November 26, 2012

Review: Starbucks Christmas Blend Single Serve Coffee K-Cups



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).

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November 19, 2012

Review: Nespresso Variations 2012 (Select Flavors)

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As Nespresso Club members are aware, each year around mid-November marks the release of 3 flavored espresso varieties known as the Nespresso Variations collection. These flavors are available for a limited time only and once Nespresso stops selling them, that's it... they're gone until further notice, sometimes never to be seen again.

This year, Nespresso decided that instead of creating 3 distinctly different flavors, they’d take a new approach and release 3 flavors which are all within the same flavor family. As a result, this year sees the release of 3 flavors which are based off of nuts… Hazelnut, Macadamia Nut and Coconut. The coffee base for each flavor is, as usual, their Livanto Grand Cru espresso which ranks in at a strength of 6 on their intensity scale.

Variations 2012 Intensity

It’s no secret that we are BIG fans of coconut coffee here at Single Serve Coffee and GMCR’s Seasonal Island Coconut K-Cups are our all-time #1 FAVORITE K-Cup on the market, so most staff were running around, hugging each other, yelling OMG! OMG! OMG! for about 5 solid minutes the moment we noticed the coconut flavor in the press release.

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November 14, 2012

Review: Tim Hortons Latte T-Discs for Tassimo

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A few years ago when Tim's first started selling lattes and cappuccinos in their coffee shops, the big thing they kept pushing in its ad campaigns were that the drinks were made with premium espresso. Well, after our rather dismal experience with the President's Choice Cappuccino T-Discs, we're hoping Tim's wouldn't allow Kraft to produce their namesake products with anything other than premium ingredients.

Brewing these T-Discs resulted in buttery aromas from the milk creamer blending with strong smoky & oily notes from the espresso while also revealing some faint cereal notes hiding underneath. At first we thought that Kraft had decided to use a European milk creamer T-Disc for this drink until we realized it had a buttermilk aroma. Closer inspection revealed that these are just the same latte creamer T-Discs with a new foil label. Acidity was surprisingly balanced given the propensity for espresso to be on the heartier side of the acidity scale. It helped the milk creamer flavors flow throughout the drink without masking anything up yet it was strong enough to keep things from going dull.

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October 31, 2012

Review: Green Mountain Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Packs

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We've been seeing most of our favorite K-Cups make the transition over to the newer Vue Pack format since Keurig started rolling-out the Vue V700 several months ago and there's been a slow but steady increase of new Vue Packs appearing on during that time. Today we look at one of the most recent additions by checking out the Green Mountain Caramel Vanilla Cream Vue Packs. This was one of our favorite flavors in K-Cup format, so we were interested to see how things would turn out using the Vue Packs.

Brewing these Vue Packs at regular strength resulted in massive aromas of caramel blended together with sweet brown sugar tinges and hints of vanilla in the background with very slight touches of hazelnut hiding underneath. All the scents quickly filled the room and had us seriously impressed. We've witnessed strong aromas before, but wow... this was crazy. Things smelled so deliciously good that we could have just stood there all morning sniffing in the aroma without even taking a sip while being perfectly content (although that wouldn't have made for much of a review). An interesting side-note, aromas were so strong that they even lingered in the EMPTY cup afterwards... which we had positioned on the OTHER SIDE of our desk a good 2 feet away from us! What the heck is in this stuff? Concentrated "this is frickin total awesomesauce" extract? The heck with Glade plug-ins, we're just gonna leave the empty cup on our desk all week.

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October 22, 2012

Review: Café Escapes Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Vue Packs

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Today we decided to take a look at an addition to the Vue Pack lineup from earlier this year... Café Escapes Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Vue Packs. We've already tried their K-Cup version, so we were interested to see how this version would stack-up in comparison.

Brewing these Vue Packs resulted in medium aromas of dark chocolate but it wasn't as strong as what we were expecting. At first we thought that maybe some of the powder got stuck inside the Vue Pack but we made sure to shake it and tilt it backwards (to free up any remaining powder from the outlet spout) prior to brewing and sure enough... when we checked the Vue Pack afterwards, it was clean as could be... no left-over powder whatsoever. Odd... you'd think for a dark chocolate, it would have had a richer scent.

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October 16, 2012

Review: Corner Coffeehouse Sweet Vanilla Latte T-Discs for Tassimo

Review Single Serve Coffee


As we've been seeing with the recent Tea Bar & King of Joe T-Discs, Kraft decided it would be best to develop new in-house brands vs. trying to continue importing foreign T-Discs from other countries. While we wish they would have concentrated more on the latter, we're still glad that they're cranking out new products instead of sitting around doing nothing. Today we take a look at another new in-house brand with their Corner Coffeehouse Sweet Vanilla Latte T-Discs.

Brewing these T-Discs resulted in mild sweet vanilla notes during brewing along with some of the characteristic buttermilk notes from the creamer. We were hoping for a stronger aroma, but since it was being concentrated into a 2oz espresso shot, it's no wonder it didn't have time to fill the room. Flavor fared a bit better as we detected light tinges of vanilla quickly followed by some of the espresso notes, then a bit more vanilla flavors and a sweet buttermilk finish with the creamer at the bottom. As we neared the end of the cup, the sweet buttermilk flavor of the creamer became more intense as the vanilla flavors started disappearing.

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October 8, 2012

Review: Café Escapes Café Vanilla K-Cups

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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.

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October 1, 2012

Review: Dunkin Donuts Mocha K-Cups for Keurig Brewers

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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.

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September 17, 2012

Review: Starbucks Anniversary Blend K-Cups for Keurig

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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.

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September 10, 2012

Review: King of Joe Espresso T-Discs for Tassimo

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Over the past several years, we've been known to complain about the lack of new T-Disc flavors in retail stores, online or elsewhere and were just about ready to think that Kraft had all but given up on the Tassimo since Starbucks left and decided to partner with the competing Keurig machines instead. Ah, but then something strange happened... Kraft & Bosch decided enough was enough and started listening to fans. New machines were being introduced, a major safety recall was handled somewhat efficiently (for the most part) and best of all, after what seemed like ages of inactivity, new flavors were being released.

A few at first, then more, and eventually the levee broke and we were flooded with a tidal wave of amazing new flavors to the point where we almost couldn't keep track of all the new things that were coming out left and right. Could it be? Have Kraft FINALLY listened to our complaints & concerns? It would seem so.

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