April 22, 2013

Review: Green Mountain Island Coconut Vue Packs

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When we first started reviewing Vue Packs and noticed how the strong button could affect (both positively and negatively) the flavor of a coffee, the first flavor we wish GMCR would have released was Island Coconut. Out of all the seasonal flavors, it's our #1 favorite and when we first tasted it, we immediately wanted MORE coconuttiness (is that even a word?) in our cup. The intoxicating tropical coconut aromas paired with the intense coconut flavor had us... well... going nuts. We just couldn't help but wonder how the strong button would affect such a superb coffee. Would it blow the dial past 11 in coconut flavor or would it turn things so bitter & sour that we'd be rushing to rebuild the S.S. Minnow and get the heck off Gilligan's Island?

We called it during our GMCR Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Pack review as we suspected back then that this flavor wouldn't be too far behind on the Vue Pack line-up's release schedule, so let's see if these new seasonal Vue Packs can recreate the same euphoric sensation as their K-Cup counterparts and possibly improve upon it. Today we check out the long awaited & highly anticipated Green Mountain Island Coconut Vue Packs.

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Brewing these Vue Packs at regular strength resulted in massive aromas of coconut blended with subtle hints of vanilla & milk chocolate hiding underneath. Ahh... this is the stuff. We were quickly transported back to when we first reviewed the K-Cup version and were reliving all the same experiences of happy coconut bliss. Our test kitchens were quickly turned into tropical-scented sanctuaries which had the staff lingering around the Vue brewer well after the last cup was brewed.

Billed as a light roast, flavor was much on par with the aroma. A slight kick of sour acidity started things off and quickly melted away to reveal rich notes of primary coconut flavors blended with subtle hints of vanilla and cocoa. We also detected a very faint hint of spices buried underneath. Very similar to our K-Cup experience so far.

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Body was medium brown with beige/tan shades of light brown around the edges which seemed to emulate the colors of a coconut while vibrant sunburst shades of bright reddish orange & yellow paired with the aromas had us envisioning a tropical sunset along a beach. Acidity seemed a bit restrained at first but took on a bit of a cat & mouse game in its approach as it yielded a slight sour kick at first then receded away for a few minutes and slowly built back up to a medium level mid-sip after the primary coconut flavors were pushed forward. Mouth feel seemed rather light and leaning more towards the watery side of things and was the only area which didn't seem to be quite the same as the K-Cup version. Other than that, this Vue Pack was proving to be a more than decent transplant for the Vue brewer's flavor line-up.

When the Strong button was selected, aromas took on a stronger scent of coconut with some new sour notes appearing underneath. Closer inspection revealed these were some of the vanilla notes we detected earlier, only they were now sour instead of mild & delicate.Flavor was indeed stronger this time with smokier notes being present in addition to the main coconut taste which in itself had become a slight bit more sour instead of maintaining the sweeter notes from before. Vanilla was still present in the background but not as detectable as before. The new smoky flavors were an unexpected addition, but the main thing that kept running through our minds was how much more sour the coffee had become.

Body remained pretty much the same in color when compared to the regular setting while acidity definitely took on a stronger characteristic as it was now a lot more noticeable than before and started turning the coffee a bit sour. Mouth feel still seemed a bit light & watery at first but quickly took on a slightly oilier feel this time around. The finish had gone from a dry & astringent taste to a more smoky & sweet taste which was a welcome addition while the aftertaste of coconut and mild hints of vanilla remained intact from before.

Overall, we were a disappointed that the strong button didn't yield better results. Other than mouth feel and a slighter stronger aroma, not much was improved. We'd recommend using the regular settings for this Vue Pack in order to get the best experience.

Just a reminder of our 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.

  • Aroma - 10 (9) - Massive bursts of coconut were flying around the room with mild hints of vanilla and milk chocolate hiding in the background which made for an irresistibly intoxicating combination much on par with the K-Cup version. The Strong setting added some nice smoky notes to the aroma and increased the main coconut scent, but it also yielded a new sour vanilla aroma underneath which we weren't expecting.
  • Acidity -10 (5) - Seemed a bit restrained at first but made itself known as you worked your way through the cup by starting off mild and slowly building to a medium level mid-sip then fading away as the main coconut flavor pushed forward on the tongue. The Strong setting produced stronger sour notes which washed-out everything except the main coconut flavor and some new smoky flavors. We wished this hadn't been the case as we thought the vanilla and cocoa notes played well with the coconut flavor beforehand.
  • Body - 10 (10) - Medium brown with lighter shades of brown around the edges much like coconuts while vibrant sunburst shades of reddish orange & yellow revealed themselves when held to a light source. Paired with the aroma, it reminded us of an island sunset and had us daydreaming of being on a tropical beach. Nothing changed when using the Strong setting.
  • Flavor - 10 (4) - Slight sour kick of acidity at first which melts away to reveal primary coconut flavors touched by mild tinges of vanilla & cocoa hiding underneath with some faint spice buried deep down below everything. The Strong setting unfortunately made the flavors take on a strong sour nature which washed out everything except the main coconut notes and some new smoky notes. Vanilla was present in the background but a lot less noticeable than before while the cocoa notes had pretty much be washed away. The main thing that kept recurring was how much more sour everything had become. A major disappointment as we were hoping using the strong setting would make a superb coffee even better, but that wasn't the case.
  • Mouth Feel - 7 (9) - Very light feeling which leaned more towards the watery side of things while there was a bit of dry almost astringent feeling on the finish with some mild coconut aftertastes tinged with faint hints of vanilla. The Strong setting resulted at first in a similar light feel as before which quickly turned into an oilier feel overall. Finish wasn't dry or astringent and seemed to now be smoky & sweet which turned out to be the only benefit of using the strong setting on this particular Vue Pack. The main coconut notes of the aftertaste remained intact as well.
  • Coffee Drinker - Suited best for flavored coffee drinkers who are coconut addicts. If you like coconut, you can't go wrong with these Vue Packs, but you'll probably be a bit disappointed if you end up using the strong setting in hopes of getting a sweeter/stronger coconut flavor as things will quickly go sour instead.

Overall Rating: 97, based on regular setting - Excellent

Well, we're glad that Green Mountain heard our pleas and decided to release Island Coconut in their growing line-up of seasonal Vue Packs. It's remained very high on our favorite K-Cup list and we were dying to give these Vue Packs a try when we first got our order but unfortunately, our hopes of making an excellent coffee even better were not meant to be.

While we enjoyed the addition of new smoky notes, we did NOT enjoy having the coffee take on a considerably more sour flavor/nature and think that these Vue Packs are best enjoyed on the regular setting to mimic the experience we got from their K-Cup counterparts. If you've got a choice, we'd still recommend getting the K-Cup version vs. this Vue Pack version as it seems a bit more balanced overall, but if the only machine you have is a Vue brewer, you owe it to yourself to give these a try if you consider yourself to be a coconut fiend who actively seeks out all things coconut-flavored.

Green Mountain Island Coconut 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 for a limited time only.

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 note that we purchased a box of these Vue Packs on our own for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at April 22, 2013 7:43 AM

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