Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trader Joe's Kona Coffee Shortbread Cookies

Okay, you probably know by know that we're just a couple amateur-hack food reviewers, which we proudly proclaim. But exactly how amateur-hack are we? While Nathan proclaims his love of 80 cent chicken pot pies, I'll admit that I have no idea how Kona coffee actually tastes. Never had it. I know it's supposed to be among the best coffee-types in the world, and there is a particular variant available at your friendly neighborhood Trader Joe's. And I know that costs about $20 a canister, which may or may not be a fair price for such sacred roasted beans, and while there's at least some folks who say it's good, I think I've heard or there that it's not worth the price. Normally, this would be something I'd investigate for the benefit of you all (like Nathan tackling that birdless bird last week - did it have vegan tryptophan for authenticity's sake?), but to be frank, I have better things to drop a Jackson on these days with a growing baby in the house. Plus, if you read enough of my other coffee reviews, you'll see I don't know much about coffee to begin with, so I'd have no intelligible opinion anyways.

But cookies? Yup, got those down. And when Trader Joe's has something with the long, tastebud-tingly name of "Kona Coffee Creamy Half-Dipped Shortbread Cookies," well, I can take the ol' college try and attempt to say something smart. Let's have a go, shall we?

I like them okay. But I want to like them more. Like, I really want to like them a lot more than I do. Really. The shortbread cookie part, by itself? Fantastic. Like the finest of shortbread cookie bounty upon the earth, these are melt-in-your-mouth crumbly wonders that satisfy the deepest of sweet tooth cravings. Absolutely, deliciously, sugarfully confection perfection. Love them. That's for the naked half. For the part clothed by the cream frosting....meh. Best way I can think of to describe it is, it's like when you pour too much cream into your coffee, so the cream:coffee ration is way out of whack and it leaves that sickly sweet-creamy flavor in your mouth. That's what I get on that side. All the good brought forth by the cookie gets lost in the frosting. I almost wanted to scrape it off. I probably should have. As for the "Kona coffee" part, both the cookie and the cream have actual ground Kona beans in them. This might be more an indication of my ignorance than an indictment of one of Hawaii's finest offerings, but it doesn't sway me much. There's certainly a nice coffee flavor in the shortbread, which I love, but you could tell me it's Folgers and I wouldn't bat an eye. Perhaps I lack the training to enjoy the nuances and subtlety. Or perhaps one cannot reasonably expect to experience all that is Kona coffee through a relatively simple cookie. Call that one as you see it.

All that being said, the package didn't lasted less than 24 hours in the house once Sandy and I cracked it. Given how yummerific the portion unspoiled by creamy excess is, we could probably binge out on them if we weren't sticking to the ascribed two-at-a-time. "They're just so good and crumbly, the texture's just so good," Sandy said. She also agreed with me about the creamy frosting, though, making it the only demerit in her mind. She says a four. Me? Drop a spoon lower. That's how* this particular cookie crumbles.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kona Coffee Shortbread Cookies: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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* Do people still make the "*removes sunglasses*" joke?   

13 comments:

  1. I stay away from anything TJ's has marked 'Kona'... Last thing I got (which was a year ago) was their so called Kona Coffee!... YUCK, no way was it Kona unless it was the lowest on the totem pole that TJ could afford... True Kona coffee tastes a lot better than what TJ procured...I saw the cookies u're talking about and just kept on walking...
    I can see why TJ does push the 'kona', there was a lady yelling w/glee 'kona coffee! wow!'... Wonder if she was yelling it after she had a cup?

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    1. Haha, when I said I thought I had heard it wasn't so good, I was vaguely remembering something I thought you had said!

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    2. My bad!, whenever I see TJ and Kona together I see red! lol... looked at the other link u posted... that dude must of been on something when he wrote that post....

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  2. I love Trader Joe's, coffee and shortbread, but I hate these cookies. On the first bite, I thought "ooh ... stale" or "is there dirt in this cookie?" but it's the odd influence of the coffee. A rare disappointment.

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  3. You need to try the This Pumpkin Walks into a Bar cereal bars from Trader Joe's! They are amazing. I was a bit skeptical when I first bought them, as I'm not a fan of the other "This ___ Walks into a Bar" cereal bars ,but they are delicious and the perfect seasonal snack.

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  4. The frosty killed these cookies for me, it has a funny taste. On the other hand the Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies are fantastic and the Chocolate Covered Shortbread Stars are the best thing ever.

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  5. You are dead on with this review. Such a delicious cookie..way too much, way too sweet frosting..So unnecessary.

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  6. These cookies were NASTY. I mean inedible. I really should have brought them back as they went directly into the trash. There was no way my palate was going to develop a taste for them and my husband agreed.

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  7. I just tried these cookies for the first time after several expensive famous "traditional" Hawaiian shortbread cookies (from Big Island Candies or Honolulu Cookie company - well known) and I actually LOVED them so much it led me to go online and search for other people that loved the cookies. Then I found your website and was shocked that people hate them so much!

    I completely agree with your review of the shortbread part - they got the crumbly part DOWN. But I love the frosting and wish they dipped a larger part of the cookie, leaving barely a corner to hold on to so your fingers don't get sticky. I can't stop eating them and I think they are better than the expensive ones (though no where near as pretty) and what a steal at that price! I really think you should give them another chance, maybe have them with some coffee. I must say again - I LOVE these cookies and hope they are never discontinued.

    Also want to note that I do not really like Kona coffee - it's too light in flavor, but it works out great for the coffee.

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  8. These were a huge disappointment. The shortbread side was ok, the icing was terrible, but it didn't taste at all like coffee. While I chewed I noticed bits of coffee grounds getting stuck in my teeth, but not a coffee flavored cookie. :(

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    1. But, Ben (my boyfriend) actually likes the icing part… yuck.

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    2. I mean, I did admit that I couldn't explain why I liked them.

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  9. I love these! How do so many people hate them? Every time I buy them I finish them in a day or two so I can't let myself get them too often.

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