Review: Brewing Café Style Drinks with the Keurig Vue V700
We continue our Keurig Vue V700 Brewing System
review series today by taking a look at some of the new options which are now available when brewing café style drinks on this brewer. Unlike the older K-Cup brewers, you can now brew more elaborate milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos & lattes, so let's have a look at what's involved in this process.
NOTE: We are aware that the previously released Café Escapes K-Cups have a form of powdered milk in them, but we're talking about drinks that had the milk powder separate from the coffee, not all combined into one. That hasn't been done in K-Cup format yet.
Taking a cue from the Tassimo system, you need to follow a 2-step process to make café drinks on the Vue brewer. You first start off with the Vue-Pack which contains milk powder to create the milk "froth", then you insert the Vue-Pack which contains the coffee to finish off the final drink. While you can't adjust the froth level/amount, you can disable/enable the "strong" feature when using the coffee Vue-Pack. Also, drink size is not adjustable during the froth process and is "locked-in" at 4oz by default but you can change between 4oz or 6oz when using the coffee Vue-Pack during step 2.
We can only imagine that Keurig decided to use milk powder instead of liquid milk in order to extend shelf life & despite being concerned that taste would be a bit "off", we were glad to see this wasn't the case. You could definitely taste the milk component in the final drink & it didn't become overpowered by the coffee. While we were annoyed by the 8oz-10oz final (combined) drink size limit at first, we quickly realized anything more would have resulted in a bland watery mess. So it's probably for the best that they limited the sizes.
Keurig has already seen the potential of using powdered milk and have decided to blend it with powdered coffees/teas to create other drink flavors in Vue-Pack format such as their Café Escapes Chai Latte & Café Escapes Café Caramel (we'll have reviews of those in the coming weeks).
You call that froth?
So we come to our #1 major gripe about the Keurig Vue V700… froth, or rather the lack thereof. We've tried just about every possible method in an attempt to produce better quality froth from the powdered milk Vue-Packs, but the problem lies not with the Vue-Packs… it's the fact that there is no adjustable settings whatsoever for the froth level/amount.
Using something called "air infusion", Keurig claims you can get frothy café quality drinks from the Vue V700, but that's simply not the case. The machine just doesn't have any bar pressure to create true froth, so instead you get a very small "froth ring" around the edge of your mug instead of a true foamy froth layer like you'd see on a Dolce Gusto drink or even a Tassimo drink.
We used to joke about how the Tassimo used to have weak froth for some of its drinks, but compared to what we've seen so far with the Vue, we'll never make that claim again. If Keurig's aim was to compete with the drinks that the Tassimo can produce, we think they seriously need to go back to the drawing board and either re-engineer the brew head size/shape or insert a pump/mechanism that has at least some form of bar pressure if they ever expect to steal away current Tassimo users.
In Keurig's defense however, they DO have one thing going for them in regards to their powdered milk Vue-Packs… taste. When compared to the liquid milk T-Discs, many people claimed they disliked the buttery flavor of the T-Discs and couldn't get used to it. Well, you won't find that here. The powdered milk Vue-Packs taste like sweetened powdered milk similar to what you'd get with a bag of Carnation powdered milk mix. We found it had a somewhat more "natural" taste vs. the buttery nature of the T-Disc liquid milk.
Before we finish things off, we'd like to recap something we talked about in our last review series article
as things have changed since then. When we first started using the powdered Vue-Packs, we were concerned when puffs of powder would poof out into the mug prior to water brewing through the Vue-Pack. Once all was said & done, it resulted in clumps of powder remaining stuck inside the Vue-Pack after brewing due to improper extraction.
We've since found a fix… first, you need to shake the Vue-Pack for a few seconds, then tilt it backwards so the powder goes to the back end of the Vue-Pack (towards the peel tab) prior to inserting it into the brewer. Yes, we know the powder will just sink back down into the front of the Vue-Pack (near the water channel/drink style logo) the moment you close the brew chamber door, but it seems to make a difference as we've not had one "powder clumping" issue since. All Vue-Packs came out clean as a whistle with no powder residue left at all.
All in all, we appreciate the ability to now have more milk-based drinks in Keurig's line-up and if they can sort out the issues noted above (and lower the V700's pricing a bit within a year or so from now), then we feel they'll have an even bigger winner on their hands.
More at Keurig Vue V700 Brewing System and you can read our full review of the Keurig Vue V700 here
A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review.
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Posted by Jay Brewer at June 25, 2012 5:42 AM