Reviews of franchise coffee shops that appear all over the United States and world.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea Acquires Stumptown Coffee Roasters

In their blog post from earlier this evening Stumptown Coffee Roasters wrote,

“As of this week, we have been acquired by Peet’s Coffee & Tea. We’re excited about the opportunities this will provide for us as we continue to grow.”

Stumptown goes on to explain how this acquisition will not impact their goals, or how they plan on achieving them. If anything, it appears as though Stumptown is getting a financial boost from Peet’s Coffee & Tea. In addition to the New Orleans location mentioned in the blog post, I would expect more stores to begin to show up across the U.S.

What does all this mean? Well, hopefully, not much. Except a whole lot more Stumptown.

If you hadn’t noticed, cold brew was a big craze this summer – to the point that Starbucks even cashed in on the hype. In many ways, Stumptown pioneered this coffee fad with the introduction of their squat bottles filled with cold brew in 2011. According to the NY Times article about this acquisition, this is around the time that Peet’s started to notice that Stumptown was doing something different.

My call? If anything, this is a great move for Peet’s. While they have been a mainstay in the coffee industry for decades, their image is closer to Starbucks than it is to Stumptown. Not only will this press be good for them, but the money that Stumptown brings in every summer with cold brew – along with their new stores – will make Peet’s tons of money.

Stumptown seems to be pretty solid on the idea that they are staying the same as a company. As a fan of their product, I definitely hope so.

The Coffee Guy

Organo Gold and Marina Hina

I’m not a fan of instant coffee. If I drink instant coffee I only do so as a last last last resort. In fact, about 90% of the time I’d rather not drink anything as opposed to drinking instant coffee. Starbucks Via is probably my one exception to this rule; even then, I always hesitate before opening one of their packets and ask myself “do I really want to do this?”

When I contacted Marina Terwilliger to do a review of her coffee, I had never heard of Organo Gold. However, I frequently am on the lookout for different kinds of coffee sources – whether they are local coffee shops or online stores. This seemed like a great way to branch out and try something new.

On her website – – where she sells her products, Marina says:

Starting with a couple things I’m passionate about, health and sewing, Marina Hina hats and coffee was born. Enjoy the sunhats designed and handcrafted in Hawaii and the the coffee brought to you by Organo Gold.

While her “SPF Sun Hats” section has yet to go live, the coffee portion of her website is very much up and running. The brand she is selling? Organo Gold. Like I said, Organo Gold coffee was foreign to me – I had never heard of it and because of this, decided to do a little research before I received my review sample.

The front page of Organo Gold’s website boasts quotes like “Change your coffee, change your life” and “The coffee that makes you feel good.” Their about page goes on to explain:

“Organo Gold is on a mission, spreading the knowledge of Ganoderma to the four corners of the world. By using the cost effective network distribution system to deliver these Ganoderma products, more of every dollar is shared with our growing Organo Gold family world-wide.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but what the heck is Ganoderma, and why does this about page sound like a philosophy textbook?

Basically, ganoderma is a type of fungi used in various types of eastern medicine. It is said to have anticancer effects, protect against radiation-induced damage, and also have antioxidant effects (according to Wikipedia).

Essentially, Organo Gold is coffee infused with ganoderma extract, made available in an instant-packet form factor. The idea is that it is coffee that is good for you. More than that, Organo Gold is the type of thing that you can sell from your home to your friends and family if you are interested in becoming involved with their company.

Here at BoiseCoffee we are all for health benefits, invigorated immune systems, and life longevity. That being said, this is not a health blog, and I’m not here to tell you whether or not Organo Gold will change your life. What I am here to do is tell you whether or not their coffee tastes good and is enjoyable. So, when I opened my first packet of Organo Gold instant latte, that’s exactly what I set out to discover.

I received three types of Organo Gold products from Marina: Gourmet Cafe Latte, Gourmet Cafe Mocha, and Gourmet Black Coffee.

When I opened the latte packet I found a brownish white powder with no visible hint of the ganoderma extract that existed within. When I combined this powder with hot water, then kicked back to sate my curiosity, I was initially not impressed. The beverage had an earthy, mildy sweet taste, but in no way resembled a latte. Looking at the ingredients I found that there was indeed some kind of dairy in the powder, but any taste remotely resembling a latte was not to be found. However, I found that the drink got better as I drank it. By the end of the beverage I was enjoying it – not because it tasted like a latte, or really even coffee, but because it had a very coffee-esque quality: it was an acquired taste. Once I got used to the initial shock, I found that the drink was actually enjoyable.

The mocha was similar in this regard. The mocha packet contained much more powder than did the latte packet. I mixed it with the same amount of hot water, however, and it proved to be the correct ratio. Upon tasting, the drink revealed itself to not be very sweet. Or, at least, it wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be – an expectation that existed mostly because it carried the “mocha” monocher that I generally associate with something sweet…like, say, chocolate. It was, however, initially more tasty than the “latte” flavor, and I think that had to do with my expectations being better met. It was a much closer drink to the title that its packet professed. In consistency it was slightly creamy, but clearly water based. Initially it actually kind of felt like a mocha was in my mouth, but quickly the watery taste set in after the initial impression had run its course. Towards the end the mocha was actually quite good. My last gulp left me desiring just one more sip, which is definitely a good thing.

In both the mocha and the latte there was a foreign taste present. I can only assume that this belonged to the ganoderma extract. It wasn’t exactly bad tasting, nor did it necessarily detract from the overall flavor of the drinks. Yet it was definitely present, and definitely not coffee.

It should be noted that 30 minutes after drinking the mocha I got what can only be described as a huge caffeine rush. I’m not sure if this was a combination of doing Physics homework at 1am and drinking coffee, or if the coffee just has a high caffeine content. It was glorious for getting work done, however.

I have little to note about the black coffee. It had a much better initial taste than the latte. Again, I think that’s because my expectations were better met. It too contained the foreign taste of the praised fungi, but proved to be the beverage that stood out least to me – for better or worse.

Overall I have to admit that Organo Gold was much better than I initially anticipated. I was expecting gross instant coffee and what I got instead was an entertaining beverages that left me desiring more at the end (and possibly even had health benefits). People who are hooked on instant coffee would find Organo Gold to be a happy alternative to their favorite brand. Those who aren’t, and prefer traditional brewing methods, may not appreciate Organo Gold for what it is but will also not necessarily be let down by its taste or consistency. I recommend that these people try the mocha flavor if they are looking to branch out.

Health-focused people may also find value in the supposed benefits that Organo Gold has as opposed to a typical instant coffee brand.

Me? I’ll stick to my french press and espresso, but keep Organo Gold in the back of my head in case I ever find myself in the position where I’m shopping for instant coffee.

If you are planning on purchasing Organo Gold, please do it through Marina Hina’s store here.

The Coffee Guy

P.S. Marina does her own writing about coffee here. Check it out!

Starbucks Drive Thru

Starbucks is getting its Mojo Back

Starbucks cupsI’m not a fan of Starbucks. In general, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Siren Image, I think of a big chain trying to smash smaller coffee houses. That being said, for this commentary, I will try to keep my preconceived opinions to a minimum and report some of the interesting facts I’ve observed about this coffee giant in the recent past.

First, some context.

Starbucks has always presented one major pro to me, and one major con.

Pro: No matter where you go, Starbucks makes their product the same. Like it or not, it’s the same coffee, same barista training, same (or very similar) automatic espresso machines that pull the same shots the same way every time. I’ve had Starbucks in Virginia, California, and here in Idaho- and trust me, they’re exactly the same (I have yet to try them overseas, but I don’t doubt I would report the same thing.)
Key word: same.

Con: Unlike many local coffeehouses, the product Starbucks has to offer is sub-par with few exceptions. Layman’s terms: their coffee really isn’t completely and utterly fantastic. Many coffee snobs may disagree with me on this- but I think we could find a common ground:
In the grand scheme of things, even the lightest of Starbucks’ blends tastes dark in comparison to, say, a freshly roasted medium blend from Dawson’s. The common coffee drinker may say it tastes “burnt” or “over-roasted.” Although there are people who like this dark taste, it’s clear that Starbucks does one product, and they do it the same every time. They may put a different label on it, make the bag red for Christmas, and put some flavor in it, but each of their coffees is essentially the same: dark.
Key word: same.Starbucks Drive Thru

Starbucks has found their niche market, and if I had to distill it into one word I would say this: travelers. Whether it be business people who fly cross-state as part of their job, or merely someone making their commute to work in the morning, Starbucks is an ideal choice for men and women on the go. People who are on their way somewhere or late for something (say, a very important date) need something quick, easy, and dependable. Starbucks offers all three, and at a price people will pay. I don’t particularly like their coffee, but I do think their business model is brilliant.

And with that lead in, I’m now going to explore an observation I’ve been making for the last few weeks.

It appears to me that Starbucks is beginning to look further than their current niche market.
I think they’re actually trying to become your friendly neighborhood coffeehouse.

Impossible? Check this out.Starbucks Fold Out

Taken from a handout I received at my local Starbucks:

Introducing My Starbucks Rewards, a new program that rewards you the more you come in.
Free drinks. Free syrups. Free soymilk. Free Wi-Fi. And best of all, free to join.

Really? Really.

All you have to do is register your Starbucks Card, use it to pay for coffee and treats, and watch your rewards grow.

You’ll soon be hearing, “This one’s on the house.”

Ready? Right this way…

(link added)

Starbucks CardThe pamphlet goes on to explain how each time you go in to a Starbucks, order a drink, and swipe your card, you get one “Star”. Five Stars gets you to the Green Level (2 hours free Wi-Fi, Free refills on brewed coffee, etc.) 30 Stars get’s you to the Gold Level (Same rewards as Green Level+Personalized card & Welcome packet, free drink every 15 additional Stars.)

That’s right folks, Starbucks has a punch card now. They’re like your friend with benefits (ok, bad analogy…)

So what’s so special about a big name corporation getting what Dutch Bros. or Moxie Java has had since the 6th Century? It shows that they’re adapting. They’re looking to make life easier for you. Heck, it’s cool that they’re thinking about you, the customer, at all!

Can We Buy You a Drink?That, in my book, speaks loads about the head honchos of Starbucks. They’re thinking outside the box, trying to bring new people into their stores, and changing up their game plan to do so. Adaptability is a great skill in the coffee biz, and that’s compounded the bigger the business is. It’ll be interesting to see how this adaption will affect the sales of Starbucks.

Now…if only they’d adapt their product and make it taste good!* 😉

What are your thoughts about Starbucks getting its mojo back? Will you participate? Comment and let me know!

The Coffee Guy
The Coffee Guy at Starbucks

*Although I dislike a majority of Starbucks’ products, I do enjoy one of their mochas from time to time.