Trader Joe’s Single Serve Coffee Cups, made for Keurig machines, have been around for about a year now. They’re made with their signature Joe’s Blend, a medium roast coffee that has a pretty broad appeal and is easy to adjust in strength by selecting different cup sizes on your brewer. That said, Trader Joe’s offers a lot of great coffees and I know that I wasn’t the only one interested in seeing some more of them offered in K-cup form. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s recently released some new French Roast Single Serve Coffee Cups. These cups are sold in packs of 12 for $4.99 (at my SoCal store), which brings the cost to about $.41 per cup. French roast has been a long-time TJ’s coffee staple, so it’s not surprising that they opted to make it their second K-cup release.
The format for these cups is the same as the originals: the pods have soft coffee-filter walls and plastic lids, and are individually wrapped for freshness. I found that the cups worked well in my machine, though I know that others have reported leakage from the soft walled cups.
I liked the idea of a darker roast for my k-cups and do enjoy the regular Trader Joe’s French Roast from time to time, but I wasn’t wowed by these new k-cups. The French roast is a bit dry, with a toasted cocoa flavor that is smooth and fairly flat, without much complexity. The coffee is easy to drink, but it is also a bit boring. You could blame the packaging for the coffee not tasting as good as fresh-brewed, however I felt that the original Joe’s blend k-cups packed a lot more flavor into their pods, and the packaging is all the same. Overall, it’s a good effort and the cups do brew a darker cup of coffee if you are looking for a strong cup of joe to kick-start your morning. That said, I’ll probably stick to the originals for now and keep my eyes out for any other k-cups that Trader Joe’s releases!
I’m a big fan of the high quality Art of Tea iced teas. They offer great flavor, bags that are large enough to make a generous pitcher of tea and very clear instructions on how to ensure that the tea turns out perfectly. The Art of Tea Passionfruit Jasmine Iced Tea is a flavor that jumped out at me immediately, since I’m a fan of anything that includes passionfruit. This tea is a blend of black and green tea with jasmine flowers, not jasmine tea. The flowers give the tea a very delicate, sweet floral scent that blends well with the floral notes of passionfruit. It’s slightly sweet on its own, but the flavors pop even more when you add a little bit of sugar to the mix. Since the flavors are delicate, this is once iced tea that might lose its refreshing essence if you over-sweeten it. One package makes enough for four 2-quart pitchers of tea, which should be plenty to get you through two or three hot weekends this summer!
Coconut water has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years to the point where I see it just about everywhere. The first offerings were plain coconut water, with advertising that usually promoted how great for hydration the water was. These days, there are many more flavored options of coconut water – including coffee-flavored options, like Coco Cafe. This is a line of coconut water cafe lattes, boxed drinks that are intended to be tasty, give you a little caffeine boost and help hydrate you. I was hesitant about this combination, but I couldn’t resist giving Coco Cafe Vanilla a try to see how it tasted.
The drink is definitely refreshing and it captures the flavors of coffee, milk, vanilla and coconut water, more or less in that order. The very first sip will remind you of a canned Starbucks coffee drink, with smooth espresso and dairy flavors, combined with a nice hint of sweetness. The vanilla is a little bit more subtle, though it is present, and there is a lingering hint of coconut water flavor. It’s definitely a unique drink, and I’d have to say that it’s a pretty good one, especially if you’re a fan of coconut water in the first place. I didn’t think that I would enjoy it, but I ended up drinking one quickly and wanting another! It contains as much caffeine as one shot of espresso (120mg), which is enough to perk you up in the morning if you want to sip one of these on your commute or down one after a workout at the gym. I think that a regular iced latte would bet a better choice if you’re looking for a drink to savor and sip slowly, but the Coco Cafe is so refreshing that it is a great option when you are on the to.
I haven’t been getting Frappuccinos lately because the past few weeks have been so hot and so humid that I have stuck to more refreshing drinks, like Refreshers and iced teas at Starbucks. Frappuccinos are a little bit more like dessert, as far as I’m concerned, and I prefer to have them when I can enjoy them – not because I have to suck them down quickly to cool off! The other day, I glanced at the Frappuccino menu and noticed that there was a new option on the menu: a Caffe Espresso Frappuccino. As luck would have it, I was in the mood for a blended drink and I was armed with my camera, so I ordered on to give it a try.
The Caffe Espresso Frappuccino is essentially a coffee frappuccino that is topped with coffee/espresso flavored whipped cream and a drizzle of sweet espresso syrup. These may sound like small additions, but they turn a relatively plain drink into something delicious. The Caffe Espresso tastes a lot like tiramisu. I attributed this both to the caramel-like syrup and to the cloud of whipped cream, which really seemed to lighten up the texture of the drink in addition to boosting the coffee flavor. I wouldn’t mind topping off more frappuccinos with this combination and think it would be a great way to temper the sweetness of a caramel frappuccino or boost the coffee flavor of a mocha.