Review: Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups
For about as long as we can recall, Swiss Miss hot cocoas have been a staple in many American homes over the years and up until now, the most common format it came in was powder packets. Known for its smooth Swiss milk chocolate taste (think Milka), this has been one of our favorites for ages. A few months ago, Green Mountain decided they’d take a crack at things and introduced what we’re reviewing today: Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups.
Brewing these K-Cups resulted in the distinct aroma of Swiss milk chocolate with sweet cocoa notes filling the room. Flavor was a bit more hit or miss though. When we tried our first K-Cup, about half the powder remained stuck in the bottom of the K-Cup after brewing (despite having shaken the K-Cup beforehand) which resulted in a horrible-tasting “hint of cocoa” flavored water. We had to dump the cup since it tasted so watery.
Not willing to give up, we popped-in a 2nd K-Cup and decided to shake the living heck out of it and even tapped it on the counter top a few times before committing to pressing the brew button. This seemed to do the trick as we were left with MUCH improved flavors of creamy Swiss milk chocolate, nice creamy notes in the background and more sweet cocoa flavors throughout. This was pretty much identical to what we recalled having in the old powder packets growing up throughout our childhood. We were a bit annoyed that things didn’t go smoothly on the first try, but more about that later.
Body was the familiar light brown, almost dark beige color of Swiss milk chocolate & spot-on with the powder packet results from what we can recall. We guess you could say that Green Mountain decided to stick a powder packet in a K-Cup. Acidity was nil since after all, this is a hot cocoa… not a coffee or tea and to be honest, we’d be concerned if we had noticed any sour notes here. Mouth feel was silky smooth throughout with a light almost creamy texture which followed-through to a smooth finish that had a creamy cocoa aftertaste. There’s some point loss in this category, but we’ll explain that in a bit.
- Aroma – 10 – Distinct aromas of Swiss milk chocolate with sweet cocoa notes quickly filled the room and was spot-on with the original aroma from the powder packets.
- Acidity – 10 – Since this is a hot cocoa & not a coffee or tea, we’re giving it a 10 for the total absence of acidity… had we noticed any sour notes whatsoever, the score would have dropped significantly.
- Body – 10 – Much like the original, familiar colors of light brown/dark beige from traditional Swiss Miss hot cocoa were present throughout.
- Flavor – 8 – Rich notes of Swiss milk chocolate were the main tasting note here. We also detected notes of cream in the background with sweet cocoa hints as well. Quite identical to the original powder packets.
- Mouth Feel – 8 – Silky smooth throughout with a light, almost creamy texture. Smooth finish with a creamy cocoa aftertaste.
- Coffee Drinker – Well, this is obviously NOT a coffee, but if you like Swiss milk chocolate & enjoyed the taste of the original Swiss Miss powder packets from your childhood, then you’re probably going to enjoy these K-Cups.
Overall Rating: 96 – Excellent
We’re taking 2 points off in the Flavor category due to the difficulty in obtaining the desired final flavor. You REALLY need to excessively shake the K-Cup prior to brewing; otherwise you end up with a bland cup of brown water. A decent cup shouldn’t require much more than a few quick shakes to loosen the powder from the side walls of the plastic K-Cup. Green Mountain’s own hot cocoa K-Cups were notorious for this issue and when the Café Escapes series of K-Cups came along, we thought they’d finally resolved this, but now we’re landing right back with the same problems again. Not a good sign & something we hope Green Mountain can resolve… quickly. We also dock 2 points off the Mouth Feel category since if you land up with a half-extruded K-Cup, the mouth feel goes from smooth & creamy to bland & watery. Our first attempt was so bad, we had to dump the cup down the sink. That’s a waste of money in our books & nothing annoys us more than when we see dollars & cents go down the drain… literally. Those 2 gripes aside, once you DO get things to work properly, those issues disappear and you’re left with a rather decent cup.
Now, we realize the #1 sticking point with these K-Cups is going to be the thing that stuck out like a lemon tree in an apple orchard… PRICE. These K-Cups come in multiple size formats… you can get 12-packs, 16-packs all the way up to 24-packs. Depending if you shop at grocery stores or order direct from Green Mountain’s website, the pricing can vary from approx. $10 all the way up to almost $20 per box. When you stop and look at how much a 10-pack box of powder packets costs on average ($2 to $3) compared to the cost of a 12-pack box of K-Cups ($10), the price jump seems rather steep. The only price-hike reason we can think of is the added manufacturing and materials costs of having to use printed foil & plastic K-Cups.
Overall, we like the fact that Green Mountain didn’t mess around with the formula and left the look, taste & mouth feel pretty much the same (when you can get things to work properly) as what we remembered from the powder packet version. Will you get the same results regardless of which format you use? Well, if you shake the K-Cup version well-enough, then yes. Is the price difference between both versions worth it? Well, on that particular note, we’ll let you decide. We’d still suggest finding a 12-pack at your local grocery store before committing to a full box of 24.
Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups will work in all Keurig brewers and are available in 12-packs & 16-packs at various grocery & department stores for various prices starting around $10. Green Mountain’s regular price is $19.49 for a 24-pack, but they have them on-sale (at the time of this review) for $9.99 ($8.47 club price).
A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to thank Green Mountain for sending us samples of these K-Cups for the purpose of this review.
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Posted by Jay Brewer at February 4, 2013 5:04 AM