Some brief caffeinated thoughts

Many of you know that I’m a coffee enthusiast. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 3, and by choice since I was 6. There are currently four electric single-serving coffeemakers in my kitchen, along with an assortment of Aeropress, Toddy, Clever, Melitta, and random french presses. I have a Hambeach 12-cup carafe-less coffeemaker in the corner but I usually don’t need that much at a time anymore.

I’ve been looking for some good options for my Tassimo coffeemaker. Seattle’s Best has gone missing from my local retailers, and (not that I cared for them) Starbucks is leaving has left the Tassimo world. I’ve recently picked up two Carte Noir packs from Tassimo via Amazon, and wanted to give some quick thoughts.

First of all, why Tassimo? I also have a Keurig sitting next to it, and a Cuisinart SS-1 Cup-o-matic for pod and ground coffee. But there are two major benefits to Tassimo for me. First is that Tassimo will make espresso and regular coffee. The machine configures itself from a barcode on the T-disc, rather than from a menu on the machine. Second is that it will also make cocoa and milk drinks (latte, cappucino, hot cocoa). You can blend your own drinks, and I’ll often make a drink with a cocoa disc, a milk creamer disc, and an espresso disc. It’s a bit pricey for a strong mocha, but I can say I pay more than the $1.30 that this blend costs, for a handmade mocha at my favorite shop.

On to the actual drinks:

Both Carte Noir varieties are imports from Europe (very popular varieties in France at least) in foil packs of two 8-tdisc packs each. Amazon sells them in boxes of three packs, so you get 48 t-discs for about $20 with the Subscribe and Save option (which you can cancel after a single purchase if you don’t like it). (The links below are affiliate links, and if you buy through them, I do get a few cents in a couple of months.)

The first one, Carte Noir Kenya, is a single origin serving that I found to have a bitter/acidic taste with a bit of fruit to it. We’re not talking bad bitter here, although I prefer the more balanced flavors of a strong but unburnt blend.

I was reminded of a variety at Red Rock that described itself as having “peach” tones (not peach flavor), and if you think about a warm tangy fruit flavor (which is easier if you’re breathing it in at the time), you’ll have a sense of this variety. I sweetened it lightly (for me) with a splash of half and half, but I think it might go better with just the half and half. The sugar seems to brighten the acidity but leaves it there, and there’s a bit of an aftertaste to it.

The second one, Carte Noir Voluptuoso, is a darker balanced flavor. It’s on the darker side of a Major Dickason Blend, but tastes a bit more bitter than that or the Peets house blend. It holds up well with turbinado/raw sugar, and drinks smoother black than the Kenya. However, having just sipped the Voluptuoso black, and then sweetened without milk, I would lean toward lightly sweetened over black.

I believe the brew for these cups is around 3-4 ounces. By comparison, the Gevalia Signature Crema T-discs are closer to 6 ounces, and some of the light “breakfast blend” T-discs brew 12 or more ounces. I don’t recommend the larger brews, although if you like a very light roast, they will give you a full cup faster.

As I hinted at above, I did not really care for the Starbucks T-discs, but I’m not a big fan of most of their beans fresh out of the grinder (Brazil Ipanema Bourbon is one I actually like, and the Pike Place Roast isn’t too bad in a pinch).

I may write up a bit of my Keurig K-cup adventures in the near future. I’ve been a bit more successful in finding an all-purpose choice for Keurig, in the Timothy’s Rainforest Espresso Blend (which also makes a good daily driver in the pod world), but there are some good afterthoughts in my K-cup spinner. And some DIY capsules as well. So stay tuned. And I’ll write some more technical material later this coming week.

 

Update:

The day after writing this post, I had the idea to brew one Kenya and one Voluptuoso together. This combination pretty much got rid of the aftertaste of the Kenya, and also gave a larger, more American size cup. It ends up being an 80 cent cuppa, roughly 7 ounces brewed, with a pleasing blend of complexities. You might want to warm your cup (run the yellow “service disc once and then pour out the hot water) so you don’t lose the heat, but I cool mine off with half-and-half anyway so I don’t mind.

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