April 16, 2012

Review: Starbucks Pike Place Roast K-Cups

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Starbucks got their start back in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. Their first store opened on Western Ave. and was later relocated to Pike Place in 1976 where it remains to this day. Despite being the 2nd store to bear the name, many still consider this to be the 1st and longest-operating Starbucks location in the World. Today we continue our Starbucks K-Cups review series with a K-Cup which was named after this historic location: Starbucks Pike Place Roast K-Cups.

Something we've noticed with the Starbucks K-Cups is that the aroma during brewing seems fairly consistent with only intensity & some subtle nuances being the key differences. Such is the same here as brewing these K-Cups resulted in the signature Starbucks aroma filling the room once again. A closer inspection of the final brewed cup revealed smoky notes of hickory in the foreground with scents of cocoa underneath. We also detected a slight oily characteristic present in the aroma at times.

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April 12, 2012

Review: Starbucks House Blend K-Cups

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We continue our Starbucks K-Cup reviews today with their Starbucks House Blend K-Cups.

Brewing these K-Cups resulted once again in the signature Starbucks aroma filling the room (we've been seriously considering installing a neon Starbucks logo sign in the Single Serve test kitchens lately). A closer look at the final cup reveals woodsy notes with faint hints of cocoa & hickory hiding underneath.

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April 3, 2012

Review: Starbucks Veranda Blend K-Cups

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Long before there were Folgers K-Cups & ages before there were Dunkin Donuts K-Cups, the one coffee brand most people wanted in single serve format was Starbucks. The company went through quite a bit over the past few years. They tried creating pods which were sold primarily in limited quantities within their own stores but that failed to take off as most people weren’t even aware Starbucks pods existed. Then many a wish was answered when they announced they’d be partnering with Kraft to release Starbucks Tassimo T-Discs.

Fans rejoiced as the various T-Discs hit the market, however, not all was perfect… many complained that the coffee was way too strong/intense while others complained that it was more than living up to the Charbucks reputation by tasting extremely “burnt”. Before things could be fixed, both Starbucks & Kraft stopped seeing eye to eye and the partnership was dissolved. Those who loved the T-Discs bemoaned the loss while others panicked at the prospect of not having Starbucks in single serve format anymore. So, fresh off being burned (pun intended) by Kraft, Starbucks decided to give the single serve market another try with the largest entity in the business… GMCR. Starbuck & GMCR announced with typical fanfare that Starbucks K-Cups would be sold not only in their own retail stores but also in various grocery stores & online (something which Dunkins fans are still wishing for to this day). The announcement also revealed that Tazo Teas would also be returning to the K-Cup format with the new addition of their Zen green tea blend.

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March 29, 2012

Review: Donut Shop Coconut Mocha Coffee K-Cups for Keurig Brewers

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When chocolate meets coconut we stand up and pay attention, and the soon to be released Donut Shop Coconut Mocha coffee K-Cups warrant such attention. The artificially flavored coffee doesn't have the calories, but it sure does have the taste of that favorite chocolate bar you know, and the packaging it came in as a promotion was quite fetching as well.

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January 3, 2012

Review: Van Houtte JavaNation Vanilla Cupcake K-Cups

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Today we review a new concept on the Canadian K-Cup scene that Van Houtte have decided to test out recently… creating a “brand within a brand” and passing it off as something which is completely unrelated to its parent company. When we first heard of JavaNation, we thought this was a new brand acquired by Van Houtte. We dug further and discovered that this was rather a new brand created by Van Houtte in order to introduce some rather unconventional K-Cup flavors. Case in point? Their JavaNation Vanilla Cupcake K-Cups.

Brewing these K-Cups result in strong notes of caramel (wait… what?). Yes, you read that correctly. A caramel scent during brewing which slowly morphs into a vanilla cake scent with sweet tinges of sugary white frosting lingering in the background once the coffee is sitting in the cup. The whole “aromatic musical chairs” bit was rather strange, but hey, the final scent was more or less spot-on. The only reason for point loss here is that we kept thinking this was a caramel coffee instead of vanilla at first. Not too good when the coffee initially doesn’t smell anything like its namesake. It’s almost like brewing a blueberry coffee and having it smell like bananas for the first 5 minutes.

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December 14, 2011

Review: Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea K-Cups

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Here at the Single Serve Coffee kitchens, we're always keeping an eye open for the latest innovations in single serve products and a while back, Green Mountain decided to do something which had never been attempted before... they manufactured the World's first "all-paper' K-Cup. Made from a special combination of printed cardboard & paper lined with a special film (to prevent a soggy mess during brewing), this K-Cup marks a manufacturing milestone for Green Mountain and opens up the door to future innovations. Today we review Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea K-Cups.

While we realize this review is LONG overdue (this product was introduced around Sept. 2010 and has since been discontinued) & apologize for the delay, we figured we would at least give our readers an idea of what the product was like. There's always a chance that another flavor may be introduced using this new paper K-Cup format sometime in the future. You can even read our earlier review of the packaging we did last year. As you can see in the photos, the things that stand out the most are the floral design & Celestial Seasonings logo printed on the side of the K-Cup (marks the first time print/artwork has been able to appear on a K-Cup) as well as the unique paper crimping process used underneath. You keep thinking the thing will blow apart inside your machine, but it's surprisingly well designed to withstand the water pressure. Did we mention this thing was made entirely of fricking PAPER? Amazing.

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December 5, 2011

Review: Millstone Hazelnut Cream K-Cups

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We continue our Millstone reviews today by checking out their Millstone Hazelnut Cream K-Cups.

Brewing the Millstone Hazelnut Cream K-Cups resulted in creamy hazelnut notes with hints of vanilla when smelled from up close, yet when we brewed one of these K-Cups at work recently, some of our co-workers complained that the nearby corridor smelled as if someone had smoked a cigarette. Wait... what?!? We thought they needed to get their olfactory senses checked since we didn't notice this ourselves and certainly couldn't reproduce the effect at the Single Serve Coffee kitchens here today. Just to be sure, we had a few other staff members walk by the room afterwards and they did not notice anything out of the ordinary either. Jim Morrison was right when he said "People Are Strange".

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November 22, 2011

Review: Millstone Breakfast Blend Fair Trade Coffee K-Cups

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With all the news about Barista Prima K-Cups back at the time and the recent news about Starbucks K-Cups finally hitting select retail stores recently, it's easy to overlook a K-Cup brand that slipped "under the radar" a while back. Today we address that oversight by reviewing Millstone's Breakfast Blend Fair Trade K-Cups.

According to the wiki article, Millstone was founded in Everett, Washington in 1981. Founder Phil Johnson sold 100lb sacks of Arabica beans to high-end coffee shops in the greater Seattle area & pioneered the idea of selling whole-beaned coffees to supermarkets. Johnson sold Millstone to Procter & Gamble in 1996 which closed down most of the operation in Everett and now run the company out of Ohio.

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November 14, 2011

Dunkin' Donuts Hazelnut K-Cups for Keurig

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We continue our review of Dunkin Donuts’ series of K-Cups today with their Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut K-Cups.

Upon brewing these K-Cups, you get a hazelnut aroma but it just doesn’t seem… natural. Unlike some of the other hazelnut-flavored K-Cups we’ve had in the past from competitors (trust us, there’s many), we’d have to say this just doesn’t have a normal hazelnut aroma. Dunkins doesn’t hide the fact that they’re using artificial flavoring in this K-Cup, but unlike their French Vanilla, there’s just something off-putting by this scent. The best we can describe it is coffee that’s been spiked with a few shots of Torani hazelnut syrup. It just had us somewhat weirded-out. Not the best first impression to make, but we’ll still give this K-Cup a chance to redeem itself in other categories. Let’s push-forward & see how it holds up.

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October 31, 2011

Review: Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla K-Cups for Keurig Brewers

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We continue our review of Dunkin Donuts’ series of K-Cups today with their Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla K-Cups.

Upon brewing these K-Cups, a sweet aroma of vanilla fills the room. It was more of a light scent and didn’t have any other aromas hiding underneath. Just straight-up vanilla & nothing else. Made for a bit of a change from the norm since most French vanilla coffees always end up having other scents mingled within. We wish the aroma would have been a bit stronger, but that’s a minor nitpick at most.

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