Feature: Tim Hwang Drinks The Entire Berkman Coffee Supply For You (Election Edition)

Since becoming a newly-minted full time employee of the Berkman Center for Internets and Society, I’ve become obsessed with the fascinatingly ungreen and terrifyingly advanced Keurig brand line of products that dispense coffee from those plastic containers that I can only assume are filled with magical pixie dust. Luckily, Berkman boasts a huge number of flavors, and I figured that it’s obvious for self-enrichment purposes to get around to tasting them all. The copy is reliably awesome, and the flavors virtually (?) indistinguishable. USBFB features our commentary, reviews, and incisive analysis every Tuesday until we’re exhausted. No coffee left behind. Previously: Espresso Blend, Hazelnut, Italian Roast, and Kona Blend. 

This election season is out of control.

Despite the Bureau’s best efforts to control the situation, in the past two months, we’ve seen the election pride messily spill out and contaminate seemingly everything in this beautiful nation. Sarah Palin costumes ad nauseum, Joe the Plumber bobbleheads, Obama pumpkin carving galore, Election Themed Seven-Eleven coffee cups, and yes, dear lord, even a John McCain kippah.

And, just when it seemed that it couldn’t jump the shark(s) any harder, on this week of the USBFB Coffee Docket: MCCAIN BLEND and OBAMA BLEND.

I’m serious. This insanity has to stop, like today.

First: true to the Advanced design of the Keurig pods, there’s an interactive e-voting component to the election blend coffees. Following the URL that they provide on the box leads to you Coffee Politics, “Your Office Politics Destination” a slim-featured site where a terrifying Uncle Sam animation will creepily pivot its head from side to side and point depending on what coffee you choose to report that you drank that morning. Since they first started this campaign, it looks like over six hundred thousand pods have been dispensed, with Obama Blend beating out McCain by about 10,000 cups of coffee. This is, of course, of dubious polling value, but the message is clear: office work is really boring. Boring enough that you’d follow the lead of the instructions on your coffee box.

Also, in an subversive twist of political commentary, both the Obama Blend and McCain Blend appear to be just two different packaging schemes for precisely the same coffee. It’s unclear whether or not this is intentional on behalf of the Coffee People company to make their statistics on Coffee Politics more representative of a political preference or just a clever marketing ploy to sell the same batch of coffee product twice to unsuspecting consumers. I’m voting that its probably the latter — since my clever idea to have one, the other, and a mixed bi-partisan blend has just led to me having four cups of the same variety of coffee in the last hour or so. And now I am feeling a vein deep within my forehead pulsating kind of painfully.

But, my fellow Americans, the USBFB stops for nothing. So, from the top: the wine-tasting standards.

Have to say, despite my greatest skepticism, the flavor has some good body to it. The election blend is less of a dark roast than what we’ve tasted in the past, but it’s approachable. There’s bitter oak overtones, which resolves out to a vaguely nasty chocolatey burn. This second part is a little too much and seems like an accidental afterthought, like going to pat someone on the shoulder and missing, with your hand coming to rest awkwardly on the nape of their neck instead.

The aroma is great. Like a political acceptance speech, it’s not too overwhelming, with just the right touches of charm and a scent that promises bold new initiatives for the day ahead.

Appearance: the election blend is strangely, unusually brown. Not that coffee doesn’t usually have that color, mind you, but it’s just more brown. Way more brown. Don’t know how they achieved that one.

Like change we can believe in, the Election Blend sticks with you way longer than any coffee we’ve tasted to date. It’s bitter, but it’s not an altogether unpleasant finish. It’s warm, smoky and comforting. Like freedom. American freedom.

Rating: B+. Good enough for government work.

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