Review: Carte Noire Kenya T-Discs for Tassimo
As we've reported in the past, Carte Noire is quickly becoming one of France's preferred coffee brands and have always sourced the finest Arabica beans available worldwide. They also produce our 2nd favorite espresso T-Disc, so when we heard they were starting to introduce various single-origin flavors in Europe, we quickly ordered their Carte Noire Kenya T-Discs... the first one available "ce côté de l'étang" (this side of the pond) as the French would say.
Upon brewing, we were greeted with a unique mix of aromas which included predominantly dark chocolate with faint hints of molasses (what is it with coffee companies and dark chocolate lately?). The taste was just as unexpected with notes of what can only be described as bittersweet Baker's dark chocolate that contained at least 80% cocoa. Wow, talk about "exotic"... this caught us off guard and left our taste buds rather confused.
Once we composed ourselves, we had another go at it and quickly realized the odd taste was a by-product of this coffee's extremely high acidity which yielded a rather sour taste overall. Perhaps it was due to this T-Disc only yielding an average 3.5oz cup (smaller servings are the norm in Europe), but we just couldn't get used to it and had to add some cream & sugar to help balance things out. Once those items were added, the flavor started tasting more like a conventional dark roast. We'd only recommend drinking this coffee black for those who are truly adventurous... just be prepared for a sour drink. Carte Noire advertises this coffee as "smooth & slightly fruity", but we were hard-pressed to find any fruit flavors hiding within.
The body was this coffee's true "chef-d'oeuvre" (masterpiece)as it yielded a rather nice crema layer which remained in place for quite a few minutes before dissipating. Due to the presence of the crema, getting a good idea of the body color was rather difficult, but as can be seen in our photo, you can just make out amber notes which are common in darker roasts. Mouth feel was surprisingly smooth considering the acidity (at least Carte Noire got that part correct in the advertising) and the finish was clean with hardly any aftertaste.
- Aroma - 8 - A unique blend of dark chocolate with hints of molasses.
- Acidity - 1 - Extremely strong acidity which results in a rather sour taste. Remedied by adding cream & sugar. We've had espressos which are less acidic than this.
- Body - 9 - Very decent crema layer forms on top, amber-brown color hiding within.
- Flavor - 6 - if you can get past the acidity, you'll find notes of bittersweet dark chocolate are present. We didn't notice any fruity notes as Carte Noire were advertising.
- Mouth Feel - 8 - Astonishingly smooth despite the high acidity. Hardly any aftertaste.
- Coffee Drinker - Suited best for casual dark roast drinkers or those who like be adventurous with their coffee choices.
Overall Rating: 82 - Average
Overall, we think Carte Noire made the right decision to be one of the first manufacturers to produce single-origin T-Discs and we can only hope this helps spark a trend in the T-Disc market. Their Kenya T-Disc is definitely an acquired taste and would have gathered a higher score if only they could have gotten the acidity in check. It was simply too overpowering to enjoy this coffee as-is without adding anything to it. That one negative thing aside, this is still a rather decent coffee once you add some cream and sugar, so if you're the curious type and like experimenting with new flavors, you should still give this T-Disc a try.
Carte Noire's Kenya T-Discs for Tassimo will work in your Braun Tassimo TA1200 or TA1400 models as well as the Bosch Tassimo. You can get a 16-pack for $7.99 USD at www.tassimo.com.
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Posted by Jay Brewer at September 25, 2009 8:01 AM