I acquired this from World Market the other day. Keep in mind this might be the most festive thing I do all holiday season. Anyway, upon cutting open the package, that red velvet smell--more artificial than usual--spills out. It's pretty strong. My usual inclination about flavored coffee is that its flavor should be coffee. When I first started drinking coffee, circa 1912, there were two additional flavors: sugar and cream. Those seem natural. And to be clear: I'm talking about just coffee here. I will absolutely slay a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks if given the chance. I guess upon reflection, I'm fine if the flavors added after the fact. It's frontloading the flavor with the coffee itself that I find somewhat questionable. Perhaps also it's that, for the most part, I don't actually enjoy the taste of most coffees*. So anything that makes it worse is simply to be avoided.
I prepared this coffee in the Aeropress and I did something I don't normally do: I actually followed the normal ratio of coffee to water. Normally, I enjoy my coffee so sick and evil that you would expect Tim Curry's voice to come out of it. But for the sake of actually trying this weird flavor, I thought I'd go standard.
What's odd about this coffee is that, upon tasting it, it reminded me of coffee from long ago. Eventually I realized: I was remembering when I first started drinking coffee. Where did I start? At my job. Yes, that's right. This coffee reminds me of free terrible work coffee.
Initially, it comes across as simply flat. Sips that follow show some manner of fading sharpness. Like a murderous kindergartner who is both wielding those blunt end safety scissors and is very sleepy.
At the beginning, while I stopped to write some of these thoughts down, there was a hint of cocoa. But that was an aftertaste that came in long after I had stopped sipping and started typing. The hands of anything resembling a red velvet taste is so very faint and seems to not be present with every sip. It's as if, because the packaging has a red velvet cupcake on it, my mind is trying to backfill in the flavor it thinks should actually be there.
I almost wonder: if I handed this to someone and did not tell them that it was supposed to be red velvet coffee, would they get that at all? It is literally that nebulous. Was I expecting to drink the equivalent of that red velvet cupcake? No. Perhaps even a perfect harmony of coffee and red velvet was too much to think about. Realistically though, I was sort of hoping for the equivalent of coffee, driving a huge motorcycle, with red velvet stashed in the sidecar.
Is it undrinkable? No. I'm sipping away on it as I finish this review. And to be honest, the coffee â€“ as simply coffee â€“ is growing on me. Maybe it's nostalgia for my late teens and trying to stay awake while working at the office at 3 o'clock in the morning. I don't know. I'm sure my therapist will be delighted to hear all about this in our next session.
"A Medium Bodied Blend with a delicious creamy Red Velvet flavor." Its crime is simply not living up to the (somewhat modest) hype of its name. And description.
*â€“ That is, coffee that I can afford to drink on a daily basis. For example, Jamaican Blue Mountain is so smooth it's ridiculous. It's probably for the best that it's so expensive. If that ever became as cheap as regular coffee, I would simply be dead.