July 16, 2012

Review: Van Houtte French Vanilla Vue Packs for Keurig Vue Brewing Systems

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Our voyage through the wonderful world of Vue Packs brings us today to yet another flavored variety, Van Houtte French Vanilla Vue Packs. Van Houtte have been around in Canada for about as long as long as Marmite’s been around New Zealand and we’re sure if Kiwis had a chance to sample some (Van Houtte Coffee), they’d agree it tastes considerably better. We were again curious to see what kind of results we’d get with the strong button, so we forged ahead.

Brewing these Vue Packs resulted in warm aromas of vanilla blended with caramel throughout. Billed as a light roast, flavor revealed the same notes of vanilla & caramel with the caramel flavors almost outpacing the vanilla ones. Those were definitely the 2 predominant flavors here as we simply could not detect anything else.

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Body was medium to dark brown in color with shades of red & orange when held in front of a light source. Acidity seemed balanced with a very slight sour characteristic at first that quickly dissipates into a more mellow touch. Mouth feel was equally smooth and did not show any signs of being watered-down. Finish seemed clean with lingering light vanilla flavors in the aftertaste.

When using the strong feature, things just went completely out of control. While the aromas of vanilla & caramel were more pronounced, we also detected faint notes of hickory in the background but the most distracting difference was in acidity. It was so overpowering that it just made the whole cup feel overly sour and washed out most of the taste.

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In the rare moments where we could focus ourselves long enough away from the acidic chaos, we were able to detect mostly caramel notes with some vanilla in the background. Mouth feel surprising remained smooth but took on more of an oily feel than before. This is obviously an instance where we recommend NOT using the strong feature at all. In our opinion, it just ruins an otherwise good cup of coffee.

Just a reminder again of our new dual-scoring system. Regular setting scores on the left, strong setting scores on the right surrounded by parentheses ( ). The overall score will be based on whatever setting has the highest total score.

  • Aroma – 10 (9) – Pleasant scents of warm vanilla & caramel invited us to dive deep into this cup. Odd hickory notes started to develop when the strong setting was used. When the heck was the last time you heard of smoked vanilla flavoring? Weird.
  • Acidity – 9 (1) – A bit sour at first but quickly mellows out to acceptable levels. That’s unfortunately NOT the case when the strong setting is enabled as it’s just a massively sour mess that washes out most flavors. We’re sorry, but ruining the flavor = immediate low score of 1.
  • Body – 8 (8) – Medium to dark brown with shades of red & orange when held to a light source. Nothing changed when using the strong setting.
  • Flavor – 10 (2) – We liked how the flavors of vanilla & caramel blended so well together & thought it made for a nice satisfying pairing. When the strong setting was used, things just went awry… the acidity washed out the flavor so badly that we could barely detect anything. After much focus, we were able to detect similar notes of vanilla & caramel, but just barely.
  • Mouth Feel – 9 (7) – Smooth throughout while being a bit on the lighter side, yet no signs of being watered-down. Surprisingly enough, things remained smooth when the strong setting was used, but more of an oily feel started to emerge. We preferred the feel of the regular setting instead.
  • Coffee Drinker – Suited for those who like well-flavored coffees & obviously a major hit for anyone who likes vanilla or caramel. We even found these Vue Packs to have more a caramel flavor than the Folgers Caramel Drizzle K-Cups (look for a review of those soon). As for the strong setting… well… which would you prefer? Drinking this coffee or sucking on a lemon? The results are pretty much similar… sour, sour, SOUR!

Overall Rating: 96, based on regular setting – Excellent

We know Van Houtte can push out some truly stellar flavored coffees based on their K-Cup track record (their seasonal Cherry Chip Swirl K-Cups are AMAZING despite being damn hard to find on shelves), so we’re glad to see they’ve continued the tradition of fine flavorings with their first Vue Pack.

We were a bit surprised by how things turned out when using the strong setting since we weren’t expecting such a negative result after seeing how things vastly improved when using this feature on Gloria Jean’s Hazelnut Vue Packs. It just goes to show that it pays to experiment… while one coffee might go from meh to wow using this feature, others can end up being completely ruined by it as well.

Bottom line is that if you like vanilla & caramel flavors in your coffee, this is a must buy Vue Pack for your collection… just take our word for it and leave the strong setting well-enough alone if you want to enjoy this coffee at its full potential.

Van Houtte French Vanilla Vue Packs is one of the many Keurig Vue Packs available for the Keurig Vue V700 Single Cup Brewing System, and you can also read our full review here. The Keurig Vue Packs are not compatible with older Keurig K-Cup systems. The Keurig Vue V700 isn’t presently sold in Canada, but Canadians can order these Vue Packs from Keurig.com if they’re willing to pay a $10 FedEx brokerage fee.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note we purchased a box of these Vue Packs on our own for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at July 16, 2012 8:13 AM

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