QUICK REVIEW: Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Iced Coffee (Vanilla and Mocha)

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Iced Coffee (Vanilla and Mocha)

Purchased Price: $4.99 each
Size: Half gallon
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Creamy and easy to drink. Not overly sweet like other cartoned iced coffee…I’m looking at you International Delight! Vanilla version tastes marshmallowy. Good source of vitamin E. Contains caffeine. 100 calories per serving. Dairy, soy, and gluten free. Made with non-GMO almonds.
Cons: The coffee flavor barely registers on my tongue, even though they have a strong coffee aroma. Mocha version tastes too much like chocolate almond milk. The carton (and Blue Diamond’s website) doesn’t say how much caffeine a serving has, so let’s make up a number until we get the real number…let’s say 6832 milligrams of caffeine. Could use more calcium and vitamin D.

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Iced Coffee Mocha

Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) Mocha – 100 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 125 milligrams of potassium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. Vanilla – 100 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 85 milligrams of potassium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.

QUICK REVIEW: Seattle’s Best Coffee Mega Mocha Frozen Coffee Blends

Seattle's Best Coffee Mega Mocha Frozen Coffee Blends

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 16 oz. (prepared)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a chocolate milkshake. A wonderful sweet treat. Easy to make, if you have an awesome blender. Made with 100% Arabica coffee beans (too bad I can’t really taste them). Makes two 8-ounce servings (if you wish to share) or one 16-ounce serving (if you have no one to share it with). Frozen bits taste good by themselves without being blended.
Cons: Tastes like a chocolate milkshake; coffee flavor is hardly noticeable. Coffee is listed tenth on ingredients list. If you have a cheap blender, these might be difficult to blend. Right, cheap Oster blender in my kitchen. BYOWTD (Bring Your Own Whipped Topping and Drizzle).

Nutrition Facts: (as packaged/no milk) 100 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Discoveries (Caffe Mocha, Caramel Macchiato & Vanilla Latte)

Starbucks Discoveries

I don’t go to Starbucks very often. When I do, it’s usually to buy a gift card, use their restroom, or jump on their free WiFi network and be a complete douchebag by trying to slow down everyones’ bandwidth. But when it comes to coffee, Starbucks has given me a few good reasons to not purchase any from one of their bazillion locations.

No, it’s not the taste of their coffee, which coffee snobs describe as, and I’m paraphrasing here, “blech.” No, it’s not the long lines that sometimes snake half way around a Starbucks. The reason why I don’t buy Starbucks coffee from one of their many locations is because I nervously mumble when trying to relay my order to a cute barista and I can buy ready-to-drink Starbucks coffee at my local supermarket, like their bottled iced coffee and new Starbucks Discoveries.

Starbucks Discoveries is a chilled espresso beverage that comes in three flavors — Caffe Mocha, Vanilla Latte, and Caramel Macchiato — and 50.7-ounce cartons, which is significantly smaller than the 64-ounce International Delight Iced Coffee it’s probably sitting next to in the dairy case. Also, unlike the International Delight offering, the carton doesn’t look like a milk carton. Instead, it looks like it was made by an origami master who reached that level by folding a million paper cranes.

Starbucks Discoveries are sweetened with sugar and mixed with reduced-fat milk. They’re sweet, but don’t come close to the sweetness level of International Delight’s iced coffee, which, not surprisingly, has significantly more sugar than Starbucks Discoveries (17 grams vs. 23 grams). Starbucks Discoveries are also noticeably watery, but that’s because they don’t contain the thickening agents found in the International Delight coffee — gellan gum and carrageenan. Well, actually, the Caffe Mocha has carrageenan, but it’s as watery as the others.

Starbucks Discoveries Chilled

If you do pick up a carton of Starbucks Discoveries, I highly recommend you ONLY drink it over ice. Ignore what the side of the carton says about serving it just chilled. Drinking it that way is doing a disservice to your taste buds. I can’t explain why, but for some strange reason, it tastes noticeably better when consumed over ice.

If you’re a hardcore Starbucks fanatic who will never lose your Gold Card because you accumulate 30 stars every two weeks, you may drink Starbucks Discoveries and wonder what is this swill. It’s not as sweet as a hand-crafted Frappuccino, but its coffee flavor isn’t as strong as any iced coffee Starbucks product on their menu.

Starbucks Discoveries Closeup

The Mocha Latte tastes like weak melted chocolate ice cream with a Hershey’s syrup aftertaste, the Caramel Macchiato has a slightly odd caramel butteriness that lingers several minutes after drinking it, and the Vanilla Latte has a hint of vanilla and the strongest coffee flavor of the bunch. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Vanilla Latte because I didn’t use a negative adjective when writing about it in the previous sentence.

All three flavors of Starbucks Discoveries were decent and provided approximately 85 milligrams of caffeine per cup, but I’m a bit disappointed because I expected something better from Starbucks. After all, they do sell a krazillion cups of coffee everyday from their bazillion locations.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fl oz – Caffe Mocha – 120 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 10% calcium and 2% iron. Caramel Macchiato & Vanilla Latte – 120 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, and 10% calcium.)

Other Starbucks Discoveries reviews:
Starbucks Melody

Item: Starbucks Discoveries (Caffe Mocha, Caramel Macchiato & Vanilla Latte)
Purchased Price: $5.49 (on sale)
Size: 50.7 fl oz carton
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Caffe Mocha)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Caramel Macchiato)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Vanilla Latte)
Pros: Flavors were decent. Less sugar than International Delight’s regular iced coffee. Kind of a neat looking carton. A cup contains approximately 85 milligrams of caffeine. Starbucks’ free WiFi.
Cons: I expected something better from Starbucks. Hardcore Starbucks drinkers may consider this product to be swill. Comes in a smaller carton than competing iced coffees. Being too lazy to add the accent mark above the e in Caffe.

REVIEW: International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light

International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light

International Delight’s Iced Coffee regularly finds its way into my cart because last year it found its way into my heart after I gave it a positive review.

But every so often, when I place a half gallon carton in my cart, I think to myself, “Suck it, Starbucks!” and “All that cream and sugar is probably making me chubby…All right, chubbier.”

I don’t know if it’s because International Delight has seen me naked, but they now have light versions of their mocha and vanilla iced coffees.

Like the non-light version, International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light is made with 100 percent premium Arabica coffee beans. However, it has 1/3 fewer calories and 39 percent less sugar than their regular iced coffee.

Why does it have fewer calories and sugar?

Magic!!!

Actually, it’s because of the popular artificial sweeteners, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

So it’s not magic. It’s science!!!

Although International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee uses artificial sweeteners, it still has the same 2.5 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of saturated fat the original has. It also has 56 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving, which is two milligrams less than their regular iced coffee.

While pouring International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light into a glass, I noticed it was much thinner than the non-light version, which I think is thick enough that it makes me feel like I’m drinking melted ice cream.

If you’re one of those people who tried the original International Delight Iced Coffee and thought to yourself, “Hey! I’d like a lot more coffee with my cream and sugar!”, then your internal voice will say the same thing about the light version as the combination of coffee, cream, and carrageenan goes down your throat. There’s enough dairy and sweetener to mask the coffee’s bitterness and to almost make a Starbucks Frappuccino blush.

International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light Closeup

However, the difference in flavor between the light and regular versions is similar to the difference between Pepsi and Diet Pepsi (or Coke and Diet Coke for you Pepsi haters or RC Cola and Diet RC Cola for you people fortunate to have RC Cola on your store shelves); you instantly know you’re drinking the light version. The artificial sweeteners were noticeable once the coffee hit my tongue and right through to the aftertaste. Unlike the coffee’s bitterness, no amount of dairy could cover that. As for the vanilla flavor, it was mild, but made the coffee taste marshmallow-ish.

As a regular International Delight Iced Coffee drinker, it’s nice to have a lighter version. Even though the artificial sweeteners created a significant difference in flavor, as a regular diet soda drinker, I didn’t mind it. So it looks like I’ll be putting International Delight Iced Coffee Light into my cart, instead of the regular stuff, and only thinking to myself, “Suck it, Starbucks!”

(Nutrition Facts – 8 ounces – 100 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 10% calcium, and 4% iron.)

Item: International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light
Purchased Price: $3.99 (on sale)
Size: Half gallon
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Still creamy and sweet enough to cover the coffee’s bitterness. Vanilla has a marshmallow-ish-ness to it. Fewer calories and less sugar than regular International Delight Iced Coffee. Contains 56 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.
Cons: Artificial sweeteners were noticeable. Thinner than the regular stuff. Trying to spell carrageenan. Using marshmallow-ish-ness. Coffee snobs will turn their noses up at this. Me being naked.

REVIEW: MiO Fit Liquid Water Enhancer (Arctic Grape and Berry Blast)

MiO Fit (Arctic Grape and Berry Blast)

In order to properly test MiO Fit Liquid Water Enhancer, I decided I had to do something a bit more intense than my usual exercise of choice — walking.

With walking I don’t need the fancy electrolytes and B vitamins MiO Fit provides. After doing the simple act of walking, all I simply need to rehydrate and satisfy my simple thirst is some simple water that came from a kitchen faucet, went through a Brita filter, and then chilled in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Simple.

I like walking because I can do it whenever and I don’t need a trainer yelling at me to motivate me. If I want someone to yell commands at me, I’ll just pay $150 to have Mistress Pain put a leash around my neck and force me to lick her boots in a poorly lit room. With walking, all I need to do is put on some shoes, hit play on my iPod, and go wherever my two feet take me. And then come back into the house because I forgot to put shorts on.

So what higher intensity workout did I do?

Zumba? Nope. CrossFit? Nooo. P90X? Nope. Boot Camp Workout? No. Spinning? Not sure what that is. Tae Bo? I’m afraid to accidentally get hit in the face. Nintendo Wii Fit? Too lazy to find out where my Wii is collecting dust. Sweatin’ to the Oldies? I do not own a VCR.

Instead of doing any of those recent trendy workouts, I decided to do a trendy workout from the mid-17th century called jogging. Usually, I do three 16-minute miles when walking. But when I jogged, I huffed and puffed and ended up doing two 10-minute miles. After coming home, catching my breath, and feeling the burn in my legs, I poured myself two glasses of water, squeezed MiO Fit Arctic Grape into one, squeezed MiO Fit Berry Blast into the other, and rehydrated myself.

MiO Fit Arctic Grape

MiO Fit Arctic Grape smells and tastes like a particular powdered grape drink. Oh yeah! Its mouthfeel isn’t like other MiO varieties; it’s a bit more syrupy. The artificial sweeteners are noticeable and there’s also a very slight saltiness at the back end, thanks to the 75 milligrams of sodium in each serving. But those milligrams of sodium are your electrolytes and they are what plants crave. Overall, if you’re looking for something tasty and sweet to rehydrate, you can’t go wrong with MiO Fit Arctic Grape. Rhyming!

MiO Fit Berry Blast

As for MiO Fit Berry Blast, its use of the color teal takes me back to the 90s when it seemed every new professional sports team used the color (San Jose Sharks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Charlotte Hornets, and Florida Marlins). Berry Blast smells a little like a Louie-Bloo Raspberry Otter Pop and has a light artificial raspberry-ish flavor. It has the same mouthfeel, artificial sweetener aftertaste, and saltiness as Arctic Grape, but it’s not as tasty.

MiO Fit Arctic Grape and Berry Blast made water taste better, helped me rehydrate, and filled me with electrolytes, but I’m not sure it’s meant for serious athletes. I looked up what Gatorade provides and compare it with MiO Fit and what I learned was that while MiO Fit has zero calories and electrolytes, it doesn’t provide carbohydrates, which athletes need to refuel, and protein, which helps rebuild muscle and is found in Gatorade varieties that deal with recovery.

While I don’t think MiO Fit is for serious athletes, it would make it easier for sports teams to celebrate a big win. Instead of dumping a water cooler full of Gatorade and ice on a head coach to celebrate a championship, the players can squirt MiO Fit.

Disclosure: The Impulsive Buy received free MiO Fit samples from MiO. Probably because we’re awesome or maybe, because we eat so much junk food, they think we need incentive to exercise. Well, if their goal was to get me to exercise…goal accomplished!

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 tsp. – 0 calories, 0 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 10% niacin, 10% vitamin B6, and 10% vitamin B12.)

Item: MiO Fit Liquid Water Enhancer (Arctic Grape and Berry Blast)
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 1.62 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Received from MiO
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Arctic Grape)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Berry Blast)
Pros: Both flavors made water taste better, which really isn’t that hard. It’s got electrolytes. Inserting Idiocracy electrolyte references into reviews of products that have electrolytes. One bottle makes 18 eight-ounce servings. Exercise.
Cons: Artificial sweeteners are noticeable. Probably not meant for serious athletes. Plants do not crave electrolytes. Slight saltiness. Doesn’t provide any carbs or protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Coffee K-Cup Pack

Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Coffee K-Cup Pack

Fall is my favorite season. What’s not to love? The air turns cool but isn’t freezing yet; the leaves change colors and make great crunchy noises as you tramp through them; Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner; college football starts and so do the baseball playoffs. (Okay, probably not for my team this year, but shut up.) And alongside all that, pumpkins begin their annual 2 1/2 months of relevance. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ale… it’s all terrific. And this year, I got really excited when I heard that Dunkin’ Donuts was releasing pumpkin coffee for use with Keurigs.

In case anyone is as clueless as I was until recently, a Keurig is a type of coffee maker that brews java quickly. You load it with small containers called K-Cups and through dark sorcery (allegedly), it spits out a cup of coffee a minute later. I got one for my wife for our last anniversary, and I’m convinced it’s her favorite thing I’ve ever bought her. Mind you, I have at various times given her an engagement ring, a Coach purse, diamond earrings, and two children. Pretty sure this still tops the list.

What’s surprising is just how much I was looking forward to DD’s pumpkin coffee, since I usually find coffee disgusting, or at best acceptable with loads of milk and sugar. But… pumpkin! Pumpkin makes it all better, right? That’s the operating theory, anyway: pumpkin and the spices, which sounds like either a Motown group or a Saturday morning cartoon. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t watch it.

I don’t want to spend too much time on the packaging, but it’s both eye-catching and visually appealing. The multicolored leaf pattern and orange and brown hues draw attention without overwhelming you, and I like that there’s only one picture of a pumpkin on the entire box. There’s no need to overload you with PUMPKIN! After all, pumpkin sells itself.

Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Coffee K-Cup Pack Closeup

After spending 30 seconds to brew a cup, I took a whiff and was pleased with the results. What you’re going to smell is mostly nutmeg with just a little bit of cinnamon. (Those seem to be the only spices included; they’re the only ones mentioned on the back of the box, anyway.) Beyond that it’s the usual coffee smell. Apparently this is Arabica coffee and I’m sure that means something to some of you, who are no doubt rolling your eyes right now at this idiot java novice, but to me it just smells like coffee. Still, that’s not a bad thing — coffee always smells better than it tastes.

…which, unfortunately, remains the case. Maybe it’s my fault: it’s pumpkin coffee, not pumpkin pie coffee. It isn’t magic. Nor is it bad, really — again, I’m not a coffee guy, but with milk and sugar it’s stupendously tolerable. You can’t fault coffee for being, you know… coffee. But what I CAN fault it for, and will, is not having nearly enough pumpkin in there. It’s pumpkin coffee, so you should be able to taste at least a little hint of pumpkin, right?

Apparently not, because what you’re drinking is nutmeg & cinnamon coffee. Those are good spices, yes, and they combine for a pleasant aftertaste. As a result, it’s hard to be too disappointed because, after all: it tastes good, with rich flavor and a sweet taste that lingers after the sip. By coffee standards, anyway. But it’s a bit like biting down into a bacon cheeseburger and only tasting the burger and cheese. You *like* cheeseburger, so technically that’s okay, but… where’s my bacon, dammit? The wife tells me in most flavored coffees, it just smells like whatever the flavor is and your nose kind of fills in the taste. I guess I can buy that, but since I can taste the spices, shouldn’t I be able to taste the pumpkin?

I think that’s my final word on DD’s latest seasonal offer. Nice aroma, looks appealing, enjoyable taste as far as it goes. But if they decide to bring it back next year, I hope they consider upping the pumpkin content, or they might as well just call this “fall blend” instead of “pumpkin coffee.” For those of you who elect to try some, I don’t think you’ll regret buying it. But still — where’s my bacon?!

(Nutrition Facts – N/A. I know strange, right?)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Coffee K-Cup Pack
Purchased Price: $11.99
Size: 14 K-Cups
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Fall is basically the best season. Has a nice, rich aroma. Package is one scarecrow away from the perfect autumn image. (Mostly) nutmeg and (some) cinnamon make for a very pleasing aftertaste. Buying your wife the perfect gift. Works out to less than $1 a cup, which is pretty good. Man, if they did pumpkin mocha, how awesome would that be?
Cons: Surprising lack of pumpkin, considering the name. Does flavored coffee really not usually taste like that flavor? That’s stupid. Spices can’t totally mask the fact that deep down, it still tastes like coffee.