June 26, 2013

GMCR Naturals Lemonade K-Cups Review


GMCR Naturals is a line-up of K-Cups that take 1 thing in mind: Using 100% all-natural ingredients & derivatives. Their Apple Cider was outstanding as a hot drink and over the past several months, the folks at Green Mountain decided they'd try their hand at making an iced drink which was every bit as good. So what could be easily made as an iced drink with natural ingredients? Lemonade, of course! That (plus the recent warm weather) brings us to today's long overdue review of GMCR Naturals Lemonade K-Cups.

A quick look at the ingredients list reveals that they are indeed all-natural as we find Sugar, Lemon Juice Powder, Citric Acid, Reb A (Stevia Extract), Natural Flavor, Lemon Peel Powder & Lemon Fruit Powder. While we're wondering why BOTH sugar & stevia are being used here, we suppose the added sweetness of the stevia was used as a form of natural additive to offset the sour notes of the lemon ingredients while the sugar is what provides the natural background sweetness to the final drink and probably makes up the bulk of the sweetener ingredients.

Some people claim they don't like the taste of stevia, but we didn't notice it at all and tasted mostly sweet sugar notes instead near the back end of the cup. Keurig recommends using either the 6oz or 8oz settings on your Keurig brewer and since we wanted a full serving, we opted for the default 8oz setting. Well, enough background info... we've been dying to give these a try since they first hit the shelves several months ago, so let's dig in and get started with the main review!


Brewing these K-Cups resulted in strong aromas of lemons with a mild sweetness underneath. The only thing we can compare it to is Neo Citran/Theraflu powder packets minus the chemical smell associated with them. In case it's unclear, that's actually a compliment for these K-Cups, not a detriment. Things were already getting off to a good start and had us excited. We've had tons of various lemonade styles throughout our childhood & over the past several years... everything from home-made natural lemonade with fresh pressed lemons and the obligatory excessive amounts of sugar which took forever to dissolve right down to the Country Time powdered lemonade packets you could get at the grocery store, so we weren't quite sure what to expect taste-wise with these K-Cups.


The first thing you notice with the flavor is a massive burst of sour lemon notes up front which has the familiar puckering effects of natural lemonade, then comes the citric acid notes for the added sour kick mid-sip and then the sugar & stevia kick in at the end to smoothen things out and provide a pleasantly sweet finish. We'd have to say the taste profile fits right in-between natural lemonade and artificial lemonade. You have no doubt whatsoever that there's natural lemon flavor up front yet it's nothing overpowering or excessively bitter since the sugar & stevia balance things out towards the end. That's a WIN in our books.

Acidity here is provided by the natural lemon ingredients and the addition of citric acid to throw some extra tart notes towards the flavors. In our opinion, GMCR have struck a perfect balance between tart & sweet as you get the vibrant pop of the sour notes complimented by the sweet notes of the natural sweeteners which levels things off to a nice plateau. Body was definitely NOT what we were expecting as we had visions of fake yellow coloring being present (although in retrospect, we have no idea why that thought popped into our minds or why the heck artificial coloring would be found in an all-natural product, so we're glad it wasn't present here), but instead, we were greeted to (gasp!) natural lemonade colors of opaque foggy white much akin to natural lemon juice. Spot on in comparison to the real deal you'd make yourself at home.

Even with the addition of ice, mouth feel didn't seem watered-down at all and had the smooth consistency of natural lemonade without the added lemon pulp (obviously), so again, props to GMCR for totally nailing this. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed these K-Cups and think they'll be a surefire hit with kids and adults alike or for anyone who enjoys a well done glass of lemonade without the extra time & mess involved in making the real thing (yeah, we're lazy... so what?). We'd have to say we were left rather impressed with these K-Cups as they kept surprising us in many ways and to coin a catchphrase from Martha Stewart, that's a good thing.

  • Aroma - 10 - Strong citrusy notes of lemons give a vibrant pop to the nose when brewing plus you can even detect some of the sweet notes underneath. Hmm... aromatherapy via K-Cup? We like!  
  • Acidity - 10 - Perfectly balanced levels of sweet & tart are further enhanced by the addition of citric acid which adds a kick leaving no doubt behind that you're drinking lemonade & nothing else.
  • Body - 10 - Who the heck would have thought you'd get these kinds of results from a K-Cup?!? Amazingly faithful recreation of the real thing with opaque foggy white colors throughout which even hid the view of our ice cubes. Spot on just like real lemon juice. Simply outstanding.
  • Flavor - 10 - This is where it all counts and wow... GMCR didn't disappoint. Your taste buds get smacked with strong sour lemon notes up front, then you notice the tartness of the citric acid mid-sip and things come to a satisfyingly sweet finish with the sugar & stevia notes at the end of each sip. We had a hard time telling this apart from real lemonade which automatically earns this a WIN in our books.
  • Mouth Feel - 10 - Despite the addition of ice, things weren't watered-down at all and had the consistency of real lemonade. We didn't detect any discernible aftertaste except for some slight sweet notes barely noticeable in the background.
  • Coffee Drinker - Obviously, this isn't a coffee but that being said, anyone who enjoys natural lemonade or even the artificial powdered version of lemonade should more than likely get a kick out of these K-Cups and we can't recommend them highly enough if you can manage to track some down.

Overall Rating: 100 - Excellent!

Something that's always been a point of bitter contention for us (pun intended) is when a product is geo-blocked to be sold only in its origin country due to antiquated import/customs laws of other countries. Such is the case with the GMCR Naturals line-up of K-Cups. Due to outdated import laws in Canada, our readers north of the border can't order these K-Cups directly from Keurig.com like they can with most other products on the site. The laws stipulate that anything containing added vitamins, natural fruit/natural fruit derivatives or milk-based products in liquid or powder format can NOT be imported into the country via commercial/retail venues. As a result, Keurig aren't willing to go through the hassle of jumping through the legal hoops which would make them able to sell these items via their website to Canadians.

That doesn't mean our Canadian friends can't head South, stock up and head back home on their own accord or opt to have American relatives ship them items via personal mail parcels, but we've received confirmation that places you wouldn't normally expect to find K-Cups are starting to carry these "banned from commercial import" products. A local family-run home goods business with stores across Atlantic Canada now boasts the largest K-Cup selection in that end of the country while we've also received reports that inconspicuous store fronts in commercial districts are hiding yet more home goods specialty retailers that happen to carry coffee pods & hard to find K-Cups. Oddest of all, a used book store hidden away in the far corners of a strip mall was found to be selling K-Cups and even Keurig-branded accessories.

So if you're willing to take on the extra hassle of hunting around your local area, you might be able to find these products in Canada after all. We wish it didn't have to be this way and think it gives the wrong vibe overall (bootlegged K-Cups, anyone?) but if local family-run stores are willing to go the extra step and somehow make these products available in Canada, then hells yeah! Kudos & many thanks to them.

As for these GMCR Naturals Lemonade K-Cups? We think Green Mountain have struck gold yet again. We love their Apple Cider K-Cups as a hot drink and think these Lemonade K-Cups are a perfect iced companion to the line-up. We can't help but wonder what flavors Green Mountain are planning & can't wait to see what's next. With the hotter summer months upon us and given how flat-out delicious these K-Cups are, we're sure we'll be blowing through a 24-pack in no time.

GMCR Naturals Lemonade K-Cups work in all Keurig K-Cup Brewers and are available in USA in 24-packs at Amazon.com. These K-Cups are not available for shipping to Canada, however, some family-owned specialty retailers may be selling them locally in your area, so check around. Please also 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 a box of these K-Cups on our own for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at June 26, 2013 5:13 AM
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