June 9, 2014

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Toasted Amaretto K-Cups

 

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In a move that only serves to reinforce the idea that they’re after just about every coffee chain & coffee manufacturer on the market, KGM decided to form a partnership with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) chain of coffee shops to introduce some of their signature coffees into the K-Cup format several months ago. Now that those flavors are starting to trickle through the retail market, we decided to try their first flavored variety: CBTL Toasted Ameretto K-Cups.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (for brevity sake, we’ll just call them CBTL) got their start in 1963 when they opened their first coffee shop/cafe in Brentwood, California. Billing themselves as the oldest & largest privately held specialty coffee and tea retailer in the United States, the company has since opened stores in many different states and internationally as well. While they may not be that well known on the East Coast, they’re popular on the West Coast and have gained quite the fan following over the years. 

Their goal is to source the top 1% of Arabica beans and whole leaf teas across the world in order to serve them daily in their shops at to consumers at home. Until now, the only single serve format their coffees came in was the company’s own proprietary CBTL brewers made by Caffitaly. This new KGM partnership marks the first time their coffees will be available on a different single serve system. Dubbed as being developed & blended specifically for Keurig’s K-Cup brewers, we were curious to see what their efforts have produced. Let’s check things out.

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Brewing these K-Cups resulted in strong aromas of sweet amaretto liquor which also reminded us of maraschino cherries. We also got an underlying tinge of toasted almonds as well in the background and further digging even revealed mild caramel notes hiding underneath. The main aroma though was of the namesake and was spot-on with the scent of amaretto liquor. Flavor yielded a lively mix of amaretto up front followed by some toasted cereal notes, more hints of maraschino cherries, marzipan and more faint almond notes in the bottom end. It really did seem like we were drinking a coffee spiked with amaretto liquor.

Acidity remained on the lighter side and helped push the main flavors forward. Body yielded bright shades of orange, golden amber yellow & some faint hints of red in the background. This played well with the namesake toasted almond notes while the red hints played with the cherry notes as well. Mouth feel was smooth throughout and even though things seemed on the lighter side, it didn’t detract from the overall experience. Finish was sweet with some mild smoky almond notes in the aftertaste.

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  • Aroma – 10 – Strong aromas of sweet amaretto liquor which had us thinking of maraschino cherries and marzipan. Some tinges of toasted almonds & caramel further add to the enticing aroma and make for a pleasing mix of scents which lived up to the namesake. 
  • Acidity – 9 – Remained on the lighter side and could have been a touch stronger but still pushed the main flavors forward and didn’t hinder anything. 
  • Body – 10 – Bright shades of orange and golden amber yellow mixed with some faint hints of red in the background. This all played well with the main aromas of toasted almonds and maraschino cherries. 
  • Flavor – 10 – A lively mix of amaretto up front followed by toasted cereal notes. We also got hints of maraschino cherries, marzipan & more faint almond notes in the bottom end. It made us feel like we were drinking coffee spiked with actual amaretto liquor. Spot-on.
  • Mouth Feel – 9 – Smooth throughout and although a bit on the lighter side, it didn’t detract from the overall experience. Finish seemed sweet with more mild smoky almond notes in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker – This one is best suited for flavored coffee fans who like the taste of amaretto liquor (i.e. Disaronno Originale, Lazzaroni, etc) as well as the taste of marzipan (candied almond paste) or maraschino cherries as those are the main flavors you get out of this. Those who don’t like the above flavors, sweet flavors or those who were hoping for a darker/smokier roast best look elsewhere. 

Overall Rating: 98 – Excellent

We’ve had coffee that appeared to have rum notes in it before (Wolfgang Puck’s Jamaica Me Crazy K-Cups) but this is the first time we’ve seen a more exotic or niche liquor used as a flavoring. Predominantly an Italian liquor, amaretto isn’t as mainstream as your average rums, whiskies or vodkas and while we could do without vodka-flavored coffee, we’d be interested to see what a whisky coffee could be like. We know Jack Daniels makes their own line of flavored coffee but have yet to find it anywhere nearby. 

So have CBTL succeeded in this partnership with KGM? Have they produced an outstanding product which should satisfy their longtime fans and newcomers alike? We’d say that’s a resounding yes and we look forward to seeing what other flavors they have planned over the coming years ahead. While there may not be any CBTL coffee shops/cafes nearby, we’re glad we at least get to experience a taste of it at home with these new K-Cups. If you’re an amaretto fan, we’d strongly suggest giving these K-Cups a try as they may soon become your favorite. Outstanding job overall which helps cement CBTL as a quality company all around.

CBTL Toasted Ameretto K-Cups work in all Keurig K-Cup Brewers and are available in different size formats and even a variety pack at various retailers throughout USA and online at Keurig.com. These K-Cups are not currently sold in Canada, however, Canadians can still order a box online via Keurig.com if they’re willing to pay an additional import/brokerage fee from Fedex.

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 9, 2014 7:30 AM

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