December 18, 2011

Green Mountain Espresso Review

Sometimes, we have to be honest with ourselves, even if that means challenging established dogma. Do I enjoy trail running so much because of the endorphins, the achievement, or is it just the shorts? (I'm not sure I can answer that, honestly.) Do I, artisan barista though I am, really feel like doing a pour over preparation this morning? The answer, on the proper occasion, is no.

So if we grant that there are times for laziness and convenience, then it follows that we should compromise as little as possible in that pursuit. Quick and easy coffee should still be drinkable, though not exquisite. I've reviewed Kcups before, finding the Barista Prima series from Green Mountain coffee completely palatable. This may sound like faint praise, but I'm picky. This, then, is a short review of Green Mountain's Espresso Blend.

First of all, I should say that two things struck me: The art on the box is nifty, and it's noted as "extra bold". Now, generally speaking, I hate the word bold. It's best used to describe the actions of some antiquated hero, not the flavor of coffee. But in this case, it's nice, in that it denotes a higher dose of grounds. Thus, I assumed that this would brew up well enough.

Today, I took the opportunity to find out. Having returned from a two or threeish hour trail running excursion, I wanted something to drink. And water or sports drinks, though probably more appropriate, didn't sound as good as coffee. (They never do.) But neither did I feel like using my Melitta. So, I popped in the Kcup, watched an oddly incapable Green Bay Packers offense struggle against the Chiefs, then brewed.

This is were expectations come in to play. I wasn't using an espresso machine, so there was no crema. That's ok. This was a drip preparation. Nor, honestly, did I expect any of the flavors the box claimed. What I wanted was simply a black cup of something that would demolish anything I could have grabbed at a gas station on the way home. And this did the trick. It was coffee that, as many might say, tasted like coffee.

Now I should say, this item has been discontinued. I grabbed it because it was on sale at a local grocer, while the Barista Prima series was not. Given the choice, I'd still opt for the latter. And yes, I just reviewed a product you probably can't buy. How very useful.


  1. While I'm not much for Kcups, I also don't really jive with the pretentious attitude that drinking a convenient cup of coffee is a sin.

    I liked this review, even if I'll never have the chance to try it. It's nice to see an article like this once in a while, especially from someone who actually knows a thing or two about the whole barista trade.

    Mad props for 'challenging existing dogma'. Not something I see nearly as much as I would like to.

  2. Yeah, pretension isn't really much fun. And ultimately, that's what coffee should be. Still, if I haven't just run 20 miles, I find the pour over more fun anyway, and of course much tastier.

  3. It's still useful to see what's out there, even if we probably can't buy it yet. Even if you review expensive, exclusive things, these will all eventually filter (yes, pun intended!) into our price ranges so it anticipates what's ahead!

  4. I hope these open comments aren't a temporary snafu. I've wanted to comment on so many of your posts!

  5. Nope. They're open now. They've not been in the past... for some reason.

  6. Yeah, pour over is always a win, especially because it isn't too time consuming. But I've watched a few videos of the 'pour over gurus' showing how they work the initial bloom, and follow it up with a deep immersion.

    Makes me look like I started making coffee yesterday.

  7. That's probably why I'm not a guru. I think I've got a pretty educated palate, but I don't need to turn my coffee preparation in to an elaborate ritual to enjoy the result. Mostly, I just try and saturate steadily and evenly. I've not noticed a difference in taste with more advanced methods.

  8. I agree with you about the bold.

    I disagree with you about the Barista Primas. I wasn't a fan of them.

    I was a fan of the K-cups for convenience, but I'm over that now. I've sold my Keurig and look forward to using my Chemex or something else in that counter space.

  9. On the Prima cups, keep in mind my frame of reference. My favorite Kcup is still not something I'd call "good".

    I wish I could totally abandon the keurig, but sadly, it's my roommates'. So it's there, tempting me with its push button ease. 99% of the time, it's not very tempting at all, of course.

    Also, dirty little secret, I've never used a chemex. I should fix that.

  10. Awesome to hear you've swapped the Keurig for a Chemex, Mike. A great choice indeed.

    Though, I think Scott Rao's argument against the Chemex is technically valid - it makes a pretty well extracted brew.

    I still favor the Hario v60 over any other.

  11. I agree with you about the general desire for pod/k-cup coffee to be quick, convenient, and better than gas-station coffee. You made a note about note having crema when using the k-cup. Fearing sounding self-promotional, you might take a look at the Senseo coffee machines, they have a technology that adds a crema layer in during brewing. Either way, thanks for posting your impressions. :)

  12. Self promotion is fine. Linking to my name is other blogs is probably how I've got half the readership I do, at this point. Anyway, I'm perpetually interested in trying new coffee preparations, though I have to admit, very few things are more fun to me than the ritual of preparing my own shots.