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It's not exactly any great secret that Mrs SWSt and I are coffee fiends and can often be found in a variety of coffee shops. Rather than trying to wean us off this addiction, my family seem to positively encourage it, since it was them who bought us this selection of different flavoured coffees.
Although I tend to like my coffee plain (black, no sugar, the stronger the better!) I was quite looking forward to trying these out, since Whittard is a well-known brand and I was interested to see what "flavoured coffee" actually tasted like.
The selection comes in an attractive presentation box. In terms of the content (6 small packets of coffee), there's no doubt this is packaging overkill, but it does make it a nice gift item. The box has multi-coloured horizontal stripes running around it with the words Whittard of Chelsea Flavoured Coffee Selection, all very tastefully done. The back meanwhile tells you a little bit about Whittard and lists the six coffee flavours contained in the pack. It also gives slightly vague instructions on how to make the coffee if you don't already know how to make a coffee, these instructions are not going to help you; and, if you need to be told this information, maybe you're just not ready to drink flavoured coffee yet! Overall, though, the packaging serves to make the coffee look and sound appealing.
Opening up the lid reveals 6 separate sachets, each containing 56.7g (it's so nice to be precise!) of different flavoured coffees. To give some idea, this gives you around four mugs worth of coffee. The packets are all different colours, with a cardboard tab around them to remind you which flavour is which. Again, this makes the inside of the box brightly coloured and makes the coffees look attractive. It's slightly annoying that the packets are not re-sealable, so if you don't use it all up in one go it will lose some of its freshness once opened.
The six flavours are: Smooth Vanilla, Rich Hazelnut, Traditional Irish Cream, Chocolate Truffle, Intensely Amaretto and Creamy Chocolate Caramel. In each case, I'll give you what the box says about them, followed by what I say. You can believe which version you like!
The box says: warming, smooth vanilla is always a classic favourite.
SWSt says: One of the nicer coffees in this box, both the smell and the taste is quite subtle, so you are not instantly overpowered by the vanilla taste. It has a pleasant well-balanced flavour; the bitterness of the coffee perfectly complements the slightly sweeter taste of the vanilla without either over-powering the other. Whilst I wouldn't necessarily choose to drink this coffee or buy a bigger packet, it is at least drinkable, unlike some of the other flavours we'll come on to!
The box says: indulge yourself with this rich and nutty taste.
SWSt says: A coffee that smells very sweet as you open up the package, this is the one I was most looking forward to trying as I thought the combination of nuts and coffee would work well together. Sadly, it ended up being something of a disappointment. The sweet smell that assaults your nostrils when you open up the packet is carried over into the actual taste and completely overpowers the coffee, which tastes weak and watery.
Traditional Irish Cream
The box says: Enjoy the intensity of Irish Cream liqueur for sheer luxury.
SWSt says: Urgh! Although opening the sachet does not produce the same sweet-sickly smell as some of the other flavours, it actually turns out to be the sweetest and sickliest of them all. Given how popular liqueur coffees are, you'd have thought that this would have been easy to create, but both Mrs SWSt and I agreed it was just far too sweet for our tastes. It was one of the flavours which lingered longest (in fact, we've still got it!) as neither of us really fancied finishing it off!
The box says: smooth and creamy with a rich cocoa-truffle flavour
SWSt says: initial impressions are not promising. Opening the sachet gives a very sweet smell - not unlike hot chocolate - and adding hot water only intensifies this. Tasting it, in fact, was a pleasant surprise as it actually tastes far less sweet than it smells. The bitterness of the coffee off-sets the sweetness of the flavouring rather well The overall blend between the sweet and the bitter is almost perfect and it just goes to show that first impressions can be wrong - far from disliking this one, it ended up being my favourite.
The box says: treat yourself to the breathtakingly tangy taste of almond liqueur.
SWSt: says: at last! A coffee that doesn't smell sickeningly sweet when you open it up! Instead, it smells of almonds. Now, OK, you might expect this, but it's not a good start for me, as I don't like them... Sure enough, this was by far the worst flavour in the box, as far as I was concerned and I really struggled to finish even a single cup, as the almond taste was just too overpowering. Still, if you do like almonds, this might be nicer, but even allowing for that this is still a rather weak and watery coffee.
Creamy Chocolate Caramel
The box says: wonderful, reliable flavour, a little naughty but not intimidating.
SWSt says: quite how a coffee could be intimidating, I'm not sure, but this one suffered from many of the same problems as the rich hazelnut flavour. Although it wasn't quite as sickly-sweet tasting, it didn't really taste much of coffee at all, and like all too many of the flavours in this pack, was rather weak and watery. It also had a slightly unpleasant aftertaste, so whilst drinking it was initially not too bad, the aftertaste spoiled things a little.
What this pack effectively does is give you a chance to sample each flavour, without buying a big bag of the stuff and then finding you don't like it. If you do like one of them, you can buy a full size pack from the Whittard website or specialist coffee shops. Yet, it's also a very expensive way to try out the different flavours. The box costs £10 and for that, you get just 350g (12 oz) or so of coffee. That's quite a lot when you consider how much you would pay for ordinary ground coffee (which in itself is not particularly cheap). Personally, I think I'd rather invest that £10 in 5 cups of "proper" coffee from a coffee shop, rather than this sweet stuff.
Although I enjoyed at least some of the coffees in this selection, I think it has pretty much confirmed my in my view that I prefer my coffee as plain as possible. A nice experiment, but not one I'll be repeating.
© Copyright SWSt 2010
Brand: Whittard / Type: Coffee