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.

Nerd Fuel: Laughing Man – 184 Duane St. Blend

Next up on my list of coffees is another offering from Laughing Man; the 184 Duane St. Blend.  –  Named after the location of the actual Laughing Man coffee shop in New York city, this is the obligatory “house blend” from Laughing Man.

This is a very mild cup of coffee. It has a nice earthy, roasted scent to it. It’s very smooth and extremely drinkable. It does have a somewhat complex flavor, but this is common with many house/signature blend coffees. I find to be very enjoyable. To be honest, even though I haven’t posted reviews of them yet, I’ve tried all of Laughing Man’s K-Cups and this is my probably my favorite. It’s just as good as their Colombian in terms of quality, but not near as bold. So, it’s very much a matter of opinion as to which is better.

Overall, this a very solid choice. It’s a coffee that’s mainstream enough to serve to nearly any guest, at any occasion, but unique enough to stand out as well. The care and quality is obvious. But, as with Laughing Man’s other branded coffees, it  does come at a bit of a premium price tag.

Score: 4 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Yes. The Duane St. Blend has really become a favorite of mine. It ranks right up there with the infamous “Donut Shop” coffee for me. It’s moderate enough for nearly any coffee drinker, but also luxurious enough to stand out on it’s own.

Nerd Fuel: Laughing Man – Colombia Huila

Well, my week-long vacation is starting to wind down but it’s been very productive. This week I’ve clocked in a lot of late nights, many of which were fueled by coffee. For these next few coffee reviews, I’m moving away from the holiday offerings and focusing on some more mainstream selections.  Recently, my local store started carrying the Laughing Man brand.  For those who don’t know, Laughing Man is a popular coffee shop owned by the actor Hugh Jackman. As the story goes, Mr. Jackman went on a trip to Ethiopia, where he met a coffee farmer. The two of them collaborated and Laughing Man Coffee was born.  Recently, Laughing Man and Keurig teamed up to offer K-Cup pods. The rest is history.

There are number of Laughing Man options available for Keurig owners. I’ve tried them all, and I’ll be sharing my review in the next few post. For this first review, I’m going to look at the Colombia Huila offering.

Colombian coffee is very popular. Most major brands offer some type of Colombian option. Laughing Man’s offering is a pure, single-origin coffee. It’s a dark roast, but it’s not at all bitter. In fact, this cup is very smooth, almost silky. It does have a semi-sweet and deep wood-smoke aftertaste that I find quite pleasing. However, if you’re simply not a fan of dark roasts, or generally don’t care for Colombian coffee, this might not be a coffee you’ll enjoy

Some people swear by single-origin coffees. They claim that they offer a purity and singular taste that cannot be rivaled by any blend. I generally prefer blends and in fact, usually find single-origin coffee to be a bit bland. But in this case, I have to walk that back. This coffee is absolutely fantastic. It is simply delicious, yet complex and interesting.  Laughing Man coffee does sell with a premium price tag. A box of 16 cups, sells for about $12.00 in my local store. But I have to confess, it’s worth the price.

Score: 4 out of 4

Would Purchase again?   Yes. This is a great tasting, quality coffee. It makes for a good early morning cup of joe. Some might find the roast to be a little too dark, but I find it very enjoyable.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain – Wicked Winter Blend

Winter is certainly here for most of us in the United States and other parts of the world. One of the ways I always warm up after a trek outside in the snow is a warm cup of coffee. For us Keurig owners, there’s certainly no lack of options when it comes to seasonal winter coffees. So far, I’ve checked out Sugar Cookie, Peppermint Bark, and a Starbucks Holiday blend. So today, I’m going to take a look at one of Green Mountain’s offerings, the Wicked Winter Blend.

What we have here is Green Mountain’s holiday spin on a dark roasted coffee. But, before you assume this is just a rebrand on their Dark Magic variety, think again. The Wicked Winter Blend is it’s own beast. It’s certainly dark, with a mild bit of bitterness. But it has a very complex flavor. It’s a bit hard to nail down… spicy, earthy, but somewhat mild at the same time. It’s a difficult cup to explain and one that should be best experienced for yourself. The flavor certainly seems fitting for a winter seasonal.  I found it to be pleasant and quite drinkable.  As the name suggests, it makes for a rather effective way to warm up after being out in the cold.

All in all, if you’re a fan of dark, bold coffee and you’re looking for something a little different for the winter season, this is certainly a welcome suggestion. Fans of lighter, less aggressive coffee might want to skip this one.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: Doubtful. This coffee is great. Very well done, but there’s nothing here unique enough to make me choose it over some of the other great blends out there. 

Nerd Fuel: Starbucks – Holiday Blonde Roast

As 2016 winds to a close, I leave you with my final Nerd Fuel coffee review of the year. This time, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a brand that I generally don’t care for; Starbucks. From my experience, most Starbucks coffee tastes burnt and mediocre at best. But, my local grocery store was really pushing this holiday offering from them, so I decided to give it a try.

What we have here is a “Blonde Roast” coffee. A blonde roast is a very lightly roasted bean. So light in fact that the bean doesn’t actually darken. This generally makes for a rather weak coffee. I typically don’t like this type of brew, but considering Starbucks’ has a habit of over-roasting their beans, I decided to give it a try. I have to admit that in this particular case, it works well.

This is actually quite a pleasant coffee. The box claims to have hints of brown sugar, allspice and orange,  but to be honest, these flavors are barely detectable. To me, it tasted like a slightly-weaker, general breakfast blend. But one of good quality. Unlike many holiday coffee blends, there’s no overpowering spice. In fact, I quite liked it.

I made my cup in my typical fashion; sweet Italian creamer, no sugar.  But, I feel that this blend would be ideal for experimenting with different flavored creamers and would also work well as an iced coffee. All in all, this a very nice presentation by Starbucks. Blonde Roast fans should certainly give this coffee a try. Yes, this is a weaker coffee, but somehow it manages to keep a full flavor.

Again, this coffee really surprised me. Many blonde roasts taste watered-down. Not the case here. This is a full-flavored, complex coffee. A very good quality offering from Starbucks.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would buy again?:  YES! This is a unique coffee with a bright interesting flavor. One of my favorite seasonal selections from this year so far.

Nerd Fuel: Donut Shop Coffee – Peppermint Bark

Merry Christmas! It’s here, Christmas 2016. I hope you got tons of games and nerdy goodies this year. Being a parent certainly puts Christmas in a different perspective. As a father of two boys, I still receive a gift or two over the holidays, but the focus shifts from enjoying your own gifts to watching the kids enjoy theirs. Naturally, kids are wound tighter than a steel drum on Christmas Eve so this can make for a late night, if you know what I mean. To get through it, I always rely on a strong cup of coffee.

This year my father came over to visit and brought over a box of Donut Shop – Peppermint Bark coffee. Now, I’m not a big peppermint guy. I like mint in my gum and occasionally in my chocoloate, but I’m in no way a fan of drinking mint.  I don’t like mint cocoa, minty chocolate milk, etc. It’s just not my thing. So I cringed at the thought of a peppermint bark-flavored coffee. But, I’ve been a fan of Donut Shop’s other offerings so I decided to drink it in the name of science!

The brewing process resulted in quite a strong minty-aroma. It was a pleasant smell, but I was certain this was going to result in a buzzfest of mint in my mouth. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. The peppermint flavor is certainly there, but it’s not overpowering. Depiste the “Extra Bold” label, I found it to be somewhat mild and smooth. It works quite well with a sweetened creamer. I enjoyed his coffee hot, but I imagine it would be just as good, if not better as an iced coffee.

Personally, due to my personal preferences, this isn’t a coffee that I see myself buying. But, it certainly wasn’t bad at all. If you’re a fan of peppermint bark, or just mint in general, this might be exactly what you’re looking for. The peppermint flavor does give this coffee a bit of zing, but nothing too extreme. It actually works quite well on a winter night as an after dinner dessert coffee.

Score: 3 out of 4

Would buy again?:   Maybe. This is a decent desert coffee, and it certainly has it’s place in the holiday lineup.  But I’d have to be in mood to drink this. It’s not an everyday cup. Peppermint lovers will really dig this though.