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Friday, May 17, 2019

Trader Joe's Cold Brew Caramel Spice Coconut Cream Latte Coffee Beverage

With Memorial Day right around the corner, it's officially turning into that time of year: cold brew season!

Hot coffee when it's hot weather is gross. Can't convince me otherwise. I want to be less hot, not more. Ingesting copious amounts of hot liquid when it's hot is inane. But you still need coffee. Hence the brilliance of cold brew.

So here's how we get an item like Trader Joe's Cold Brew Caramel Spice Coconut Cream Latte Coffee Beverage. Holy cow, what name. Except there's no cows involved here, because, well, coconuts. Dairy free, vegan, cold, caffeinated coffee, with a potentially interesting flavor combo...gotta try.

Except: don't. Believe me. This stuff is grrroooosssssssss. 

I was thinking it's just me. I'm Mr. Drink Black Coffee 99% of the Time Guy. But I can appreciate stuff with cream and sugar and whatnot if it's done well. This isn't.

What really throws the whole brew off the rails, I think, is the caramel spice. It tastes fake and cloying sweet and kinda tinny, and it doesn't jive one bit with the coconut or the coffee. And the "spice"? God knows what it isn't, I really don't. just doesn't taste good. It doesn't taste right. I tried letting it linger around a little longer, but goodness no. As soon as I tasted it I wanted it gone.

That's kinda too bad. I think something like a coconut cream cold brew has a lot of potential if done right. Coconut cream is delicious and debatably healthyish, depending on your dietary approach. There's potential here, but it gets thrown all away.

As I said, I was thinking it was just me. Nope. Sandy hates this stuff, too. Hates it. Which is really difficult for her to do with coffee...but she echoed almost everything I just said. "If it were just caramel, or just the spice, it could work with everything else, maybe," she said. "But together...blecch."

And get this: its not even sold cold. I'm not even sure where in the store it is. Sandy found it, not me. It's not in the refrigerated section. So it's not an impulse, drink right away kinda deal: you have to chill it and plan when to drink it, set your whole caffeination schedule around it. That makes it even more disappointing in my opinion.

We both detest this caramel spice abomination. It's so hard to say that about coffee...but here we are. Gross. Don't buy it. Just don't. Don't encourage this kinda stuff. Sandy mustered a one for it having caffeine, and I'll match that score and reasoning with the added hit that at least it's not pumpkin spice. That'd be a awful fall coffee whether served hot or cold. Blahhhh brew.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cold Brew Caramel Spice Coconut Cream Latte Coffee Beverage: 2 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Trader Joe's 5 Layer Dip


It seems too simple, too trifling a word to describe the layers of lusciousness held within. 

It's a product that can turn ordinary tortilla chips into a filling, well-balanced meal. In the flatly-delivered words of David Puddy from Seinfeld: "Hey how come people don't have dip for dinner? Why's it always a snack? Why can't it be a meal, you know?" 

We've got vegetables, dairy ingredients, and multiple high-protein elements...and they're all ridiculously delicious. "Dip" is a many-splendored thing, isn't it? And in my opinion, it deserves a moniker worthy of its versatility...

But not all dips are created equal.

That gross yellow cheese that comes with movie nachos—a snack that costs seven or eight dollars but is clearly worth less than one—that stuff's "dip." 

I mean, adding the words "five-layer" to the product title helps a little. But it's still not a grandiose enough term to capture the wonder of this choice concoction. 

There are five basic elements to the condiment, but a good multi-layer dip is more than the sum of its parts, right?

Of course. Such is the case here. Any of the five layers would be a fine chip-topper in and of itself, but the resulting conglomeration yields at least five times the deliciousness of any one single element.

The game-changer here is the hummus layer. I don't know that I've had a multi-layer dip with hummus before. And it's not just chick pea hummus...there's black beans up in the mix. Either ingredient would have made this dip a winner. But both? Yes, please. The multi-layer dips I've had in the past all had a refried bean layer instead. And I like refried beans just fine, but I feel like hummus just works better.

Guac, pico, sour cream, and four kinds of cheeses? Are you kidding me? This is nearly the perfect mixture of every wonderful thing you'd want to put on a tortilla chip all in one tub—all fresh, flavorful, and in perfect ratios to one another.

Sonia only tried a bite or two of this dip because she's got some odd spring cold she's fighting. She was all stuffed up and couldn't taste anything. Since I was kind enough to share the dip, she was kind enough to share her cold, and I got sick, too—but not before devouring this entire tub myself. I guess I'll just have to score it on my own. I give it four and a half stars out of five. The only thing that would improve this stuff is a little heat. A single picante layer would make this the perfect food. I experimented with random hot sauces we had around: Texas Pete, Cholula, and packets from each of Taco Time, Del Taco, and Taco Bell. They all yielded tasty mixtures. 

Feel free to disagree with me...I mean, if you're comfortable with being dead wrong. A spicy version would be a shoo-in for the Pantheon. Four and a half stars (times two) for Trader Joe's Cinco Strata Magical Mosaic. 

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

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