December 21, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Winter Blend K-Cups for Keurig

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Van Houtte decided to follow-up their Pink Ribbon K-Cups with another unflavored variety, this time it's their Winter Blend K-Cups which were recently released last month. Billed as a "rich and flavorful blend, with intense woodsy notes and subtle acidity", we decided to give this flavor a try and purchased a box during a recent trip to Tweed & Hickory for the purposes of this review.

Upon brewing, we noticed typical earthy Arabica aromas common with a medium roast & a quick glance at the packaging confirmed this was indeed a medium roast. As noted earlier, this is not a flavored coffee nor is it considered a single origin. Flavor was more on the smoky/hickory side (maybe that's what they meant by "woodsy"?) and we couldn't help but imagine brewing a pot of this stuff over a campfire.

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A medium body shows some brown/amber notes while acidity is as stated, very subtle & not overbearing although we think there could have been a bit more "bite" than what was present. Mouth feel is standard fare, although it's more on the smooth side of things. As for aftertaste, we were a bit surprised by notes of dark chocolate (think 70% cocoa) in the finish. As with the Pink Ribbon K-Cups, we feel this Winter Blend coffee will appeal to a broad range of coffee drinkers with the possible exception being those who favor darker or bolder roasts and those who don't care for smoky tastes.

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  • Aroma – 7 – Standard aroma, earthy notes of a medium-roast Arabica.
  • Acidity – 7 – A little too muted, a bit more would have livened up the mix a bit.
  • Body – 7 – Medium body, brown/amber color. Standard fare.
  • Flavor – 8 – Predominantly smoky with a bit of a hickory feel to it. You can almost picture the campfire.
  • Mouth Feel – 7 – Very smooth due to lack of acidity, dark chocolate notes in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker – Should suit a variety of coffee drinkers although dark roast fans may find this coffee too light. Those who don't like "smoky" tastes probably won't like this either.

Overall Rating: 86 – Good

Most of the reviewers in the Single Serve Coffee kitchens & abroad have different tastes, preferences, likes/dislikes, etc. so when it comes to reviewing coffees you're bound to have those who prefer flavored varieties while others prefer just a good plain cup o' java. We find it can be difficult at times to review unflavored coffees as they can invariably end up tasting the same.

We think Van Houtte's decision to give this Winter Blend coffee a smoky character is what helps set it apart from the rest and give it a unique feel all its own when compared to other flavors in the Van Houtte line-up. Bottom line = like the Pink Ribbon, this is just a good, plain, unflavored K-Cup which we don't mind adding to our daily routine.

Pricing for the Van Houtte Winter Blend K-Cups is $13.75 USD or $15.75 CAD for a 24-pack at www.vanhoutte.com.

These K-Cups will work in your Keurig Elite B40 Brewer, Keurig B50, Keurig Special Edition Ultra Elite B60, Keurig Platinum B70 Brewer, Breville BKC600XL Gourmet Single Cup Brewer , and other Keurig K Cup brewers including the Keurig Mini B30.

Read how we review and rate single serve coffee and other single serve coffee beverages here.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at December 21, 2009 7:42 AM
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