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.

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: 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 – 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.