Van Houtte Mocaccino Specialty Collection K-Cups Review
While it’s no secret that Canadians have had an ok but rather, shall we say… limited selection of K-Cup brands and flavors when compared to USA over the past several years and that we’ve seen some rather bizarre attempts at making Canadianized versions of existing American flavors such as:
- Kraft’s option to use UpShot Single Cups for their Gevalia Single Cups vs. using their own custom expanding corrugated plastic Single Cups
- McDonalds Canada remaining an unlicensed Single Cup and using UpShot Single Cups instead of being a licensed Keurig K-Cup
- Keurig Canada renaming some Coffee People flavors when the coffees were introduced to Canada (i.e. Jet Fuel became Turbo Caffeine)
- Many more odd changes we won’t get into (trust us, the list goes on and on)
It’s still nowhere as bad as competing single serve coffee choices for machines such as the Tassimo or the now all but dead Nescafe Dolce Gusto (dwindling capsule retail supplies have all but vanished off store shelves and the machines aren’t even sold in most retail stores anymore). Out of all the different single serve coffee machines, Keurig is the only one which regularly releases more than 1 new flavor every few months and when flavors are released, they tend to arrive in batches where you’ll get upwards of 3 or 6 choices at times. The update frequency is also much greater than competing machines (every 3-5 months vs. every 6-10 months or longer).
Despite the increasingly annoying changes such as those noted above and now Keurig deciding to infuriatingly geoblock Canadians from using the American Keurig.com to order USA K-Cups directly off their website (going to the American site from a Canadian IP now redirects you to Keurig.ca), there are still new products making their way onto Canadian shelves. That brings us today to a new product which we at first suspected might be a rebranded American product, but that turned out not to be the case… today we check out the new Van Houtte Mocaccino Specialty Collection K-Cups.
No, that’s not a typo… regardless of the fact that we’ve always seen it spelled mocha, Van Houtte opted to use the never-before-seen spelling of moca for this product (our document editor’s auto-correct is going nuts right about now). Those aren’t the only glaring changes you’ll notice upon first glance of the retail packaging as this marks the first time we’ve seen K-Cup packaging using the new tri-dotted K Keurig logo as well as the new Keurig Hot branding. It even appears that the packaging itself has changed since the box flap now has a slot where you can tuck it back in (the days of open boxes getting accidentally knocked off the counter and spilling K-Cups across the floor are over). In an effort to gain visual appeal, the overall artwork and imagery on the box appears more upscale than a conventional K-Cup box and we no longer have the Keurig Brewed logo nor the For use in all K-Cup brewers checkmark logo (UPDATE: The For use in all K-Cup brewers notification is still there, except now it’s just white text under the 6 K-Cup amount, minus the checkmark logo). These appear to be relatively new since Keurig.ca & VanHoutte.com don’t even have them listed yet and each company’s social media feeds haven’t made any mention of them either as of the writing of this review (late April). As far as we can tell, this product appears to be sold in Canada only.
Much like the (properly pronounced) Gevalia Mocha Latte Single Cups we reviewed earlier last year, this product involves a 2-step process where you first empty a hot cocoa powder packet into your mug, then brew a coffee K-Cup (8oz setting) over the top of it and stir the drink to achieve a final result. That’s where things change however… unlike Gevalia, it appears that Van Houtte haven’t added as many fizzing agents to make the powder achieve a super-thick froth when it comes into contact with the coffee. You get a very thin later of froth instead, even after you’ve stirred the drink. That means this obviously isn’t a rebranded version of the existing Gevalia products. So… enough with the technicalities… let’s find out how these things taste, shall we?
Brewing these K-Cups resulted in sweet cocoa notes being produced by the powder quickly followed by rich arabica notes of smoky hickory being produced by the coffee. When blended together, you could get a predominant cocoa aroma tinged by hints of coffee underneath. Pretty much what you’d expect from an average mocha… er… moca? meh, screw it… we’re calling it a mocha. Flavor was pretty much the same with rich & sweet chocolatey cocoa notes up front as the dominant flavor quickly followed by noticeable hints of coffee in the background. We opted for the Strong button on the Keurig 2.0 when brewing the coffee K-Cup specifically so we could get a decent coffee taste in the final drink. While we wouldn’t exactly call it a strong taste, you can still definitely tell there’s coffee present here instead of it disappearing completely. All in all, we enjoyed the results.
Acidity was on the lighter side with only the slightest hints coming from the coffee. While some may be annoyed at this, we’d like to remind everyone that this is more like a coffee flavored hot cocoa and not a cocoa flavored coffee. If you’re looking for a chocolate flavored coffee, we’ve reviewed quite a few in the past, just check our archives. Body yielded a deep brown color in the base quickly followed by a light brown or almost beige thin layer of froth on top. While there was some inclusion of ingredients in the powder to help create froth, there wasn’t anywhere as much which was included in the Gevalia Latte Single Cups. As a result, you get a rather weak, thin froth after a few seconds of stirring which then all but disappears a few minutes afterwards. We also noticed that it took a few tries to fully dissolve the powder mix so that we wouldn’t be left with any clumps floating in the cup. There was some cocoa sediment left at the bottom of the cup when we were done, but not that much. Mouth feel was silky smooth given the amount of cocoa powder included and helped create an indulgent feel overall. Finish was expectedly sweet with some lingering cocoa notes in the aftertaste.
- Aroma – 9 – The powder produced sweet cocoa notes while the coffee produced rich smoky hickory notes. Paired together, you got a predominant cocoa aroma tinged with hints of coffee underneath. Given the fact that you’re brewing a full 8oz cup of coffee into the drink, we were expecting the coffee aromas to be a wee bit more pronounced.
- Acidity – 8 – On the lighter side with only mild hints coming from the coffee itself. This aided the cocoa flavors push forward and created a rich drink instead of a cocoa tinged coffee.
- Body – 7 – A dark brown base topped with a light brown/beige froth. We had to knock a few points off due to the froth being so thin/weak when compared to the Gevalia Latte Single Cups we tried earlier last year. Now that we know thick froth can be produced from powder, we were left disappointed with the final results.
- Flavor – 9 – Rich & sweet chocolatey cocoa notes are the star ingredient here and become the primary flavor in the drink followed by hints of coffee in the background. While a slightly stronger coffee taste would have been appreciated, the final results here were still enjoyable.
- Mouth Feel – 10 – Given the amount of cocoa powder included, you get a super silky smooth feel overall which helps reinforce the indulgent nature of the drink. Finish was obviously sweet with some lingering cocoa notes in the aftertaste.
- Coffee Drinker – If you like rich, sweet & indulgent drinks or are looking for something a bit different than your average cup of K-Cup coffee, then this should keep you interested. While it makes for a sweet treat anytime of the day, the inclusion of 8oz of coffee means this one isn’t for the younger ones in your household.
Overall Rating: 93– Exceptional
So we get new branding, a new product category (well, for Canada at least) and a product which was likely inspired by the American Gevalia Latte versions but failed to achieve the same level of frothiness in the powder packets. Does this mark a new change in the way Keurig products are going to be sold going forward? There’s been so many changes within the company lately that you couldn’t be blamed if you didn’t think otherwise. The most glaring change is that Keurig has done away with their usual Keurig logos and brands on the packaging and have now created a new hybrid brand/logo known simply as Keurig Hot. As we noted earlier, we foresee the upcoming Keurig Cold syrup pods to come packaged in similar boxes, with similar artwork except you’ll likely see Keurig Cold logos/branding on those boxes instead. It would therefore not be surprising if you’d be able to find both Keurig Hot AND Keurig Cold products on the same shelf within the same section of the grocery store come this Fall.
Will this new strategy work? Will existing long-time Keurig users end up being confused by all these changes? We have to admit we almost bypassed these products completely during our last grocery store visit since at first, we thought it was for a completely different single serve coffee brewer until we noticed the word Keurig on the box. Had we not already known that Keurig changed their logo, we might have walked straight past the display without noticing it. This likely won’t impact new users who have just recently purchased a Keurig 2.0, but for those still clutching their Keurig 1.0 Platinum B70s and Keurig Minis with a vice-like you’ll pry it from my cold dead hands death grip, we can understand how all these recent changes can almost make you want to abandon trying to keep up with the times, so to speak.
While Canada will likely never see the same amount of flavors or brands as USA sees in the course of a typical month, it is still seeing new products slowly trickle onto store shelves just the same and we can all agree that our fellow readers up North are probably still thankful that they’re not being completely abandoned by Keurig (although the geoblocking of Keurig.com sure came as a nasty low blow to the… um… groin). Maybe we’ll start seeing bootlegging websites pop up which offer imported American K-Cups that can no longer be ordered from Canada? Hell, if Keurig knows what’s best for them, they’ll start making more of the same products available to order on Keurig.ca in the months ahead. Time will tell what’s in store & what the future holds. As for these new Specialty Collection K-Cups from Van Houtte, they’re worth a try if you’re looking for something different produced from a Keurig brewer.
Van Houtte Mocaccino Specialty Collection K-Cups work in all Keurig K-Cup Brewers including Keurig 2.0 and are available at various retail & grocery locations across Canada. They can also be ordered online in Canada via Staples.ca & Amazon.ca. These K-Cups are not currently sold in USA. Please also note that Single 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 a box of these K-Cups on our own for the purpose of this review.
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Posted by Jay Brewer at April 30, 2015 7:35 AM