As promised, Ordinary Spouse and I conducted another K-Cup taste test this morning, pitting the Starbucks Sumatra against the Green Mountain Sumatra. And things are now getting more interesting. First, some info on the coffees from their respective websites…

Starbucks vs. Green Mountain!
Starbucks vs. Green Mountain!

Green Mountain Sumatra

Exotically lush, sweet and heavy-bodied, born in the mountains of Indonesia.

And despite being labeled as “extra bold” on the package, the website describes this as a medium roast. That may or may not be important.

Starbucks Sumatra

A dark-roasted, full-bodied coffee with spicy and herbal notes and a deep, earthy aroma.


So here’s how we did the test. Ordinary Spouse brewed the coffee (six ounces of each variety), so that I wouldn’t know the brewing order. And I took the brewed coffee, divided it up, and made the modifications so that OS wouldn’t know how the cups corresponded to the order in which they were brewed.

Each 6 oz serving was divided in half: one part was prepared as OS likes it (with just a bit of milk), and one part was prepared as I like it (mocha). And then we tested.

The coffee as prepared
There isn’t much to see here, but these are the coffees we prepared.

OS found both coffees to be quite drinkable and wouldn’t pay extra for the Starbucks – whichever the Starbucks turned out to be. But since we were trying to discern the better coffee, she noted that one of her cups had a slightly better smell and flavor (which she described as fruity or almondy).

On the other hand, I couldn’t discern the difference in smell. In my mocha, I preferred the other coffee. I’m not good with my coffee adjectives, but one coffee seemed stronger (bolder, perhaps?). It did a better job of standing out against the cocoa. OS thought that coffee was more bitter, if anything.

At this point, we revealed which coffee was which, and found Ordinary Spouse preferred Green Mountain, and I liked the Starbucks. I noted that the Starbucks was a dark roast, whereas the Green Mountain was a medium roast. Could that be the source of our different preferences?

What does all of this mean? Well, clearly we haven’t controlled for all the variables yet. Furthermore, we haven’t tested reproducibility or established error bars. According to Ordinary Spouse, “we can make our data fit whatever we want!”

In any case, we’ll just have to drink more coffee!*


* It turns out October is Caffeine Addiction Recovery Month. If you ignore it for long enough, it will be November.

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