Thursday, February 05, 2015

O K Cup?

For a few years now I've had a fascination with the whole pod coffee revolution.  My curiosity has been on the level that I've always wanted to try one out for a little while, but not enough that I wanted to invest in actually buying a machine.  My problem with buying a machine comes from two different problems.  First of all they're not cheap, they can cost several hundreds of dollars for the larger professional units. Even the cheaper unites are around 100 to 150 dollars.  Since I don't drink coffee these prices don't really sound like something in my range.

My second problem with the pod coffee machines is the environmental one.  For each cup of coffee you're throwing away a small plastic cup, a miniature filter, and a foil lid.  For each pot of coffee you're throwing away about one 50th of a tin or bag that the coffee comes in, and a small often bio degradable coffee filter.  Let's not forget that the coffee can you bought your coffee in can also be re-used, while these pod cups are pretty useless, and in the case of the Kuerig destroyed with holes punched in them.  I guess I can feel a little better knowing that there are special cups you can buy that allow you to make your own drinks, and these cups are completely re-usable (but more about these later).
So needless to say, while I've been curious about these pod machines, I've never thought about actually buying one for the house.  This past weekend however, something rather fortuetous happened at the Stewart household.  Allison entered a charity auction, and won, the first prize was a Kuerig machine, with 12 sample pods.  It was a great day at the Stewart house when she brought it home, and the first thing we did was crack it open and see what pods we got.  Allison was very happy to see that most of the pods consisted of some sort of coffee drink.  Of the twelve pods we got, two were tea, one was hot chocolate, and the rest were coffee... sort of.  Allison doesn't consider decaf coffee to be real coffee, so there may have only been 7 or 8 actual coffee pods.

We spent our first few days with the machine testing it out and sampling everything we could.  Since I don't really like coffee, Allison had a lot more to sample than I did.  For the most part she was happy enough with the coffee choice, however according to her some were much better than others.  I on the other hand had a very different selection of drinks to try.  First I decided to try the Starbucks chai latte, just to get an idea for what I was sampling.  I'm not sure if I've ever had a Starbucks chai latte, but if they're anything like this pod drink I don't ever plan to.  It basically tasted like sweet powdered milk, with some kind of spice.  It was pretty awful.
The real pod I wanted to sample was the Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate.  I'm a big fan of hot chocolate, in fact I'd say that it's probably one of my favorite hot drinks.  The problem with hot chocolate for me is that you can make it well, but you can also make it very poorly.  In a hot chocolate I look for a nice strong chocolate flavour, but it also has to be smooth.  I don't want the sweet and the milk to overpower.  Instead the sugar and milk should only be there to smooth out the bitterness of the chocolate.  I also can't stand grit in my hot chocolate.  If you're going to use a powder, you better stir that hot chocolate really well.

Unfortunately the Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate didn't cut it for me at all.  Fortunately it wasn't gritty at all, unfortunately it was just a cup of sweet, with no cocoa at all.  Ever worse was the fact that the sugar tasted so artificial, and the milk was almost completely tasteless.  It was like drinking a cup of fake sugar that was dyed brown.
This bad experiences isn't going to turn me off of these pod machines though.  I've heard that K-Cup pods have several different hot chocolate flavours, including a Ghirardelli, and possibly a Cadbury pod.  While Swiss Miss is a fairly well known hot chocolate company, I don't think it's know for having the quality chocolate of a Ghirardellior a Cadbury.  So I'll try a few more pods, and see how it goes.

I'm also interested in the re-usable pod concept.  Allison and I have ordered a pair of environmentally friendly plastic pods that we can use over and over again.  My goal is to try and figure out exactly how these things work, and eventually make my own homemade pods.  Once I have a few recipes down, I'll post them on this blog so you can make some home made pods for yourself.
While I'm not sold on the K-Cup after my first sample, I haven't given up.  Let me know if you have any recipe ideas or Pods that you think I should try.


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