September 7, 2011

Review: Van Houtte Cherry Chip Swirl K-Cups

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We continue our reviews of Van Houtte's recent seasonal K-Cups today with yet another new Summer seasonal: Van Houtte Cherry Chip Swirl K-Cups. Unfortunately, Van Houtte have since removed the listing from both their American & Canadian websites, so we're guessing the window for these K-Cups is very limited... likely June-July only when we received them. We did however manage to find them still listed on Keurig.com (USA only).

Brewing these K-Cups resulted in amazingly rich bursts of cherry aroma laced with chocolate throughout. We had our doubts that any scent of chocolate would be washed-away by foreboding cherry aromas, but our doubts were unfounded as this K-Cup nailed the aroma perfectly. This was absolutely spot-on. Definitely one of the best aromas we've experienced in a while and it immediately had us thinking of cherry cordials. Had there been hints of coconut present, we would have dared claim that this was a coffee'd (is that even a word?) version of Lowney's Cherry Blossom confectionaries.

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Billed as a light roast, flavor was just as complex as the aroma. Upon first sip, we got a bitter bite which at first we thought was due to sour notes in the acidity, but upon another tasting, we realized this was the bittersweet dark chocolate flavor. Even more surprising, this chocolate flavor "morphed" into a cherry flavor on the finish. Our taste buds were mesmerized by the ever-changing flavors that kept playing across our palate upon each additional taste. We were a bit put-off by the sour notes at first, but that sweet cherry finish at the end had us coming back for more.

Body was light brown in color with shades of red when held in front of a light source (once again, reminiscent of cherry cordials). Mouth feel was good overall with only a very slight oily feel. Finish was bitter at first but quickly morphed into sweet cherry notes. The more we experimented with mouth feel, we could almost swear the finish started to morph back from cherry to chocolate again.

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We're not quite sure what to think of the acidity as dark chocolate has an inherent sour bite to it to begin with and the acidity in cherries can either be smooth or sour. Taking this into consideration with the overall flavoring of this coffee, we'd have to say acidity was definitely leaning a bit on the stronger side of things, but wasn't too overpowering once you let the flavors mingle together and progressed towards the finish.

  • Aroma - 10 - Absolutely spot-on. Lush aromas of cherries intermingle with sweet notes of chocolate throughout. Simply outstanding. Reminded us immediately of cherry cordials.
  • Acidity - 8 - A bit on the stronger side, yet mellows as you reach the smooth cherry finish.
  • Body - 8 - Light brown with notes of red when held to a light source. Very similar to cherry cordials indeed.
  • Flavor - 9 - Kept morphing more often than a chameleon can change its colors. Bittersweet chocolate up front which yields way to a sweet cherry finish and possibly changes back to a chocolate aftertaste.
  • Mouth Feel - 8 - Smooth mouth feel with a very slight oily feel. Good overall.
  • Coffee Drinker - Best suited to flavored coffee drinkers. This is indeed a light roast, so dark roast fans might not care for this one. Still worth a try just to get the flavor morphing effect if nothing else.

Overall Rating: 95 - Exceptional

Van Houtte have put forth some pretty solid flavored K-Cups since they were acquired by GMCR (their Raspberry Chocolate Truffle K-Cups & Butterscotch K-Cups come to mind), but this is the first time we've seen them release such an interesting K-Cup that kept changing flavors. It was almost never-ending. Just when we thought we were tasting cherries, the flavor changed to chocolate and vice-versa. This neat effect really took us by surprise and opens up the door to future technological evolutions in the K-Cup scene. What's next? Color-changing K-Cups? Uh... on second thought... they might want to hold off on that one as it might be too weird for most people.

Our only regret about this K-Cup? That it's not available year-round and that (according to SH) it's not easily found in Canadian retail locations. Those issues aside, the flavor-morphing properties of this K-Cup had us amazed and we can't wait to see what Van Houtte has planned for this Fall.

Van Houtte Cherry Chip Swirl K-Cups will work in all Keurig models and are available in 24-pack boxes for $16.49 USD at Keurig.com. At the time of this review, these K-Cups were not yet found at Canadian retail or grocery stores.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like thank Van Houtte for providing us with samples for the purpose of this review.

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 September 7, 2011 8:27 AM

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