In addition to the Rwanda Rift Valley Single Origin K-Cups I picked up a few days ago, I also bought a box of another Starbucks Single Origin product, the Guatamala Laguna de Ayarza Single Origin K-Cups. Like the Rwanda cups, these cost a few dollars more than your average k-cup, but they are sold in a larger package and, of course, offer a more unique flavor for the discerning coffee drinker who is looking to improve his or her Keurig experience.
Laguna de Ayarza is a crater lake in Guatamala that was formed as the result of a huge volcanic eruption roughly 20,000 years ago. The eruption is significant because it spread ash and rock for many miles, a layer that gradually transformed into rich volcanic soil that is excellent for growing coffee. This coffee is a medium-bodied medium-roast coffee. It has a very mild aroma, with a hint of nuttiness to it. That nuttiness transitions to the taste of the coffee and builds quickly into a smooth, bright citrus flavor, which slowly fades into a nutty, chocolaty finish. Although you might get the impression that this is a very “rich” coffee from reading the tasting notes on the box, it really has a fairly light body overall and, while it does have a very pleasant complexity to it, I found the Rwanda Rift Valley to be the “richer” of these two single origin options. Still, it is a good cup of coffee that is very smooth and easy to drink, with a pleasantly long finish that allows those citrus and cocoa notes to linger on your palate. .
It was only a matter of time before we started to see better quality k-cups available for sale, since Keurigs are one of the most popular ways to brew up a quick cup of coffee out there. In spite of their popularity, the last several years have had very poor k-cup options, and it is only much more recently that we have seen decent coffees packaged in k-cup formats on a regular basis. One new offering that raises the bar is from Starbucks, and their new Rwanda Rift Valley Single Origin K-Cups. These were initially released a few weeks ago, however I hadn’t noticed them in stores until more recently. Unlike some of the Starbucks seasonal k-cups, these are available in grocery stores and at places like Target.
I always enjoy a single origin coffee because it gives you a real opportunity to pick up unique flavor elements that you won’t always get in a blend, and this Rift Valley coffee is no exception. It’s a very smooth medium-roast coffee with a mild aroma. When you taste it, you’ll immediately pick up on bittersweet cocoa notes and dry earth. There is a very faint hint of orange-citrus, but it is dominated by the strong dark chocolate flavors. It has a medium-long finish that is just as smooth as the first sip. For a coffee that is brewed in the Keurig, it has a very well-defined flavor profile and is just a very good cup of coffee overall. I look forward to trying more of the single-origin releases – and to seeing k-cups continue to improve!
A few days ago, Starbucks quietly announced the launch of a “secret” seasonal drink – the Franken Frappuccino. Also known as the Frankenstein Frappuccino at some stores, this drink did not appear on any regular menus and was said to be available for three days only leading up to Halloween. A quick survey of stores in my area found that some were promoting this secret drink on their chalk menu boards, while others had no signs of any kind posted about it. Whether there was a display or not, every single one knew exactly how to make it.
The frappuccino is made with a green tea base, to which white chocolate mocha and peppermint syrups are added, along with java chips for color and texture. A mocha drizzle on the side of the cup gives it a creepier overall color scheme and the drink is topped with whipped cream and a mocha drizzle to finish it off. The drink has an underlying matcha flavor with a generous dash of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s not as sweet as you might expect, since the matcha really reins in the sweetness of the white chocolate and peppermint. The mocha drizzle and java chips were a really nice touch and the frappuccino looked perfectly Halloween-y. Despite its swamp-thing appearance, it actually tastes very good. That said, it wasn’t my absolutely favorite, but only because I am not a huge fan of matcha frappuccinos and ice blended drinks in general. If you do like matcha, this is a Halloween treat that is worth tracking down.
If you want to give it a try when you head out to trick or treat tonight (10/31), the Franken Frappuccino will still be available through the end of the day. If you go after 2pm, all grande sized Frappuccinos will be only $3, which amounts to a savings of about $2.50 on the Halloween drink.
It is a well documented fact that I am a sucker when it comes to chocolate chip cookies of all shapes and sizes, so it should be no surprise that I was interested in trying Coffee-Mate’s new Chocolate Chip Cookie Creamer as soon as I first saw it in stores. I loved the idea of this creamer, since cookies and coffee are a delicious combination that is just as good as cookies and milk are. When I eat a chocolate chip cookie with a cup of coffee, I expect to taste melting chocolate, along with notes of brown sugar and toasted butter – and coffee, of course – so my hopes were quite high as I poured this into a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
On its own, the creamer tastes a lot more like melted chocolate ice cream than a liquid cookie, but it mellowed out once it was combined with coffee and produced a drink that was primarily chocolate-flavored, with a toasted brown sugar note that I could easily attribute to a cookie. It doesn’t taste exactly like a chocolate chip cookie, however it is still quite tasty because it delivered a chocolate drink that was not overly sweet and had no strange artificial chocolate notes to it (which is a common problem for chocolate creamers). The creamer worked well both hot and over ice. If you want to get really crazy with it and go for a drink with a lot of cookie flavor, combine this with coffee, ice, and a real chocolate chip cookie or two, then throw everything into the blender and mix it up until you have a chocolate chip cookie flavored ice blended drink!