January 29, 2013

Review: Carte Noire Caramel Latte Macchiato T-Discs for Tassimo

Review Single Serve CoffeeCn latte macchiato reg pack 4

Today we decided to review a recent (well, recent on this side of the pond) new flavor from one of our favorite Tassimo brands, namely the Carte Noire Caramel Latte Macchiato T-Discs. Carte Noire has produced some superb products in the past and their espresso was always one of our favorites for quite a while.

Brewing these T-Discs unfortunately did not result in any caramel notes whatsoever which left us a bit perplexed since we were certain the word caramel was surely on the label. When the espresso T-Disc was popped in, we noted the characteristic smoky notes of the espresso along with some earthy notes in the background, but that was it. Odd... where the heck did the caramel go?

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Flavor started revealing faint hints of caramel in the top espresso layers along with some smoky & oily notes from the espresso itself. It was only when we reached the base layer of milk creamer that we finally got the hit of caramel flavors. We definitely noted caramel but also noted the common buttery notes that are typically found in Tassimo milk creamer T-Discs. We didn't mind since we found the butter flavors melded quite nicely with the sweet caramel notes. It wasn't an overly strong caramel taste, but rather a lighter flavor instead.

ReviewcartenoitecaramellattemacchiatotdiscsIMGP4826

 

Body was very nicely layered into individual sections with darker tan brown on top, medium beige in the middle and white on the bottom all topped off with an impressively thick froth/crema layer. That's one thing we've noticed consistently... the European milk creamer T-Discs always seem to produce a considerably thicker froth layer than the North American milk creamer T-Discs. We're not sure if it's due to different milk being used, differences in nozzle designs on the T-Discs, etc. but man, do we EVER wish Kraft would just use the European milk creamer T-Discs for ALL their lattes & cappuccinos.

As you can probably surmise by now, yes, the creamer was flavored instead of the espresso being flavored. We think this is a MUCH better approach since 90% of the cup is composed of creamer when you brew the drink, so why not make the largest quantity the one with the flavoring? More and more brands are taking this approach and we love it. Just compare the old Gevalia Caramel Macchiato T-Discs where the espresso is flavored to the revised newer Gevalia Caramel Macchiato T-Discs where the creamer is flavored. The difference is amazing. Instead of a weak caramel flavor, you now get LOADS of caramel flavor. Bravo to Kraft for switching to this method. Finally... something they took the time to work out.

ReviewcartenoitecaramellattemacchiatotdiscsIMGP4828

Acidity was present but considerably toned-down by the presence of the milk creamer. This aided things by allowing the subtle caramel & butter notes from the creamer to push through the deep smoky notes of the espresso. Mouth feel was super smooth and silky with a rich creamy texture once we hit the base layer with a lingering creamy aftertaste. Overall, quite an impressive job. Carte Noire might need to work on the aroma a bit, but other than that, they certainly didn't let us down. 

  • Aroma - 2 - You shouldn't need to search around for an aroma... it should be right there smacking you in the face during brewing. This wasn't the case as we only got the smoky & earthy notes of the espresso T-Disc. As for caramel aromas, we didn't get any whatsoever. Major bungle on Carte Noire's behalf. We just can't justify a high score here since the main aroma wasn't present.
  • Acidity - 10 - Mostly toned-down by the presence of the milk creamer which helped in bringing forth the subtle caramel & butter notes through the smoky notes of the espresso. This allowed the main flavors to shine.  
  • Body - 10 - Wonderfully layered with tan brown at the beginning, medium beige in the middle and white on the bottom. Just the way a macchiato should look. The most surprising thing was the super-thick froth layer topping everything off. If only all cappuccino & latte T-Disc could be like this.
  • Flavor - 10 - We were a bit worried at first since all we could taste was the smoky & oily notes in the espresso with very faint caramel notes in the background, then be broke through to the base layer and bam! Delicate, light & sweet caramel flavors burst forth and blended well with slight buttery notes in the creamer. We rather enjoyed a lighter tasting caramel vs. a heavy-handed approach. Outstanding & delicious.
  • Mouth Feel - 10 - Amazingly super-smooth and particularly creamy in texture once we reached the base layer. We also enjoyed the creamy milk aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker - Obviously aimed towards latte fans but we think those who will appreciated it most are people who enjoy lightly flavored caramel with just the right amount of sweetness. You can choose to drink it as-is like we did or stir things up and immediately get the caramel flavors mixed throughout the cup. DEFINITELY worth a try despite the disappointing lack of caramel aroma.

Overall Rating: 92 - Exceptional

We've tried several caramel latte macchiato T-Discs over the years and have seen some that were spectacular and other that were total rubbish. We're glad to say that despite the aroma issues, these T-Discs are most definitely on the spectacular side of things. We're madly in love with the European creamer T-Discs and sorely wish that they'd become standardized across each country in which Kraft sells their products, but unfortunately, we doubt this will ever come to pass. The difference just doesn't compare... it's like being brought up on average regular cuts of meat all your life and discovering an expertly trimmed, AAA prime-grade cut of Angus beef for the first time. Seriously, the North American creamer gets blown out of the water once you've tried the European one.

So, to sum things up, yes... this is quite a fine T-Disc which Carte Noire have done an exceptional job of producing. The espresso is strong enough where it counts while the caramel notes are light & delicate instead of strong & overbearingly sweet. Overall, just great T-Discs you should definitely try to get your hands on.

Carte Noire Caramel Latte Macchiato T-Discs will work in most Tassimo brewers and are available in 8-packs (8 espresso + 8 milk creamer) for $13.99 CAD at ECSCoffee.com. These T-Discs are not currently sold in USA.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to thank ECS Coffee for supplying us with samples for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at January 29, 2013 7:43 AM

Recent Comments

SH – Bed Bath and Beyond is definitely the best store on this side of the border. They carry a lot of Gevalia along with King of Joe, Corner Coffeehouse and Tim Hortons. Plus, they are always sending out 20% off coupons so that helps. However, the rest of the stores are a bit sad. To compare, a US Walmart with a full grocery section may have 5 different Tassimo discs, mostly Maxwell House. Same with Target. There had to be 20+ different Tassimo discs at the Walmart I was at in Canada. Imagine if Kraft Canada and Kraft US combined their efforts and offered all of them in both markets.


Posted by: AO at January 31, 2013 10:54 AM

@AO...

I laugh when I read this since for the longest time, it was the opposite way around. Every time I'd go to NH/MA area of USA, I'd find tons of new flavors at Bed Bath & Beyond which weren't sold in Canada plus the selection on Tassimo's USA website was always better than what we had on the Canadian site. We literally had about 10 flavors to pick from on store shelves.

Now it would seem that Kraft have scaled back T-Disc releases in USA after their Corner Coffeehouse & Tea Bar releases and have focused mainly on Canadian T-Disc releases in 2012. They secured deals with coffee shops such as Second Cup & Tim Hortons, they've even gone so far as to get grocery store chains involved (Loblaws' President's Choice series) and most recently, they got Wal-Mart's own "Our Finest" brand on-board with a Canadian-exclusive release (review for that will be written-up soon).

I guess they're focusing on Canada since Tassimo sales have been better here than in USA where Keurig seems to be dominating the market. Ironically, the Keurig K-Cup selection is a lot better in USA than in Canada, plus we STILL don't have the Vue brewer available in Canada yet. I also highly doubt Canada will see the new Rivo brewer either. Time will tell, I guess.


Posted by: SH at January 29, 2013 10:20 AM

Thank you for the review. We picked up a package of these during a recent trip to Canada but we haven’t tried them yet. I find it interesting that the exterior package doesn’t say caramel making me believe that it was going to be a straight up traditional macchiato but the picture of the creamer disc shows that it’s for use with the caramel macchiato. Either way I’m really looking forward to trying it.

On the topic of Tassimo in Canada, I’m completely jealous of the Tassimo availability I saw while I was there. Our first stop was Walmart where they sell every Tassimo machine they make and had several Tassimo 4-way displays around the store. Then we made our way over to the grocery section and I was blown away. Half the isle was Tassimo discs. Later in the day we went to a mall that had a Canadian Tire located in it and we saw a few more packages that they didn't have at Walmart. When all was said and done we came across the border with 19 different packages of discs that we can’t get here in the States.


Posted by: AO at January 29, 2013 8:05 AM
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