Coffiest: Pediasure (with a Buzz) for Adults

 
 

Let me preface this review by exposing, upfront, two of my personal (and conflicting) biases:

#1 - I default to grab-and-go food, even when I’m decidedly not on the go. Sometimes I’ll reach out of bed for a protein bar instead of going into the kitchen. I’ll put coffee in a thermos, or grab a single bottled iced coffee, and head to the patio. I’m not sure where this originates from, but portable food greatly appeals to me… even when I don’t specifically have anywhere to go.

#2 - One of my perpetual monthly goals is to eat more real food. Freshly made, freshly prepared, preferably vegan real food, (a tall order given my predilection for grab-and-go products.) When I was in college, I tended to use food to control my study-sleep schedule. During finals or days I knew would end in all-nighters, I would eat mainly coffee and gummy bears; breads and pastas were slight depressants and could only be eaten on days I knew I would finish my homework early. Now, I want to make up for all those gummy bear-only weeks. I want to be kind to my body and to my future self who will still have this body ten, twenty, thirty years from now. I believe accomplishing this is simple: 

Eat real food.

Goodbye, prepackaged foods; hello, fruit stand.

So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t thrilled when my boss informed me via Protonet messenger that I’d be drinking Soylent’s newest bottled product Coffiest, ticketed as a coffee-infused meal replacement for people too busy developing web apps to cook, order in, or even wash off some fruit, in order to write a product review about it.

In fact, I kind of hate everything about Soylent’s marketing tactics. Why are we replacing food with single-flavor sludge? Isn’t the world full of beautiful, diverse, complex, and simple foods? Why are we wasting the limited number of meals we get in a lifetime on this? (I know, the protein bars are easy to argue against with this same logic. I’m working on cutting back, OK?) 

I quickly shot back a series of protests:

Or we could just inject caffeine straight into our bloodstream and get it over with.

Why do people hate food? ‘You never have to eat real food again! Just drink our Slimfast-for-men bottles!’ & ‘Now complete with fluids! Forget carrying two bottlesone for coffee, one for “food.” Now, it's all in the same bottle!’

It’s baby food for adults. Pediasure with a buzz.

So, he ordered us an entire case of Coffiest.

To Soylent’s credit, its drinks are now certified vegan and its ingredients ethically sourced. Coffiest is full of fiber, a rarity for bottled coffee. I hate to drink calories because they’re often just sugar, whether natural or artificial. But not Soylent. It’s half vitamin, half sugary sludge. At 400 calories a bottle, it is a solid meal replacement. Brandon pointed out it’s about the caloric equivalent of a muffin and flavored iced coffee, probably with less total sugar.

You can check out last week’s “Week Of” blog for the full story on this, but suffice to say the morning the Coffiest arrived, I was pleasantly surprised and eagerly popped one open.

The first sip I took, I did a double take. I knew this taste. What was it? It had a vague association with mornings, in my mind. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. I noticed Brandon was standing just outside my office door.

“Hey, wait,” I said. “What does this taste like?”

“Oatmeal.”

Yes. It tasted like the Trader Joe’s instant oatmeal packets I used to keep in my snack cabinet at my last job. (That’s right, a retired filing cabinet turned personal snack trove.) Perfect for mornings when I was still hungry after my yogurt and fruit or, worse, when I had accidentally left my yogurt and fruit on the kitchen counter in my rush out the door.

I finished the Coffiest bottle at 11:00 AM and noted that it’d probably taste better over ice. I was dismayed to realize that I couldn’t go grab lunch at noon… because I’d just drank it, all 400 calories. But, I did feel full, a feeling that continued until around 7:40 PM. Normally I’d feel hungry again around 4:30 or 5:00 PM. This extended feeling of fullness alone impressed me. I also noted that I didn’t feel drained, either, no second or third coffee needed as the afternoon wore on.

I replicated this the next day and found eerily consistent results: finished a bottle of Coffiest at 11:00 AM, skipped grabbing lunch, skipped afternoon coffee, hungry at 7:45 PM. And after dinner, I had plenty of energy for a late night workout.

The next morning, I looked up how to order more Coffiest for myself.

I don’t know how it happened. Nor do I know if Coffiest is really the best thing for me to eat for lunch, but it’s a pretty good substitute for the best. I am converted—and I really, really hate to admit that. Yes, I’d recommend Coffiest to friends and family. Yes, I will repurchase it for myself in the future. And yes, I’m giving it my first 5-star review of anything, ever, because not only is it a quality product, but it converted me into an occasional user in spite of my stubborn, unfounded early hatred of everything for which Soylent stood.

While I won’t replace my every meal with Soylent, I do think Soylent in moderation could add to a balanced diet. It’s not as black-and-white as I had feared. To Soylent, or not to Soylent—it’s not an all-in, all-out question. It’s not a state of being; it’s a breakfast product.

Just remember, people of the internet: eat real food, too.

In food, there’s so much more than the possibility for nutrients. There’s the possibility for creation in cooking, for generosity in sharing, for family or friends around a dinner table. Food is more than the sum of its parts.

Rob Rhinehart, Soylent’s creator, has imagined we’ll all be eating two to three meals a week, as he currently does, on top of eating a nutrient-rich meal replacement such as Soylent. Eating will be like boozing, he says—something we do recreationally with friends, or as a hobby. But I argue that food consumption, when done right, is already recreational, enjoyable, and sharable (every day.)

We know what’s gained with grab-and-go food—productivity, time for work or for yourself—but what’s lost? Sure, I’ll grab a bottle of Coffiest for a quick breakfast or lunch every now and again. But the local restaurants and coffee shops in my neighborhood I hold much closer to my heart than I ever will a pre-bottled meal replacement.

So here you go, Soylent: 5 stars. We fangirled a bit, we are pretty sure you have a world domination scheme, 50-50 on the alien requirement in our rating system. You earned a place in our fridges, not to mention the highest rating a technology blog like ours can bestow. Use your powers for good.