Anyone want s’more coffee?

29 08 2011

When it comes to coffee, I’m kind of a snob. Hold that cup o’ Joe; I’ll take a grande iced double-dirty chai-tea latte with whole milk, please and thank you.

But despite my apparently snobbish ways, I’m also an awkward mix of city-meets-country. I love the outdoors. I love camping. And my favorite part of camping is the marshmallows. If I had my way, every camping trip would involve jumbo marshmallows and a lot of extra chocolate. But I never get my way.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what all this is about. What do coffee and marshmallows have in common? (Aside from the fact that they’re both roastable. Yes, that is now a word.)

It all started with a very nice e-mail titled “Super-caffeinated Marshmallows in 4 Flavors.” I’m pretty sure that wins the award for most intriguing title of any e-mail I’ve ever received. Anyway, it turns out that there’s this company called Caffex, and they specialize in the fusion of coffee and marshmallows. They asked me to review their product, which I think was actually very brave, because I’m not exactly the most tactful person I know.

But I was actually more than a little excited at the prospect of caffeinated marshmallows. (Even more excited than I was about low-fat Spam — imagine!) Not only am I a coffee snob, I’m kind of an addict. OK, I am an addict. And as you already know, I think marshmallows are the best. They help me release my inner five-year-old.

As good as caffeinated, coffee-flavored marshmallows sounded, I was admittedly still a little dubious. I like to drink my coffee. It goes back to that snob thing. I do not eat coffee. If the break-room coffee at work has been sitting in the carafe for a couple of days and has gotten a little squishy and … well, marshmallow-like, I leave it there. Common sense.

My misgivings about eating coffee were alleviated a little when I received the little sample package in the mail, with four individually wrapped, brightly packaged brown marshmallows inside. They didn’t look so bad. They were actually kind of cute. Cute, edible coffee. I could handle that.

CaffeMallows (as they’re called) come in four flavors: MoccaMallows JavaMallows, CoffeeMallows and TeaMallows. Yes, tea. That one, I wasn’t so sure about. Tea for me is kind of like vodka for some people. I don’t do tea unless it’s iced, heavily raspberry flavored and full of enough sugar to make me forget I’m drinking tea.

When I unwrapped each package and laid the little brown mallows out like so (so I could take a picture, just for all of you), I was suddenly not so sure again how I felt about eating these.

They look much more appetizing on the website, like squishy brownies or something. Arizona heat does not do nice things to marshmallows. To be frank, they looked like what would happen about 24 hours after my dog (if I had a dog) ate a bad burrito. To be fair, I don’t think that’s what they looked like originally. Curse you, 112-degree weather.

I tasted the marshmallows individually, starting with the MoccaMallow (the flavor of which was mocha, if you couldn’t guess). It surprised me, though not in a bad way. I thought it would be a lot sweeter. I mean, it’s technically still a marshmallow, right? But it had the bitter taste of a black cup o’ Joe with some (real, non-fake-sugary) chocolate mixed in. Let me remind you that my usual coffee delights are the barista’s equivalent of fruity drinks. This was the real stuff. And it was strong.

That being said, if you’re like most people I know and you drink coffee because you actually like the taste of coffee (by itself or with very little extra stuff thrown in), then you’ll love this. Because it really does taste like coffee. And deep down inside, past all that snobbiness, I love the taste of coffee, too. It just takes some getting past the initial shock.

I moved on to the JavaMallow, which was espresso-flavored. I had high hopes for this one. My big Christmas gift last year from my boyfriend was an espresso maker, if that gives you any idea of my feelings toward espresso.

No disappointment with this mallow — it tastes exactly like espresso. And — even better — it was a little sweeter than the mocha. New favorite.

Time for the CafeMallow (coffee-flavored). Turns out it was really similar to the espresso (even to my coffee-snob taste buds), but after some chewing and contemplating, I could tell the difference. Not as bold, a little sweeter … and a new favorite.

Teatime. I wasn’t so sure about this one.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d just taken three large bites of different types of coffee marshmallows, or maybe it was some sort of mental thing … or maybe it was just that good. But whatever the case, the TeaMallow is officially my favorite. Slightly sweet, only a little bitter, kind of herbal … tea-like, basically, only it made the flavor of tea actually palatable. (Sorry, all you tea drinkers. I really don’t like tea.)

So, there you have it. In a shocking upset, the TeaMallow is, in my opinion, the best out of the four. If you like your coffee strong and bitter, go for the MoccaMallow. Not as bitter and a little sweeter, the JavaMallow. Genuinely coffee-like, the CoffeeMallow. And even if you don’t like tea, you really should try the TeaMallow.

Oh, and also, I’m pretty sure the caffeine worked. Because I haven’t had my daily dose of coffee, and it’s 5 in the afternoon, and I feel just fine. Which is a sort of miracle, really.

The bottom line: Don’t expect CaffeMallows to be as sweet as regular marshmallows, but if you’re looking for a fluffy alternative to a cup of coffee — something that actually tastes like a cup of coffee (or tea) — give these a shot. They’re actually kind of fun to eat.

Next step for me: Buy a package of TeaMallows and make tea s’mores. Oh, the possibilities …

———

Ingredients: Each marshmallow is different, and I didn’t want to make your eyes fall out of your face by typing it all up. Suffice it to say they contain sugar and real coffee.
Price: Varies, but a variety four-pack is $7.99 if you order off the website.
Pros: Two words: squishy coffee. I mean, really, can it get much better?
Cons: This is really probably more of a pro, but if you’re expecting sugar, change your expectations. Oh, and also … don’t let them get hot (i.e. be outside for more than two minutes in Arizona). Because then they’ll start looking a bit like dog poop.

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“I’ll take a Venti café mocha. Carbonated, please.”

14 12 2010

Across the street from the local high school, a new soda shop called Rocket Fizz opened up a short while ago. They sell almost every kind of soda you can think of.

But whoever thought of Cola Azteca must’ve had a pretty twisted imagination.

My friend Mike referred me to this stuff for the blog, and I was hesitant at first because Rocket Fizz isn’t a grocery store … but when I heard what was in the soda, I knew it was worth reviewing.

The brand is called Taylor’s Tonics. If that moniker wasn’t enough to make me uneasy, the description on the label certainly was: “Sparkling and spiced café mocha.”

I’ve had café mocha before. It’s not a bad drink, even though I’m partial to caramel in my coffee.

But a café mocha shouldn’t sparkle. Glitter sparkles. Cider sparkles. Heck, even vampires in sad excuses for literature apparently sparkle.

Coffee does not sparkle.

So basically what I got out of the label is that if a Starbucks specialty drink and Coca-Cola hooked up on New Year’s Eve, this would be the product of that unholy union.

Oh yeah, and it has something to do with the Aztecs.

The ingredients list included coffee, cocoa, cinnamon bark and cayenne. Now do you see why I said “twisted imagination”? It sounded like it would be great as a hot drink in a mug on a cold winter day, but as an ice-cold, carbonated soda?

Drinking it almost felt like an adventure. And I don’t mean the good kind.

I poured some into a glass (because it’s so much more ladylike than taking a swig from the bottle — or actually because I wanted a photo), and I took a generous sip. My taste buds reeled from the attack.

Cola? Nope. Mocha? Possibly. Cayenne? Check. Coffee? Check, check, and triple-check.

Carbonated, spiced black coffee with a hint of mocha. That’s what it boiled down to.

I took another sip (much more tentatively this time) to see if it would taste any better the second time around. It didn’t.

My coffee-loving sister chose at that moment to wander through the kitchen. When she saw the soda, she eagerly grabbed a glass and took a gulp. Her reaction? A face I rarely ever see from the least-picky person I know.

After a few repetitions of “Ew!” and “Gross!” she summed up her opinion: “If you added cream and sugar, it might be edible.”

I don’t know. I think even if I poured in some cream and dumped in some sugar (even though it supposedly contains cane juice — which is undetectable at best), it wouldn’t be any more palatable. Besides, since cola is acidic, wouldn’t it curdle the cream anyway? Food for thought.

Coffee was never meant to be carbonated. It’s that simple. The flavor itself wasn’t awful (especially if you like strong black coffee), and the aftertaste was bearable (cayenne and then — finally — a hint of cola), but let’s face it: there’s a reason coffee is usually sold as either hot or iced, with no “carbonated” option.

An exception to this rule, I guess, could be Coca-Cola BlāK — coffee-flavored Coke. I’ve never tried it, but if it’s anything like Cola Azteca, I think I’ll keep my distance. (Plus, it was discontinued. Maybe there’s a reason for that.)

Dear coffee and cola: You’re both great; you really are. But please keep to yourselves. It’s better that way.

———

Ingredients: Filtered water (infused with certified organic fair trade coffee, cocoa, cinnamon bark and cayenne), evaporated cane juice, natural flavors of vanilla, mocha and spice, citric acid and natural caffeine (40 mg).
Price: $1.29 at Rocket Fizz
Pros: Well, it would be great as a hot, non-carbonated beverage…
Cons: It’s a cold, carbonated beverage.








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