March 7, 2013

Review: Solofill Cup V1 Gold Vue Pack Filter

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After the first Keurig Vue brewer was released, the first thing most people kept wondering was whether or not Keurig would manufacturer a My Vue Pack re-usable filter for it. We heard rumors that Keurig were in fact working on just such an item, but we could never confirm if this was actually the case and we have yet to see anything materialize on Keurig's website nor anywhere on the market. When Solofill realized there was a demand for a re-usable filter, they decided to make the boffins in their R&D department design the first Solofill filter for Vue brewers and hence the item we're reviewing today... the Solofill Cup V1 Gold Vue Pack Filter.

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The filter is the size of a travel mug Vue Pack and is made up of 2 components... the outer plastic shell and an inner filter basket which is completely removable. The plastic shell has a hole in the center of the lid for the intake needle and a hole near the bottom of the shell's spout for the output needle. The design/shape of the Vue system's brew chamber ensures that the filter will be inserted properly each time and again, there's no need to disassemble anything... just fill the filter with coffee, pop it in the brewer like any other Vue Pack and you're good to go. The one major difference is obviously the customization factor of the Vue brewer. You will need to experiment to see which settings on the machine produce the best results.

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March 6, 2013

Review: Solofill Cup K3 Chrome K-Cup Filter

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Back when Keurig first introduced their K-Cup brewers, one of the first accessories to get introduced was the My K-Cup filter. It consisted of a steel mesh filter housed inside a plastic assembly that fit inside the brew chamber once you had removed the lower assembly that contained the bottom piercing needle and was created with the sole purpose of letting users use their own ground coffee instead of having to buy pre-packaged K-Cups should their favorite flavor not be available in K-Cup format. There were many issues that most users encountered with the first generation models which ranged from poor extraction to clogged filters and leaking coffee grinds being dumped into the bottom of their mugs.

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We're not sure if the latest generation of My K-Cup filters have solved those issues since we were among the majority who decided to wait things out and see what the competition had to offer. Many 3rd-party companies tried various attempts and creating their own filters over the years but the one which stood out as being the best designed with best overall performance was the Solofill K-Cup filter. It was an all-in-one filter that had a rubber gasket around the lid which solved the coffee grind overflow problem (or so we thought) and the mesh filter was molded right into the outer plastic. The size was similar to a K-Cup which meant you didn't need to go through the extra hassle of taking apart your brewer's brew chamber... just fill the Solofill and pop it in like any other K-Cup. We've included a photo of this 1st-generation model for comparison.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (6) | social bookmarking

March 4, 2013

Review: Martinson Hazelnut Real Cups

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We continue our Martinson Real Cup review series today with their first flavored variety... Martinson Hazelnut Real Cups. It would appear that hazelnut is a staple flavor in the single serve coffee world as just about every company that gets into the market usually goes with either that particular flavor or vanilla as one of their initial flavored coffee varieties. It remains to be seen if this will be like most hazelnut coffees or if anything in particular will set it apart from the masses.

Brewing these Real Cups resulted in light hazelnut aromas with hints of vanilla floating around underneath. We also detected very faint smoky notes buried below as well. They were barely noticeable, but still present nonetheless. Flavor was a bit on the sour side as you first notice the acidity's sour bite then a mild blend of hazelnut & vanilla appears underneath. The main flavor was a lot weaker than what we were expecting. We also noticed some smoky notes that appeared near the finish, while you'd think smoky hazelnut would be a unique flavor, we didn't really care for it all that much.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

March 1, 2013

Review: Martinson Breakfast Blend Real Cups

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When we first heard of the Martinson Coffee brand, we were left scratching our heads since we hadn't even been aware of the brand to begin with. You can only imagine our surprise once we did our research and found out that the brand has been around since 1898. According to their company history page on their website, Martinson Coffee was the brainchild of Joe Martinson who came to New York City in the late 1800s. He would apparently select beans right from the docking ships and roast them himself in his mother's kitchen.

He would sell fresh roasted whole beans from a pushcart in his neighborhood and as news grew, his coffee became more and more popular amongst the locals to the point where people from all areas started seeking what he had to offer. As time went on, Joe eventually bought a small factory and sold his premium coffee to hotels and restaurants. What shocked us even more was that the term Cup of Joe is rumored to have evolved from Joe's reputation and popularity of his coffee (although we've also heard stories about how it evolved from military officers' consumption of coffee since they were often referred to as G.I. Joes back in the 50s & 60s).

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February 28, 2013

Review: Martinson Donut Shop Blend Real Cups

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First there were One Cups, the soft-bottomed open filter style K-Cup knock-offs and now the latest trend that seems to be picking-up steam is yet another K-Cup knock-off which goes by the name of Real Cups. What are Real Cups you ask? Simple... they're similar to a One Cup that has the plastic K-Cup shell re-attached to the bottom. If you cut one open, you'll notice it uses the same filter style as a One Cup. As a result, you get a fusion of both a One Cup's soft-bottomed filter and a K-Cup's plastic shell all into one. We actually like this approach since this ensures the coffee won't go stale and can be stored for long periods of time in carousels or storage racks without any worries.

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When our friends at ECS Coffee told us they'd be sending us samples of the Martinson Real Cups for review after they toured the manufacturing facilities, we thought ok... we'll just get the single Real Cups in a Ziploc bag when we open the shipping box. Well, color us pleasantly surprised when we got the shipment. Nothing could have prepared us for what we received once we opened everything.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 12, 2013

Review: Wal-Mart Our Finest Canadian Blend T-Discs

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Once in a while, something which can only be described as an oddity comes along and makes you do a double-take while your brain tries to comprehend what your eyes are seeing. It can be something slightly normal that just doesn't seem quite right... like a lime green Lamborghini sporting pink alloy wheels or it can be something completely absurd and off the wall which defies reality... like Gary Busey.

Well folks, we introduce to you today the Gary Busey of T-Discs, something which appears to be a Canadian exclusive sold only in Canadian Wal-Marts under the in-store brand known simply as Our Finest. It's also the most recent officially-licensed Tassimo product to hit Canadian shelves. Today we check out Wal-Mart's Our Finest Canadian Blend T-Discs.

Brewing these T-Discs resulted in very mild dark chocolate aromas with a faint note of smoke, but once the coffee sat in our mug for a few minutes, the aroma virtually disappeared with only the faintest hint of cocoa. Not exactly the strongest or most unique aroma we've ever experienced out of a T-Disc, so things weren't getting off to a good start.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 4, 2013

Review: Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups

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For about as long as we can recall, Swiss Miss hot cocoas have been a staple in many American homes over the years and up until now, the most common format it came in was powder packets. Known for its smooth Swiss milk chocolate taste (think Milka), this has been one of our favorites for ages. A few months ago, Green Mountain decided they’d take a crack at things and introduced what we’re reviewing today: Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa K-Cups.

Brewing these K-Cups resulted in the distinct aroma of Swiss milk chocolate with sweet cocoa notes filling the room. Flavor was a bit more hit or miss though. When we tried our first K-Cup, about half the powder remained stuck in the bottom of the K-Cup after brewing (despite having shaken the K-Cup beforehand) which resulted in a horrible-tasting “hint of cocoa” flavored water. We had to dump the cup since it tasted so watery.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

January 29, 2013

Review: Carte Noire Caramel Latte Macchiato T-Discs for Tassimo

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Today we decided to review a recent (well, recent on this side of the pond) new flavor from one of our favorite Tassimo brands, namely the Carte Noire Caramel Latte Macchiato T-Discs. Carte Noire has produced some superb products in the past and their espresso was always one of our favorites for quite a while.

Brewing these T-Discs unfortunately did not result in any caramel notes whatsoever which left us a bit perplexed since we were certain the word caramel was surely on the label. When the espresso T-Disc was popped in, we noted the characteristic smoky notes of the espresso along with some earthy notes in the background, but that was it. Odd... where the heck did the caramel go?

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

January 22, 2013

Review: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups

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When Starbucks started releasing some of their seasonal coffees in K-Cup format last year, it got our hopes up that they’d eventually release ALL of their seasonal coffees as K-Cups. First came the excellent Anniversary Blend K-Cups quickly followed a few months later by the equally magnificent Christmas Blend K-Cups and our recent discovery during an in-shop visit proves that Starbucks Seasonals are going to be a common occurrence in the land of Keurig. This past week (Jan 14-18, 2013) saw the release of what we’re reviewing today: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups.

This is great news for Starbucks K-Cups fans and we couldn’t be happier. With a total of 3 seasonals within the past 4 or 5 months, it truly appears that Starbucks have decided to make their entire seasonal series in K-Cup format which means we’re in for some cups of awesome in the coming months ahead. Spanish for almost heaven, Casi Cielo has remained a favorite amongst fans and is a premium coffee harvested from the Antigua region of Guatemala. Billed by Starbucks as a medium roast & having hints of lemon with satisfying dark cocoa notes, we couldn’t wait to give this one a try. Lemon & dark cocoa? Not exactly 2 flavors you’d expect would pair well together, but Starbucks claims it’ll work for virtually any dish from the main meal to desserts.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 15, 2013

Review: Gevalia Mocha T-Discs for Tassimo

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Tassimo users have been making their own for ages via using Suchards & various espresso T-Discs, but now there’s finally a dedicated mocha flavor in the Tassimo line-up. Today we review the Gevalia Mocha T-Discs. Have they found caffeinated chocolaty bliss or created something similar to soaking a Hershey bar in a glass of instant coffee? Let’s find out.

Brewing these T-Discs resulted in mild cocoa aromas when brewing the syrup followed by smoky aromas with hints of molasses when brewing the espresso. The combined aroma of both was mostly light cocoa with very faint oily notes of the espresso. A neat aroma morphing effect occurred as we got to the bottom of the cup as we started with light cocoa, then stronger espresso notes, then stronger cocoa notes again.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

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