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I have found myself obsessed with coffee.  I never used to drink it.  Then I had two kids and was working full time.  I found myself needing it to get through the day.  You know the routine…coffee in the morning, wine at night.  Yup, admittedly, that’s me.  Same routine.  I was able to curve my coffee appetite a bit while pregnant with the twins, but after the babies were born, I picked up right where I left off.  The funny thing was that I never actually brewed my coffee.  I either ran to Starbucks, or made instant at home.  Nuts, I know, but it was just as easy since my husband isn’t much of a coffee drinker, so it just didn’t make sense for me to spend all that money on great coffee and make a whole pot that wouldn’t get drunk.  After almost two years of drinking instant coffee, I finally decided it was time to break down and get a coffee pot.  My parents had been using a Keurig for a couple of years, and I figured that would be the best option as it makes one cup at a time. Perfect!  I asked for one for Christmas, and it has since become my new favorite toy!  I’ve been having a great time testing out all the different coffee and hot chocolate options, and the cool thing is that it came with a “K” cup.  The “K” cup allows you to brew any coffee you want through the Keurig.  Awesome, right?  So, when I was asked to do a review of Smart and Final’s new Ambiance line of premium and gourmet coffees, I was stoked to try it out!


Smart and Final sent me a $50 gift card to try out their line of Ambiance coffee brands.  Naturally, I filled up my cart!  I just happened to be there at the right time because the prices were marked down to around $3.99 per pound, allowing my dollars to go a bit further.  I grabbed every brew flavor that was available to me: Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Kona, Rain Forest, House, French Roast, Italian Roast, Gourmet Supreme, and Costa Rican.  You know how I love to grab grocery items when available to me, so I also ran through the dairy section and snagged a few quarts of Horizon Whole Organic Milk with DHA for the babes and my kids’ favorite,  Simply Lemonade (also marked down).

smart and final groceries

Every time I walk into a Smart and Final, I ask myself why I don’t shop here more often.  The store near me is super clean and organized. Parking is easy and the location is convenient.  The employees are always friendly and helpful.  And, I always find what I need at great prices, available in both family friendly and individual sizes.  I also love that  they offer restaurant quality products because I feel like it adds variety to my shopping needs.  The coffees were very easy to find, and right next to the baking products, which was perfect because I was also going to try out my new mini-doughnut maker while sampling some of these fine coffees.  I chose their private label, First Street, for flour, butter made from cows not treated with rbST, and baking powder I needed for a separate recipe.  Next to the coffees were also some fun toppings to add to my cup of joe.  Vanilla and caramel flavored sugar and some mini-marshmallows for hot chocolate.  Grabbed those for the kids, then headed home.


It was time  to start playing with my new toys.  First things first, I opened up the Hazelnut, my favorite flavor for coffee, and made a cup using the Keurig “K” cup.  It had a great taste, but I would have preferred more of the hazelnut flavor.  I was just using the basic donut recipe included with the machine, and as I glanced through the recipes for glaze, I thought I would get creative and add some flavors of my own.  I love how the powder sugar and milk icing tastes alone, but I thought, why not try adding some of the hazelnut coffee to it?  And, while I’m at it, why not really make it great by adding some Nutella and chocolate powder to the mix.  Heaven.  Next up, French Vanilla.  Made myself a cup, then made an extra cup to experiment with more icing flavors.  Added the vanilla coffee to the powder sugar and milk icing for a nice glaze.  Then decided to add some maple syrup into mix…maple icing!   I enlisted my daughter to help me out.  She was my taste tester and sprinkle guru.  She was throwing out ideas for us to try…we added brown sugar and vanilla coffee, hazelnut and vanilla flavored maple syrup.

We made a huge mess.  Huge.  But it was so much fun, and the donuts turned out great.  We had fun sampling them.  As a neat surprise, my sister, mother and sister-in-law came over and my daughter carried the tray of doughnuts around and offered up our creations.  Of course, along with a cup of Smart and Final’s Ambiance coffees.  They all tasted a different flavor, agreeing how pleasantly surprised they were by the taste and consistency of the coffees.   I have tried them all!  I have to say the Kona and French Vanilla are my two favorites.  Just the right balance of bold for me in the Kona, and the French Vanilla has a real vanilla flavor that is neither sweet nor overpowering.


Ingredients for Basic Donut Batter (from Sunbeam Donut Maker recipe book):  (If you do not have the donut maker, it’s ok, just make the batter as directed, pour into an icing bag or large ziploc.  Cut the tip and squeeze out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.)

Makes: 10 | Prep: 5 mins. | Cooking: 6 mins each batch

It’s suggested to make the batter right before making the donuts.  You can keep un-iced donuts in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
9 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cups of milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

1.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.  Whisk in the butter, milk, and egg until mixture forms a smooth batter.  Transfer to pitcher or fabric piping bag.

2. Spray machine with cooking oil.  Fill bases of pre-heated donut rings with half the batter.  Close lid and cook for 6 minutes or until donuts are golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter to make 10 donuts in total.


Here’s the fun part!  Start with 2 cups of confectioners sugar and 2-2 1/2 tablespoons of milk.  Add the following ingredients to taste.  As you increase amounts, you may need to add more or less sugar, milk, coffee, etc. to get the glaze to the right consistency.  Use a wire whisk to get the best results in mixing.

Vanilla Glaze:

  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Milk
  • Brewed Ambiance French Vanilla coffee
Maple Glaze:
  • Confectioners Sugar (use about 1/2 cup less)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • Milk
  • Maple syrup
  • Brewed Ambiance French Vanilla coffee
Chocolate Hazelnut Glaze:
  • Confectioners Sugar (use about 1/2 cup less)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Milk
  • Nutella (or chocolate hazelnut spread) to taste
  • Brewed Ambiance Hazelnut coffee
And 1,000,000 sprinkles in all sizes, shapes and colors to add even more fun!
To see more of my photos from this assignment, visit my RockStarMomLV Google+ album!

Super cool news! If you switch to Ambiance coffee from Smart & Final, you can go to www.smartandfinal.com/Ambiance2012  enter the code on the receipt from your purchase of Ambiance and be  entered to win some of these amazing prizes:

First Prize (one grand prize per week-3 total prizes): DeLonghi BCO264B Cafe Nero Combo Coffee/Espresso Maker, a $200 value!

Or one of six $50 SmartCash cards (Two winners per week, 6 winners total)

Plus visitors to the www.smartandfinal.com/Ambiance2012 will be able to vote for their favorite Ambiance Coffee recipe and everyone who votes will be entered for a chance to win $50 worth of Ambiance products! (6 winners – Two winners per week over the campaign)
Follow Smart and Final on FaceBook and Twitter #MyBaristaMoment.

This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias #CBias.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.