Google Tag

Search This Blog

Monday, September 30, 2019

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ginger Brew

Ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon? It's that thing that happens when you just hear of something for the very first time, and thereafter, everybody and his brother seems to be talking about said thing. It's on TV commercials, it comes up at workplace water cooler convos, you overhear folks discussing it in the grocery store—it's something you'd never heard of in all your many years of life and suddenly it seems like the whole world is talking about it constantly.

I had that happen with "Moscow Mules" shortly after my esteemed colleague reviewed the original ginger brew for this blog. Somebody mentioned that it would make a great Moscow Mule in the comments. It came up in a conversation with Sonia soon afterwards, and I had to ask her, "What the heck is a Moscow Mule?" She explained it to me, as she'd ordered one or two in the past and had known about them since long, long ago. I thought, "Hmmm. Okay. Odd that my wife knows about this super obscure mixed drink served in a copper mug and I don't."

My very next trip to the state liquor store, I noticed there were pre-mixed cans of ginger beer and vodka, and they were being marketed as Moscow Mules. I couldn't believe it. How strange, I thought. Then it was mentioned in a movie we were watching, the details of which escape me now. A friend brought up Moscow Mules as an off-handed interjection while we chatted on the phone. It just kept coming up. Over and over and over.

Since then, I've sampled a makeshift Moscow Mule or two, although I have yet to try one in an actual, authentic copper mug. We did add vodka and lime juice to the above-mentioned triple ginger brew, and it did indeed make a tasty concoction.

This stuff? We don't have any vodka on hand to test my theory, but I'm thinking Pumpkin Pie Moscow Mules are just a big fat NOPE. And in all honesty, I'm not over the moon with this pumpkin pie ginger brew in the first place. It's not that I dislike it, it's just that the original is better. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. I'm generally okay with pumpkin/pumpkin spice/pumpkin pie offerings around this time of year, and I generally enjoy the flavor when it's appropriate. I just like that plain old ginger flavor better in this case.

I won't say the pumpkin pie spices "clash" with the ginger flavor, but they don't really enhance it, either. They're all just kinda there, whereas before, there was a nice pungent wave of ginger. Now it's a mishmash of ginger, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. It tastes vaguely of pumpkin pie spice...and vaguely of a traditional ginger beer.

It's not the worst beverage we've had from Trader Joe's, but it's not the best, either. The presentation of the product is still stellar, the pleasant fizzy carbonation is still there, and as usual, only top-quality ingredients are used. It pours mostly clear, with a faint yellow-orange tint. If you're dying for pumpkin spice beverages beyond those lattes you've been grabbing at the local Starbucks, I won't tell you NOT to get this. I'll just tell you I prefer this particular beverage withOUT the pumpkin spice. And I'm not a pumpkin spice hater...yet. As I might have guessed, Sonia liked it slightly more than I did, but she wasn't bouncing off the walls and singing impromptu songs about fall like she does when they really nail the pumpkin spice thing.

Looks like three stars from me and three and a half from the missus.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Autumn Maple Coffee

Maple and coffee.

Coffee and maple.

It's absolutely a thing. And no, it's not really all that weird of a combo, like, say, chicken and donuts. In our house, my lovely bride Sandy puts maple in her coffee all the time. I do, occasionally, as well if I need a slight change up from plain black brew.

So to get them together, infused, in something like Trader Joe's Autumn Maple Coffee is a must-buy for us. So how good is it?

Listen: If you haven't figured it out yet, we're mapleoholics here. And as two adults with more-than and close-to full time jobs and a van load of young kids, we're definite coffee addicts too.

But...this stuff is only okay at most.

There's a couple issues. First and foremost: It only comes pre-ground. Wha!?!?!? There is an absolute difference in coffee taste for fresh ground vs pre ground, and for French press vs regular drip. At home, we're French press people...but you need coarse ground for that, less any grounds don't get caught by the filter. We don't have that option here.

So we dragged up our Hamilton Beach BrewMaster from our basement stairs (because where else would you store your coffee maker you usually only use when hosting a large mass of people?) and dug out the paper filters and fired it up.

When hot and ready...ugh. The coffee just doesn't taste right when hot and piping fresh. There's this really almost acidic kinda bite, and it's oddly bittersweet. Instead, wait for the coffee to cool for a few moments. That's when the maple flavor develops a bit more and is actually pleasant.

I've heard from some folks how aromatic the coffee is when brewing. It is quite maply when the bag is opened, but when percolating, at least in our case, not so much.

Some of the issues I mentioned might be mitigated somewhat if you're a cream-and-sugar fan for your coffee. I'm not. So take what I said there whichever way you see fit.

Neither Sandy nor I are huge fans. The maple coffee is a decent buy at best, which is kinda disappointing for us. I'm not sure of the price tag but it's probably around $8 or $9 for the cannister. We'll be charitable and say double threes.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Autumn Maple Coffee: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

You Might Like: