October 14, 2011

Review: Dunkin Donuts Original Blend K-Cups

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We’ve all seen the commercials & the ads plastered everywhere from bus stops to taxi cabs and newspapers… America runs on Dunkins. Well, after years of waiting, you can now enjoy a “leisurely jog” to your kitchen since Dunkin Donuts K-Cups are finally being sold in most Dunkins shops across the country. Today we’re reviewing Dunkin Donuts Original Blend K-Cups.

What sets Dunkins K-Cups apart from others? Well, they come in 14-packs instead of your usual 12 or 24-pack varieties but the most obvious difference is that you can ONLY buy them in-person at a Dunkins coffee shop. They’re not being sold anywhere online (not even via Dunkins’ own online shop) and you won’t find them anywhere at a Wal-Mart or grocery store. Dunkins has effectively ensured that you’ll be tempted to buy their other in-store products by being forced to visit one of their shops in order to pick-up a box. Annoying? Yes. Clever sales approach? You bet’cha.

At the moment, Dunkin Donuts Canada only has 1 shop in Ontario and have a handful of other shops mostly spread-out over Montreal & other cities across Quebec (You can thank the dominance of Tim Hortons in Canada for that). Our Canadian Correspondent, SH, did a bit of investigating and spoke with a few shops in Montreal. He was able to find out that while Dunkins K-Cups aren’t currently being sold in Canada, most shops are in early negotiations with their American counterparts in hopes of importing these K-Cups into Canada soon. Unfortunately, that’s all they could confirm since they don’t have any idea what the final pricing will be nor when these K-Cups will start appearing in shops. Until then, Canadians will have to rely on American friends or relatives to ship them a box by mail.

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Now that you’ve been filled-in on the backstory, let’s get to the main review, shall we? Upon brewing these K-Cups, familiar aromas of rich earthy Arabica fill the room and if you close your eyes, you’d swear you were standing in your local Dunkins shop (minus the long line-ups & background chatter, of course). At least aroma-wise, this K-Cup scores big. Closer inspection revealed slight hints of molasses scents hiding underneath.

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Acidity was a whole other story though. Things started off a bit sour, mellowed-out in the middle then gave way to a distractingly sharp sour bite on the finish. We suspect adding some cream & sugar would help calm things down a bit, but we’re some of the few people who usually order our coffee black when we’re in our local shop & we can confirm something seemed a bit off when compared to our usual cup o’ joe served by the overly perky attendant behind the counter. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it, but something didn’t seem the same. Body was medium reddish-brown with a nice sunburst effect revealing orange & yellow shades when held in front of a light source.

Billed as a medium roast, flavor would tend to support that. Some of the aroma’s earthy notes were present here along with an underlying molasses flavor throughout. Once again, not quite the same as what’s sold in-shop, but that could be due to a variety of factors (more on that later). We did however find that flavor was identical to the regular grind variety sold in grocery stores & Wal-Marts. Flavor actually seemed to improve a bit after we let our cup get cold as the acidity evened-out and taste seemed a bit more closer to what we had in-shop. Mouth feel was smooth but seemed somewhat thin & bordering on the watery side. No oily notes present, but finish was slightly dry & bitter.

  • Aroma – 10 – Just like walking into your local Dunkins shop. Strong earthy notes give way to slight hints of molasses hiding underneath.
  • Acidity – 7 – Very similar to the regular grind variety sold at grocery stores. Slightly sour at first, mellows in the middle, then finishes with a rather distracting sour bite on the finish. Didn’t quite seem the same as a regular cup of Dunkins sold in their coffee shops. Improves a bit once the coffee goes cold.
  • Body – 8 – Medium reddish-brown yields nice sunburst colors of orange & yellow when held to a light source.
  • Flavor – 7 – Taste is spot-on with regular grind variety, but seemed a bit different than what is sold in your average Dunkins shop. Some earthy notes from aroma are present along with hints of molasses throughout.
  • Mouth Feel – 7 – Smooth, yet seemed rather thin & bordering on the watery side. Slightly dry, bitter finish.
  • Coffee Drinker – If you’re a fan of Dunkins regular grind variety, you’ll like this. If you’re more accustomed to what’s sold in their shops, you might find this isn’t quite the same. Recommended for fans of medium roasts who don’t mind a slightly sour bite to their coffees or those who prefer the bagged regular grind variety vs. the coffee sold in-shop. Oddly enough, things improved a bit once our cup went cold. If you have a box at home, you might want to give that a try (without adding ice) to see for yourself.

Overall Rating: 89 – Good

If you go into this thinking you’re getting the exact same coffee flavor you’ve grown to expect at a Dunkins shop, you may end up slightly disappointed. Based on customer reviews found on Keurig.com, it seems we’re not the only ones who think something is a bit "off" with the final flavor. That aside, we DO have to admit this tastes identical to the regular grind variety sold in foil bags at Wal-Marts & grocery stores across the country. We can only surmise that’s what Dunkins is supplying to GMCR in exchange for them manufacturing the K-Cups.

All those things aside, we still think that these K-Cups are a great mess-free alternative to the regular grind variety and if you’ve grown used to that flavor, you’ll enjoy this. It remains to be seen if Dunkin Donuts K-Cups are here to stay or if they’ll eventually be phased-out of production. We suppose it all depends how well sales figures stack-up over time.

We’re not sure if the difference in taste & acidity have something to do with the way their coffee is prepared on-site in their shops (i.e. Difference in brew temperatures, duration of coffee sitting in the pot on a warming plate, brewing small amounts in a K-Cup vs. brewing large amounts in a paper coffee filter, etc) or, for the conspiracy theorists out there, whether Dunkins is using a different regular grind formula in-shop vs. what they’re selling in other grocery & retail outlets across the country. Ah well, at least the aroma is the same as what’s in-shop, plus if Dunkins was finally willing to start selling K-Cups after years of fans bugging them to do so, maybe Tim Hortons in Canada can’t be too far behind?

Dunkin Donuts Original Blend K-Cups will work in all Keurig brewers and are available in 14-packs for $11.99 USD at most Dunkin Donuts coffee shops nation-wide. These K-Cups are not currently available in Canada, but may start appearing in Canadian Dunkins shops soon.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note that we purchased these K-Cups on our own 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 October 14, 2011 7:43 AM

Recent Comments

Well I'd like to try these, but there is apparently only one Dunkin Donuts in the entire state of California, and it's in Sacramento.

Seems dumb to cut off the most populous state in America but i guess they think New England will make up for it. Seems like there's a DD on every corner back there.


Posted by: Cali at November 21, 2011 11:30 AM

I never understood the obsession with Dunkin' Donuts coffee. It's so "meh."


Posted by: Dave at October 17, 2011 10:32 AM

I think you were overly generous on your review. The price was high for these few kcups. The flavor and taste was terrible. Will never buy these again. Notified the company as well.


Posted by: Bruce at October 15, 2011 7:05 AM

I bought a box of this and the dark roast and they were "ok" but nothing special. When you factor in the ridiculous price (since you can only buy at a Dunkin Donuts store, i.e., a fast food restaurant, they are considered a "convenience item" and taxed at full sales tax rate, not grocery rate, which at least here in The People's Republic of Illinois, adds another 10% to the cost), a buck per K-cup is just insane for any K-cup, let alone something as mediocre as this. Will not purchase again.


Posted by: Dan at October 14, 2011 7:19 PM

Given that there is no French writing on the k-cup posted on your photo, I don't see these showing up any time soon in Quebec unless Dunkin Brands is preparing a difference packaging for the few stores that actually exist in Canada.

As for the taste difference, retail Dunkin is roasted and distirbuted by Smucker's (Folgers). It is entirely possible that the coffee found in retail (and the K-cups) are different for that reason (we see the same thing with Tim Horton's coffee in Canada.


Posted by: Greg at October 14, 2011 1:39 PM
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