Last week, like nearly everyone else in the city of Denver, I was laid out with the flu. If you're smart, you know that means coffee's off your diet for the foreseeable future. And if you DO live in Denver, you know there is only one hot liquid you should be ingesting... miso ginger soup from Taki's on Colfax. "Flu killer" boasts the awning outside, "best alternative to mom's noodle soup" reads the menu. So every day at lunch I drove and stood among the Capitol Hillbillies eating their more glamorous, exotic meals as I waited for the cloudy and fragrant healing elixir.
As much as I like the stuff, it was getting a little old by Friday, so I decided to see if I could find a worthwhile variation at the Asian market on Federal. I've killed whole days roaming the isles among the otherworldly fruits and vegetables and giant eyed cartoon characters decorating instant ramen bowls. Where else can you get a French-Vietnamese sandwich AND pick up a bundle of "Hell Dollars" so your dead ancestors can buy their way out of the more unsavory levels of the afterlife... all for under 5 bucks? Out by the street, from a card table, there was even a man selling vacuum cleaners w/ vaguely familiar sounding names. Who says Denver isn't a world class city?
Alas, I didn't find any soup. At least, none that weren't of the Vietnamese "Beef Chunks in Beef Stock" variety, which wasn't gonna cut it for my delicate tummy. I did, however, find a cornucopia of canned coffee confections, sealed in metals better suited for arming soldiers in Iraq. Beverages which appealed to both my love of bean juice and aforementioned adoration of Asian aesthetics.
So, with the help of Scooter Dad, and in spite of my ravaged digestive system, we sat down and drank six of the offerings because that's what I do - travel the city in search of new and exciting options for the caffeine addicted. And because I'm not very bright.
1. CARAVELLE FRENCH (style) COFFEE
This drink is, at 6 oz., the smallest of the bunch, which is positively the best thing you can say about it. Some may try to convince you that it's due to the fact that the Taiwanese aren't the obese pigs that we 'Mericans are, but I think it's because the manufacturers know that, once you taste this swill, you're not gonna want another, so why waste product? Among the ingredients are "roasted and grinded" coffee, but "burnt" and possibly "humiliated" would be more appropriate adjectives.
2. COFFEE SUNLEE
Scooter Dad and I both agree that this isn't half bad, though the fact that it was basically cleansing our palates of the last drink may disqualify our responses. I've never been a mocha person, but this is okay. Until, that is, I read the can and see that no chocolate flavoring is listed, just the utilitarian "coffee, milk powder, sugar" listed on nearly all the rest of the beverages. It's too early, in my estimation, for caffeine paranoia to set in, but I begin to wonder what else is being snuck into these cans, if an ingredient as innocuous as cocoa isn't mentioned?
3. ULTRA MILK
Okay, this lists "mocca powder" in it's ingredients, above "coffee powder", which is an understatement. In fact, one wouldn't think it possible that they could fit anything else in the unassuming little juice box after they melted in the 12 clearance sale Easter bunnies from Walgreens... but baby, they did! The nutrition information reads like PowerJuicer (TM) Jack Lelaane's grocery list, with all it's vitamins and minerals. And, as Scooter Dad pointed out, it has "stabilizers", presumably to stabilize your blood sugar, thus preventing unwanted comas.
4. YAUN YANG
Ever had those times you just can't decide between coffee and tea? Yeah, me neither, but this, kids, is what's called a rhetorical question, which is defined as a question not meant to have an answer. The makers of this beverage must not have known that, because they haphazardly put both of these often synonymous but never-to-be-used-in-the-same-receipe ingredients in one can. And boy, it tastes just like a lick from Satan's own sweet armpit. Seriously, if you just have to try this, you might want to stock up on some "hell dollars".
I did some extensive research on the internets to try and solve the age old philosophical riddle -which of these two beverages came first. But at the end, it really doesn't matter; what matters is that both characters, along with "The Dukes of Hazzard" Boss Hog, are rip offs of "The Candy-Man" from that Happy Days 2 parter where they staged Fonzie's death. But I digress. The taste: yup, there's definitely some coffee in there... and as such, these 2 are the clear winners, with The Boss nudging out Herr Brown due to size, giving you the most taste for your .69 cents (!)
We ended the experiment by mixing all of the above into one can, and I drank it (SD chickened out) The end result was not nearly as bad as one might have thought. In fact, it mostly just tasted like chocolate.
The following morning, I woke up looking like this...
Unlike the many other Ted Campbells on the interwebs, I'm neither a minister, nor a professional motorcyclist, nor a gay realtor from Florida.
What I AM is an ass-kickin' father, a corporate schlep, and an occasional freelance writer.
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