July 21, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Sumatra Mandheling K-Cups for Keurig

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Van Houtte have started amassing a small collection of single-origin K-Cups over the past few years and have blended beans from these origin locations around the World with their own quality Arabica beans. This time, we decided to try a taste of Indonesia by sampling the Van Houtte Sumatra Mandheling K-Cups.

Upon brewing, you get the rich, earthy scent typical of a dark roast but closer inspection reveals ever the slightest hint of dark chocolate. Tasting was rather unique as there was some acidity present but it wasn't as strong as some other bold varieties we've tried in the past. This was almost bordering the beginnings of an espresso but without the harsh bitterness. Slightly tangy notes at times helped liven things up. You could tell this wasn't your average run of the mill dark roast.


We were expecting a very strong, somewhat sour taste but were surprised by just how "clean" the final results were. This was a dark roast which could be comfortably enjoyed with or without creamer and we didn't find the need to add sugar as we're often used to doing with bolder blends. Oddly enough, it was almost as if this blend was naturally sweet on its own. It made for a nice change of pace from what we're usually accustomed to. This would do well as the base for an iced latte drink and could probably hold up well to added flavorings too.


The body is jet black and when held to a light source, a very dark brown color is present, yet hints of dark red slowly emerge from the bottom of the cup. We've seen some dark roasts light-up with shades of amber or light red but this one was definitely on the opaque side... interesting. We could not determine any aftertaste either and were surprised with the coffee's clean finish.

  • Aroma - 7 - Rich, earthy scent. Very faint hints of dark chocolate.
  • Acidity - 7 - Strong but not overbearing, would likely go well with creamer.
  • Body - 8 - Very dark body, deep brown with hints of dark red when held to light source.
  • Flavor - 9 - Clean, balanced taste. Borderline espresso yet nowhere near as bitter.
  • Mouth Feel - 9 - Smooth & surprisingly light. No aftertaste whatsoever.
  • Coffee Drinker - Casual dark roast drinkers should like this. Could be a lighter alternative for espresso or lungo fans.

Overall Rating: 90 - Exceptional


Overall, Van Houtte have succeeded in bringing us something which isn't "status quo". From the color to the first taste right down to the final finish, this is indeed an exotic blend. You can find similar competitors on the market and Sumatra Mandheling styles of coffee are nothing new on the coffee scene, but never before have we seen the experience brought forward in the effortlessly convenient single-serve format. The fact that this K-Cup flavor is the same price as every other flavor in Van Houtte's line-up doesn't hurt things either.

Van Houtte's Sumatra Mandheling K-Cups will work in any Keurig models and are available for $13.75 USD per 24-pack direct from Van Houtte.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at July 21, 2009 7:45 AM
Recent Comments

Pod brewers aren't common in Canada (I've yet to see a Senseo in any stores), so I can't compare. All I can say is that people who prefer extra bolds will likely find this K-Cup too "watered-down" for their tastes. Then again, it's not really marketed as a bold flavor, so keep that in mind before trying this out.

Posted by: SH at July 21, 2009 7:29 PM

Awesome K-Cup. :-)

Posted by: Jay Brewer at July 21, 2009 1:35 PM

Would you say that this Sumatra is as good as or better than the best Sumatra in a pod? Or is it just "exceptional for a k-cup"?

Posted by: jbviau at July 21, 2009 9:19 AM
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