October 31, 2012

Review: Green Mountain Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Packs

Review Single Serve CoffeeIMGP4892

We've been seeing most of our favorite K-Cups make the transition over to the newer Vue Pack format since Keurig started rolling-out the Vue V700 several months ago and there's been a slow but steady increase of new Vue Packs appearing on Keurig.com during that time. Today we look at one of the most recent additions by checking out the Green Mountain Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Packs. This was one of our favorite flavors in K-Cup format, so we were interested to see how things would turn out using the Vue Packs.

Brewing these Vue Packs at regular strength resulted in massive aromas of caramel blended together with sweet brown sugar tinges and hints of vanilla in the background with very slight touches of hazelnut hiding underneath. All the scents quickly filled the room and had us seriously impressed. We've witnessed strong aromas before, but wow... this was crazy. Things smelled so deliciously good that we could have just stood there all morning sniffing in the aroma without even taking a sip while being perfectly content (although that wouldn't have made for much of a review). An interesting side-note, aromas were so strong that they even lingered in the EMPTY cup afterwards... which we had positioned on the OTHER SIDE of our desk a good 2 feet away from us! What the heck is in this stuff? Concentrated "this is frickin total awesomesauce" extract? The heck with Glade plug-ins, we're just gonna leave the empty cup on our desk all week.

Billed as a light roast, flavor was just as mind-numbingly delicious as the aroma. Wonderful waves of flavors kept flowing in and out like tides on a beach. You got the sweetness of the brown sugar at the beginning, quickly followed with loads of caramel in the middle followed by nice vanilla cream notes in the end which gave way to a constantly morphing aftertaste of sweet vanilla & hazelnut. Simply unreal... we were seriously LOVING these Vue Packs and had pretty much forgotten that a K-Cup version even existed. Let's just say that the cardboard box these Vue Packs came in never knew what hit it as it was torn apart like a lion attacking a gazelle the moment other staff members realized which flavor we were reviewing.

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Body was a surprisingly dark brown color for a light roast but it just had us thinking of the brown sugar notes, so no problems there. Nice golden shades of yellow & orange emulated the dark caramel notes when held in front of a light source. Acidity was nicely balanced & thankfully allowed ALL the flavors to shine through in full force, but had just enough of a light bite to keep things from going dull. Mouth feel was super smooth throughout with a sweet finish that, as we noted earlier, yielded what seemed to be constantly morphing aftertastes of vanilla & hazelnut. We've only seen morphing aftertastes occur a few times before but we sure enjoy it when it happens.

When the Strong button was selected, aromas just didn't seem the same. Gone were the nicely blended scents of caramel, brown sugar & vanilla only to be replaced by a predominant buttery caramel aroma instead. While buttery caramel isn't anything to scoff at, we appreciated the more diverse blends of the primary notes from the regular strength aroma instead. We didn't detect any of the subtle hazelnut notes from before either. Flavor was a lot more difficult to make out as things were just one huge mess. The most discernible flavor was what can best be described as burnt caramel. We didn't detect any vanilla or brown sugar notes but oddly enough, started noticing faint berry notes which seemed extremely weird for a caramel coffee. Acidity went from balanced to overpowering as the sour notes were washing out most flavors while mouth feel seemed rather a touch on the oily side with a bitter dry finish that had burnt hazelnut flavors in the aftertaste.

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Overall, we were blown away by how things turned out when using the regular setting and so far, this is quite possibly our #1 favorite coffee Vue Pack until something better comes along. As for the strong setting, it just ruined what was an otherwise outstanding Vue Pack. Things just seemed overly burnt & oily yet we detected odd flavors that seemed like they had no business being present in caramel coffee: berries. Seriously, berries in caramel? What? Regardless of the situation, we highly recommend NOT using the strong button when brewing these Vue Packs and just leave things set to default with the regular setting instead.

It's been a while since we've posted a Vue Pack review, so just a reminder of our new dual-scoring system below. Regular setting scores are on the left while Strong setting scores are within parentheses on the right. Whichever setting has the highest score will be what we base the overall rating on. We will employ this new scoring system for all future Vue Pack reviews where the Strong setting is used.

  • Aroma - 10 (5) - Massive bursts of caramel, sweet brown sugar & vanilla were flying around the room with even very faint hazelnut notes hiding in the background. The Strong setting pretty much killed most of that and only yielded buttery caramel notes which were ok, but nowhere near as good as what the regular setting produced.
  • Acidity -10 (2) - Very nicely balanced overall. Allowed for ALL the primary flavors to shine through while keeping just enough strength to make things lively instead of flat. The Strong setting produced overly strong sour notes which washed-out most of the flavors.
  • Body - 10 (10) - Surprisingly dark for a light roast with dark brown notes reminiscent of the brown sugar flavors present in the cup. Golden hues of yellow & orange, much akin to dark caramel, revealed themselves when held to a light source. Nothing changed when using the Strong setting.
  • Flavor - 10 (2) - Sweet brown sugar notes up front followed by buttery caramel in the middle and sweet vanilla in the end. Outstanding. The Strong setting unfortunately only yielded burnt caramel flavors with odd faint berry notes in the background. All the other flavors were washed away.
  • Mouth Feel - 10 (2) - Super smooth with a sweet finish that had an interesting & constantly morphing aftertaste of sweet vanilla & hazelnut notes. The Strong setting resulted in a mostly oily feel with a bitter, dry finish & only burnt hazelnut notes in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker - Suited best for flavored coffee drinkers who like strong flavors in their coffee. Caramel lovers will be more than happy once they give this one a try. If you liked the K-Cup version, you'll be head over heels with these Vue Packs.

Overall Rating: 100, based on regular setting - Excellent

Oh, Green Mountain... in our minds, you're the kings of flavor town when it comes to flavored coffees. Very rarely have we ever come across a Green Mountain K-Cup or Vue Pack that didn't taste the way it was supposed to or didn't live up to its namesake flavor on the label/packaging (Strong setting notwithstanding). Whoever they've got as their master roaster/flavor blender should seriously get a raise since they're constantly pushing the boundaries and producing top notch tastes & aromas with each new release.

All we ask for in return is that they create 2 flavors that have never been attempted before in coffee format... Strawberries & Cream Coffee (Dunkins came close this year with their seasonal Strawberry Shortcake coffee) and Orange Creamsicle Coffee. Both could be launched as seasonal Summer flavors and we think they'd be a smash hit. We're also patiently awaiting Island Coconut Vue Packs to appear next season also. Nothing's confirmed yet, but GMCR would be crazy not to turn this fan favorite flavor into Vue Pack format.

These Vue Packs are proof that Green Mountain haven't lost their touch and can successfully transition flavors from the old K-Cup format into the new Vue Pack format without any problems. We think anyone who enjoyed the K-Cup version will be blown away by these Vue Packs and we highly recommend that you give them a try. Just don't blame us if they're sold-out when you decide to buy a box. Now if you'll excuse us, we've got to go order a pallet-sized shipment of... uh... totally unrelated coffee products. Yeah, that's it... unrelated.

Green Mountain Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Packs are 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 of the V700 hereKeurig Vue Packs are not compatible with older Keurig K-Cup systems. Pricing is $11.99 USD ($10.79 USD Member Price) for a 16-pack via Keurig.com

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 thank Green Mountain Coffee for sending us a sample of these Vue Packs for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at October 31, 2012 6:33 AM

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