Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain – Costa Rica Paraiso (Single Origins)

Lately, I’ve noticed a few new additions to the coffee isle on my local store. In the last few weeks, they’ve started stocking several new coffees from Green Mountain’s “Single Origin” series. So, I decided to pick up a box of the Costa Rica Paraiso pods. Single Origin coffees are usually hit or miss for me. I tend to enjoy true Colombian coffee regardless of who makes it, but I’ve never had a single origin Costa Rican coffee.

The first thing I noticed was the earthy, nutty smell of the brew. But, earthy is a good way. The aroma was rich and complex, not burnt or dirty smelling like some coffees tend to be. I was intrigued from the scent alone.  That’s usually a good sign.

Upon sipping the coffee, I was surprised by the creamy, complex flavor. It was not something I was expecting after such a deep aroma during brewing. I found this coffee to be a near-perfect medium roast. It contained just the right amount of bitterness, but you can still taste the natural flavor of the beans. This is something that many coffees seem to have a problem with. Thankfully, this was not the case here.

The more I drank this, the more I found myself enjoying it. In fact, I’ve decided that it’s a darn near perfect cup of coffee. It’s excellent as an early morning kickstarter or even for a mid-day pick-me-up. This might just be one of my new favorites. I urge anyone with a Keurig machine to give this pod a spin. High marks for the Costa Rica Paraiso.

 

Score: 4 out of 4

Would buy again?:  Yes! One of my new favorites. I can’t say enough good things about this coffee. This is right up there with the fine coffees offered by Laughing Man and some of Green Mountain’s other top shelf offerings.

 

Nerd Fuel: Kahlua Coffee – Original

For this Nerd Fuel post, I’m going to review a classic. In fact, I’m a bit surprised it took me this long to share my thoughts on one of the most popular flavored coffees out there: Kahlua.

Now, I will be up front and say that I’m not the biggest fan of Kahlua liquor. I enjoy it occasionally in mixed drinks. But to me, its flavor is so pungent that it can easily overpower a drink. I’ve known people to spike their coffee with it, and when doing so, a little goes a long way. So, I wasn’t sure just how well a Kahlua-flavored coffee would pan out. Let’s see.

The unique smell of Kahlua is very noticeable when brewing one of these pods. It’s strong, but pleasant. The coffee itself is mostly dominated by the Kahlua flavoring, but it’s not so strong as be a turn off. Interestingly enough, the coffee itself is a light roasted coffee. I suppose this was done to allow the Kahlua flavoring to take center-stage here. But in my opinion a darker coffee would have been a better compliment. In a nutshell, the flavor is nice. But dominating. It’s hard to taste the coffee.

This is one of the few K-Cups that I feel is better prepared as an iced coffee instead of being served hot. The flavor seems better chilled. When served warm, it just doesn’t have the same magic. Perhaps that’s simply because most Kahlua-based drinks are usually served cold, and that’s just what I’ve come to expect.

All in all, this is a decent flavored coffee. It’s a great representation of the Kahlua brand. But it’s not going to be for everyone.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would buy again?:  Maybe. Either you like Kahlua or you don’t. If the flavor of Kahlua is something you tend to enjoy in other drinks, then a good iced coffee made with this pod is certianly worth your attention. I don’t really recommend this as a standard warm cup.

Nerd Fuel: Starbuck’s – Toasted Graham

Ok. I’m going to give Starbucks’ a chance to redeem themselves. While I was not a big  fan of their Pumpkin Spice Cafe Latte, I did enjoy their 2017 Fall Blend, and  last year’s Holiday Blonde Roast was simply amazing. For this review, I picked up a box of their new Toasted Graham coffee. Let’s see how it turned out.

First of all, this is a medium roast with natural flavors. It smells absolutely divine as it brews. The aroma of graham cracker and coffee beans together are simply out of this world. I immediately had high hopes for this coffee. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. This coffee has a rich, delicious flavor. The graham cracker taste is front and center, complimented by a nice honey/cinnamon finish. There’s no phony aftertaste. I was shocked by how good this coffee was, to be honest. Usually, when I pick up a flavored coffee, I go in expecting a chemical or overly syrupy taste. That’s not the case with this coffee at all. This is a clean brew. Not too acidic and not too bitter.

This coffee is wonderful as a classic morning mug or even when prepped as an iced coffee. Starbucks’ really hit it out of the park with this release. I simply can’t say enough good things about this coffee. Plus, the flavor actually ends up being quite a compliment to this time of year. If you see this in your local store, you’d do well to treat yourself to a box.

This is one of my new favorites.

Score: 4 out of 4

Would buy again?:  YES! This coffee exceeded all my expectations. Rich, well balanced flavor. Quality flavored coffee. Everything is just right about this cup.

Nerd Fuel: Starbucks – Fall Blend (2017)

Fall is here! For me, that means pumpkin scented candles and spooky video games. Last year, I reviewed a couple different Pumpkin flavored coffees so I’ve decided to change things up this time and focus on a simple Autumn blend. It just so happens I found exactly what I was looking for as soon as I hit the grocery store. Starbucks is offering a “Fall Blend” for 2017, and it seemed like the perfect fit.

Now, as you may know, I have a very hit and miss relationship with Starbucks coffee. I don’t count myself as a fan, but occasionally they will drop a really good K-cup on store shelves. Other times, their home products are just as icky as what they peddle in their stores.  (An unpopular opinion, I know. But it’s how I feel.)

In the case of this Fall Blend, I’m happy to report a solid quality coffee. This pod has that signature Starbucks “burnt bean” smell as it brews. This alarmed me at first, but thankfully this does not equate to a burnt taste. In fact, this cup of coffee actually has quite a smooth flavor. It’s a medium roast, with a complex earthy/spice taste. It’s actually quite good!

Most fall blends tend to lean a little too heavily on artificial pumpkin flavoring, even when they don’t market the product as a pumpkin coffee. Starbucks did not fall into this trap and the end result is a very solid coffee. If you enjoy everyday coffees in lieu of the trendy flavors, this is a coffee that I recommend. The earthy notes and mild spice taste is perfect for this time of year, without drenching you with tons of artificial flavoring.

 

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Yes.  This is a medium roast coffee with a solid flavor. It really is the perfect compliment to a brisk Autumn morning. Starbucks managed to deliver with this year’s fall blend.

 

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain Coffee – Golden French Toast

My first post since my month-long hiatus and…. it’s about coffee. For those of you that enjoy my gaming content more, I apologize. But for those who actually enjoy the coffee reviews (and I do here from some of you), here we go!

For this post, I’m going to be talking about a coffee that I’ve spent the last six months or so scouring stores for. I first caught wind of this flavor while browsing the Keurig site, but no one ever seemed to have it in stock. I’m talking about the elusive “Golden French Toast” flavored coffee.  This is one of Green Mountain’s seasonal selections – which season, I’m not really sure… because it seems to be out of circulation.  But as soon as I learned of a “french toast” flavored K-cup, I knew I had to have it. After many months of searching, a reseller finally listed a box on Amazon.

Once it arrived, I eagerly popped a cup into my brewer. I was immediately delighted with the strong aroma of maple syrup and roasted beans. It was a delightful mix. Once the brew was complete, I took my first sip.  This is a light roasted coffee, with a very heavy artificial flavoring. But, thankfully it’s a good flavor. It doesn’t taste “fake”. The coffee itself is somewhat weak. The first thing in the taste profile that stands out is the maple. But the coffee also has a smooth butter and cinnamon finish. The taste balance is very well done.

I admit that despite being excited to try this coffee, I didn’t have very high expectations. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. The Golden French Toast was actually quite enjoyable.

I feel that this coffee is best suited for early mornings, or as an after-dinner desert coffee. The flavoring is strong is could easily clash with a meal. But all in all, I was quite impressed. I hope to see this returned to shelves before too long.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Yes.  Smooth and silky. Light, enjoyable roast, but with a strong maple flavoring. Great for early mornings.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain Coffee – Brown Sugar Crumble Donut

As I burn my way through the content of the new Final Fantasy XIV expansion, I find myself turning to my good friend caffeine to help fuel the late nights and early morning play sessions.  This week, I decided to take a trip to the grocery store and pick up a couple of new varieties. The first one that landed in my shopping cart was the “Brown Sugar Crumble Donut” by Green Mountain.

As I’ve mentioned before, I tread a fine line between both shying away from, and being a sucker for flavored coffees. They always look so good sitting there on a shelf. But generally speaking, they usually tend to taste artificial and just… not very good. Of course, there are a few notable exceptions to this. So with that in mind, I decided to bite the bullet and give the Brown Sugar Crumble Donut a shot… and I was pleasantly surprised!

According to the label, this is a medium roast coffee. But, to me it tastes a little on the light side. There’s very little bitterness in this cup. The brown sugar is the prominent taste here. But there’s also a slight artificial cinnamon/cake donut flavor as well. But, it’s really not that bad. I found this to be a pleasant and drinkable coffee. It would go great on a sunny Sunday morning with a nice hearty breakfast.

Despite being a decent coffee, it just doesn’t seem unique enough to stand out against many of the other similar offerings out there. Yes, the main flavor here is brown sugar, but as a whole this coffee is too much like the superior Cinnabon coffee to shine by itself. Perhaps if it was a bit cheaper I’d be more inclined to recommend it over some of the others. Regardless, it’s a solid offering.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Maybe. It’s tasty and certainly has it’s place. But, I feel it too much like many other similar, and superior coffees to really recommend over others. That being said, if if you like brown sugar and cinnamon, and this is the only option at your local store, don’t hesitate.

 

Nerd Fuel: Eight o’clock Coffee – The Original

I’ve been putting in some late nights lately. As usual, these sessions have been fueled by coffee. I’ve been on a bit of a personal quest to find another “every day coffee” that’s as good as Donut Shop. Recently, the Duane St. Blend by Laughing Man has been the closest contender thus far. But, I won’t stop until I find something that wows me the same way Donut Shop did.

So, this week I decided to try one of America’s oldest, original coffees; the fabled Eight o’clock coffee.  Some used to call this “the coffee your grandparents drank”  but these days, it’s more likely that your great-grandparents drank filled their cups with this. Eight o’clock coffee has been an American staple since the mid-1800s and it hasn’t change much since. It’s a very basic, middle of the road blend. Sure to impress few, but offend even fewer. Until I bought this box, I admittedly never bothered to sample any of it.

Upon first tasting this, I was surprised at how good it actually was. It’s certainly a quality coffee and not some cheap factory floor sweepings. I had no issues drinking it as my daily brew for as long as it lasted. But, it didn’t really have any special spark that stood out to me. Eight o’clock is a simple, generic run of the mill coffee blend.  It’s a good decent coffee, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Unlikely. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with this coffee, there’s really nothing special to note either. This is a basic, every man’s cup of joe. But, there are others that seem to do it better.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain – Sumatran Reserve

Today, I’m going back to basics and checking out one of Green Mountain’s organic offerings; the “Fair Trade Certified Organic Sumatran Reserve” – whew what a mouthful! For consumers who are focused on things like fair trade when it comes to coffee purchases, Green Mountain has you covered as they always label their fair trade coffees as such.

Sumatran coffee is popular for it’s earthy, dark chocolaty taste. This cup certainly embodies both of those features. Green Mountain markets this as an “Extra Bold” cup, which means the K-Cup itself is actually packed with more grinds, this gives the coffee a darker, bolder taste. However, despite the extra bold brew, the coffee is not over-bitter. Instead, I found it to be quite smooth, with a dark and complex flavor. As it brews, it releases a rich, woody aroma that I find to be very pleasant. This aroma comes through in the flavors as well. To me, a sip of this coffee starts off with a crisp, burnt wood taste. Followed by an earthy/chocolate aftertaste. It’s very unusual, but quite enjoyable.

This coffee certainly packs a punch. It makes for a great early morning kickstarter. I think that some people might be turned off by how dark and bold this coffee seems to be, it’s certainly not for everyone, but I’ve had much darker brews (and ones that have had less flavor as well). But, if you enjoy dark, complex roasts, this might a keeper for you.

Score: 4 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Maybe. This is a fine quality coffee in my opinion. But, I do tend to prefer more medium roasts for my day to day drinking. When the occasion strikes that I want a dark coffee, as of now this might be my go-to. I do enjoy it a bit more than the Donut Shop Dark, so the Sumatran Reserve does take the crown as my favorite dark coffee thus far.

Nerd Fuel: Laughing Man – Ethiopia Sidama

For this Nerd Fuel post, I’ll be taking a look at the last of Laughing Man’s K-Cup pods; Ethiopia Sidama.  This coffee is Laughing Man’s light roast offering, but unlike most “light roast” coffees, this is not a blend but rather a single-origin.

As you might has guessed from the name, these beans are sourced from the Sidama region of Ethiopia. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Ethiopian coffee on it’s own. To me, most Ethiopian single origins that I’ve experienced tend to be too earthy and also somehow manage to be semi-acidic. I do tend to like blends that contain Ethiopian beans, but on their own I’m just not a fan. This coffee is no exception to that rule.

That being said, the quality of this coffee is obvious. It’s rich and flavorful. It smells absolutely delicious as it brews. So, this is really a matter of personal preference for me.  If you tend to enjoy coffees that contain a deep, earthy taste. You would likely find this to be a coffee of interest.  Despite my own personal distaste for it, I can fully recognize the quality to be found in this cup and have no problem drinking and even enjoying it. But, for me – there’s other coffees I’d rather be drinking.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Doubtful. While this is an undeniably quality coffee, I’m neither a fan of light roasts or straight-Ethiopian coffees. That doesn’t mean that might not enjoy it, so don’t hesitate to give it try. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Nerd Fuel: Laughing Man – Dukale’s Blend

For my next Nerd Fuel review, I’m taking a look at another Laughing Man coffee, the Dukale’s Blend. This coffee is named after the farmer that Hugh Jackman met on his trip to the coffee farms of Ethiopia.  If “184 Duane St.” is to be considered Laughing Man’s house blend, “Dukale’s” could be called their signature offering.

This is a medium roast coffee. It has a deep, earthy flavor to it. Despite being a medium roast, it has a pretty full flavor. But to me, it’s a bit too “muddy”. I cannot say for sure, but I’m pretty certain that a good portion of this blend is made with Ethiopian beans. Ethiopian coffees have a very distinct flavor, and I taste quite a lot of it in this cup. – So your personal preference will play a big part here.

The quality of this coffee cannot be denied. I find it to be much better than many others out there. But, I don’t feel it compares to some of the other options Laughing Man brings to the table. Overall, it’s going to be largely a matter of personal taste.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Maybe. When compared to Laughing Man’s Colombian or Duane St. Blend, I find this one to be a distant 2nd. Regardless, it is a very good cup of coffee. Fans of Ethiopian coffees might find a real treat here.