January 12, 2012

Review: Carte Noire Americano T-Discs for Tassimo

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The Canadian T-Disc retail scene has been... well, let's just say "unappealing" for the past number of years with only a few minor updates here and there in an mild effort to match what was already being sold in American retail stores. As is usually the case, competition is good and with Starbucks jumping the sinking ship over to Keurig, Kraft finally got the swift kick in the arse it needed to inspire a massive campaign that at long last introduced brand new T-Disc flavors across many countries.

Unfortunately, the powers that be at Kraft still refuse to abandon their country-centric methodology and certain brands remain "geo-blocked" only for sale in their respective countries of origin. It's too bad to see that in an effort to save their sinking ship, they chose to retain the boat anchor that had been weighing them down instead. All gripes aside, our Canadian Correspondent, SH, received a shipment of the new Canadian T-Disc flavors recently and provided us today with the first of many reviews by covering the new Carte Noire Americano T-Discs.

Brewing these T-Discs resulted in strong earthy notes at first which mellowed into cereal notes afterwards. We detected faint notes of molasses on the finish as well. One thing we noticed was the brewing temperature seemed to be off the charts, but upon closer inspection, we were getting 182 degrees on the thermometer. Compared to some of the other T-Discs we've had in the past, these even seemed to remain hotter for longer periods (maybe it was just the crema keeping the heat trapped?). Flavor was medium in strength with predominantly dark chocolate notes blended with subtle nuances of berries buried underneath. Acidity is well-balanced and more present near the end of the tasting experience rather than the first thing you notice.

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Body was dark brown in color with shades of deep crimson red & burst of orange when held in front of a light source and there was a surprising amount of crema produced during brewing which yielded a nice top layer in the final cup. While we wouldn't say it was on the level of crema produced by the Dolce Gusto's Americano capsule, it was still a close 2nd place in comparison. Acidity was surprisingly on the milder side of things but still present enough to keep things lively. Mouth feel was smooth yet somewhat oily (as is typically common with Carte Noire T-Discs). Finish was a bit sour while more cereal notes revealed themselves in the aftertaste.

  • Aroma - 9 - Strong with cereal notes and a faint hint of molasses lurking underneath.
  • Acidity - 8 - Rather well-balanced overall with more of a presence on the back-end vs. the foreground.
  • Body - 8 - Dark brown with notes of orange & deep red when held to a light source. Reminded us of the coloring scheme used on the T-Disc label.
  • Flavor - 9 - A decent enough punch to the tastebuds without being too strong. The reduced boldness of the espresso is present yet things are smooth throughout. Rather enjoyable overall.
  • Mouth Feel - 8 - Smooth with somewhat oily notes in the background. Slightly sour finish with cereal notes in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker - If you enjoy strong mediums but are longing for something bolder, this would be a decent T-Disc. It's not strong enough to be considered a true extra-bold espresso yet not weak enough to be considered a medium. It falls sort of in-between as a watered-down espresso without the watered-down taste. Just what an Americano should be.

Overall Rating: 92 - Exceptional

It's no secret that Carte Noire is considered one of France's top quality coffee brands and we have to admit, we've enjoyed most of what they've produced in the past. We're glad to see they're keeping things in check with regards to quality with this new T-Disc. Its strong aroma, balanced flavor, long-lasting brew temperature and decent crema layer make for a well appreciated addition to the Tassimo's growing repertoire of T-Disc flavors. It shows promise and gives us hope at what's to come.

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While some would claim that a huge amount of varieties only makes it harder to find a favorite and leads to headaches, we'd tend to disagree by saying that variety is the "spice of life" and is what was SORELY needed for the Tassimo in countries outside America. While we enjoyed a decent amount of selection online and in retail stores, places like Canada & the UK had to suffer with at most, 10 flavors available in store shelves at any given time and slim pickings on their online Tassimo e-Shops. The introduction of new flavors breaks that bland & boring cycle of repetition, so we're all for change when it comes adding new T-Disc flavors. Who knows? Maybe someday we'll be able to buy every variety in production world-wide? If Nespresso can do so, why not Kraft? (In Kraft's defense, they're slowly making 1 or 2 varieties a year available in other countries although we wish they'd offer more)

Carte Noire Americano T-Discs work in all Tassimo brewers (dual barcodes for home & professional models are on the discs) and are available in 14-packs for $8.49 CAD or lower at various Canadian grocery store chains and online via Tassimo's Canadian e-Shop at Tassimo.ca. These T-Discs are not currently sold in USA.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review, and these T-Discs were purchased online 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 January 12, 2012 7:43 AM

Recent Comments

It's as if Kraft wants Tassimo to be the Betamax of Single Serve Coffee machines. It's just frustrating dealing with them online and on the phone. I'm glad that there's a Target and/or Bed Bath & Beyond near me so I can pick up T-Discs from them.

Even more frustrating is the limited Gevalia discs they have. Gevalia has so many varieties and flavors, yet they won't even run limited test batches of flavored or seasonal Gevalia coffees!


Posted by: Joe Bacon at January 13, 2012 11:20 PM

Thanks for the info SH. I picked some up on the way home yesterday. I haven't tried it yet though because I also picked up some chai latte which I tried last night. However, tonight should be a good night for peppermint mocha. It sounds like the peppermint chocolate syrup disc would make great hot chocolate for my daughter as well.


Posted by: AO at January 13, 2012 8:49 AM

"I would love to see this available in the States as well as a variety of flavored coffees." - AO

Actually, while they were busy releasing this T-Disc in Canada, Kraft also released a flavored coffee of sorts in USA (which ironically, isn't being sold in Canada) with their Gevalia Peppermint Mocha T-Discs.

It's apparently a 2-disc process where you combine a peppermint-flavored chocolate syrup disc with an espresso disc to make the final drink.

No idea why Kraft geo-blocks their T-Discs like this. Very frustrating/annoying for existing customers & a sticking point for potential future customers.


Posted by: SH at January 12, 2012 10:43 AM

Thank you for the great review. I would love to see this available in the States as well as a variety of flavored coffees. Although I’m not a huge fan of coffee flavorings it would be nice to change it up every once in a blue moon. My wife also likes to try a variety of flavors. Since we own every major format of single serve brewer we are not lacking on variety overall but it would sure be nice to get down to one coffee maker. If more flavors were available the Tassimo would be the one coffee maker.


Posted by: AO at January 12, 2012 10:17 AM

Ah Tassimo/Kraft: the height of marketing incompetence. Sort of like a company that manufactures printers and then makes the ink cartridges nearly impossible to buy. Way to go, Tassimo!


Posted by: Dave at January 12, 2012 9:24 AM
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