May 10, 2013

Review: President’s Choice Great Canadian T-Discs

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President’s Choice is an in-store brand created by Loblaws grocery stores in Canada and they regularly release seasonal products which they’ve developed via their test kitchens, market research/focus groups as well as their team of chefs who travel the world to find source ingredients. They most recently rose to national fame when they introduced a new TV series/content via Food Network Canada called “Recipe To Riches” (currently within its 2nd season) where contestants from anywhere in Canada can submit their recipe to a panel of judges and compete to have their recipe/product featured on store shelves each week.

We expected President’s Choice to come out with a new kind of marinade sauce or snack product but they completely shocked the Canadian single serve world and took us by surprise this past Summer when they announced a partnership with Kraft’s Tassimo system and agreed to release their line of in-house coffees in T-Disc format. This would mark the beginning of Kraft branching-out more often and licensing T-Discs with many outside companies since their split with Starbucks. Unfortunately, Loblaws don’t have any stores in USA, so these T-Discs are uniquely a Canada-only product.

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May 9, 2013

Review: Club Coffee Venetian Reserve Single Cup Capsules

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We finish off our review series of Club Coffee Single Cup Capsules today with their Club Coffee Venetian Reserve Single Cup Capsules.

Brewing these Single Cup Capsules resulted in mild oily notes with hints of chocolate underneath. We also detected faint woodsy characteristics as well. Not as strong or complex as we were hoping for but better than nothing. Body was very dark brown in color with deep shades of red when held in front of a light source. Acidity had a good balance and hit us with mild sour bite at first which leveled out afterwards.

Billed as a dark roast, flavor was made up mostly of bittersweet dark chocolate with very faint hickory notes in the background & a strong oily taste underneath if we let things sit too long. Mouth feel took on more of an oily feel but wasn't too overbearing. Aftertaste was sharp & slightly bitter at first with predominant notes of dark chocolate throughout and more oily notes on the finish.

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April 29, 2013

Review: Tully’s Hawaiian Blend Vue Packs for the Keurig Vue

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen Hawaiian coffee appear in K-Cup, let alone Vue Pack format. So we were a bit surprised to see Tully’s taking a stab at making such a product. As you’ve obviously noticed, they didn’t call this a Kona Blend likely because there’s no Kona coffee in it. We tried finding the exact blend used and the best we can guess is that Kauai coffee is what’s included here. Most companies decided to start selling Kauai coffee as a cheaper alternative to Kona once they realized how badly decimated Kona crops were after the borer beetle infestation a few years ago.

As farms struggle to recover crops and plant new ones, Kauai remains the only island with enough crops to sustain demand for Hawaiian coffee production. Similar in nature to Kona, Kauai coffee is slightly more acidic in nature yet still maintains the characteristic smoothness of Kona to a certain degree. We’ve never seen it blended with other varietals before, so it’ll be interesting to see the final results. Today we check out Tully’s Hawaiian Blend Vue Packs.

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April 22, 2013

Review: Green Mountain Island Coconut Vue Packs

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When we first started reviewing Vue Packs and noticed how the strong button could affect (both positively and negatively) the flavor of a coffee, the first flavor we wish GMCR would have released was Island Coconut. Out of all the seasonal flavors, it's our #1 favorite and when we first tasted it, we immediately wanted MORE coconuttiness (is that even a word?) in our cup. The intoxicating tropical coconut aromas paired with the intense coconut flavor had us... well... going nuts. We just couldn't help but wonder how the strong button would affect such a superb coffee. Would it blow the dial past 11 in coconut flavor or would it turn things so bitter & sour that we'd be rushing to rebuild the S.S. Minnow and get the heck off Gilligan's Island?

We called it during our GMCR Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Pack review as we suspected back then that this flavor wouldn't be too far behind on the Vue Pack line-up's release schedule, so let's see if these new seasonal Vue Packs can recreate the same euphoric sensation as their K-Cup counterparts and possibly improve upon it. Today we check out the long awaited & highly anticipated Green Mountain Island Coconut Vue Packs.

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April 15, 2013

Review: Corner Coffeehouse Sweet Caramel Latte T-Discs

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Today we take a look at the 2nd flavor in the Corner Coffeehouse series with their Corner Coffeehouse Sweet Caramel Latte T-Discs.

Brewing these T-Discs resulted in mild caramel notes during brewing along with some of the usual buttermilk notes from the creamer. Again, we were hoping for a stronger aroma, but since it was being concentrated into a 2oz espresso shot, we suppose we were probably expecting for too much. Flavor was a bit better as we detected light notes of caramel up top quickly followed by some of the espresso flavors, then a bit more tinges of caramel followed by sweet buttermilk flavors of the creamer at the bottom. As we neared the end of the cup, the buttermilk flavors & overall sweetness of the drink became more pronounced.

If something has SWEET in its name, you can damn well bet the final results will taste sweet and that is once more the case with these T-Discs. Unlike what we've been seeing lately, we didn't detect any chemical notes in the sweetness and things just seemed like natural sugar overall. At least that's something that Kraft took the time get right. Acidity was pretty much washed-out by the creamer but did yield some bite from the espresso at various points throughout the drink. It helped let the mild caramel flavors come through & would have just washed them out had it been any stronger.

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April 9, 2013

Review: Gevalia 15% Kona Blend T-Discs

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We decided to review something today which is somewhat cloaked in mystery much like the Caribou Obsidian K-Cups or the President’s Choice T-Discs. Today we review the Gevalia 15% Kona Blend T-Discs. These T-Discs were not widely advertised and the only place we’ve been able to find them lately was our local Bed Bath & Beyond retail store and the Tassimo Direct website.

It would appear you can also order from the Bed Bath & Beyond website if you don’t have a retail location near you. As far as we can tell, Gevalia 15% Kona Blend T-Discs are only available in USA. Seems a bit odd for Gevalia to be releasing a Kona coffee blend since there are still issues with the recovering Kona crops in Hawaii at the moment which have forced Keurig & others to stop selling Kona blends due to shortages or insufficient supply. Despite this, we appreciate the fact that they chose to incorporate a 15% blend since most blends a few years back were only 10%. It’s not much more, but hey, we’ll take what we can get.

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April 8, 2013

Review: ECS Coffee Single Cup Fresh Seals

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With Keurig's K-Cup patent having expired, a multitude of soft-bottomed One Cup flavors have been released within the past year. When the first One Cup company (Rogers Family Coffee) started releasing their products, they came packaged within a non-resealable plastic bag inside a cardboard box for outer packaging. The main problem that quickly arose once you'd open the bag would be two-fold... the coffee aromas were so strong, that they'd permeate through the box and into whatever surrounding items you had nearby + you'd quickly lose freshness in the ground coffee since the filter provided no oxygen barrier whatsoever and left the grinds exposed to the elements.


Other companies (Club Coffee, Melitta) tried resolving this issue with some success by creating cookie bag style foil packaging that had bendable tabs near the top of the bag which allowed you to roll the bag up and secure the tabs in order to prevent the bag from opening again. This still resulted in another problem since it meant you had to keep the entire bag nearby if you wanted to use that particular brand/flavor. Not an ideal solution if you aren't a frequent coffee drinker or like to drink a different flavor on a regular basis.

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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.


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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