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 – Toasted Marshmallow Mocha

Every January I take a week’s vacation. I do this so that I can spend a whole week relaxing, catching up on my honey-do list, and so I can have a chance to refresh my brain before jumping in and tackling all that the new year has to offer. It’s my way saying goodbye to the holidays. So, with that, I’ve come down to the last seasonal coffee I have in the line up to review. For this Nerd Fuel post, I’m going to share my thoughts on Green Mountain’s  Toasted Marshmallow Mocha.

This is an odd cup of coffee. When brewing it, you get a nice toasted marshmallow aroma. It smells absolutely incredible. In fact, I reminds me a lot of the little freeze-dried marshmallows you might find in a box of Lucky Charms. It’s also the first thing you taste when you take a sip, but it’s quickly replaced with an awful cardboard-ish after taste. This is actually the mocha, but to me, it clashes with the marshmallow flavor. Both flavors are very artificial. They taste cheap and just overall… bad. This is not the quality I had come to expect from Green Mountain.

Somehow I managed to drink my way through 18 cups of this since the start of the winter season, and it never got any better. I tried it a number of ways too. I drank it black, I used my favorite Sweet Italian creme, I tried milk and sugar, I even tried a variety of different flavored creamers. Nothing helped me to enjoy it. I don’t know what to say about this selection. Maybe it could be good in some kind of shake or iced concoction. But I won’t be spending the effort to find out. This might be the worst K-Cup I’ve tried thus far.

Score: 1 out of 4

Would Purchase again?: No. Cheap artificial flavoring. Bad after taste. Overall, a real stinker.

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.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain – Cinnamon Sugar Cookie

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So. Star Wars Rogue One comes out today. You’re going to see it at 7:00pm. Then again at 10:00pm right? What about a third time at midnight? Well, if that’s your plan you’re going to need a little help. With that in mind, I’m posting another Nerd Fuel coffee review – but since Christmas is just around the corner and most of us are out there facing near-arctic temperatures, let’s take a look at a seasonal flavor.

Just as soon as Pumpkin Spice Season comes to an end, we now have a variety of minty, spicy, and egg-noggy selections to choose from. But I wanted to go with something simple to start, so I chose Cinnamon Sugar Cookie. This is a new seasonal entry by Green Mountain. Basically what we have here is the perfect replica of a Snickerdoodle cookie. I can’t stress this enough. In terms of flavor, this coffee NAILS IT. If you’ve ever had a Snickerdoodle, then you already know EXACTLY what this coffee tastes like. The flavor here is perfect. Not too weak, not too strong. It tastes like the real thing. The cinnamon flavor here does not taste fake at all, which can be hard to pull off. In fact, only this coffee and the Cinnabon coffee I reviewed a while back have managed to achieve this.

Personally, I like this coffee in the evening. I use my stand-by “sweet Italian” creamer, but I put just a tad more than normal into this cup. Not because it needs weakening, but the extra cream and sweetness seem to compliment the underlying “cookie” flavor of this coffee quite well.

I can’t stress how much I like this coffee. It’s perfect for this time of year and a great seasonal showing by Green Mountain. Highly recommended for Keurig owners.

Score:  4 out of 4

Would buy again?:  YES! This is a fantastic coffee. This is one of those seasonal offerings that I wish would last all year.

Nerd Fuel: Green Mountain – Dark Magic

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Last time we talked coffee, I shared my thoughts on Donut Shop Dark. Dark coffee blends are very popular among many coffee drinkers. The darker roast brings out flavors that you just don’t get with medium and light roast coffees. The thing about dark roast coffee if you either like it or you don’t. Personally, I find the taste pretty agreeable, but I prefer it in the morning as opposed to a late night cup.

When I reviewed the Donut Shop Dark, I found it to be very enjoyable. But I felt like there was probably a better dark roast K-Cup out there somewhere. So I began my search for an alternative. One of the first suggestions I came across was “Dark Magic” by Green Mountain. So, I picked up a box and gave it spin.

At first, during the brewing process I thought I had maybe put the wrong cup in the machine. It smelled EXACTLY like Donut Shop Dark while it was brewing. But that’s where the similarity stopped. My first sip of Dark Magic revealed it to be a very different coffee. While Donut Shop Dark tasted like regular Donut Shop coffee, with a darker roast – Dark Magic actually tastes a bit like… espresso! There’s bitter edge at first, followed by a very rich flavor blend. Oddly enough, the farther I get into my cup, the less bitterness I seem to detect. It’s a bit hard to describe. But it works well. Adding a sweetened cream brought out the flavor a little more and in some ways, reminded me a bit of the little Starbucks Double Shots they sell at convenience stores.

Dark Magic also seemed to give me a bit more of a jolt that I expected. More so than some other darker blends I’ve sampled over the years.

Overall, Dark Magic is a very solid coffee, but it’s not the best I’ve come across. If you like bold coffee, but don’t want to taste like you’re licking tar paper, Dark Magic is a great pick.

Score:  3 out of 4

 Would Buy Again?:  Maybe. So far, I’ve preferred the Donut Shop Dark over Green Mountain’s Dark Magic. But, I could settle on the Dark Magic in a pinch if I was really craving a dark roast.