Friday, August 27, 2010

Coffee People Jet Fuel K-Cup

Manufacturer: Coffee People
Rating: A

Today we complete our trifecta of extra bold coffees from Coffee People. As far as I'm concerned, the bar has been set pretty high by naming this blend "Jet Fuel". I'm a big fan of big coffee, so let's see if the Jet Fuel delivers. The Jet Fuel brews up a deep brown, almost ebony, in color. There is a light tan froth along with a moderate amount of oil on top of the cup as it comes off the brewer. The nose detects roasted notes along with earth and spicy undertones.

Up front, the Jet Fuel hits the palate with a sharp bitter bite similar to a very dark chocolate. There is an earthy note along with some mushroom flavors. A black pepper spiciness is here as well as a roasted nut undertone. The Jet Fuel has a full body with a tannin-like astringency. The finish is nice and long. The bitter kick simmers down after time leaving a lingering coffee-oil and cocoa flavor highlighted by some spice on the tip of the tongue and a faint roasted nut note.

The Jet Fuel K-Cup really lives up to its name. This is a very bold coffee with a nice bite to it and a long, lingering finish. If you're a fan of really dark chocolate, or if you just like a coffee that bites back, then this is the coffee for you. I will definitely be keeping some Jet Fuel K-Cups on hand for when I need an eye-opener.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Coffee People Wake Up Call K-Cup

Manufacturer: Coffee People
Rating: A

Today we have another K-Cup from Coffee People up for review. As one would expect by the name, the "Wake Up Call" blend is a full-flavored, extra bold coffee. The Wake Up Call brews up a deep mahogany in color with some orange highlights and a faint oiliness on top of the cup. The nose has roasted notes, nuts and a faint citrus.

The Wake Up Call hits the palate with a vibrant acidity that is paired with a solid bitter undertone which hangs around without being overpowering. Complex highlights abound, with cocoa, caramel, citrus, almond and chestnuts all playing a support role here. The Wake Up Call is medium-bodied with some chewy astringency. The finish has lingering cocoa bitterness paired with a roasted nut undertone.

Coffee People have themselves another winner with the Wake Up Call K-Cup. This is a bold, complex coffee with a nice kick and some excellent rich flavor. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coffee People Black Tiger K-Cup

Manufacturer: Coffee People
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A-

On the tasting block today the the "Black Tiger" K-Cup by Coffee People. The Black Tiger brews up a deep, dark brown color with a hint of ruddiness. Straight off the brewer there is a light golden-brown froth along with a very faint oiliness on top of the cup. The nose has earthy notes along with smoke and some roast.

On the palate there is a nice acidity paired up with a bitter kick up front that fades to an oily, roasted coffee backbone. Some hazelnut flavor is present along with some earth. There is a bit of a fruity note in the back that has a bit of a green pepper herb/spice undertone. The finish has roasted nuts and earth fading to a slight astringent oiliness with some faint roast.

The Black Tiger is an interesting take on a dark roast coffee. This a complex, balanced and full-flavored coffee. The Black Tiger doesn't seem to be as roast-forward in flavor as the typical dark roast and that allows more subtle complex flavors shine through.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Revv Pulse K-Cup

Manufacturer: Revv Coffee
Rating: B-

Next up for review from Revv Coffee is the Revv Pulse. Revv have taken their energy drink philosophy a bit further with the Pulse by adding guarana and ginseng, two herbs commonly found in energy drinks, to their high-octane coffee. I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of flavored coffee, so I'm curious to see how these additions affect the flavor of this coffee.

The Revv Pulse K-Cup brews up a deep cherrywood color with a light white froth and just the faintest sheen of oil on top. The nose detects light roasted and nutty notes. On the palate, there is a light roast character along with a faint nutty note. There is a distinct herbal/grassy character here as well that plays well with the roast notes. A bitter bite is present here as well, but it is not the typical bitter kick from a dark coffee. Instead, it is reminiscent of the bitter, almost medicinal, taste most energy drinks have. I'm going to assume this is from the guarana, since ginseng doesn't typically have a strong bitter flavor. The Revv Pulse is light-to-medium bodied and has a finish that fades rather quickly as the roast and bitter notes fade.

The Revv Pulse is an interesting concept, but I'm not quite sold on it. On one hand, the herbal notes from the ginseng and guarana do compliment the coffee rather well. On the other hand there was a bitter bite that I found to detract from the flavor a bit. I'd be interested in trying a Revv with ginseng but no guarana, since all guarana brings to the table is more caffeine and that could be handled by more/stronger coffee in its stead. If you like energy drinks, then you may find the additional herbs in the Pulse to be OK, but I'll be sticking with the regular Revv.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Revv K-Cup

Manufacturer: Revv Coffee
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B+

Revv Coffee takes an interesting spin on coffee marketing. They have embraced the energy kick that so many of us turn to our coffee for and seem to be vying for a share of the energy drink market that has become so popular over the last few years. The question is whether the flavor is as bold as the caffeine kick it provides.

The Revv brews up deep, ruddy brown in color topped with a light tan froth and a moderate amount of shimmering oil. The nose has light roasted notes highlighted by some smoke and fruit. On the palate there is a bright flavor. There are some light roasted notes that fade into the background. Smoke and almonds play supporting notes and a mild acidity rounds out the flavor. The Revv is medium-bodied with a fairly short finish leaving roasted notes and a touch of oiliness on the tip of the tongue.

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised with the Revv K-Cup. I was expecting something a bit more overpowering to match the "high-octane" marketing. Instead, what I found was a bright, flavorful coffee that is smooth and easy-drinking. This is not a coffee reserved for truck drivers and college students pulling an all-nighter. The flavor here makes it well worth a try.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Emeril's Big Easy Bold K-Cup

Manufacturer: Timothy's
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A

The next K-Cup up for review is the Emeril's Big Easy Bold from Timothy's. As we shall soon see, and as one would expect from a product endorsed by Emeril Lagasse, the flavor on this coffee is truly kicked up a notch. The Big Easy Bold brews up a deep mahogany on color with a nice oily sheen across the top of the cup. The nose gets a big whiff of roasted peanuts along with a faint smokiness.

On the palate the Big Easy Bold hits you with a big roasted flavor. There is a nice, complimentary earthiness present along with some roasted peanuts. There is just enough of a bitter undertone to round out the flavor without being too assertive. There is a touch of acidity, along with a bit of a pepper spice note. The Emeril's Big Easy Bold is medium-bodied with a moderate-length finish led by roasted, earthy and smoke notes.

Timothy's (now part of Green Mountain Coffee) has a real winner on their hands with the Big Easy Bold. This has the biggest flavor of any K-Cup coffee I've tried to date. The Emeril's Big Easy Bold has a big, complex flavor with a really nice roast. This one will always be in my cupboard, and will spend a lot of time in my morning cup as well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Green Mountain Coffee Donut House Extra Bold K-Cup

Manufacturer: Green Mountain Coffee
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B

In my home state of Rhode Island there can be as many as a half dozen donut shops within any given square mile. While I'm sure they sell their fair share of donuts, most of the donut shops make their real business selling coffee. Green Mountain Coffee's Donut House line aims to provide the same easy-drinking cup of joe that seems to be mainlined by so many caffeine addicts.

The Donut House Extra Bold K-Cup brews up deep brown in color with just the faintest trace of oil on top of the cup. The nose is nutty with a hint of smoke. On the palate there is a light roasted flavor with some smokiness. There is a nuttiness with flavors of walnuts and roasted peanuts. A faint caramel note sits in the background as well. The Donut House Extra Bold has a fairly light body with no bitterness of note. The finish is led by more nutty flavors, and hangs around just long enough before a fairly quick fade.

The GMC Donut House Extra Bold K-Cup is a bit more mellow than I like my coffee. Having said that, it's has some nice flavor for a light roast coffee. If you're the type who likes extra cream and sugar in your java, the Donut House Extra Bold  is a good choice. The flavor here will mesh well with the added sweetness while still holding up to milk/cream without getting watered down.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Green Mountain Coffee Dark Magic K-Cup

Manufacturer: Green Mountain Coffee
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B+

Today's tasting is the Dark Magic K-Cup from Green Mountain Coffee. True to its name, the Dark Magic brews up deep ebony in color with a light tan froth and a faint oily sheen on top. The nose detects deep roasted aromas, along with some nutty undertones.

On the palate there is a rich roasted, smoky flavor with notes of dark toast and roasted almonds. There is a fleeting bitterness reminiscent of bittersweet chocolate. The Dark Magic is medium bodied and quite smooth for such a dark roast. The finish has more roasted flavors and fades rather quickly.

The Green Mountain Dark Magic has a rich, roasted flavor that you expect from a dark roast coffee. What is unexpected is how smooth this coffee is. The Dark Magic is notably mild for such a dark roast. If you like your coffee flavorful without being bitter or overpowering, then the GMC Dark Magic is the coffee for you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Green Mountain Coffee Espresso Blend K-Cup

Manufacturer: Green Mountain Coffee
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A

Up next for review is the Espresso Blend K-Cup from Green Mountain Coffee. The Espresso Blend is a deep mahogany on color. Fresh off the brewer there is a nice mocha-colored "crema" and a very faint oily sheen on top of the cup. The nose picks up deep roasted aromas along with nuts and some spiciness.

On the palate there is a deep, rich, roasted flavor. The Espresso Blend has some pleasing mild bitter undertones and some oiliness that really fills out the full, almost chewy, mouthfeel. Nutty notes of hazelnuts and roasted almonds ate notable. There are also some hints of cinnamon and black pepper spice. The finish on the Green Mountain Espresso Blend may not be as long and full as a "true" espresso, but there are some great lingering roasted notes along with a nice bitter kick.

One of my biggest concerns when I decided to try out the K-Cup brewer was that without control of how much coffee goes into the brew it may not be as strong and rich as I like it. The GMC Espresso Blend K-Cup took that concern out back and put it out of its misery. This coffee has enough punch/flavor that I could happily make this my everyday coffee. But where I think this coffee really shines is as an after-dinner treat paired with a sweet dessert like a great dark chocolate. The Green Mountain Espresso blend is one coffee I will be sure to keep on hand at all times.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Green Mountain Coffee Double Black Diamond K-Cup

Manufacturer: Green Mountain Coffee
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B+

We're starting off our coffee reviews with the Double Black Diamond K-Cup from Green Mountain Coffee. The Double Black Diamond brews up a deep brown color reminiscent of cola. Straight out of the brewer, there is a light white froth and a slight oily sheen on top. The nose detects roast peanuts and a faint smokiness.

On the palate there is some acidity that is on the light-to-moderate side, just enough to round out the flavor. Roasted notes as well as some nuttiness build with time. A mild bitter bite with some slight oiliness build up along with the roast. There are some nice earthy and smoky undertones that play a support role. The finish on the Double Black Diamond is a moderate length and has lingering roasted notes along with some smokiness.

We're starting off on the right foot with our coffee reviews here. As you'll soon see, I'm a big fan of dark roasted coffees with big flavor and the Double Black Diamond is right up my alley. The roasted flavors take center stage, with some nice supporting notes that really fill out the flavor.

Coffee Reviews Are Here!

Up to this point Critical Tastings has provided dozens of tastings on beer and dark chocolate, along with some wine, scotch and a few miscellaneous tidbits. As of today we are adding coffee to that list.

The impetus behind this is my recent acquisition of a Keurig K-Cup brewer. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the K-Cup system, these are individual sealed packs that contain a pre-measured amount of ground coffee as well as a filter. The brewer forces pressurized water through the K-Cup (not unlike the way an espresso machine works) and you have a cup of coffee in 2 minutes with no prep or cleanup. Aside from being pretty dang convenient, it makes it pretty easy to taste a whole sampling of coffees without having to buy a pound of each. So, while we won't be limiting the coffee reviews here strictly to K-Cups, there will be quite a few K-Cup tastings over the next few weeks.

Now, a few caveats in regards to our coffee reviews. First of all, I don't consider myself a high-end coffee connoisseur. I'll never pay 500 bucks for a pound of roasted civet excrement. I just happen to enjoy a flavorful cup of joe in the morning and/or after dinner. All coffees will be ground and brewed like I normally would for any other cup of coffee (K-Cups will be an 8 ounce brew unless stated otherwise). Another point of note is that my use of the word "bitter" in a review here does not generally connote a negative quality as it does in many other coffee reviews. As far as my palate is concerned, when in the proper balance, bitterness adds a flavor depth to coffee in much the same way as it does with a fine dark chocolate or hoppy IPA. I enjoy a coffee that has a nice bite to it and that will be notable in the tasting notes here.

So, without further ado, onto the reviews...