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

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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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September 25, 2009

Review: Carte Noire Kenya T-Discs for Tassimo

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As we've reported in the past, Carte Noire is quickly becoming one of France's preferred coffee brands and have always sourced the finest Arabica beans available worldwide. They also produce our 2nd favorite espresso T-Disc, so when we heard they were starting to introduce various single-origin flavors in Europe, we quickly ordered their Carte Noire Kenya T-Discs... the first one available "ce côté de l'étang" (this side of the pond) as the French would say.

Upon brewing, we were greeted with a unique mix of aromas which included predominantly dark chocolate with faint hints of molasses (what is it with coffee companies and dark chocolate lately?). The taste was just as unexpected with notes of what can only be described as bittersweet Baker's dark chocolate that contained at least 80% cocoa. Wow, talk about "exotic"... this caught us off guard and left our taste buds rather confused.

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September 14, 2009

Review: Bellaccino Blueberry Cobbler Extra Bold K-Cups from Tully's

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As was reported in the past, Tully’s was acquired by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and in the process, Green Mountain also obtained any other brands which were under Tully’s lineup. One of these brands was Bellaccino which Tully’s had introduced last year. Unfortunately, Green Mountain decided to discontinue the brand a few months ago in an effort to “replace slow sellers”. We’ve yet to see a decent selection of flavored extra-bolds from other manufacturers, so Green Mountain’s decision came as quite the disappointment. We can only hope more flavored extra-bolds are introduced in the future.

We realize that we’re reviewing something which our readers may not be able to easily purchase, however, there may still be some online coffee retailers that still have some back-stock available. As a matter of fact, we noticed Amazon was still selling 2-box packs of this flavor (48 K-Cups total) but at a rather steep price (more on that further below). May this review serve as a guide in your purchasing decision should you decide to go ahead with an order.

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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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