weary and a bit hungry, so I combined a ripe banana, a couple of tablespoons of low-fat cottage cheese, some low-fat milk, a bit of sweetener, and ice to a blender. Then I added some Pronto! I used the crème brulee coffee (tastes like cream, caramel, and vanilla). I used one packet; then another and whirred up my milkshake. The result was a very tasty, low-calorie, low-fat mocha milkshake.
Real Bottom Line: If you really like coffee and you’re in a hurry, Pronto! Personal Brew Coffee is a great choice. And I thought I’d never say that. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor