Starbucks K Cups will be here Soon

Starbucks K CupsStarbucks K Cups are almost here! The suspense is killing me. How much will they cost? Will they come in 12-Cup, 18-Cup, 24-Cup, 50-Cup boxes? Or will they be available in 80-Cup boxes like the Newman’s Own Organic Coffee that I buy from Costco?  And will the Starbucks K Cups taste as good as the Starbucks Tassimo K Cups which are no longer made? I foolishly bought a Bosch Tassimo brewer a few months ago before reading the disheartening news that Starbucks would no longer be making coffee for it.  Starbucks is the main reason I chose the Tassimo in the first place.  Fortunately, I bought a Mr Coffee Keurig for the office at Costco a few months ago for just $69.00. So, I will have the privilege of buying Starbucks K Cups for it when they arrive at the stores in November.  The one thing I did learn is that nothing comes close to the Starbucks t-discs I buy for the Tassimo. The Gevalia coffee is about as flavorless as you can get and virtually all the K Cups made for the Keurig are superior. Most of the K Cups brands I’ve bought for the Keurig are tasty enough that Starbucks is practically not necessary.

keurig delivers knock out punch

The K Cups Donut Store Coffee and Newmans Extra Bold are excellent. To save money, I buy the Newmans extra bold in 80-count k cup boxes at Costco for about $35.00. That’s 44 cents for a cup of coffee that’s almost as good as Starbucks. Without Starbucks for the Tassimo, the Keurig brewer choices blows away anything else that’s available for the Tassimo. Isn’t it unbelievable how the Tassimo company could lose their best business partner in Starbucks to a competitor that already has infinitely more coffee choices? Honestly, I haven’t even tried half of the K-Cups brands that are available at my own supermarket, let alone the dozens of other choices available online and at specialty retailers. Who is managing Tassimo’s business and how do they still have a job?  Or, do they still have a job?  I think Keurig has delivered the knock out punch with the announcement of the Starbucks K Cups deal. Enough crying over spilled coffee, let’s talk about what’s coming out for lucky Keurig owners this November:

Not only will Starbucks K Cups be available next month, we won’t even have to look very far to find them. The Huffington Post reports  that we’ll be able to find Starbucks at retailers like Walmart and Target.  For some odd reason, Starbucks will not sell the K Cups at their own store locations until next year and they won’t be available in Canada until March 2012. Looks like you’ll be able to get these K Cups in some of Starbucks most popular flavors: Breakfast Blend, Sumatran, Pikes Roast, French Roast and House Blend. Unlike Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee which for some dumb reason is only sold at Dunkin’ Donuts shops that don’t exist in most states of the U.S, Starbucks realizes they stand to make more money selling coffee at the major retailers. Oh, and they’ll even be making the K Cups Tazo tea available too. And I’ve found the answer to another one of my  question: It looks like you’ll be able to buy Starbucks K Cups in 10, 16 and 54-Count Boxes.  Hopefully, Costco will jump on the bandwagon and give me something that’s competitive with the 80-Packs I buy for $35.00, but I won’t hold my breath. Starbucks has always been expensive, but worth it.

I would expect Tassimo brewers and T-Disc sales to drop like flies while the sales of all types of Keurig brewers to break records in time for Christmas. Until we know the pricing on the Starbucks K Cups,  I won’t make any prediction about which coffee brand sells the best. Keurig has plenty of good choices.

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Old Chub Beer

Old Chub BeerWhile the name, Old Chub, might sound like pipe tobacco, a fishing lure or a plump old man, I assure you it is beer. Old Chub Beer comes in a can and a 6-pack sells for $8 to $9 dollars. Rated at 8% alcohol, Old Chub, is a very strong, dark scotch ale beer. I learned about Old Chub from a friend, whom recommended it when I explained to him how crazy I was about the pricey, thick-syrupy, chocolate-molasses Bourbon Barrel Stout that costs $16.00 per 750 ml bottle. So how does it taste?

Old Chub Beer Tasting Notes

You can smell the caramel darkness of Old Chubbefore you even take that first sip. I thought it was a bit more pungent, but not as thick with molasses as the Bourbon Barrel Stout. The first sip packs a pretty good punch and goes down warm. It has plenty of caramel and butter-scotch flavor, without the chocolate and molasses of the Bourbon Barrel Stout. Unlike the Bourbon Barrel Stout, the Old Chub leaves a bit of a bitter aftertaste near the back of the tongue, but it is really not that unpleasant. I think Old Chub would be even better served not quite so cold – just a little bit below room temperature. You’ll definitely want to drink Old Chub out of a glass or porcelain mug. It gets better tasting the more you drink. By the time, I took the last sip of Old Chub, I was ready to pour the next one. Those who think they don’t like dark beers might have a different opinion of them after tasting Old Chub. While Old Chub Scottish Ale is certainly not of the high quality, smoothness and complexity of the
Bourbon Barrel Stout,  it offers you a much cheaper alternative when you’re in the mood for a very rich, good dark beer. So, where does Old Chub come from and where do you buy it?

Where to find Old Chub Beer

Oscar Blues BreweryOld Chub is made by Oscar Blues Brewery in Lyons,Colorado. Oscar Blues makes 5 other brews: Dale’s Pale Ale, G’Knight Imperial Red, Mama’s Little Yella Pills, Ten Fidy and Gubna. If the taste of the beer isn’t interesting enough, you can always fall back on the names. Oscar Blues also have a variety of different brews that they serve on Tap. Oscar Blues is not only a brewery, but a bar and grill featuring down-home cookin’ and blues music. Really, this looks like a fun place to visit. Old Chub is a fun and hearty which has piqued my interest in trying all of their other brews.

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iPhone 4S Sprint

iphone 4s sprintIf you’re an iPhone lover who is looking for a reason to dump AT&T (and many people are), you can now pre-order the new iPhone 4S, 16GB for $199.00 with a Sprint 2 year Contract. I realize that there are even a few Verizon grumblers now after the iPhone became  available to them several weeks ago. I wouldn’t touch a review of phone carriers with a 10-foot pole. It seems no matter who you talk to, they’ll tell you they love their phone but hate their service. Consider me a former Sprint grumbler. I was never happy with my phone service from Sprint, but the main reason I switched to AT&T two years ago was to get the iPhone. Whether it is bad phone service or the nature of the phone, I predict there will be an equal number of  iPhone owners between Sprint, Verizon and AT&T grumbling about how bad their phone service is. Still, a new carrier like Sprint offers the opportunity for a number of new, first-time iPhone owners and may offer  some of the grumbling, AT&T owners who are nearly two years into their contracts the chance to upgrade from an older iPhone to the new iPhone 4. So, what’s the difference between the iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4?

iPhone 4 vs iPhone 4S Sprint

Don’t think you have to go with Sprint to get the new iPhone 4S. On the other hand, if you are going to go with Sprint, the new iPhone 4S is the only one that will be offered – at least until the iPhone 5 becomes available.  Some of the media and tech enthusiasts thumbed their noses up at the new iPhone 4s, complaining that it was an underwhelming and unimpressive upgrade from the iPhone 4. I think this is being a little harsh. While it is true that the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S will all be able to take advantage of the latest iPhone OS 5, there are some significant hardware advantages of the iPhone 4s vs 4.

  • Dual Core Processing (Dual Core A5 vs Single Core A4)
  • 8 Megapixel Camera vs 5 Megapixel Camera
  • Camera Image Stabilizer and Face Detection
  •  1080P Video Recording vs 720P
  • Bluetooth 4 vs Bluetooth 2.1
The new, iPhone 4S Sprint will offer a 64GB HardDrive version as well. Pricing from Sprint looks like this:
——————————-
iPhone 4s Sprint iPhone Pricing with 2-Year Contract 
  • iPhone 4s 16GB: $199.00
  • iPhone 4s 32GB: $299.00
  • iPhone 4S 64GB: $399.00

I realize the differences between the iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4 might not be compelling enough advantages for some to make a switch in phones or carriers. However, if you’re an unhappy AT&T customer nearing the end of your contract, would it be so bad to upgrade to the 8MP Camera and the faster, dual-core processor? And who wouldn’t want to shoot 1080P Video. If you’re willing to take a chance on Sprint, why not take a chance on the new iPhone 4S?

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Eristoff Vodka

How do you rate Eristoff Vodka? 

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Eristoff VodkaEristoff Vodka is a triple-distilled, bargain-priced vodka made in France. To me, premium vodkas are a rip-off. The top-shelf brands in the elegant bottles like Grey Goose are overpriced. It is my belief that the majority of people who pay a pretty penny for these expensive vodkas could buy brands for less than 1/2 the price and be just as happy with the smoothness and flavor. It is really tragic to pay good money for vodka than mix it with sour, cranberry juice or a dirty martini full of salty, olive juice.  Don’t get me wrong, some vodkas are better than others, but don’t think you have to pay a Grey Goose or Ketel One price to enjoy a good clean taste. There are 1.75 Liter brands selling for less than $21.00 that will satisfy most people. Is Eristoff Vodka  one of those that compares favorably to the top-shelf brands?

Eristoff vs Top Shelf Vodka Brands

Taaka is the cheap vodka brand which all cheap vodkas are to be compared, in my opinion. No, Taaka is not a great vodka by any means, but for the price just about anyone can learn to mix with it in such a way to make it tolerable. Eristoff is appreciably better than Taaka and probably better than most vodkas in the $20.00-and-under per 1.75 Liter bottle price range.  Eristoff is a wheat-based alcohol, so stay clear of this if you have any severe gluten allergies or aversions to wheat-based food products. Eristoff has a very sharp, bitter front to it. Almost bitter enough that it hides any of it’s vanilla-sweet over-tones. The pepper is extreme to the point where it is almost hot. I noticed a bit of caramel in the taste, but only after some real effort getting past the front-of-the-mouth, sharpness that rings long after you’ve downed the first swallow.  The good news, however, is that the bitterness does not follow it’s way down your esophagus and into your gut like Taaka and some of the other bargain-priced vodkas. Eristoff vodka actually has a smooth, sugary finish. If you’re not expecting too much for your $17.00, you won’t be too disappointed. That is, unless you’ve been drinking Ruskova, another bargain-priced vodka made in Russian that is much better, all-around. I have been getting Ruskova at my Costco Liquor store for $13.00 per 1.75 Liter bottle. Ruskova is smoother up front with more vanilla and much better, overall flavor than Eristoff. For a few bucks more you can buy Svedka which according to some people is among the best.

Vodka is a peculiar alcohol to rate with extremely varying opinions, so don’t go by my word alone. I remember thinking that Sobieski Vodka was over-rated, yet some vodka drinkers insist that it is the best you can buy for under $20.00. My hunch is that if you tried Sobieski, Eristoff and Ruskova, the Ruskova would come out on top and save you a few bucks, too.

Give us your Rating on Eristoff Vodka

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Best Web Hosting

best web hostingI am lucky to be using what I consider the best web hosting company in the internet industry. Product Review Ratings is now in it’s fourth year of service and it makes sense to give credit to the tools of the web business trade that have supported me throughout the ups and downs of a web-based product reviewer. Also, you can take advantage of HostGator Coupons that show up from time to time.

My mission for Product Review Ratings has been and continues to be to review any and all products or services I’ve ever experienced or used. The possibilities for reviews and sharing my experiences are so broad and endless that I occasionally forget to see what’s right under my nose and talk about it. We don’t really appreciate things like web hosting companies until we have a problem and need their help. I didn’t have to do extensive research to find the best hosting company in the business. I’ve been using HostGator for about 3 years. To be honest, before I signed up with HostGator, I wasn’t looking for the best web hosting company in the world – I was looking for the best price. What I didn’t realize is how many times I would end up putting the quality of HostGator’s customer service to the test many times. Last night, was another prime opportunity:

In my never-ending fascination with new, WordPress plug-ins and the desire to make things work better, I sometimes end up breaking something. Yesterday afternoon, I broke one of my more successful websites. I could no longer get to my home page and as luck would have it, I didn’t make a backup before I started making risky changes to the site. I was comforted knowing that I could go to HostGator and have them do a restore of my website because they keep everything automatically backed up. Now, having automatic backups is not what makes HostGator the best web hosting company – that is something any web hosting company should do. What separates HostGator from the rest is what they ended up actually doing and how they did it:

The Best Hosting Company has the Best Service

Contacting HostGator has always been very fast and simple. I use their online LiveChat whenever I need something and they are always very responsive and helpful. To my delight, when I logged into the HostGator LiveChat, I was greeted with a message that there were no customers ahead of me and 147 technicians available to assist me. How’s that for service?! A few seconds later, a technician was right there to help me. He understood my problem and request instantly. When I mentioned to the HostGator technician that I’d like to pay the small, $15.00 fee and have my website restored, he said he would like to try and fix the problem before resorting to that. I gave him my information and a few minutes later the problem was solved. To me, that is a web hosting company going above and beyond the call of duty to help its customers. Understand that web hosting really has nothing to do with supporting website design software. It just so happens that my technician was more knowledgeable than me with WordPress and was able to fix the problem. I really didn’t expect that kind of service when I signed up with HostGator – what sold me was their cost and what I considered the best web hosting plans in the business. Let me mention what they offer:

  • Hatchling Plan: If you’ve only got one website and you need it hosted, you can do it for just $3.96 a month. With this plan, you also get unlimited band-width and Disk Space.
  • Baby Plan: This is by far the Best web hosting plan for those who have multiple website domains: The discounted price is only $6.36 per month for unlimited bandwidth, disk space – PLUS unlimited Domains.
  • Business Plan: If you’re truly running a business on your websites, then this one is the best web hosting plan for you: In addition to the unlimited bandwidth, domains and disk space, HostGator gives you your own private IP Address, SSL and Toll Free phone number. Only $10.36 with the current discount.

So, that’s HostGator in a nutshell. You may be wondering how I can call it the best of the bunch when I haven’t even tried all the others; Let’s just say that it is without doubt the best company for me to host my websites out of the 2 or 3 that I have tried.  Furthermore, compared to other web based fees and services, HostGator has proven to be the best company I have used in any capacity.

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