May 28, 2013

Review: Brown Gold 100% Costa Rican Real Cups

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We couldn't find much info on Brown Gold's website to describe the company's history or beginnings, but the site does go on to mention that the goal of their Single Origin coffees is to allow tasters to experience the pure, untouched and unmodified flavor of the namesake region's coffee beans so that you get an idea of what that particular country/region has to offer since you're getting only coffee from that specific region... it's not blended with anything else. Today we check out the first flavor in Brown Gold's Real Cup line-up... Brown Gold 100% Costa Rican Real Cups.

Brewing these Real Cups resulted in light smoky notes blending with some very mild hints of cocoa & molasses buried underneath. Billed as a medium roast, flavor seemed more like a light roast as it was very mild & light tasting. We detected some light sour citrusy notes of oranges paired with some slight smoky flavors which had chocolate & molasses in the background. Acidity was more on the lighter side of things and was mostly noticed shortly after each sip then quickly dissipated to reveal the main flavors.

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March 27, 2013

Review: GMCR Special Reserve Colombia Geisha K-Cups

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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.

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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.

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March 18, 2013

Review: Starbucks Tribute Blend K-Cups

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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.

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March 14, 2013

Review: Martinson House Blend Real Cups

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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.

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March 4, 2013

Review: Martinson Hazelnut Real Cups

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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.

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March 1, 2013

Review: Martinson Breakfast Blend Real Cups

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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).

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February 28, 2013

Review: Martinson Donut Shop Blend Real Cups

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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.

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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.

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February 4, 2013

Review: Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups

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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.

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January 22, 2013

Review: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups

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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.

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January 7, 2013

Review: Folgers Gourmet Selections Morning Cafe K-Cups

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Every once in a while, we stumble across something unexpected and discover rarities in the world of Single Serve Coffee like the Folgers Gourmet Selections Morning Cafe K-Cups we found recently at our local Target.

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.

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