Review: Counter Culture Big Trouble Blend Single-Serve Bags (5 pack)

I had a spontaneous trip to Asheville, North Carolina at the end of September. Since I didn’t have a rental car on this trip, I wasn’t anticipating having much access to craft coffee, but serendipitously, my hotel was around the corner from an Earth Fare market (natural foods grocery store), which had an extensive selection of beans featuring Durham-based roaster, Counter Culture!

Crappy photo of some really good coffee beans.

At this time, I was particularly wanting a “comfort food” coffee – something chocolaty, nutty, sweet, and not overly complex. My plan was to buy whole beans and brew them at home, but I was intrigued by the single-serve bag option because it meant that I could have Counter Culture coffee while still on my trip, with nothing more than hot water. I’ve never gotten in the habit of traveling with a coffee grinder or a brewing method; even the smallest versions of those things take up more luggage space than I’d like, so this “teabag” style of coffee was appealing, given that I’d be traveling for several days.

Counter Culture partnered with Steeped Coffee to create this convenient single-serve brewing method. You can read more about why they opted for this bag style vs. instant coffee here, but it basically came down to superior flavor. Earth Fare sells this in 5-packs, while the Counter Culture website sells 10-packs:

While I did try making this coffee at the hotel (and was reasonably pleased with the result!), I opted to do a proper testing at home once I returned.

As per the instructions, I added 8 ounces by weight of hot water (200 degrees Fahrenheit, though I suppose you could go higher or lower if desired), dunked the bag, and let steep for 5 minutes.

Brewed: There was an impressive amount of oil in the coffee – comparable to what I’d expect when brewing in a French press. The flavor was full-bodied, deep and smooth with absolutely no bitterness. Especially compared to the instant coffee options out there, even from the craft coffee roasters, this clearly has superior flavor. As a travel coffee option, I’m sold! I haven’t had the Big Trouble blend in whole bean form, so I can’t speak on how it tastes in this steeped bag form vs. brewed fresh, but I thought the result from these bags tasted terrific.

This does happen to be one of my smaller coffee mugs, and 8 ounces of coffee is really not a lot for most Americans – I’d say most of my coffee mugs range between 12-16 ounces. If you prefer a huge mug of coffee, you might need two of these bags at once so as to not get a watered-down tasting result.

At around $2 per 8-ounce serving, this convenience coffee option is reasonably priced for those times you want really great quality coffee with minimal equipment and work. There is a little bit of cleanup involved, just like there would be with a teabag, but it’s still considerably less messy than disposing of spent, loose, soggy coffee grounds. And, the packaging is eco-friendly and compostable!

Summary: No sacrifice in quality for convenience here! I am a fan. While this would never be my daily driver, I think the concept is fantastic and I would certainly buy these again for future travel. Great execution of a brilliant idea thanks to both Steeped Coffee and Counter Culture!

Counter Culture Coffee Big Trouble Single-Serve (10-pack)

2 Replies to “Review: Counter Culture Big Trouble Blend Single-Serve Bags (5 pack)”

  1. Hello there! My name is Mariah and I am a relatively new coffee blogger. I have been poking around your site for a while, in no particular order, because I find it absolutely delightful! This post in particular interested me though, because I have heard a great deal about Counter Culture, and a great deal more stigmas about instant coffee, but never coffee brewed so closely to that of a tea, and honestly I would like to know more! Is this a new way to brew altogether, or have I been living in the dark ages for some time now? Cannot wait to chat more!

    1. Hi Mariah! Nice to hear from you 🙂 Re: coffee “teabags,” I think this is a relatively new development. I’ve noticed that craft roasters have been making attempts in the past few years to improve the quality of instant and “convenience” coffee (freeze-dried instant coffee from Intelligentsia, bottled/canned coffee from Blue Bottle and Stumptown come to mind) but this new teabag trend is something I’ve only been noticing in the last year or so. Klatch Coffee also offers coffee in this format.

      Honestly, the Counter Culture Big Trouble blend in this format tasted terrific to me, and I would absolutely buy this again if I was planning to travel and wanted to have great coffee anywhere I could get hot water. I hate packing a grinder and an AeroPress when I travel (my luggage space is precious!), and cleanup is always a bit of a pain if I’m in a hotel. I will of course continue buying whole bean coffee and grinding fresh while at home, but having this new brewing option helps me feel like I don’t have to compromise on my coffee standards when I’m traveling.

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