December 17, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Candy Cane K-Cups for Keurig

Review Single Serve Coffee

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Van Houtte is back in the flavored K-Cup market with a rather unique entry for the Holidays... candy cane. Yes, you read that correctly. On a recent trip to a local Tweed & Hickory store, we decided to purchase a box of Van Houtte Candy Cane K-Cups for the purpose of this review (although we have to admit, our curiosity was the main reason of purchase)

Upon brewing, you get a scent of peppermint and oddly enough, hints of chocolate. Flavor is definitely "minty" & even lingers throughout the finish while hints of chocolate are again present in the taste. We won't exactly call this a bold blend, but rather more like a medium roast which was left in the roaster a bit too long. We found the experience rather surprising as the minty sensation made it feel like we had just munched on some candy canes after each sip. Some people might be put off by this, but we found it was a rather cool feature, literally. Bonus points to Van Houtte for making this coffee somewhat "feel" like you're eating actual candy canes.

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December 16, 2009

Review: Nespresso Variations 2009 Ginger, Apricot, and Chesnut Cream Coffee Capsules

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As Nespresso Club members are aware, each year around this time 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. So we decided to order a bunch this year, and try and review them before they're gone.

This year's flavors are apricot, chestnut cream & gingerbread. The coffee base for each flavor is the Livanto capsule which ranks in at a strength of 6 on the packaging sleeves. We have to admit, we went into this order thinking that we'd only love 1 flavor while hating another & "maybe" liking the 3rd. Little did we know how surprised we'd be by what would emerge as our favorite & least favorite flavors of the bunch.

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December 8, 2009

Review: Indian Mysore Coffee Pods from The Coffee Artisan

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In August the Coffee Artisan launched its own house brand of premium 10-gram coffee pods, and we have to say we're impressed. Owner Chad Elliott has gone to great lengths to use high-quality beans roasted in small batches so as to showcase the unique character of each variety. The full line-up includes an Italian Roast blend, the Dark Side, along with excellent and affordably priced 100% Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain light roasts, but we'll save those for future posts. To begin with, we'd like to focus on the more exotic single-origin coffees that Chad has brought to market, in particular the Coffee Artisan's Indian Mysore pod.

Indian coffee is not well-known in the U.S. Nevertheless, coffee has been grown in India since the 17th century, when it was imported from Yemen. The beans used in the Coffee Artisan's Indian Mysore pods are 100% Arabica, harvested in the Mysore district of Karnataka state in southern India, and almost certainly wet-processed. Generally speaking, Indian coffees are often described as having "pronounced body, low acidity, and subtle spicy notes" (e.g.). The official description of this pod hits similar notes: "Exceptionally well balanced with moderate acidity, full body, and a fruity-nutty flavor."

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December 4, 2009

Review: Tassimo T65 Single Serve Coffee Maker - T-Disc Brewer

Review Single Serve Coffee

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Tassimo has launched a new Tassimo T65 Single Serve Coffee Maker that features a new Multilingual LC display. The multi-lingual display will help Tassimo launch into new and existing markets without the need to localize the machines for each market thus saving money. There's also a new set of lights for cup stand illumination.

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The illuminated cup stand of the Tassimo T65 Brewer.

After a few weeks with this Tassimo model what stands out? Is it a better brewer overall? We have to say the addition of the illuminated cup stand and the LCD display does set this brewer apart but at a cost.

Update: Tassimo is now calling this system a "brewbot". What's a brew bot? The Brewbot (BROO·bot) is an advanced brewing machine programmed to make over seven different varieties of beverages. Brewbots can create coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, hot chocolates and coffee cremas all at the touch of a button. a.k.a. Roboticus Brewtus. The machines are the same as earlier Tassimo Bosch models above but being marketed as brewbots.

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November 23, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Pink Ribbon K-Cups for Keurig

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Van Houtte recently decided to promote breast cancer research & awareness by releasing their new Pink Ribbon K-Cups. Billed as a medium roast "with good acidity, slight floral flavor & no bitterness", Van Houtte goes on to note that all funds raised through the purchase of these K-Cups will go towards their goal of donating $50,000 per year to breast cancer research. Logos in promotional material have even been redesigned to replace Van Houtte's white ribbon with a flowing pink ribbon design.

We decided to support the cause & purchase a box for the purpose of this review from a local Van Houtte supplier and although we're sure most coffee roasters have some sort of charity donation program in place, this is the first time in recent memory we've noticed a K-Cup dedicated solely for this purpose. Hats off to Van Houtte for taking this initiative.

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November 11, 2009

Review: Timothy's Winter Carnival K-Cups for Keurig

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We recently dug through our K-Cup stash and decided to revisit some Pumpkin Spice K-Cups we had left-over from a previous season, so we figured why not review another seasonal K-Cup which has been hiding in our ever-growing repertoire? This time around, it's Timothy's Winter Carnival K-Cups which grabbed our attention. We purchased these K-Cups for our own review purposes last season during a trip to Tweed & Hickory, and since Timothy's has yet to officially announce this flavor's re-launch this year, we decided to review what we had on-hand.

Upon brewing, you're greeted with a refreshing aroma of maple syrup and butter toffee which lingers in the room. Tasting notes yielded hints of caramel as well and had us wishing we hadn't ravaged our Spring supply of maple candies earlier this year. We can only imagine this coffee + a slice of maple butter pie would be nothing short of pure bliss. Please pardon us as our minds wander for a bit... mmm, maple butter pie (insert Homer Simpson drooling sound here). Timothy's also notes some "custard notes" in the flavoring, but we didn't really notice any during our tests.

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November 5, 2009

Review: Senseo 10 Percent Kona Coffee Blend Pods

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Senseo was kind enough to send over a sample bag of their new 10% Kona Coffee Blend coffee pods to review, and we're glad they did. We've been anticipating how good these coffee pods would and could be, and are pleased to say up front - pretty darn good (think Larry David saying that). Kona Coffee tends to be milder and easier on the stomach and palette, and the 10% Kona Coffee blend coffee pods are no exception.

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October 26, 2009

Review: Jacobs Monarch T-Discs for Tassimo

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We’ve been sampling some of the European T-Discs which started appearing on www.tassimo.com these past few months and decided to continue our tour of Europe with one of Austria’s preferred brands of coffee: Jacobs. As a result, today we’ll be reviewing the new Jacobs Monarch T-Discs which you’ll see are not that different from their previous Kroenung T-Discs.

Upon brewing, faint hints of caramel start to emerge from your typical aroma of medium-roasted Arabica beans. Billed as having an irresistible “verwohnaroma” (aroma) with “citrusy notes”, we can’t say we found any of that present except for the taste which had the characteristics of your average medium roast with the exception of the faintest caramel notes and, we could be mistaken here, perhaps a tiny hint of lemon as well. It seems most European T-Discs have profiles that are becoming more and more identical, so we had a bit of a difficult time differentiating this T-Disc from its Kroenung counterpart or other competitors such as Kenco’s medium roast and Carte Noire’s Petit Dejeuner had it not been for some key factors such as acidity and aroma.

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October 12, 2009

Review: Timothy's Kahlua Original K-Cups for Keurig

Review Single Serve Coffee

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A sector which had only casually been explored in the past by other manufacturers has now seen full-fledged acceptance in the single serve coffee scene with the introduction of Timothy's Kahlua Original K-Cups. The sector in question is of course liquor-flavored coffees and this marks the first time a brand-name liquor flavor is introduced on the K-Cup market (previous versions only alluded to the brand, but never had its logo displayed). Seeing as how Kahlua is coffee-flavored liquor, it only makes sense to add it to coffee itself. For those of you who are still wondering, no... there's no alcohol content in this product.

Timothy's was kind enough to send us these K-Cups for our review, but despite them describing this as a K-Cup that combines "delicious notes of rum, vanilla and caramel", we were hard pressed to find any presence of vanilla and only noticed faint traces of rum in the aroma. It reminded us somewhat of Kahlua's scent, but the one note which stuck out above all else was the strong & unexpected scent of toffee. It filled the room and was quite pleasant. The same could be said of the taste which once again, yielded strong toffee & caramel flavors rather than the namesake taste of Kahlua coffee liquor.

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October 2, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Macadamia Nut K-Cups for Keurig

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We've been going through quite a few flavors in Van Houtte's flavored K-Cup line-up the past few weeks and decided it was time to review their Macadamia Nut K-Cups. A quick look at the Wikipedia entry reveals that macadamias are native mostly to Eastern Australia, an area which is typically warm year-round. As a result, we figured we'd take one last shot at something which reminded us of warmer climates before Summer completely fades away & the cool chilly nights of Fall start to appear.

Upon brewing, an exotic scent of macadamias along with hints of coconut & hazelnut filled the room. Taste was on-par with aroma as we immediately noticed macadamia nut flavoring throughout although there were still notes of hazelnut lingering underneath. Come to think of it, the taste of macadamias & hazelnuts aren't too different to begin with, so perhaps it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to wonder if Van Houtte modified their basic hazelnut flavoring in order to create this more exotic variety. Regardless, they succeeded in achieving the namesake flavor and the results are rather good.

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