March 27, 2013

Review: GMCR Special Reserve Colombia Geisha K-Cups

Review Single Serve CoffeeReviewgmcrspecialreservecolombiageishakcupsIMGP5356

Once Marley Coffee decided to release a rare single-origin coffee with their Jamaican Blue Mountain Real Cups, Green Mountain realized they had missed their chance at being the first company/brand to release a rare single-origin coffee in Keurig K-Cup compatible format. It didn't take them long to fix that oversight as they decided to start releasing their Special Reserve series in K-Cup format soon afterwards. The first flavor in the series is what we're reviewing today... GMCR Special Reserve Colombia Geisha K-Cups.

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Hailing from the Cerro Azul region in Valle del Cauca, Colombia Geisha coffee is considered to be amongst the rarest varietals in the World due to it being difficult to grow which makes it produced in specially crafted small batches. It is renowned for its complex flavors which have been described as changing with every sip and it's such a highly-regarded crop that pickers must endure 4 to 12 months of training just to be certified to pick Geisha cherries as such requires a fine touch to preserve all the flavor's subtle notes during the cultivation process. This varietal is also considered to be one of the most sought-after coffees as was evidenced last year by Starbucks when they decided to start selling it in limited runs at an astronomical price of $7 per cup. Thankfully, if you calculate the price per serving of these K-Cups, it works out to a much more reasonable $1.77 instead.

When we ordered these K-Cups via Keurig.com, we had no idea they'd come packaged any differently than most 18-pack K-Cups, but not only do you get the usual cardboard box, you get a nicely designed slip-sleeve which slides over the top of the box and is adorned with embossed GMCR logos, gold foil lettering and glossy, full color photos of Geisha coffee cherries still on the plant. As if that wasn't enough, you also get similar glossy photography and gold foil on an included fold-out info card which gives you background on the coffee's history, how it is processed on the farm, a map of the farm's location in Colombia, tasting notes and profile as well as info about the GMCR employee who is in charge of sourcing the coffee in the first place. Overall, a very nice presentation which makes us feel like we're getting a bit more of our money's worth. They even decided to make the K-Cup lid entirely out of gold foil just to emphasize how special this coffee was supposed to be. So, is it worth the hype (or the cost for that matter)? Let's find out.

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Brewing these K-Cups resulted in a unique tropical aroma unlike anything we've experienced before as a somewhat tropical scent which took on a floral aroma started emanating from the cup. We detected mild floral notes followed by hints of apricots and very faint mango notes near the end. As things settled down, very faint hints of lime started revealing themselves as well. Simply an outstanding & ever-evolving aroma overall. Yes, we realize some of you may be thinking that the apricot scent could be similar to GMCR's Perfect Peach K-Cups, but seriously... it doesn't even come close. Billed as a light roast, flavor proved all the more pleasing as we detected delicate honey notes blended with more hints apricot & mango which morphed into sweet cherry flavors topped off with lime notes near the end with a very mild tea-like finish which almost gave us the impression of tannins being present in the cup.

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Not satisfied with its performance, the flavor changed YET AGAIN once the coffee cooled off and revealed new chocolate notes throughout. It just didn't want to stop revealing new notes... unbelievable! Acidity was a perfect match for this coffee as the balanced nature played well between the flavor's sweet & sour notes that kept dancing around the cup. It was light enough to let the sweeter flavors shine through yet strong enough to push the sour flavors forward and deliver a citrusy finish.

Body was light to medium reddish-brown in color with sunburst shades of orange, red & yellow when held in front of a light source. Reminded us of the colors found in the fruit notes we were tasting... orange for apricots, yellow for mangoes and red for cherries. Mouth feel was quite possibly the smoothest we've seen in a while and felt substantial without any watery or oily notes present. It just made the coffee slide over your tongue like a fine chocolate mousse and made an already pleasant experience all the more pleasing. Finish was citrusy with some lime notes and... possibly bergamot as well?

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It was an oddly unfamiliar taste for a coffee overall as it seemed more akin to tannins found in an Earl Grey tea rather than what you'd normally see in coffee. We were more perplexed and mystified at the effect rather than anything else and actually didn't mind it one bit as it didn't detract whatsoever from the final tasting experience and just made it all the more memorable. We're starting to understand just why Colombia Geisha coffee is such a prized varietal... simply because it's unlike any other coffee in the World.

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  • Aroma - 10 - Unexpected tropical aroma with floral notes blended with hints of apricot & mango near the end. An amazingly new aroma unlike anything we've seen in a coffee before.
  • Acidity - 10 - Balanced in nature & plays well with the evolving flavors as it's light enough to let the sweeter flavors shine through while strong enough to push the sour citrusy notes forward as well.
  • Body - 10 - Light to medium reddish-brown with sunburst notes of orange, red & yellow when held to a light source. Reminded us of the colors for some of the fruit flavors we were experiencing.
  • Flavor - 10 12 - Ok... screw 11... can we give this a 12? Yeah, you know what? It's getting a frickin 12. The heck with the rules... it deserves it. Amazingly mind-blowing experience of flavors which just would not stop changing upon every sip from beginning to end. Things start off with honeyed apricot & mango notes which morph into sweet cherry & lime flavors with a bergamot finish. As things cool off, flavor CHANGES AGAIN to reveal new notes of chocolate throughout. Our taste buds were crying with joy!
  • Mouth Feel - 10 - Smoothest we've seen in a while, not watery or oily at all, just super smooth and luxurious. Finish had a tannin-like nature which resembled Earl Grey tea. Not what we were expecting, but we were more perplexed than anything else and still enjoyed this unexpected twist overall.
  • Coffee Drinker - Suited best for light to medium-roast fans who are looking for something new as we can guarantee you've NEVER had a coffee like this before. If you love flavors that constantly change and mild tropical aromas, you're going to LOVE this coffee.

Overall Rating: 100 102 - BEYOND Excellent!

What an amazing year for the single serve coffee market 2012 turned out to be. We got a 100% Kona espresso capsule from Nespresso (something we can't ever recall being done for espressos before), Jamaican Blue Mountain's rare single-origin coffee making its way to the competing Real Cup format and now quite possibly one of the best coffees in the World making its way to the K-Cup format in an outstanding Special Reserve coffee. That's going to be an incredibly tough act to follow this year in 2013, so we're anxious to see how the heck the companies are going to top that (Kopi Luwak K-Cups perhaps? Pu-erh tea Real Cups?).

As we noted before, the main sticking point for these K-Cups is going to be the price. At roughly $32 for only 18, they're not exactly what the average person would call affordable. But when you stop to think that they have to train pickers up to 1 year JUST so they can pick the coffee cherries properly and when you realize just how difficult to grow, limited & rare this particular varietal is, you can start to understand why it's demanding a premium price. We also think you'll agree that once you experience your first cup, you won't mind having paid the higher price point for these truly outstanding K-Cups. In our opinion, these are the BEST K-Cups EVER PRODUCED to date and you can feel free to quote us on that.

If you think we've lost our minds (it deserved a score of 102 we tells ya!) and you're still on the fence about giving these a try, Green Mountain are constantly putting together Deal of the Week packages on their site and Keurig are also trying to entice buyers with various promos such as extra points for their rewards members, etc. plus members also get slightly cheaper pricing as well (it's free to sign-up). Batches of these K-Cups have been made available 3 times and have SOLD OUT each and every time. Since they are only available exclusively online via Keurig & GMCR's sites, we recommend you place your order soon before you miss out on this one-of-a-kind coffee tasting experience. A must try that we can't recommend highly enough.

GMCR Special Reserve Colombia Geisha K-Cups work in all Keurig K-Cup brewers and were available in 18-packs for $31.99 USD ($28.79 USD Member Price). These K-Cups are currently unavailable due to the limited nature but you may want to check Green Mountain Coffee's website to see when they'll be back again. We did find some at Amazon.com but note the price of the K-Cups was almost double, but given how good these are perhaps you're willing to pay the premium. Please note that K-Cups will NOT work with Keurig Vue brewers.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note that we purchased these K-Cups on our own for the purpose of this review.

Read More in: K Cup Reviews | Keurig & K-Cups | Reviews

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Posted by Jay Brewer at March 27, 2013 5:33 AM

Recent Comments

I didn't like these k cups. To much of a sour taste to my liking. I'll stick with my Tullys.


Posted by: Bruce at March 27, 2013 6:10 PM

@jbviau...

Expiry on mine appears to be the same date. Can't recall when I ordered mine... early or mid December, I think?


Posted by: SH at March 27, 2013 2:37 PM

Thanks for the review. I agree it would be difficult to imagine a better-tasting k-cup!

1) Out of stock now? Looks like it.
2) What's the "best-by" date on your batch, SH? Mine are marked 5/12/13. Guess I'm just curious about whether or not they've released/sold through more than one batch since Nov.


Posted by: jbviau at March 27, 2013 9:02 AM
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