Review: Kenco Medium Roast T-Discs for Tassimo
A quick view of the company's website reveals that Kenco was originally known as the Kenya Coffee Company which got its start in 1921 when they setup a shop in Mayfair (a district in the West end of London). They started selling roast & ground coffee locally from the shop although most of their sales were via mail orders through advertisements in magazines such as Tatler, Country Life and The Times. They would later be bought after the Second World War and diversified into several coffee shops across the UK by Gardiner Merchant, a food merchant company next door to the original shop. The name of the company was later changed to Kenco in 1962 when they stopped acquiring most of their beans from Kenya. The company would go on to change hands many times throughout the coming decades having such owners as Cadbury, Premier Foods and General Mills.
Before we start, it should be noted that this variety of T-Disc comes in 2 different types of packaging. Some of the older Braun-style packages still have "Classic Blend" listed as the flavor while newer versions (as well as the current Bosch-style packages) now list "Medium Roast". This had always been a bit confusing since the older packages still listed "Medium Roast" on the foil of each disc and left us wondering if we were getting 2 different kinds of coffees. Well, you can rest assured you're getting the SAME coffee out of either package (despite Kraft still listing "Classic Blend" on their Tassimo site).
That discrepancy aside, this coffee has a rather unique character. You can smell the usual scents of Arabica when brewing but closer inspection reveals sour acidity. We kept wondering if Kenco perhaps got the recipe of their medium roast mixed-up with a blend of dark & light roasts since the color and acidity remind us of darker roasts yet the scent and initial flavor remind us of lighter roasts. This is truly a coffee in a category of its own & if you can get over the surprise of its sour taste, you'll notice that this is still a rather well-balanced offering which can be enjoyed throughout the day. We were expecting a sour aftertaste but were further surprised to find slight hints of sweetness in the finish. It's almost as if there were a bit of lemon or bergamot mixed in. It left us scratching our heads and double-checking the expiry date (which turned out to be March 2009). Hmm... maybe Kenco should rebrand this as "Sweet & Sour Coffee"?
This T-Disc will yield a smaller cup which is roughly 6 or 7oz in size, so it may explain why the acidity is a bit stronger than what we were expecting. Brewing a larger 8 or 9oz cup helped mellow things out a bit but you could still taste sour notes in the background. We would like to have tried other Kenco T-Discs in order to compare acidity levels, but unfortunately, this medium roast is the only T-Disc variety Kraft is currently exporting to North America. Seeing as how they recently introduced a new Jacobs "Monarch" T-Disc this side of the pond, we have hope that new Kenco varieties may also appear (hopefully sooner rather than later)
- Aroma – 7 – Medium roast reveals traditional nose of Arabica beans with a slight acidic sour note.
- Acidity – 8 – A bit stronger than what we were expecting, but not too overpowering.
- Body – 7 – Light to medium body, slightly darker color than most medium roasts.
- Flavor – 6 – The acidity imparts a somewhat bitter/sour taste although this might also be due to Kenco's roasting methods. It's like a few drops of lemon juice had been mixed-in.
- Mouth Feel – 6 – A bit more bite than traditional medium roasts found in North America, mildly bitter aftertaste reveals hints of sweetness underneath.
- Coffee Drinker – This roast is balanced enough for any average coffee drinker and is light enough to be taken any time of day. Some people may be put off by the somewhat bitter taste.
Overall Rating: 84 - Average
As noted above, since Kenco is the only T-Disc coffee from the UK currently available in North America, we don't have much to compare this with. As a result, we have no idea if the slightly higher acidity is supposed to be normal for most UK medium roasts or if this is just a characteristic unique to Kenco coffees. We know it's customary to enjoy a good cup of Earl Grey tea with a hint of lemon, so maybe Kenco was attempting to recreate this experience within their medium roast T-Discs? Nonetheless, if you're interested in trying something different than your usual Maxwell House or Nabob, this is worth a try.
The Kenco Classic Blend T-Discs will work in your Braun Tassimo TA1200 or TA1400 models as well as the Bosch Tassimo. These T-Discs can be found at TassimoDirect.com.
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Posted by Jay Brewer at February 4, 2009 8:35 AM