I’m a big fan of coffee — I’ll dive into a cheap $2 cup of Dunkin Donuts’ brew all the way up to a $80 cup of kopi luwak from Peter Jones in London. My daily choice is typically French-pressed dark roast with freshly ground beans, but it’s time consuming and doesn’t stay as hot as I like my coffee to be.
Since my schedule gets hectic and I’m not always able to drink down 12 cups of French-pressed coffee before it gets cold, it’s been a necessity for me to buy into the single-cup brewing fad. With so many single cup brewers available, I had to choose between a variety of technologies: Keurig’s, Senseo and Tassimo being the top 3 on the market.
I had a Senseo brewer for a number of years, but found their pods to be stale pretty often, and the brewing machine only produced coffee at one temperature and pressure. Senseo also didn’t have a good selection of coffee options, so once my old brewer finally died, I moved on to the next style.
Keurig has a great assortment of coffee and tea varieties, and even lets you “roll your own” with a reusable pod. The downside, again, is that it’s limited in coffee brewing pressure and temperature, plus the pods from Keurig and their licensees are a bit expensive, up to $1 per 8-10 ounce cup. That left me with Tassimo, which seems to offer the best options for my drinking habits: custom pressure, temperature and even amount of coffee, based on each Tassimo pod’s bar code that is ready by the brewing machine. I can also pickup pods for under $0.40 per cup — not the greatest quality coffee, but it’s fast, easy, and comes out piping hot and perfect every time.
I monitor Tassimo’s Facebook fan page regularly to watch for any new coffee (as well as tea and hot cocoa) varieties and was pleased to see that they had released a new line of “European” style coffees: darker, bolder and in smaller cup sizes. The typical American cup of coffee is 8 ounces to 10 ounces but is noticeably lighter in flavor and aroma, whereas the typical European cup is 120 ml (or about 4 ounces) and is more concentrated in flavor and scent.
Tassimo’s new Carte Noire Voluptuoso Corse is exactly that: a deep roast, extremely aromatic out of the foil-sealed pouches that contain 16 small, sealed pods. At $9 MSPR, that puts each pod at under 63 cents a cup (cheaper online), which is well within my coffee budget.
The pour of each pod comes to just over 4 ounces — a perfect European “single” shot of coffee. While far short of the standard large American pour, it works well with how I drink my coffee: about 4-5 ounces per glass, plus 2-3 ounces of pastured heavy cream. I love the caffeine hit followed by the energy sustained from 500 calories of saturated animal fat. Pure diesel, as Dr. Harris says.
So how’s the flavor of the Carte Noire Voluptuoso Corse pod? My favorite coffee comes from George Howell Coffee Company in Acton, MA. Their Matalapa, sourced from La Libertad, El Salvador, is around $20 shipped for 12 ounces of perfectly roasted and fresh beans. That’s about 10 cents per cup for some of the best coffee you can make at home — but it’s time and energy consuming, and my time and energy costs me more than the actual beans I have to grind, brew and serve.
The aroma of Tassimo’s Carte NoireVoluptuoso Corse is fantastic: it doesn’t have the metallic aftertaste that some of the cheaper pods seem to have. Maybe it’s just a fresh package because of the newness of the coffee, but it smelled like freshly roasted and ground beans. The temperature was scalding: the main reason I adore my Tassimo brewer. Flavor-wise it was extremely complex, even with the heavy cream drowning out the tannins and bitters. Trying it without cream, it was full-flavored and stayed aromatic even ten minutes after brewing (not that my typical 4 ounce cup lasts that long, even).
The downsides: each cup tasted exactly the same. I love the variations in grinding my own beans: it’s never the exact same scoop measurement, or the exact same water temperature, or even the same flavor between two “identical” bags of coffee. But that’s an upside as well — with Tassimo’s higher end pods, every cup comes out exactly the same, pod to pod and package to package.
Even though it’s almost 40% more than Tassimo’s basic coffee pods, and it creates 60% less actual coffee, I’m certain to keep the Carte Noire Voluptuoso Corse in my arsenal of morning and late afternoon brews. While everyone else is going to Keurig, it seems they’ve forgotten that coffee is not just hot water through beans: pressure, temperature and volume of water means more than just the simple equation.
My rating: 8.7 out of 10, losing points for its standard flavor between batches and a slight hint of manufacturing in the initial sip.