Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pour-Over Coffee Brewer Brew In the Bag

Guys, we didn’t go to Trader Joe’s for like, 5 days, cuz the county was telling people repeatedly to STAY OFF THE ROADS with the blizzard, right?  Of course, we had stocked up on pleeeeenty of food before the bad weather hit, so it was no hardship for us to not shop.

The blizzard had been over for days before we ventured out to Trader Joe's, but look how bare the produce section still was!  Every grocery store got slammed during the snow and I reckon no trucks could get in to bring more goods.
But then, the roads get clearer, and we made the trek to TJ’s.  But when we GOT THERE, no lie, THEY HAD CHANGED IT AROUND!!  Talk about a bit of a Twilight Zone moment!  J

That store at Bailey’s Crossroads (Virginia) seems to have had the same set up for a couple of years.  They change little minor things around every once in a while, but no real shake ups.  But in the few days we didn’t come visit, they did a big shift!  The first thing I noticed was the greeting cards (card review here) .  They used to be inconveniently located on a wooden column, but now they moved them to their own little rack.  I fear it might get in the way of carts and shoppers, but all in all a good move to sell more cards.

But the biggest move is the infamous DRIED FRUIT AND NUT AISLE – they moved the whole AISLE!!  They swapped the cereal/breakfast bar aisle for the nut aisle, meaning nuts are now open on one side (they are on the last aisle now, near produce) instead of being in an aisle with two sides.  Does that make sense?  I think this will be a good move – it leaves that very popular nut section more room for people to peruse.  However, it does make it now back up to produce, which is also usually crowded…  I am sure a lot of thought went into the big move before they did it.  I hope it works well! 

TADA!!  Big switcheroo in the store set-up!  Dried fruit/nuts now backs up to produce.
Has YOUR Trader Joe’s done a re-haul lately???  I wonder if this is a trend, or just something this Northern Virginia store did (maybe cuz they had so few shoppers in space with the bad weather they could more easily move stuff around?).

Anyway, there were also a few new products on the shelves!!  One that caught my eye was this Pour Over Coffee Brewer Brew in the Bag Coffee.  It was on an end cap showcasing new products, but it also had a “Best of 2015” marking by it…  That confused me, because I THINK this something new.

On the "New Product" end cap, but marked with a 2015 Favorites sign, too...
Well, we grabbed one of the cute little coffee packages to bring home with us.  It is ground Arabica beans and says it is like a pour over coffee, which are all the rage these days.

We were a bit hesitant about this product...
When we both had a day off yesterday we set out to brew our new coffee.  The bag has a little black plastic pour spout.  The first step in brewing this is to break off the tip of that spout.  Then you pour in hot water, replace the little black tip, and let it steep for four minutes. 

David carefully brewing our morning coffee
Here is how we felt about this product:

Susan:  I was wary about this.  I was worried the coffee would be really weak…  When making it, it didn’t feel like we poured all that much water in.  There are markings on the back of the package that show you where to fill up to if you want stronger or milder coffee, so we tried to follow that, but the envelope doesn’t get “fat” with water to there, it just looks like the coffee grounds are rising to there, so it is sort of hard to guesstimate how much water you have poured in. 

Honestly, I thought this would be a colossal fail…  Here is what the packaging says, “Contains enough coffee and its own filter to make about two cups of coffee, depending on the preferred strength.  The coffee is filtered, but with the rich taste of a French Press.”

Well designed label - eye catching
I need to confess that right off the bat, before we even tasted the coffee, one thing I can’t over with this product is that it feels WASTEFUL to me…  I don’t think you can RECYCLE it, even though it has the look and feel of being made out of recycled material (the matte finish tan color, you know the one).  But the underside of the package is shiny see through plastic, and the inside is filled with coffee grounds, so I don’t think you can just put this in a RECYCLING bin, can you???  It doesn’t mention that it is recyclable anywhere on the Danish made container, and I think if it WERE they would tout that. 
Back of the package
Now, onto the taste:  it is a LOT better tasting than I thought it would be.  It is a cute concept.  But I kept thinking of what would be a good USE for it…  At first I thought CAMPING (we are not campers).  Wouldn’t this be good for camping??  But then I thought, people who are real campers probably already have well thought out coffee making plans and they wouldn’t need to keep a chichi little TJ’s coffee making system in their gear… 
We are not CAMPERS, but once we tried GLAMPING, which was hilariously fun.  We were right outside Yellowstone.  Here we are relaxing on our glamping deck drinking morning coffee (that we didn't brew, the glamping office did).
Then I thought – HOTEL ROOM!  You could use this in a hotel, where the coffee they give you in the room is always too weak.  But then I thought, nah, that’s sorta stupid, too.  Are you going to PACK this TJ’s thing in your SUITCASE for using in a hotel, even though the hotel is going to supply you with coffee anyway???  Highly doubt it…  (David begged to differ here and thought that maybe it would be worth having these in your suitcase, then I pointed out that if you were that desperate, you could just go to a coffee shop…)

So I wracked my brain some more…  HOW ABOUT THIS!  Your electricity goes out…  Your only coffee maker is electric  But you do have to have a way to somehow heat water to make this coffee…  Yeah, that is a use for it.  (Or you could just make tea…)

Overall, this was better coffee than I expected.  We made two cups with it even though we didn’t put in enough water to get to the “mild” marking.  So it made more coffee than we expected and it tasted better than we expected.  It is an ingenious little system.  It ends up looking like if you bought a box or bag of brewed coffee at Einstein Brothers or Starbucks and poured it right out of the bag, except you only have enough for one or two people, not a whole conference room full of co-workers.  I think TJ’s is trying to play on the current trend of POUR OVER COFFEE being all the rage.  Work it, Trader Joe’s!!

Ahhh, morning coffee
David:  “I think this is sort of like one of those sippy things for kids where you stick the straw inside it – are they called tetra packs?  Pyramid shaped designs (EDITOR’S NOTE – he means like Capri Sun packs).  It required a lot of finagling to make - you have to hold it open and there is the possibility of pouring boiling hot water over your fingers…  Though I guess if you set it on a flat surface maybe you wouldn’t have to hold it open as you poured. 

The taste is ok.  It is very mild and smooth.  If you like your coffee like you like your women – mild and smooth (and in a bag) – then this is for you! 

I give this a 3.75.  It is very nice, but entirely unnecessary.”

Susan again, I was thinking about giving this a 3.75, too, but then I thought I should bump my score up to a 4.  I mean, it is an INGENIOUS idea…  I was worried that we wouldn’t know how much water to pour in, but when we looked on the back TJ’s had thought about that and marked the package quite clearly.  It seems like they thought of everything when making this.  It is pretty cool.  It is ingenious, but unnecessary.  

I thought of another use!!!!  Say you are an AirBnB host, right??  You put one of these in the guest room to welcome people and let them make fancy coffee!!  Only, that is silly, too, cuz they still have to be able to make the hot water to pour in it, so you might as well just put a little coffee maker in the guest room!!

Wait – BACKPACKING!!!!  What if you are going on a long backpacking trip, and you think, “This is gonna be a looooong hike, I am going to need coffee during it!!”.  It would seem that might be a use for it, but no, cuz you still have to BOIL WATE, meaning you need to make a campfire and bring a pot or something to heat the water, so you could just MAKE THE COFFEE IN THAT! 

I am trying to hard to find a good use for this puppy, but I just can’t… 

Maybe if you live in a TINY HOUSE or an IKEA SIZED APARTMENT??
DAVID HAS AN IDEA!!  “When you go to Ikea and they have those little model apartments that are, like, 250 square feet…  Let’s say you live in one of THOSE!!!  And you do not have room for a coffee maker.  THIS COFFEE MAKING BAG IS FOR THAT SITUATION!”    I hate to burst his bubble, but even in that situation, you still need a teapot to heat the coffee.  And if you don’t have room for a coffee pot, you probably don’t have room for a teapot…  Sigh.

Trader Joe’s corporate, if you are reading this, please tell us:  WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE FOR THIS FUNKY, INNOVATIVE PRODUCT??  Like, where should we be using it?  I want to be a fan, but for now it just seems a bit wasteful.

Price:  $1.49
Rating:  3.75


  1. Haha!!
    I am totally impressed david managed to make this without burning his fingers off! I was looking at it and decided that the tricky directions + boiling water while not yet caffeinated posed a legit risk to my own well being.....
    I agree that maybe camping or travel would be the only practical use.

    My trader joe's was the same even four days after the storm- totally wiped out of a ton of products, they said there were distribution issues lingering from the storm (weird because all other nyc grocery stores were fine).

    1. Haha - I KNOW Ttrockwood - David had amazing dexterity while making this! He didn't even get one blister on a finger - no boiling water on him!

  2. I quite miss your every day posts on this blog. I happened across Ttrockwood on Chowhound (this is 'GraceW' writing), but nothing compares to your thorough posts. Regardless, I hope you will still dodge in for some reviews whenever you feel like it... And I hope you're enjoying some non-TJ'filled days. :) Cheers!

    1. Oh my. Your "I quite miss your every day posts on this blog" make me reallllllly miss writing them! I mean, I DO miss writing them anyway, but thank you for your kind note here! In fact, I have 3 reviews I need to write up soon! Sadly, out of the 3 products, 2 were clunkers! That is an unusually high percentage for good ol' TJ's. Cheers to you, too, GraceW, and thanks for popping in to leave a note.

  3. Oh I'm so glad to see this in action! Our TJs (in Oregon) has had these for a while and they seemed perfect for burning the crap out of my hands with, and for when guests come over and want coffee (we don't drink coffee and have none in the house, but occasionally guests like some after dessert):)

    1. YES - that is what they are designed for - BURNING THE CRAP OUT OF YOUR HANDS! But seriously, if you don't normally have coffee in the house and some ungrateful guests is begging for some, then I guess this would be a good thing to pull out of your cupboard. :) You could even say, "Here is some coffee for you. YOU MAKE IT." That way the 2nd degree burn is on THEIR HAND and not yours!!