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.
[ad#longpost]Also, let me be clear about this: I have a penchant for red velvet practically anything. I have no idea why. I know that it’s main gimmick is red food coloring. Maybe I’m such a carnivore that I like the idea of even my desserts being blood red. Morbid and psychotic? More than likely yes, but it’s at least a practical working theory.
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.