April 19, 2012

Review: Starbucks French Roast K-Cups

Review Single Serve Coffeefrench_roast_kcups-starbucks_IMGP4568.JPG

French Roast. The first thing that comes to mind when coffee drinkers hear those words is "intense & smoky" and indeed, some of the coffees we've had over the years which employed this roast style have been quite intense and often smoky in nature. Billed as one of the strongest roasts in Starbucks' line-up, we continue our review series of Starbucks K-Cups today with their Starbucks French Roast K-Cups.

Brewing these K-Cups resulted in rather strong aromas of smoky hickory nuanced by tinges of molasses & dark chocolate. After trying a greater portion of the line-up, we're starting to suspect they all have very similar aromas and just about every one we've tried had the "signature" Starbucks coffee shop aroma (the scent you get when you walk into one of their retail shops). We also detected faint oily aromas hiding underneath but the thing that was the most present was definitely smoky hickory.


Body was very dark brown with shades of orange and red when held in front of a light source. All in all, quite similar to the Sumatra K-Cup we recently checked-out. Acidity was present but once again a bit lighter than expected and helped push all the smoky notes forward. We always review our coffees straight-up black without the addition of any cream or sugar, but there's no doubt this K-Cup could more than handle the addition of those 2 items without losing any of its intensity.


Flavor left no doubt that this was a French roast... smoky hickory and tons of it. Very intense smoky punch at first sip. We detected dark chocolate and a slightly oily taste which marked the first time we detected oils in the taste of a Starbucks K-Cup. Mouth feel was smooth at first with a light oily finish which seemed rather dry and as with just about every flavor in the line-up so far, we only noticed the characteristic "burnt" notes of a Starbucks coffee in the aftertaste.

  • Aroma - 10 - Like a broken record, we'll state that we noticed signature Starbucks aroma during brewing. Very strong smoky aroma with notes of hickory and tinges of dark chocolate & molasses underneath.
  • Acidity - 7 - Somewhat lighter than expected, but this helped push the smoky notes forward in the final flavor.
  • Body - 9 - Very dark brown with sunburst shades of orange & red when held in front of a light source.
  • Flavor - 10 - Any more smoke and we'd be looking for a surgeon general's warning on the packaging. Tons of smoky hickory, with a very intense hit at first sip. Dark chocolate is present with a slight oily taste in the background.
  • Mouth Feel - 9 - Smooth at the beginning with a slight oily feel on the dry finish... we were expecting an oilier feel since we could detect oils in the flavor. As with the rest of the line-up, you only get the "burnt" notes during the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker - Dark roast fans take note, this is as dark as the Starbucks K-Cups get, so if you don't care for this one, you won't like the rest of the line-up. If you're a fan of smoky coffees, this one's definitely for you. We liked the smoky punch and thought it fit the roast profile rather well. Recommended as a first buy for dark roast fans before they check out anything else in the line-up.

Overall Rating: 95 - Excellent

Intense? Without a doubt. Smoky? Oh, you bet'cha. Any darker of a roast and we'd expect the K-Cup to spontaneously combust during brewing. By far, the darkest & most noticeably intense of all the Starbucks K-Cups (No seriously, the image on the packaging is coffee beans on fire). We admit that while these K-Cups are nowhere near the levels of mind-numbing charred intensity which were present in the old Tassimo T-Disc versions, they're still pretty darn strong for a K-Cup.

We think most dark roast fans will be pleased and those who preferred the T-Discs should likely cut to the chase and give first dibs on this flavor before checking out the rest of the line-up. While we're sure there will still be those who claim this coffee is too weak, we certainly found it had enough "oomph" to meet our needs.

Starbucks French Roast K-Cups will work in all Keurig brewers and are available in 16-packs for $13.98 USD at Wal-Mart in USA or 10-packs for $10.99 CAD at various grocery stores across Canada. Some Starbucks shops in USA & Canada might also be selling these K-Cups.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note that we purchased a box of these K-Cups ourselves for the purpose of this review.

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

Read More in: K Cup Reviews | Keurig & K-Cups | Reviews | Starbucks Single Serve Coffee

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Posted by Jay Brewer at April 19, 2012 5:23 AM
Recent Comments

@Black Rose...

It's been a while since I've had Tully's French Roast, but from what I can remember, this Starbucks K-Cup is a bit stronger/smokier than the Tully's variety.

Hope that helps.

Posted by: SH at April 20, 2012 10:24 AM

How does this compare to Tully's French Roast?

I like the Starbucks Pike Place. It sounds like I'd like this one too, especially if it compares favorably to Tully's French Roast.

Posted by: Black Rose at April 19, 2012 11:10 PM
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