September 11, 2009

Review: Solobrew - The French Press to Go

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We've seen a lot of portable single serve coffee makers in our time, including the Handpresso, My Pressi Twist, Starbucks Via Mug, and Jetboil for hiking. Well - they're a mixed bag of tricks with some making better coffee than others. We've like the Handpresso so far, but the Handpresso also costs $99+ dollars and requires ESE pods, hot water, and some pumping power in that arm of yours. So along comes the Solobrew - basically a mini-french press that is both portable and disposable after you use the 4 refills it comes with, and we have to say we're impressed.

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You can see here - fill with water, insert the plunger, and then steep and plunge.
Totally french press like.

The SoloPress, also known as French Press To-Go is a disposable and refillable single serve French Press (Press Pot). The SoloPress is conveniently pre-packaged with easy to use disposable plunger units, and the SoloPress brews quickly with some preparation and has a bit of a wet mess to clean up. Well - not a huge mess really - just a rather large wet coffee pod like bad that contains the plunger - but if you're brewing coffee - it's acceptable.

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September 4, 2009

Review: Cafe Escapes Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups

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One of the things that always bugged us about Keurig brewers was the lack of selection when it came to hot chocolate/cocoa choices. We guess our gripes (and yours) have been heard by the powers that be since we recently saw the introduction of the Cafe Escapes hot beverage line-up on the K-Cup scene. A quick look around the Cafe Escapes K-Cups for Keurig website reveals that they've sourced their various ingredients from Europe (the companies/suppliers in question are not named), so this might reveal why these K-Cups appear creamier/richer than what's currently on the market.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is distributing this brand, so there shouldn't be any problems getting your hands on a box whenever you so desire. For the purpose of this review, we decided to try the 2 main flavors which are currently available: Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa. We also decided not to bother with our usual scoring system since these are hot cocoa drinks which don't have acidity or some of the other characteristics we base points on. Instead, we'll describe tasting notes and whether or not we recommend these selections or not.

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August 27, 2009

Review: Trung Nguyen G7 Instant Coffees & Cappuccinos

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The G7 Instant Coffee 3 in 1

It's been a while since we've done a "mega review", so we apologize in advance to our readers if this article seems excessively long. Just keep in mind that we're reviewing over FIVE different products at once. So if you're ok with that, grab a cup (or 2) of your favorite single-serve coffee and read along.

A quick look on Trung Nguyen's website reveals that the company has been around since 1996 (possibly longer) and started off as a small business processing coffee in Ban Me Thuoc city, Vietnam. What was unique at the time was that Vietnam was one of the world's leading coffee producers but only of green, unroasted coffee beans that were sold primarily on the commodity market. This would result in no control over the final coffee quality or overall prices.

Soon afterwards, the company's owners realized the best way to be independent of the world commodity markets was to control every aspect of the growing & processing techniques and follow-through all the way to the final packaged product. They later launched Vietnamese coffee houses throughout Vietnam and a number of other countries. Today, Trung Nguyen is one of the most established, respected and successful producers of branded coffee in Vietnam.

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August 20, 2009

Review: Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice K-Cups for Keurig

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Although we've reviewed it in the past, we decided to revisit what is normally a traditional flavor found around Thanksgiving and decided to try some leftover 2008 Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice K-Cups on a lazy Sunday afternoon while digging around our ever-growing coffee stash. We had second thoughts about drinking a decidedly non-Summer flavor but seeing as how there was nothing good on TV and nothing else to do around the Single Serve Coffee kitchens, we figured why the heck not? The fact that we noticed there was still a few months left before the expiry date also "helped" us in our decision.

Green Mountain will once again make these K-Cups available on September 1st of this year, so unless you've got a stockpile stash like we do, you'll have to wait until then to get some. As with the plethora of pumpkin-flavored coffees on the market each year, familiar scents of pumpkin pie started to emerge during brewing... all-spice, nutmeg & very faint hints of pumpkin were present. The body was medium with a usual brown/amber color.

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August 4, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Crème Brûlée K-Cups for Keurig

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This week, we continue our tour of Van Houtte's flavored coffee line-up by trying their Crème Brûlé K-Cups. Crème Brûlée (as described via its Wikipedia entry) is "a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a layer of hard caramel, created by caramelizing sugar under a broiler, with a butane torch or other intense heat source, or by pouring sugar on top of the custard".

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July 31, 2009

Review: Kienna Sun Cafe Coffee Pod Brewer

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The Sun Cafe single cup pod brewer makes coffee one cup at a time, and its patented pod drawer works with a wide variety of pods, allowing you to choose your favorite coffee or tea. Innovative extraction system brings out the full range of the coffee or tea for a perfectly balanced cup, and the brewer comes with a variety pack of Kienna Coffee pods.

We've said before in other articles on the Sun Cafe coffee pod brewer that the look and design is the same as the Simplehuman coffee pod brewer - well they do look the same, the coffee extraction and updates make this a totally new brewer that makes an excellent cup of coffee.

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It's very shiny and very stainless all at the same time.
We love the blue light on the oz indicator.
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July 28, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Pecan Praline K-Cups for Keurig

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Visit any Canadian grocery store and you're bound to see a huge Van Houtte display full of various flavored coffees where you can select the whole beans and grind them yourself right there in the store. They even have flavors which have yet to appear in K-Cup format and our past experience has shown that their flavored coffees usually have a decent, strong flavoring to them. We were hoping this would follow through to their K-Cups (their Apple Crumble K-Cup was rather good) but such was not to be the case.

We chose the 5.25oz brew size to extract the full flavors on our Keurig B70 and were wondering if perhaps we had forgotten to hit the brew button. Hmm... nope, the coffee's dispensing. Maybe we put in one of their unflavored K-Cups by mistake? Nope... so what the heck was going on here? We tried again with another K-Cup and soon realized that there was barely any scent coming from this flavored variety. Weird indeed. Using the "wine swirl" technique, we tried to uncover any hidden scents in the bottom of the glass but all we could detect was a very faint hint of pecans.

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July 21, 2009

Review: Van Houtte Sumatra Mandheling K-Cups for Keurig

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Van Houtte have started amassing a small collection of single-origin K-Cups over the past few years and have blended beans from these origin locations around the World with their own quality Arabica beans. This time, we decided to try a taste of Indonesia by sampling the Van Houtte Sumatra Mandheling K-Cups.

Upon brewing, you get the rich, earthy scent typical of a dark roast but closer inspection reveals ever the slightest hint of dark chocolate. Tasting was rather unique as there was some acidity present but it wasn't as strong as some other bold varieties we've tried in the past. This was almost bordering the beginnings of an espresso but without the harsh bitterness. Slightly tangy notes at times helped liven things up. You could tell this wasn't your average run of the mill dark roast.

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June 24, 2009

Review: Fair Trade The Perfect Peach K-Cups for Keurig

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There's something truly amazing about a coffee that has a peachy flavor, and a warm coffee finish. Sure we were skeptical at first when we thought about drinking the Fair Trade The Perfect Peach K-Cups coffee from Green Mountain, but after our second and third cup the skepticism turned into delight. This is a very interesting, and complex flavored coffee, and refreshing in both hot and iced coffee formats.

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May 8, 2009

Review: Keurig Water Filter Kit - Filter Water for Keurig Single-Cup K-Cup Brewers

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Following up on our earlier article - Better Water = Better Single Serve Coffee, we wanted to let Keurig owners in on how they can make their water better. Did you know you can add a charcoal water filter to just about any Keurig single serve coffee maker K-Cup brewing system? We didn't until last month, when we saw you could order a filter pack and filter holder for any Keurig home model made after August 2007.

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We installed the water filter in our Keurig Platinum B70 in less than 2 minutes.

So how does it work? Well - for us it works great. We have town water that always has a tinge of treated taste to it, and after using the charcoal filter the coffee taste is much better. Now you combine this filter with filtered water - and bam - it's a double treat. The coffee is even crisper with more flavor. Whatever your situation is, it's probably a good idea to run a filter in your Keurig to reduce build up and the need to de-scale.

The kit comes with 1 water filter adapter and 2 filter cartridges, and is compatible with Keurig Single-Cup Brewers purchased after August 2007. Each filter lasts approx. 2 months, so you're going to need to eventually get Keurig Water Filter Cartridge Refills. Note that filter lifespan will vary depending on the hardness of your water, and we found ours lasted about 3 months instead of the two.

At Keurig Water Filter Starter Kit and Keurig Water Filter Cartridge Refills

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