November 26, 2012

Review: Starbucks Christmas Blend Single Serve Coffee K-Cups

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When we first reviewed their Anniversary Blend K-Cups a few months ago, we were cautiously optimistic that those would be the first in a line-up of seasonal K-Cups and it turns out that we were correct. We really liked that previous K-Cup, so we couldn't wait to see what Starbucks Christmas Blend K-Cups (the 2nd flavor in the series) would be like. Once again, Starbucks have gone all-out by creating nicely decorated packaging with festive artwork as well as a bright red reflective foil K-Cup lid (Ooh, shiny!) which proved quite the difficult item to photograph.

We also liked the addition of the year on the foil lid. They did this with their Anniversary Blend as well and we think it adds a certain collector's appeal much like you'd get when collecting wine vintages. We can already foresee asking guests if they'd like a 2012 vintage Christmas Blend K-Cup a few years from now (providing we have any left by then).

A tradition since 1985, Starbucks created their Christmas Blend coffee from a multi-region blend of Asia/Pacific, Latin American & Sumatran coffee beans all pulled together and roasted into a rich dark roast coffee. Starbucks claims the signature flavor of this blend comes from the Sumatran beans which have been aged 3 to 5 years. Still not strong enough for ya? They've even gone so far as to create an even darker Christmas Blend Espresso Roast variety which, unfortunately, isn't yet available in K-Cup format (next year perhaps?).

Brewing these K-Cups resulted in strong notes of smoky chocolate with hints of spices in the background and removed any doubt that this blend wouldn't fair well against the Anniversary Blend. Flavor yielded loads of smoke & dark chocolate blended with sweet dashes of spice. Some of the oils from the dark roast were also noticeable near the end of each sip. Much like the Anniversary Blend K-Cups, we're wishing these weren't a Limited Edition since we could imagine ourselves enjoying this coffee well past the holidays.

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Body was very dark brown in color with shades of red when held in front of a light source. It appropriately reminded us of traditional Christmas colors. Acidity was almost identical to the Anniversary Blend K-Cups since it was surprisingly smooth and not maxed off the charts like your usual Starbucks coffee. This paired quite well with the spicy notes in the flavor to keep things lively. Mouth feel was smooth throughout with only the slightest oily notes lurking around underneath. Finish & aftertaste presented more spicy & peppery flavors blended with some smoky tinges in the background.

  • Aroma - 10 - Strong notes of smoky chocolate came forth with hints of spices in the background. It reminded us of sipping hot cocoa in front of a fireplace after an evening of setting up the Christmas tree
  • Acidity - 10 - Again, shockingly well balanced for a Starbucks K-Cup. Not too weak yet nowhere near as strong as usual. This paired quite well with the spicy notes in the flavor and kept things lively. Superb.
  • Body - 10 - Very dark brown with notes of red when held to a light source. Reminded us of the traditional Christmas colors we see everywhere that time of year as well as the bright red foil we saw on the K-Cup lid.
  • Flavor - 10 - Right on-par with the Anniversary Blend. Once again, loads of different notes playing around in the cup. We detected loads of smoke and dark chocolate up front quickly followed by some sweet spicy notes in the background. As we neared the end of each sip, we detected some of the oils from the dark roast as well. Awesome.
  • Mouth Feel - 10 - Smooth throughout despite the strong flavors with very slight oily notes underneath. Finish & aftertaste yielded more spicy & peppery flavors with some smoky tinges in the background.
  • Coffee Drinker - Suited best for those who like smoky chocolate flavors with dashes of sweet spicy notes. We could see this pairing well with a festive meal or some sweet pastries & sugar cookies. Yet another outstanding Starbucks seasonal K-Cup which comes VERY highly recommended!

Overall Rating: 100 - Excellent!

We've got to admit, we didn't think Starbucks would strike gold twice in a row, but they've succeeded yet again with another brilliant seasonal K-Cup. In our minds, everything from the flavors to the aromas to even the mouth feel of these seasonal blends just seem so much better than their everyday flavor line-up. Instead of tasting the same signature smoky flavors over and over again, you get extra added dashes of spice & added tasting/aroma notes which just make for a much more enjoyable experience overall.

As you can imagine, this only drives sales even further as people discover these seasonal K-Cup flavors and immediately want more. The only problem we've been consistently running into? Our local Starbucks locations are usually sold-out by the time we go back for more. If you're lucky enough to find some at your local Starbucks, then we highly recommend buying a box (or 2... or 3...). With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas fast approaching, we're sure these will be a hit in your household during your holiday get together.

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 on our own for the purpose of this review.

Starbucks Christmas Blend K-Cups will work in all Keurig K-Cup brewers and are available at both American & Canadian Starbucks locations for a limited time in 12-packs for roughly $12.95 USD & CAD (Pricing may vary). This seasonal flavor is also available at the same price point for Starbucks Verismo brewers in-store or online at StarbucksStore.com or StarbucksStore.ca.

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

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Posted by Jay Brewer at November 26, 2012 7:29 AM

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