I Tested New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend Light Roast Coffee: Review, Photos

by Nigel Ong

Donut shop blends are almost guaranteed to give you pleasurable sips. They are balanced and comfortable and pair well with sweet pastries like donuts. They sell like gangbusters, too.

Many roasters, including New England Coffee, offered their take on the Donut shop blend. How good is their blend? I picked up a bag to find out.

I will brew and sample Community Coffee American Classic Roast in this post. I will also compare its flavors against other relevant coffee and decide if you should try this roast.

About New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend

New England Coffee started in 1916 by Menelaos and George Kaloyanides as New England Tea & Coffee Company in Boston, Massachusetts. They were brothers who immigrated to the United States from Greece.

They started humbly, delivering hand-roasted coffee by horse and wagon in Boston. New England Coffee has grown significantly. Today, it serves over 10,000 US food service and retail customers. 

Many restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, convenience stores, schools, and healthcare facilities serve New England Coffee. You can also get their coffee from major supermarkets like Target and Walmart.

The Donut Shop Blend is the lightest roast available in New England Coffee’s lineup. This makes sense since Donut Shop blends are generally super light coffee that could be enjoyed anytime during the day.

First Impression

My New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend bag is a regular-sized, 11-oz coffee bag. For those that operate in metric, that’s around 311 grams.

The packaging is given a pastel-like color, which adds a ‘friendly’ vibe to the coffee. The logo is huge, with the label that this is a Donut Shop blend. I wish they would make the wording on the roast level larger so it’s easy to see. 

The coffee bag has a foldable tab to help you keep the coffee fresh after opening. There’s no proper one-way valve, though – you get this simpler-looking tape that still does the job.

Once I opened the coffee bag, I was greeted with a soft coffee aroma. The smell is comforting and tells me my coffee arrived fresh and good.

I brought my nose closer to the bag and breathed in. The aroma is comforting, with a slight nuttiness to it. I think it is probably hazelnut, but let’s wait until the sampling itself to decide this.

The ground coffee looks light brownish, which tells of its origin as a light roast. This should be a light cup with not much smoke.

How Does New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend Taste?

There are many ways to brew coffee. For me, I think the three ways below allow me to sample the New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend best: 

French Press: This brewing style makes a murky, full-flavored coffee with floating particles. This should allow me to sample the coffee in its full flavor, with all its oils.

Pour Over With Filter Paper: This method produces a ‘cleaner’ version of the coffee without too much oil and particles floating about. This should help me to sample more of the subtle notes. 

Espresso: Espresso is coffee in one of its most concentrated forms. Like espresso, some coffee may have unique flavors and be more enjoyable than regular brews.

French Press

For the French press, I used my Bodum Caffettiera French press. My brewing style is based on the recommendations by Illy Coffee.

I added 15 grams of coffee and 180ml of hot water at around 185°F (about 85°C). I then stir the ground coffee and let the concoction brew for 4 minutes before pouring.

The coffee looks regular once brewed, with a lighter brown color. There is also a bit more transparency too. The aroma is slightly sweet, with little smoke or wood. This is a light roast, and it shows here. 

On the first sip, I immediately noticed how easy the coffee was to drink. The Donut Shop Blend is not harsh on my palate nor smoky or intense.

Instead, the coffee has a mellow, bittersweet flavor. I also picked up some nutty notes, and I can tell this is probably hazelnut.

As I sipped the coffee, I also noticed the light finish of the coffee, meaning the flavors went away quickly, making you want to chase it with another sip. After I swallowed the coffee, a soft aftertaste lingered on my tongue.

This is a good donut shop blend and should give your cups and cups of easy drinking with sweet pastries. 

Pour Over With Filter Paper

For the pour-over method, I made my cup of Donut Shop Blend using these tools:

My pour-over brewing steps are taken from Starbucks. I kept to a 1:18 ratio to simplify the process and used hot, off-boiling water for my pourings.

As expected, the pour-over coffee tastes lighter and less intense than the French press brew. The filter paper removed some coffee oils and particles, making the coffee less earthy and strong.

I could taste the earthy bitterness. It is there, but not strong. Instead, it is soft and, to me, strong enough just to cover the watery taste of water.

The coffee is light, satisfying, and makes me want to bite into some kind of bread or pastry – donuts, maybe?

There is a mild hint of nuttiness, and the coffee has a milder finish than the French press version.

Espresso

I first ground the coffee ground down into a finer consistency. Then, I used my Wacaco Minipresso GR to pull an espresso shot. 

I can smell the great coffee aroma as the espresso comes out from my Minipresso. 

Once I was done, I could see a good-looking espresso with rich crema. The color of the crema is quite light, which is expected since this is, after all, a light roast.

I brought my nose close to take a whiff. The espresso barely has smoke. Instead, I get slightly acidic smells, something along the lines of tomatoes.

The espresso is light and slightly sour. It has little smoke or intensity and does not taste like regular espresso. I can taste some hazelnut flavor, which is pleasant to my palate.

With Sugar & Sweetener

As usual, I usually sample my coffee sweetened with one natural and one artificial sweetener: 

  • Regular brown granulated sugar
  • Equal artificial sweetener (Aspartame)

I first brewed two cups of black Donut Shop Blend; for the first cup, I added a sugar stick- about two teaspoons. The second cup gets two drops of Equal.

I think sugar adds a bit of shine to the coffee. I also can feel the coffee having a more ‘playful’ texture with a bit of viscosity. This is more pronounced on sugar than Equal.

The coffee on both cups also becomes sweeter, making it easier to drink. However, the sweetened version of the Donut Shop Blend does not seem to pair well with sweet pastries compared to black.

If I am to nitpick between the two, I will pick sugar. 

The reason is that artificial sweetener seems to taste unnatural – the sweetness seems to linger much longer in my palate, to the point of feeling unnatural.

With Milk & Creamer

I have these ready for my milk and creamer test:

  • Fresh UHT cow’s milk
  • Coffee Mate creamer

Again, I brewed two French press cups of the Donut Shop Blend. I added about 1 oz or 30ml of milk for the first cup. That’s about a single shot. The second cup gets a stick of Coffee Mate creamer, about two teaspoons.

Both turn the coffee brownish and murky, making it look creamy and inviting. Both also made the coffee a little silkier and thicker. I can see more ‘weight’ in the coffee as it travels in my mouth. 

This is expected since milk and creamer should increase the viscosity of the coffee overall.

Flavor-wise, there’s additional sweetness in the coffee in both cups. I think this is more obvious in the milked version. Perhaps the lactose is doing its job. 

One thing to note here is that this coffee is quite soft, which means you want to be careful with your milk and creamer. Too much, and you will drown the flavors out. 

If you understand, we’re looking for coffee with milk, not coffee-flavored milk. 

Iced

I brewed a concentrated cup of French press coffee, using half the water (90 instead of 180ml). Then, I poured the coffee into a shaker and filled the shaker to the brim with ice. 

After a good shake, I poured everything out, added in a straw, and started sipping.

The New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend tastes quite enjoyable cold. Nothing is too spectacular, but the coffee does not taste bitter or lose too much flavor when chilled. 

I think ice brought out a bit of bittersweetness in the coffee, which may be enjoyable to some drinkers. It is a comfortable cup of iced coffee, and I would enjoy it on a hot day. 

However, this is no replacement for a proper iced Americano. The Donut Shop Blend does not have that deep bittersweetness that makes iced Americano great.

New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend vs Breakfast Blend

I would compare them since I have another bag of New England Coffee in my kitchen. 

So I brewed the Donut Shop Blend and the Breakfast Blend from New England Coffee with my French press and then sampled them one after the other.

Both coffees are lighter roasts, with the Breakfast Blend a bit darker as a medium. Flavor-wise, I can immediately tell that the Breakfast Blend is a bit more intense and smokier. However, it is still a simple, easy coffee. 

I favor both equally. The only difference that would make me choose one over the other is the food pairing. If biting into something savory, I might go for the Breakfast Blend. Sweet stuff? Donut Shop Blend. 

New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend vs Other Light Roasts

Next, I thought I’d pit the New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend with other light roasts in my collection. They are:

  • McCafe Breakfast Blend 
  • AmazonFresh Just Bright
  • Green Mountain Breakfast Blend
  • Starbucks Veranda Blend

I brewed all five black coffees with my French press, then sampled them one after the other. 

From here, I would say all have that light, bright, with some acidic notes. Perhaps the only difference between these roasts is the underlying flavors, which could be from the origin of the beans. 

From here, I would go with the McCafe Breakfast Blend. It has that softness similar to a cup of English Breakfast Tea and a sweetness that reminds me of fresh bread melting on my tongue. 

The Donut Shop Blend comes second, beating the others, with its hazelnut-forward flavor.

New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend vs Regular Coffee

I picked up a cup of regular Americano from the most regular of places, a 7-Eleven. 

I want to compare my New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend coffee with a regular cup of joe, especially those $1 coffees you can get from gas stations or convenience stores.

You probably don’t need me to say this, but the Donut Shop Blend coffee wins here. The coffee simply tastes better, with more flavor depth and finish. It gives me more satisfying sips, too. The regular 7-E coffee just tastes watery and a bit flat.

Should You Try New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend?

I would say New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend may be the Toyota Corolla or your old Ford truck on your front porch. Simple, easy, reliable coffee without anything too edgy.

This coffee works well – light coffee that makes you want to bite into something sweet, crumbly, and layered. Donuts, pastries, maybe?

It is also light enough to sip anytime in the day without being overwhelmed by its strong flavor. It is also quite versatile, working quite well with sweeteners or fat. Just be careful with them, as too much can drown the coffee’s flavor away.Ready to pick up a bag of Tim Hortons Original Blend? Get your bag of New England Coffee Donut Shop Blend here on Amazon.

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