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K-Cup new and interesting varieties keep on coming

Being a K-Cup ambassador has surely opened my eyes (literally) and taste buds up to new and exciting flavors and varieties. There have been a few duds along the way, but for the most part, the items that the fine folks at Green Mountain have sent have been stellar.

Chef JimIn February, they delivered a sample pack of Donut House flavors–which included plain, chocolate glazed donut, cinnamon roll and decaf. The plain is very similar to the delicious coffee you might find in a donut shop–and I’m not saying that to be snarky! The cinnamon roll has a subtle, slightly sweet twist, and the chocolate donut has a nice chocolate undertone without being overpowering, but it’s a bit more than subtle as compared to the cinnamon roll. The decaf? I’m one who believes that coffee should be consumed to help me wake up, so the decafs are still sitting in our kitchen.

Chef JimMarch brought Tully’s Hawaiian Blend, and while I’ve never been to Hawaii, I imagine that the coffee there is always delicious (I also imagine shoe leather would be delicious against the backdrop of Hawaii, but I digress). This Hawaiian coffee is a darker roast but not too dark, and it has a hint of sweetness. It’s definitely one of the better ones they have sent so far.

Ah, we’re almost to iced coffee season. But first, here are some statistics courtesy of my K-Cup representative:

* Coffee consumption is on the rise! About 8 in 10 Americans (83%) are coffee drinkers, up from 78% in 2012

* Americans are switching up their brewing habits: 13% of surveyed coffee drinkers used a single-cup brewing system vs. 4% in 2010

* More people know about and own single-cup brewing systems, like the Keurig: 86% have heard of these, while ownership has grown to 12% from 10% last year! With more than 200 options for coffee, tea and other beverages it’s easy to see why!

Product review roundup

I’m a bit behind on my product reviews, so I’m going to do some short takes of items I was sent to review, and also some that I couldn’t walk by in the store without trying….

Chef JimCold-Eeze Cold Remedy Quick Melts–Yeah, I know, this isn’t a food item. But they want you to think of it as a food item so that taking medicine won’t taste gross. They are berry flavored and have zinc in them, and if you have ever taken zinc tablets you know that they have this sort of tangy snap in the back of your throat. I took these when I actually did have a cold, and the decongestant aspect worked, and the night time one contains melatonin, which helps you fall asleep naturally. But the selling point here is the taste, and the tablets really do taste decent and not like medicine.

Chef JimMinta Naturally Flavored Mint Soda–This was one of those intriguing ones that made me wonder, “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” I’m not sure why, but it does seem like one of those things that would be popular in France but not here. My wife was afraid of trying it, but I wasn’t. As a result, she wasn’t a fan but I thought it was really good. It wasn’t the best soda I’ve ever tasted, but had a nice minty taste without being overly sweet. And for someone like me that drinks a lot of unsweetened seltzer, that latter part was important. But I’d recommend this stuff if you like mint and you like carbonated beverages.

Chef JimCheetos Mix-Ups Xtra Cheezy Mix–Well, duh. These snack companies that keep changing things up and offering new and interesting flavors have me as a target audience all the freaking time. I can’t walk past it without buying it. This one was particularly interesting, because it’s cheesy and crunchy and has four types of Cheetos–the standard fried ones with cheddar; nacho cheese waffle discs; double cheddar baked puffs; and baked parmesan balls. You really can’t go wrong combining this cheesy goodness, but those awesome waffle discs really put this mix over the top, because the way that they are shaped is conducive to collecting lots of that yummy powdered cheese that sticks to your fingers after eating cheese snacks.

Chef JimCracker Jack’D Power Bites (Vanilla Mocha and Cocoa Java flavors)–Who knew Cracker Jack was getting into new lines of snack foods? Yet here are these little balls of caffeinated goodness, and I tried both the Vanilla Mocha and Cocoa Java flavors. I was slightly afraid but yet had to try these, at the same time. They are crunchy, coated wafer cookies in the shape of balls, and in addition to the the vanilla and chocolate, the coffee flavor comes through loud and clear. And each bag of fifteen or so pieces is supposedly equal to a cup of coffee–hence the title Power Bites. They are supposed to give you an afternoon jolt, and when I tried them, they did! And they are delicious–of course, with sugar as the primary ingredient, I also say “Well, duh.”

Product review: K-cup catch up

It’s sure been awesome being a K-Cup Ambassador, but I’ve lagged behind a bit on trying all of the great new beverages they have been sending along. So here I’m going to catch up on some of the November and December installments with a quick wrap of some of the flavors I tried:

Cafe Escapes Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa and Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa–I’ve said that the convenience of the Keurig is one of its best features. In particular, this is true when making tea or hot chocolate, because who wants to bother boiling water these days? And if you put the water in the microwave, there is that point where it goes from tepid to scalding with no in-between. The K-Cup remedies that by brewing a perfect cup in like 15 seconds. Same is true of the hot cocoa. And both the milk and dark chocolate varieties are delicious, if maybe a bit thin. But you can add a splash of cream or half and half. Or better yet, some whipped cream.

Cafe Escapes Cafe Mocha–A jolting blend of chocolate and coffee, but for me the accompanying jolt of sugar was a bit too much. Still delicious and if you are a fan of mocha, you’ll love having it brewed in a few seconds.

Green Mountain Coffee Golden French Toast–You might think “ewwwwww” but you’d be wrong. The first thing I thought of was, “will be be egg-y like French toast?” Well, yeah, kind of but it’s not a bad egg-y and there is this hint of maple too, and somehow it just works. I really dug this one.

Green Mountain Coffee Gingerbread–I don’t know how these engineers do it, but again they have created a coffee that tastes like a gingerbread cookie. It’s literally like you dunked a gingerbread cookie in your coffee, and it’s an awesome snowy morning warmer-upper.

Green Mountain Coffee Spicy Eggnog–Here is another one that tastes like, you guessed it–egg nog. But while the French toast and Gingerbread varieties were pleasing, this one was a tad off-putting for me. My wife loved it, so there is hope for the flavor, especially because she does not like egg nog. Of course, I didn’t even think to try this one spiked with, you know, spiked egg nog–but I can imagine that maybe that would be more up my alley.

Finally, I will mention that the fine folks at Green Mountain sent along a K-Cup® Pack Countertop Storage Drawer with the December mailer. Since we have boxes of K-Cup flavors now coming out of kitchen cabinets and around the sink and counters, this was a really welcome holiday addition.

Product review: Green Mountain Naturals K-Cup Hot Apple Cider

Being a K-Cup Ambassador is really cool, and while our last review meant cool in the literal sense when we covered ice coffee beverages, September’s monthly mailing featured Green Mountain Naturals’ Hot Apple Cider. When you think about the Keurig concept and the fact that you don’t have to be limited to coffee and tea, the cool factor (there’s that word again) goes up even higher.

The cider itself is delicious–it’s made with just five simple ingredients, and you can tell because it’s not overly processed tasting–it’s a clean brew that is not too tart, not too sweet, and is perfect when it comes out at just the right temperature as well. It also tastes just like the cider you get at the pumpkin patch, as if you poured some from a jug and heated it up in the microwave or on the stove top. So for the convenience factor alone (the K-cup packs do not take up fridge space and it’s super easy to make a single cup).

So if you see this Green Mountain Naturals K-Cup Hot Apple Cider, go for it! All you need is one of those apple donuts they have at those fall pumpkin patch places.

Product review: SLAP FROZEN Energy

Do you need an afternoon jolt most days? I usually do, and sometimes there is nothing better than an afternoon cup of coffee and a giant chocolate chip cookie to help with an energy boost. But it’s summer and here in Madison, Wisconsin, maybe the hottest summer ever with temps hovering around 100 degrees almost every afternoon. So it’s best to have something cold, or–even better–something frozen.

So I tried a product this week called SLAP FROZEN Energy–a slushy energy drink, for lack of a better term. I am not sure if this is exactly true, but I think the word “SLAP” comes from the fact that you have to slap the beverage, which comes in an easy to squeeze pouch, against the counter or hard surface in order to loosen it up after three minutes.

They sent me three pouches–two crisp apple and one strawberry-frost. There is also a lemonade flavor which they did not send. And the drink is really delicious, refreshing, and gives that jolt I look for in the afternoon. It doesn’t have that horrible toothpaste-meets-orange-juice flavor of traditional energy drinks, but instead just taste like slushies. And there is nothing wrong with that on a hot day. And you get 25% more energy than those other brands with an infusion of taurine, caffeine, and Vitamins B3, B6, and B12.

My only beef–that mine took more like ten to fifteen minutes to defrost to the point that I could drink/slurp them. Maybe it’s my freezer, but they were rock solid when I removed them from the freezer and had to sit on my desk for a while. But I would certainly buy the product. In fact, I am going to look for them and stock up for the rest of the summer. They are available at retailers such as Wal-Mart and Casey’s General Stores.

For more information, you can visit www.slapfrozen.com or their Facebook and Twitter pages. And SLAP FROZEN Energy is especially going to come in handy for the Olympics, which begin tomorrow in London in a time zone that could be five to eight hours away, depending on where you live.

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