Once Marley Coffee decided to release a rare single-origin coffee with their Jamaican Blue Mountain Real Cups, Green Mountain realized they had missed their chance at being the first company/brand to release a rare single-origin coffee in Keurig K-Cup compatible format. It didn't take them long to fix that oversight as they decided to start releasing their Special Reserve series in K-Cup format soon afterwards. The first flavor in the series is what we're reviewing today... GMCR Special Reserve Colombia Geisha K-Cups.
Hailing from the Cerro Azul region in Valle del Cauca, Colombia Geisha coffee is considered to be amongst the rarest varietals in the World due to it being difficult to grow which makes it produced in specially crafted small batches. It is renowned for its complex flavors which have been described as changing with every sip and it's such a highly-regarded crop that pickers must endure 4 to 12 months of training just to be certified to pick Geisha cherries as such requires a fine touch to preserve all the flavor's subtle notes during the cultivation process. This varietal is also considered to be one of the most sought-after coffees as was evidenced last year by Starbucks when they decided to start selling it in limited runs at an astronomical price of $7 per cup. Thankfully, if you calculate the price per serving of these K-Cups, it works out to a much more reasonable $1.77 instead.
Each year, one of the fan favorite coffees from Starbucks which most people look forward to would have to be Starbucks Tribute Blend. It was originally released as a limited edition but there was so much demand that Starbucks decided to add it as a regular yearly seasonal coffee much to everyone's delight. Culled from a blend of coffees from several different growing regions, Tribute Blend is a blend of Ethiopian, Sumatran, Colombian & Papua New Guinea coffees which come together to form a balance of fruity, spicy, nutty & herbal notes paired with Starbucks signature smoky taste & aroma.
Unlike previous seasonal K-Cup flavors, Starbucks decided to move away from flashy foil designs and have gone back to plain painted designs instead. We get the usual silver Starbucks logo paired with this year's angular abstract background design. As with some of their recent seasonal K-Cups, they've also decided to include the "vintage year" of 2013 on the packaging & lid. Something which sort of ads collectability if you're someone who prefers to stockpile your K-Cup stash vs. blowing through them all at once. To be honest, we didn't even think we'd see Tribute Blend K-Cups this year since our local shop only had small half-pound bags of whole beans available for the first week of March and these K-Cups only appeared within the past few days. Needless to say we're glad Starbucks decided to continue releasing their seasonal coffees in K-Cup format and look forward to more releases over the coming month.
We forge ahead in our Martinson Real Cup review series today with a flavor that most coffee companies refer to as their staple flavor, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. Today we take a look at the Martinson House Blend Real Cups.
Brewing these Real Cups resulted in mild aromas of smoke with a faint earthiness touched by hints of chocolate and the very faintest tinges of molasses underneath. Flavor was a mix of dark chocolate with smoky notes throughout followed by hints of molasses and a bit of an oily taste near the end. Acidity was definitely present as we got some sour notes near the middle of each sip and while it was leaning on the stronger side, it wasn’t off the charts like some of the other flavors we’ve tried in the line-up so far. It wasn’t enough to wash-out the flavors but it could have been slightly toned-down a bit for our liking.
We continue our Martinson Real Cup review series today with their first flavored variety... Martinson Hazelnut Real Cups. It would appear that hazelnut is a staple flavor in the single serve coffee world as just about every company that gets into the market usually goes with either that particular flavor or vanilla as one of their initial flavored coffee varieties. It remains to be seen if this will be like most hazelnut coffees or if anything in particular will set it apart from the masses.
Brewing these Real Cups resulted in light hazelnut aromas with hints of vanilla floating around underneath. We also detected very faint smoky notes buried below as well. They were barely noticeable, but still present nonetheless. Flavor was a bit on the sour side as you first notice the acidity's sour bite then a mild blend of hazelnut & vanilla appears underneath. The main flavor was a lot weaker than what we were expecting. We also noticed some smoky notes that appeared near the finish, while you'd think smoky hazelnut would be a unique flavor, we didn't really care for it all that much.
When we first heard of the Martinson Coffee brand, we were left scratching our heads since we hadn't even been aware of the brand to begin with. You can only imagine our surprise once we did our research and found out that the brand has been around since 1898. According to their company history page on their website, Martinson Coffee was the brainchild of Joe Martinson who came to New York City in the late 1800s. He would apparently select beans right from the docking ships and roast them himself in his mother's kitchen.
He would sell fresh roasted whole beans from a pushcart in his neighborhood and as news grew, his coffee became more and more popular amongst the locals to the point where people from all areas started seeking what he had to offer. As time went on, Joe eventually bought a small factory and sold his premium coffee to hotels and restaurants. What shocked us even more was that the term Cup of Joe is rumored to have evolved from Joe's reputation and popularity of his coffee (although we've also heard stories about how it evolved from military officers' consumption of coffee since they were often referred to as G.I. Joes back in the 50s & 60s).
First there were One Cups, the soft-bottomed open filter style K-Cup knock-offs and now the latest trend that seems to be picking-up steam is yet another K-Cup knock-off which goes by the name of Real Cups. What are Real Cups you ask? Simple... they're similar to a One Cup that has the plastic K-Cup shell re-attached to the bottom. If you cut one open, you'll notice it uses the same filter style as a One Cup. As a result, you get a fusion of both a One Cup's soft-bottomed filter and a K-Cup's plastic shell all into one. We actually like this approach since this ensures the coffee won't go stale and can be stored for long periods of time in carousels or storage racks without any worries.
When our friends at ECS Coffee told us they'd be sending us samples of the Martinson Real Cups for review after they toured the manufacturing facilities, we thought ok... we'll just get the single Real Cups in a Ziploc bag when we open the shipping box. Well, color us pleasantly surprised when we got the shipment. Nothing could have prepared us for what we received once we opened everything.
For about as long as we can recall, Swiss Miss hot cocoas have been a staple in many American homes over the years and up until now, the most common format it came in was powder packets. Known for its smooth Swiss milk chocolate taste (think Milka), this has been one of our favorites for ages. A few months ago, Green Mountain decided they’d take a crack at things and introduced what we’re reviewing today: Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups.
Brewing these K-Cups resulted in the distinct aroma of Swiss milk chocolate with sweet cocoa notes filling the room. Flavor was a bit more hit or miss though. When we tried our first K-Cup, about half the powder remained stuck in the bottom of the K-Cup after brewing (despite having shaken the K-Cup beforehand) which resulted in a horrible-tasting “hint of cocoa” flavored water. We had to dump the cup since it tasted so watery.
When Starbucks started releasing some of their seasonal coffees in K-Cup format last year, it got our hopes up that they’d eventually release ALL of their seasonal coffees as K-Cups. First came the excellent Anniversary Blend K-Cups quickly followed a few months later by the equally magnificent Christmas Blend K-Cups and our recent discovery during an in-shop visit proves that Starbucks Seasonals are going to be a common occurrence in the land of Keurig. This past week (Jan 14-18, 2013) saw the release of what we’re reviewing today: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups.
This is great news for Starbucks K-Cups fans and we couldn’t be happier. With a total of 3 seasonals within the past 4 or 5 months, it truly appears that Starbucks have decided to make their entire seasonal series in K-Cup format which means we’re in for some cups of awesome in the coming months ahead. Spanish for almost heaven, Casi Cielo has remained a favorite amongst fans and is a premium coffee harvested from the Antigua region of Guatemala. Billed by Starbucks as a medium roast & having hints of lemon with satisfying dark cocoa notes, we couldn’t wait to give this one a try. Lemon & dark cocoa? Not exactly 2 flavors you’d expect would pair well together, but Starbucks claims it’ll work for virtually any dish from the main meal to desserts.
Brewing the Folgers Gourmet Selections Morning Cafe K-Cups resulted in very mild woodsy notes with faint hints of chocolate throughout. Compared to their Lively Colombian K-Cups, aroma was considerably weaker overall. Flavor yielded more notes of chocolate with slight notes of berries buried underneath. We were expecting some of the usual smoky or hickory notes, but we suppose we shouldn't have looked for them since there weren't any in the aroma. We can't help but feel things seemed rather flat and could have been perked up a bit by slightly stronger acidity.
Brewing these K-Cups resulted in LOADS of strawberry aromas filling the room with hints of pomegranate slightly present in the background, but it was almost buried by the massive strawberry scent. Flavor was thankfully PACKED full of huge strawberry notes up front with a nice mild tartness of the pomegranate underneath. Again, the main notes were strawberries and we had to really search around a bit to find the mild pomegranate notes hiding in the cup. We were also detecting some other berry notes but couldn't quite put our finger on what it was until we checked the packaging and noticed dried black currant puree was listed in the ingredients. If we had to pick between these K-Cups and the Acai K-Cups, we'd say we probably enjoy the strawberry flavors a bit more than the acai, but just barely.
When we first reviewed their Anniversary Blend K-Cups a few months ago, we were cautiously optimistic that those would be the first in a line-up of seasonal K-Cups and it turns out that we were correct. We really liked that previous K-Cup, so we couldn't wait to see what Starbucks Christmas Blend K-Cups (the 2nd flavor in the series) would be like. Once again, Starbucks have gone all-out by creating nicely decorated packaging with festive artwork as well as a bright red reflective foil K-Cup lid (Ooh, shiny!) which proved quite the difficult item to photograph.
We also liked the addition of the year on the foil lid. They did this with their Anniversary Blend as well and we think it adds a certain collector's appeal much like you'd get when collecting wine vintages. We can already foresee asking guests if they'd like a 2012 vintage Christmas Blend K-Cup a few years from now (providing we have any left by then).
We kick things off today by reviewing a recent K-Cup addition to the Café Escapes line-up... Café Escapes Café Vanilla K-Cups. We’ve come to expect pretty decent results from Café Escapes over the years and their hot cocoas remain some of our favorites to date. We were intrigued when we noticed some new flavors pop up on Green Mountain’s site as web-exclusives, so we decided to give this one a try.
Brewing these K-Cups resulted in delicate notes of sweet vanilla filling the room with hints of coffee in the background. The main notes were vanilla with coffee aromas being pushed to the back, something you might see in a vanilla latte. Flavor was pretty much the same with sweet notes of vanilla flowing through at first sip with faint notes of coffee in the background. We were wondering why we weren’t getting more of a coffee flavor until we remembered that Café Escapes use instant coffee in their K-Cups/Vue Packs. While we’re not exactly fans of instant coffee, we can put up with it in this case since it didn’t seem to be impacting the main flavor of vanilla. Instead, things seemed a bit lighter than what we were expecting.
It’s been a while since Dunkin Donuts released a new K-Cup and since some of their flavored varieties have been hit or miss in the past, we were cautiously optimistic when we heard they’d be coming out with a limited edition flavor during the summer months. Today we take a look at Dunkin Donuts Mocha K-Cups.
Brewing these K-Cups resulted in strong blasts of chocolate aromas which quickly filled the room and quashed any doubt we had about these K-Cups being able to produce anything chocolaty. The weirdest thing though? We could have sworn we even detected faint notes of raisins hiding underneath. Yes, raisins! That has GOT to be a Single Serve Coffee first. Flavor was thankfully not raisin-like but moreso on-par with the aroma as we got the acidity’s sour notes which brought the coffee flavor to the foreground and then as we neared the end, we got a decent hit of chocolate flavor in the background.
Starbucks created their Anniversary Blend back in 1996 to celebrate their 25th anniversary and it was so popular that it remained a seasonal favorite which would be reintroduced each Fall. Starbucks claims the secret to the distinctive taste of this coffee is due to the use of aged Sumatran beans from Indonesia, but to the honest, the thing that had us jumping for joy was the recent introduction of what we’re reviewing today: Starbucks Anniversary Blend K-Cups. We would like to note that we liked the artwork on the packaging & how the foil lid on the K-Cup gave a light gold appearance to the artwork as well. Since most K-Cups have pretty standardized artwork, this made for a nice difference.
Billed as one of the first seasonal Starbucks K-Cups (Hmm… could we be seeing Christmas Blend K-Cups in a few months?), brewing these K-Cups resulted in strong, almost wine-like aromas with smoky hickory tinged by mild notes of caramel in the background. Flavor was nicely presented with a huge amount of complex tastes swirling around in the cup. You start off with some of the smoky notes, but surprisingly, they’re a lot smoother and not as intense as your typical Starbucks dark roast. You then notice some molasses flavors mingling around with more notes of sweet caramel and things are topped off by some dark chocolate flavors near the end with a light spicy kick in the finish. Outstanding & unlike anything we’ve seen before from Starbucks.
James: Hopefully they can improve the taste. Or at least give read more AO: Any idea if this is a conical or a disc read more betty: we just bought the t47 after returning our 3rd machine read more cas lencheski rn: What a terrible product...I bought this at our local food read more Izepp: Which single serve Nespresso machine can take refillable pods? What read more