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!
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!
There is a lot of variety when it comes to k-cups. In the past, you were choosing between just a handful of different coffee brands. These days, there are whole aisles in the grocery store dedicated to k-cup coffee options, as well as tea and a handful of other drinks, like hot chocolate and cider. Flavored coffee drinks is the only category where there aren’t all that many options yet – even though it seems like it should be easy for manufacturers to combine the hot chocolate and the coffee into one single mocha-flavored pod! Fortunately, there are a few options that will appeal to coffee-lovers seeking a sweet drink and the Dulce de Leche Latte K Cups from Archer Farms (a Target brand) are one of them. They specifically caught my eye because I like dulce de leche so much. I originally assumed that these would be flavored coffee, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that they were single-pod lattes!
The k cup is filled with coffee, dried milk powder and flavoring, so you get everything you need for your latte with the touch of a single button. The drink is sweet and creamy, with distinct flavors of vanilla and caramel, with a hint of that dairy flavor that makes dulce de leche so unique. It’s not a strong dulce de leche flavor, but it is a pleasant caramel flavor overall. While the latte is sweet, you can still taste the coffee in the finish, which helps to keep it balanced. Just to be clear, this isn’t a replacement for a much more expensive latte that you could find in a coffee shop. It is, however, a very easy alternative to adding regular milk and sugar or cream to your coffee when you want something sweeter than a regular k cup!
The only real caveat with these is that they need to be made on my Keurig’s smallest setting – 8-oz – to ensure that you get the best results. I found that brewing the latte on larger settings made it too watery. This means that they’re not a great choice for iced coffee, as the extra water from melting ice will water the drink down faster than it should. These definitely aren’t a bad option when you like sweet coffee drinks, but they would be a little more versatile if you could brew them at different sizes.