November 24, 2014

Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend K-Cups Review

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While our friends up North got a chance to try these Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend K-Cups since early October, we thought it would be fitting to test things out ourselves now that Thanksgiving is only a few days away this side of the border. It would seem that Starbucks has a blend for just about every major seasonal holiday on the calendar and you have to wonder just how different each blend is considering that Starbucks keep using the same source regions & varietals for most of their coffees. You can only mix the same varietals around for so long before they all start tasting the same, right? Being familiar with their Christmas Blend, Anniversary Blend, Tribute Blend and so on, we figured we’d give this Thanksgiving Blend a try rather than a pass and see if we can detect any of the tasting notes Starbucks have advertised on their packaging. 

The company claims they’ve sourced beans from Sumatra & Guatemala to create a coffee with subtle spice, cocoa notes & hints of fine herbs which should pair well with everything from the main meal to the final desert this Thanksgiving. Let’s have a look and see if we can detect what they’ve noted or if this will turn out to be yet another strong dark roast indistinguishable from most of Starbucks’ current line-up.

Brewing these Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend K-Cups resulted in the usual signature Starbucks aroma of strong smoke but as we delved deeper, we also detected faint notes of cocoa lying underneath. Flavor was actually as stated for once as we could detect strong smoke up front followed by a slightly rich dark chocolate/cocoa notes throughout with some spiciness in the background near the end of each sip. Further tastings revealed a very mild herbal note buried underneath… it was very faint and we didn’t notice it at first until we let the flavors sit on our tongue for a bit. We can easily see how this mix of flavors would indeed compliment everything from the herbs & spices in the stuffing & pumpkin pie while adding a nice dark cocoa side note to any other traditional desserts which might be lying around the kitchen table.

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Acidity was on the stronger side with sour punch on the back end of each sip but we’ve come to expect this from most Starbucks coffee since after all, they’re usually stronger than most dark roasts on the market. Body yielded deep reds throughout which reminded us of red wine (although any sommelier worth his weight in Merlot would tell you white wine goes best with turkey). Mouth feel was silky smooth and seemed more on the sweet syrupy side of things rather than being overly oily. It made for a nice change of pace given the watery coffees we’ve been seeing lately. Finish was leaning a bit on the sweeter side with more strong notes of dark chocolate, mild smoke and even light caramel in the aftertaste.

  • Aroma – 9 – Typical signature Starbucks aroma of strong smoke give way to faint cocoa notes underneath. We wish some of the spice or herbal notes from the product description would have been present.  
  • Acidity – 9 – On the stronger side with sour punch on the back end of each sip, but nothing to the point where we’d say it ruined anything. A satisfying wallop to say the least.
  • Body – 10 – Much like a fine wine accompanying a filet mignon steak, rich colors of deep red revealed themselves when held to a light source. Although white wine is recommended for turkey, we’d have been quite alarmed if this body turned out clear instead of dark red.
  • Flavor – 10 – So by now, you know what a typical Starbucks coffee tastes like. It’s a smoke bomb in a cup. We do get strong smoke up front but it’s as advertised (for once) with slightly rich dark chocolate/cocoa notes throughout followed by some spiciness in the back end. We also detected some faint herbal notes hiding underneath after a while. This would indeed pair well with most items of any traditional Thanksgiving meal.
  • Mouth Feel – 10 – It’s been a while since we’ve had a sweet syrupy style coffee and given our affinity for such things, we really enjoyed the silky smooth & slightly syrupy feel which was present here. Finish was leaning on the sweeter side with more notes of dark chocolate, mild smoke and even light caramel in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker – Are you looking for a strong, smoky coffee which contains chocolate undertones & a touch of spiciness in the background? Do you typically enjoy pretty much anything on Starbucks menu? Do you think diner-style coffee is something which shouldn’t be classified as coffee when compared to Starbucks? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this coffee is for you. 

Overall Rating: 98 – Excellent

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Color us surprised with this Thanksgiving Blend coffee. We were expecting a rehashed Sumatran or French Roast but were pleased to see that some actual thought went into creating this seasonal coffee. It really does pair well with most items typically found in a Thanksgiving meal and is quite good on its own throughout the day as well. Suffice it to say we were content with the results and will definitely be adding these K-Cups to our Keurig station this year during our Thanksgiving get-together. Given the fact that these K-Cups were only introduced to Canada this year, we’re also thankful that Starbucks didn’t leave our Northern friends out in the cold and decided to let them join in on the fun (even if they did get to enjoy these K-Cups a month before us).

Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend K-Cups work in all Keurig K-Cup Brewers including Keurig 2.0 and are available in 12-packs at most Starbucks locations across USA (early November) & Canada (early October). Please also note that K-Cups will NOT work without using adapters in 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 boxes of these K-Cups on our own for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at November 24, 2014 5:41 AM
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