My personal relationship with coffee is a complicated one. In an ideal world, I would never touch the stuff; in the real world, I'm constantly looking for that perfect caffeine fix to fuel my day. (Note: It doesn't help that I have a troublingly high tolerance for caffeine's effects.) When I talk with someone, like Sweet's very own design powerhouse Aimée Hunt—who has never sipped coffee in her entire life—I'm left in total admiration of their self-propelled hustle. One can dream, and I do.
I came pretty close to achieving my own version of caffeinated perfection when I was working with a 300-year-old Japanese tea company, which turned me on to the therapeutic and highly calming energy of matcha (before artfully propped matcha lattes became as rampant on your Instagram feed as their coffee equivalent). But something tells me busting out my ceremonial matcha equipment to whisk a perfectly frothy green tea at my desk might raise some eyebrows.
When new products began to hit the market that claimed to either perfect your coffee routine, up the ante of coffee's effects, or provide alternative ways to work coffee into your daily routine, I was all ears. I made it my mission to try three out—and I certainly tried to drag the whole office along for the ride.
Here, you'll find the key takeaways from a week of highly caffeinated experimenting. Will any of these alternatives replace your own sacred relationship with your favorite barista, pour-over, or French press? That's up to you.
Go Cubes: For the Techie
Background: San Francisco-based company Nootrobox deals in brain-enhancing, cognitive supplements with names like "Rise," "Sprint," and "Yawn"—they're sort of like vitamins for biohackers. At this year's SXSW, the team debuted Go Cubes, their chewable coffee gummies with added ingredients like L-theanine, B6, and methylated B12 to enhance the caffeine's effect on your focus and clarity. Not surprisingly, the crowds ate it up—literally: Go Cubes sold out of their inventory less than five days after first presenting it.
The Results: When my box of Go Cubes arrived, I began to liberally sprinkle them around our office to get everyone testing away. Each pack contains four sugar-coated cubes in an assortment of the three flavors: mocha, pure drip, and latte. Sweet staffers generally felt that the cubes tasted a little bitter, like an over-roasted brew.
Some reported zero effects, others said they felt "cracked out," and a handful—myself included—felt a sustained caffeine buzz throughout the day. My peak Go Cube moment came when I was trying to go to sleep and my mind kept racing with ideas and things I needed to do the next day—but that probably came from popping cubes all day with abandon. One thing you can't argue with: Go Cubes' convenience factor.
For more on Go Cubes, see gocub.es.
Death Wish Coffee: For the Caffeine-Obsessed
Background: Death Wish Coffee sells roasts with twice the amount of caffeine of your average brew. The small company already had a cult following of fans—apparently, mostly heavy-metal rockers and long-haul truck drivers—before they hit it big with a 30-second ad during this year's Super Bowl. (The spot came with a reported $5 million dollar price tag, but the scrappy startup landed it free of charge after entering a contest held by tax software company Intuit.)
The Result: The packaging for Death Wish Coffee comes with a label warning customers that their blend is, in fact, the strongest combination of beans on the market. When I brewed a batch here in our office, everyone agreed the coffee hit all the notes associated with a strong roast—and, for some, it was just the amped-up caffeine fix they needed. For others, like one reluctant editor, a few sips were enough before proclaiming they were "too young to die."
For more on Death Wish Coffee, see deathwishcoffee.com.
Coffee Flour: For the Kitchen Whiz
Background: Coffee Flour is an ingredient created from the byproducts of the coffee-making process, which makes it the most sustainable buzz in town. The inventors of Coffee Flour, Dan Belliveau and Andrew Fedak, found a method of milling the skin and pulp surrounding the coffee bean into a culinary flour that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Best of all, this coffee product stores the highest concentration of nutrients in coffee.
The Result: Coffee Flour's fine grind lends itself seamlessly to just about any baked good you can think of—but putting it in a smoothie is the easiest way to mix it into your daily routine. It added a rich, roasted flavor to my morning smoothie with a welcomed subtle buzz that wasn't overpowering. It certainly won't replace coffee in your life, but it's a great way to spike all your favorite treats with that rich coffee flavor and aroma.
For more on Coffee Flour, see coffeeflour.com.
Know anyone who could use a new kind of caffeine fix? Share with them!