Nerd Fuel: Donut Shop Coffee – Dark

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So, there’s a lot going on in the next thirty days or so that will have my attention. Final Fantasy XV comes out in less than 24 hours. Star Wars Rogue One is little more than two weeks away (and I still have the prequel novel to get through). So, I can foresee many late nights in the coming days. To get through it, I’m going to need some nerd fuel that has a little kick to it. So I’ve turned my attention to some K-Cups that might be able to help with that.

For this review, I’m going back to one of my favorites. The Donut Shop. But this time, I’m trying one of their variants; “Donut Shop Coffee – Dark”.

A lot of people like dark roasted coffees. But more often than not, many “dark” coffees usually end up tasting burnt and bitter. Thankfully, this is not the case here. Donut Shop Dark, offers the same great flavor found in the Original Donut Shop coffee, but with a much darker, richer roast. This means that the flavor is thicker, with a slight bitterness. But it still allows you to taste the subtle flavors of the brew itself. (Much like a good dark chocolate). The dark roast gives this coffee a little extra jolt, which really helps me get going on these crisp fall mornings.

Fans of the original, that crave a deeper, darker flavor might will find exactly what they are looking for here. But offee drinkers that prefer lighter roasts may want to avoid this cup. Personally, I found it to be enjoyable and perfect for when I need a little bit of a pick-me-up. But, generally speaking, I still prefer the Original Donut Shop overall.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Yes. I don’t always feel in the mood for a coffee this dark. But on those occasions that I’m craving some, this brew seems like the perfect option.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain – Donut House Collection – Chocolate Glazed Donut

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The quest for the perfect cup of Nerd Fuel continues. This time, I step back into Green Mountain’s coffee house to sample the second entry in their “Donut House” collection: Chocolate Glazed Donut.

Now, it’s no secret that I am not a fan of Green Mountain’s ‘Donut House’ blend. But, when I saw their Chocolate Glazed Donut offering, I figured I might as well give it a try. Being a flavored coffee, I figured that any dislike I had of the plain Donut House blend would be masked by the extra flavor. I’m happy to report that this is a correct assumption. This coffee has a very strong chocolate flavor to it. You can smell it easily during the brewing process. In fact, in many ways it tastes exactly like a glazed chocolate donut that you might find at your local Dunkin Donuts. So, congrats to Green Mountain for nailing that flavor almost perfectly.

While the flavor is accurate, in my opinion it seems to be a little over the top. The chocolate donut flavoring in this cup seems to almost mask the natural flavor of the coffee itself. It’s thick and artificial. It’s almost… syrupy. My wife and kids really enjoyed this coffee, but for me it was a little too overpowering. If you’re a chocolate lover, this might something you’d enjoy quite a bit. But for me, while interesting, it was nothing to write home about. If I want to drink chocolate, I’ll make some cocoa.

Score: 2 out of 4

Would Buy Again:?  No. This flavor here is too false and syrupy for my tastes.  Not a fan.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain Coffee – Pumpkin Spice

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Now I know I recently reviewed Dunkin Donut’s “Pumpkin” flavored coffee. But it just wouldn’t be proper to get all the way through Autumn without a proper Pumpkin Spice coffee review. So, today I’m going to share my thoughts on Green Mountain Coffee’s take on Pumpkin Spice.

This is part of Green Mountain’s “Seasonal Selections” – that is, seasonal exclusive flavors. So once I saw this on the grocery store shelf, I had no choice but to snatch up a box before they were all gone. As I said before, I’m a pretty big fan of “pumpkin spice” anything. But with so many options out there, I’m pretty picky when it comes to Pumpkin Spice coffee.

So as my first taste of true Pumpkin Spice from my Keurig machine, how does Green Mountain’s offering hold up? Well, in a standard mug of brewed coffee, not so good. This coffee really puts the “spice” in “Pumpkin Spice”. By itself it has a very sharp, herbal taste – not very pleasant. That being said, the taste really starts to balance out once you add a little cream and sugar, or in my case – some sweetened cream. For me, doctoring up this cup is a must. This K-Cup also begins to shine when mixed with whole milk and served as an iced coffee. Really, this is not unusual for “Pumpkin Spice” coffees of any brand. If you go to any coffee shop you’ll always find Pumpkin Spice Lattes on the menu, but never an old fashioned hot cup of Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee. This flavor simply does better as a latte.

Even with that in mind, I’ve had better cups of Pumpkin Spice coffee over the years. While, Green Mountain certainly does a decent job with this offering. I’ll continue to keep my eyes open for another brand to sample next year.

Score: 2 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  No. As much as I hate to say this, this coffee didn’t do it for me.  Every fall it seems customary for me to seek out a cup of Pumpkin Spice. But, I think next year I may have to try a different variety

Nerd Fuel: Dunkin Donuts – Pumpkin

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So, you had to know this was coming, right? I’ve been reviewing K-Cups, and focusing a lot on “Donut Shop” style coffees. Plus, it’s Autumn… so naturally I have to review some pumpkin flavored coffees, right? Well that’s what this Nerd Fuel entry is going to be all about.

Warning. I’m one of the people who goes nuts of over “pumpkin spice everything”. I like pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin rolls, cookies, and yes, even coffee. So, when I was at my local Dunkin Donuts shop and saw some Pumpkin flavored coffee on the shelf I knew I had to grab a box.

First thing you need to know. This is NOT Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee. This is actually just plain Pumpkin coffee. There’s a difference. “Pumpkin Spice” actually tastes very little like pumpkins, but rather is a more seasonal, well… “spice” type of flavor. This coffee is not that. In fact, this coffee tastes a lot like a pumpkin donut you might buy at Dunkin Donuts.

So, how does that work in a coffee? Well, if you like the taste and smell of raw pumpkin – it works well. But, honestly most people don’t. This coffee does have a bit of a squashy taste to it. But it’s also been sweetened a bit too. Regardless, that doesn’t really seem to help much. Drinking this coffee black, or even with a sweetened creamer didn’t do much for me. But, then I decided to just go nuts and I actually added some Pumpkin Spice flavored creamer to a cup and I found the taste to be much more agreeable. It seems that the mix of “pumpkin spice” and a true pumpkin flavored coffee really worked well together.

This mix of Pumpkin coffee and Pumpkin Spice creamer is actually what helped fuel my late-night playthroughs of Silent Hill.

Regardless, I personally found the taste to be a little too unusual for regular drinking. But if you’re a fan or real pumpkin flavor, than maybe this would be right up your alley. For me, not so much.

Score: 2 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Unlikely. This is a decent cup of pumpkin flavored coffee, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. The search will continue.

Nerd Fuel: Dunkin Donuts – Original Blend

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I’ve been away for a week on vacation, but I’m back with another “Nerd Fuel” post. So far in this series, I’ve rambled on about Donut Shop style coffees on more than one occasion. I’ve reviewed Donut Shop and Donut House – both of which are knock-offs of Dunkin Donuts classic original coffee. So… why not take a moment to check out the real thing? Well, I drove down to my local Dunkin Donuts store and bought a box of their Original Blend coffee to see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit, while I love Dunkin Donuts, I’ve only ever really had their donuts. I’ve never bothered with their coffee. Until recent years, I’ve always enjoyed iced coffees or flavored cappuccinos more than a simple pot of brewed coffee. But despite never being a consumer of their brew, I’ve been well aware of the reputation it carries. After falling in love with the “Donut Shop” K-Cups, I was eager to try to real deal.

So what’s the verdict? Well, it’s very similar to “Donut Shop”. In fact, it’s almost identical. Assuming the Donut Shop people were trying to make a clone of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend, they have come really close. However, I did detect some subtle differences. Dunkin Donuts seems to be a little lighter, not quite as rich. Some people will no doubt prefer this. Personally, for me, Donut Shop still has an edge when it comes to flavor. At this time, it’s still my favorite everyday coffee. But, as I mentioned, this is largely going to be a matter of personal preference. Both coffees are great general purpose blends. The Dunkin Donuts does sell for about a dollar more per box. So, that alone may be the deciding factor for many. All in all, considering this is the original that everyone tries to imitate – Dunkin Donuts is certainly doing something right. Despite my preference for Donut Shop, this coffee ranks right up there with it.

Score: 4 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Maybe. This is a solid cup of coffee. But, I do prefer the Donut Shop brand to this. Donut Shop first – then this if I can’t find any.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain Coffee – Donut House Coffee

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I just can’t stop sampling from all the various K-Cups available. It’s an obsession and unless I can manage to try every single one on the market before kicking the bucket, you’re going to have suffer through these posts. I apologize in advance.

Being such a fan of the Donut Shop coffee, I decided to see what Green Mountain’s spin on “Donut” coffee was all about.  Now, let’s be clear. There’s is a difference between Donut Shop and Donut House. So if you’re reading these reviews and thinking about giving these a try, make sure the one you’re buying matches the review that piqued your interest.

So. Before sampling this brew, I went in expecting a fairly mild, middle of the road, “serve-to-everyone” type of coffee. And that’s exactly what this is. It is basic, plain, and nothing to get excited about. The flavor is decent and unoffensive to nearly anyone. It’s bit more bitter than the Donut Shop that I enjoyed so much, and also without some of the subtle flavors that I enjoyed in that cup. As far as unflavored coffee goes, I didn’t find anything of particular note here. It’s mild, but earthy. It is well balanced, but there’s not any particular aspect or flavor that seems to make this stand out. It’s certainly not bad, but it’s not that particularly good either. There’s a lot of blended, unflavored coffees out there – even for people who prefer lighter roasts and many of them are better than this in my opinion.

Score: 2 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Nope. I’ve had worse coffee,  but I’ve also have much better.

Nerd Fuel: Cinnabon – Classic Cinnamon Roll Coffee

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For this Nerd Fuel entry, I decided to take the plunge into the world of flavored coffees. I should preface this by saying, that as a general rule, I’m not a big fan of flavored coffee grind/beans. If I want to enjoy a flavored coffee I typically prefer to use a flavored creamer or syrup. But many people swear by them, so I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. For my first foray into flavored K-cups, I decided to go with something subtle. So when I was browsing the isle at my local grocery store, I knew as soon as I laid eyes on the Cinnabon logo – this was going to be my pick.

I have to admit, I was quite impressed with this coffee. As soon as it started brewing the warm sweet scent of Cinnabon filled the kitchen. Now, I like cinnamon rolls, and there’s just something about the “Cinnabon” brand flavor that is unique. It has a distinct smell and flavor, and this scent was very apparent during the brewing stage. The pleasing cinnamon smell lingers well into the cup itself.

So how does it taste? Well, I admit that I was pleasantly surprised. For a light coffee there was a shocking amount of flavor – and not all of it artificial cinnamon either. The coffee itself is very well represented, and pleasing in it’s own right. The cinnamon flavor did not at all taste artificial. This a very drinkable coffee. It would be perfect for chilly Winter mornings/evenings. In fact, I was so impressed with this coffee that I might have to reconsider my stance on flavored grinds. I highly recommend this one. It’s earned it’s place as a favorite in my household.

Score: 4 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Yes. Without question, this is a pleasant enjoyable cop of coffee.  Quality product.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain Coffee – Nantucket Blend

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For this week’s Nerd Fuel post, I set aside my mug of Donut Shop (which is still my favorite K-Cup, by the way) and dove into some of the coffees offered by Green Mountain. Green Mountain *IS* the parent company behind Keurig. So there are oodles of options to choose from under their label. As I mentioned in the last post, until recently my favorite coffee had been Gevalia’s House blend. So I figured I’d try something similar and pick up Green Mountain’s “Nantucket Blend”.

Nantucket Blend is a blend of four different coffees. It’s labeled as a medium roast, and like most medium roasts it does have a pretty rich flavor. But, I found it be a bit weak when compared to other medium roast coffees I’ve tried. The taste is mild, but complex. It’s a bit earthy and tart but in a good way. You can certainly taste a lot going on in this mix, but to me, nothing really stands out. I found my cups of Nantucket Blend to be enjoyable but when the box was gone, I wasn’t left with anything special enough to rave about.

If you are looking for a general purpose coffee with lots of flavor, but dislike the bitterness that can sometimes come with a medium or dark roast, Nantucket Blend might be a good option. There’s certainly nothing off-putting about this cup. But for some, like myself, who prefer a darker roast – it’s not likely to be your go-to flavor. That being said, this certainly a great quality coffee compared to the slop that US groceries store has traditionally sold us.  I’m so happy that we have finally reached a renaissance period in coffee drinking here in the USA.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Unlikely. This is not a bad cup of coffee at all. But, there are better medium roast blends out there.

Nerd Fuel: The Original Donut Shop Coffee

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This is a feature I’ve been wanting to bring to the site for some time. Coffee reviews. Yes. That’s right. In addition to my video game, comics book and Star Wars literature reviews, I am now adding K-Cup coffees to the mix.  Why, do you ask? Well, I have long had a deep love affair with coffee. For me, it’s a comfort food, as well as a way to stay productive. Many of these late night game sessions and early morning reviews wouldn’t be possible without a little caffeine boost. I’ve always been a fairly picky coffee drinker, to be honest. My brew of choice has long been Gevalia’s House Blend. But recently, my wife and I purchased a Keurig single-serving coffee maker and between the two of us, we’ve gone nuts sampling many of the various varieties now available. With so many options available, and the rising popularity of K-cups among consumers, I thought it to be a fine idea to share my thoughts on them here.

Now, let me be up front about something. I’m no food critic. I’d be just as content with a Quarter Pounder from McDonalds as I would be some fancy four-star plate. So, you won’t be hearing me talk about the “woody notes” or “acidic finishes” that you may find in other coffee reviews. I’m sure I have no idea how to “properly” taste anything, much-less something as complex a coffee blend. I’m just going to share my thoughts in plain terms.

For my first review, I thought I’d start with something simple and basic. The Original Donut Shop coffee by “The Coffee People” is just that.  Essentially, this is a clone of “Dunkin’ Donuts” brand coffee.  In the US, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is extremely popular with many drinkers. In fact, you’ll find “Donut Shop” or “Donut House” knock offs, all over. Most major supermarkets have their own generics.  This is Coffee People’s spin on it.

I don’t typically drink my coffee black. But anytime I try a new brand, I always have an untainted sip to get a feel for the actual product itself. In my daily use, I add in a dose of sweet cream – that’s it for me. So, how does it taste?  Well, this is essentially a middle of the road, “please everyone” type of brew. It’s a medium roast, so that means it’s full-flavored, but not too bitter or burnt tasting. It’s certainly a blend of different coffee beans. You can taste that pretty easily, but it’s well balanced blend. I personally prefer blended coffee over single source as a general rule, so that’s no issue for me. The flavor is a bit difficult to describe, it’s bold and complex. A bit earthy, spicy – but in a good way. It’s just a well rounded blend. I was surprised at how much I liked this coffee. In fact, at the moment, I think it’s actually my personal favorite.  This is a solid anytime cup of coffee.

Coffee snobs will tell you that any coffee that doesn’t come from a single source isn’t worth your time. I saw, drink what you like and who cares what the experts say. I found Original Donut Shop to be enjoyable. It’s a fine cup to kick start your morning with. It’s also just a nice in the evening when you want to unwind in front of the tv. Or in my case, in front of your favorite game.

Score:  4 out of 4

Would Buy Again?:  Yes. This is a fantastic quality blend of  “generic” coffee.  Flavorful, and rich. Yet, mild and perfect for nearly everyone.