July 12, 2010

Review: Fratello Nicaraguan Los Placeres Single Serve Coffee Pods

Review Single Serve Coffee

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The latest batch of Fratello pods arrived from Calgary recently, and they don't disappoint! Quite the contrary. You'll find a great new micro-lot from Guatemala, the Guatemala Montecristo, as well as their superb Tanzania Songea Peaberry, which recently became the highest-rated coffee ever to be offered in pod form when Kenneth Davids gave its whole-bean equivalent a 94, and this coffee in whole bean form a 90. And you'd certainly be missing out if you overlooked Fratello's Nicaraguan Los Placeres, perhaps our favorite of them all and our focus in today's review.

With this pod Fratello continues its tradition of offering fantastic single-serve Nicaraguan coffees. Part of their secret seems to be keeping it in the family, so to speak. The Los Placeres Estate is run by the award-winning Mierisch family, who own other estates such as Limoncillo, Mama Mina, and Los Milagros from which coffee for highly regarded pods has been harvested in the past. If you favor a more direct connection to where your morning cup has come from than the big chain roasters can offer, i.e. coffee with a story, look no further.

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June 9, 2010

Re-Review: Coffee People Original Donut Shop K-Cups

Review Single Serve Coffee

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According to Coffee People's website, they got their start at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon back in the early '80s, selling small batches of roasted specialty coffee to market goers. Soon after in 1983, they opened their first coffeehouse in Portland, Oregon. Later in 1999, they were acquired by the Diedrich Coffee Family who in turn took over the roasting duties of their beans from them. The rest is history and has formed the Coffee People brand (now headquartered in Irvine, California) many people have come to know & love today.

We decided to revisit "the holy grail of K-Cups" which just about everyone & their grandma appear to adore (based on various forum comments & other site reviews): Coffee People Original Donut Shop K-Cups. Yes, before many competitors started releasing their own imitation versions, Coffee People were one of the 1st companies to release a donut shop coffee in K-Cup format, so they can be considered the pioneers in that sense and it's likely why their website shows "The Original" added to this K-Cup's name (the K-Cups we purchased didn't have this printed on them).

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June 2, 2010

Review: Green Mountain Donut House Chocolate Glazed Donut K-Cups

Review Single Serve Coffee

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We have to admit that when we first heard Green Mountain was introducing donut-flavored coffees in their recent Donut House series of K-Cups, the only thought that sprung to mind was "yeah, right". Could they really capture the taste experience of biting into the flavor's namesake donut? We set off to find out if this truly was the case and opted for their Donut House Blend Chocolate Glazed Donut K-Cups this time around.

As any Green Mountain K-Cup fan will know, they have a reputation for making some pretty spot-on flavorings when it comes to their flavored coffee K-Cups (Island Coconut, anyone?), so our hopes were set high right off the bat. Needless to say, we had nothing to worry about. Upon brewing, rich chocolate aromas filled the room and left us wondering just how the heck the flavor geniuses at GMCR managed to pull it off... the scent was exactly like fresh baked chocolate glazed donuts at our favorite local donut shop and it even had some of our staff fooled as they rushed the Single Serve Coffee kitchens looking for a box.

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May 24, 2010

Review: Café Escapes Chai Latte K-Cups for Keurig

Review Single Serve Coffee

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It's been a while since we've reviewed anything in Green Mountain's Café Escapes lineup, so we decided to try one of their newer varieties... Café Escapes Chai Latte K-Cups. Although we briefly touched on these K-Cups several months ago, we wanted to give a more fleshed-out full review as we're sure some of you were waiting for us to do.

The Café Escapes Chai Latte K-Cups are billed as having "flavors of black tea and exotic spices, smoothed by a splash of milk and sugar", it should also be noted that traditional flavors of cinnamon, cloves & cardamom along with slight notes of honey are also present in this K-Cup. We were curious to see just how creamy this flavor was going to be since we're adding nothing but water here and unlike Tassimo's Twinings variety, there's no separate creamer disc/K-Cup. When comparing the two, they're pretty well even in terms of taste. Some may find that this K-Cup has a slightly stronger sucralose aftertaste than the T-Discs but we found it was about the same either way.

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May 10, 2010

Review: Green Mountain Donut House Decaf K-Cups

Review Single Serve Coffee

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A while back, we announced that Green Mountain had introduced a new Donut House lineup of K-Cups but we never really got around to reviewing any of them. Now that we've finally gotten the chance to do so, we figured we'd start with something not many of us are accustomed to seeing in a decaf K-Cup... an extra bold version. Yep, we're kicking things off with Green Mountain's Donut House Decaf K-Cups and will eventually work our way through the entire lineup in coming months.

Now, we've got to admit, we don't usually grab decaf coffees when heading to donut houses (or as Coffee People would call them, donut shops). As a result, we don't really have much to compare this to other than some other decafs we've tried in the past. We figured the "extra bold" labeling on this K-Cup would mean a stronger flavor and while it does help prevent the coffee from becoming a totally bland mess, it can't be considered a true extra bold since there could have been a lot more room strength-wise for this K-Cup to expand.

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May 7, 2010

Review: Keurig MINI Plus Personal Single Serve Coffee Brewer


Review Single Serve Coffee

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The Keurig Mini Plus Personal single serve coffee brewer has all the features of a larger Keurig brewer packed into a mini form. In 2008 we saw the launch of the Keurig Mini B30 (read our full review here), and we were impressed, but even with a mini brewer there were some features missing.

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One feature missing was the ability to know exactly how much water you were using. There was one other complaint too - the brew temp seemed a bit cooler than we would like with at the brew head temp lower than the 190F range. Well, that's all been fixed with the Keurig Mini Plus Personal brewer, and the brewer look and feel is much improved as well.

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April 28, 2010

Review: Keurig B155 Single Cup Small Office Coffee Brewer


Review Single Serve Coffee
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It's no surprise we've had a B155 Small to Medium office brewer for over a month here at Single Serve Coffee (and it just got replaced by a Keurig Mini Plus which we'll review this week too). We have to say a 90oz reservoir, and the touchscreen LCD display are things every single serve coffee drinker would love, and we really love this brewer not just for a home office but also for any home.

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Take that K-cup! How about some 198F water?

The brewer footprint is also not as big as you would imagine, and yes unlike any home brewer you can crank the temperature up to 198 degrees F instead of a home brewer's limit of 192F. Other than that - it's a very well designed good looking brewer. Because of the LCD touch screen - you will also see various pictures flash by like coffee plantations etc. as it brews.

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Not as big s you'd think.

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April 27, 2010

Review: Mocha Capsules for Nescafé Dolce Gusto Single Serve Coffee and Hot Beverage System

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What do you get when you mix espresso, hot chocolate and milk together? You get a caffè mocha and the subject of our next review in the Dolce Gusto capsule series... their Mocha capsules. You first start with a mocha capsule which contains dark roast coffee and cocoa powder, then top everything off with a milk capsule. Yes, you read that correctly... Nescafé have apparently decided to use dark roast coffee instead of traditional espresso for these capsules and as for why, your guess is as good as ours. As in past reviews, we had to use the supplied cappuccino cup which came with our machine since we didn't have the clear mocha cup shown on the packaging.

The Mocha Capsules billed by Nescafé as an "Ultimate mix of coffee & dessert", they go on to describe "Hot chocolate and dark roasted coffee do a delicious duet. Full intensity of roasted coffee in a delightfully sweet chocolaty treat. A nice way to welcome in the morning or unwind after work". They go on to mention some crazy bit about "sharing with friends" but when we make single serve coffee drinks, we prefer to quote Family Guy's Peter Griffin by saying "Nyeh!! It's mine!!" (Besides, that would take the fun out of preparing our guests a full drink of their very own).

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April 20, 2010

Review: Chococino Capsules for Nescafé Dolce Gusto Single Serve Coffee Maker

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In the past few weeks, we've been reviewing some of the different flavors available for the Dolce Gusto and decided to see what kind of hot chocolate drinks it could produce, hence this review of Nescafé's Chococino capsules. So just what the heck is a "chococino" anyway? Well, we couldn't find any "official" description on Wikipedia or Dictionary.com, but Nescafé's site describes it as follows: "Replace coffee beans with a cocoa bean topped off with steamed milk and you have this deliciously velvet hot chocolate. Chococino is hot chocolate heaven". Hot chocolate heaven, eh? We'll be the judge of that.

We're no strangers to hot chocolate and have tried various incarnations and homebrews in the past where we added hot milk, syrups, etc. to enhance the drink's flavor but it never occurred to us that adding a cappuccino creamer to the drink might create an entirely different result. So it was with curious anxiety that we popped these capsules in our machine and set forth on our highway to hot chocolate heaven (somewhere, Robert Plant is cringing). According to the box, you start off with the hot cocoa capsule followed by the milk capsule to finish it off. We decided to use our cappuccino cup which came with the machine since Nescafé don't appear to be selling their color-coded cups online or elsewhere (we're still waiting for them to magically appear on our doorstep though... *cough*)

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April 12, 2010

Review: Cappuccino Coffee Capsules for Nescafé Dolce Gusto Single Serve Coffee Maker

Review Single Serve Coffee

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We continue our Dolce Gusto review series (read our review of the Dolce Gusto here) with their Cappuccino capsules. Out of the entire flavor line-up, this is one of our favorites. Billed by Nescafé as "A top layer of frothy steamed milk which leads to a full-bodied espresso", this flavor is exactly that. Each box comes with 16 capsules (8 espresso + 8 milk) to yield a total of 8 cappuccinos per box. You start with the milk capsule to build-up the froth layer, then finish with the espresso capsule to add the bold coffee flavor to your drink.

Aroma of the final drink is somewhat muted by the crema, but you can still make out typical earthy undertones of the Arabica underneath with even a slight hint of oily characteristics. As for the milk itself, it has a sweet aroma of hot steamed milk with a slight touch of butter which becomes more present as you work your way to the bottom of the cup. The aroma itself keeps evolving as you go through the layers of the drink. Speaking of milk, the Dolce Gusto's 15-bar pressure created one of the BEST milk froth cremas we have ever witnessed from a single-serve coffee machine.

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