Day 141: Bev of the Week – Caramel Coca-Cola With Coffee?

This is a story that I’ve told a million times before. As a young and bored teenager, the coolest thing in the world was trying to stay up as late as humanly possible. In order to achieve this, I would make crappy bev concoctions that tasted awful but I guess had caffeine. One obvious mixture that every kid thinks of is Coca-Cola and coffee. Our taste buds were too lame to enjoy coffee for what it was, so the idea of mixing it with sugary cola made a whole lot of sense. Except my parents never kept coffee in the house. My mom only drank a brand of powdered “cappuccino” called “General Foods International Coffee”, which is the most middle class brand name to ever exist. The distinguished vanilla flavor did not blend well with the Coke and honestly, the jury is out there on how much caffeine was actually in it.

As years passed, Coca-Cola decided to start doing the work for me, making new concoctions to add caffeine, or the illusion of it. In 2006, there was Coca-Cola BlāK, which I tried once out of desperation to stay awake on a long drive. It mixed very poorly with menthol cigarettes. There was also Coca-Cola Energy, which already had a Bev of the Week article. It’s delicious, helpful and I still drink it weekly. At that point, Coke got it right. They were better off sticking with it and promoting the hell out of it. But they had to keep tinkering and a week ago, the world was met with something…uhh…different.

I was standing in line at Stop & Shop the other day. I was soaking in the fact that it would be the last time I had to stand in that stupid, stupid line filled with stupid objects. To my surprise, a new stupid object was placed there in hopes that I would buy it. It was as if Stop & Shop knew I was leaving for good and they were like, “Coze, wait! You’re the only person that buys Coke Energy! Before you leave, you should try…Coke with Coffee!” Of course I bought it. How could I resist? If there’s anything I love more than Coca-Cola and coffee, it’s new bevs to try. I’d be an idiot not to!

As it turns out, I’m just plain an idiot. This is not a pleasant bev. But not in ways that you would expect. When it first hits your tongue, all the flavors are there: cola, coffee and a hint of caramel. If that sounds disgusting to you, that’s because it is. But I’m a psychopath and the combination is honestly palatable to me. However, once the flavor leaves your tongue and travels down your throat, the flavor suddenly vanishes. It’s just…gone. Nothing lingers and you wonder whether or not you imagined the sip. I took a long gulp just to be sure. The flavor is all there at first and then as soon as it’s gone, all I could taste was my own breath. Just air. Nothing. It doesn’t even taste like water, because it ends up making you feel dehydrated. Basically, it’s the same sensual aesthetic as throwing up.

I don’t know how they did this. It feels like the work of witchcraft. How can a flavor disappear so quickly? For starters, there’s barely any sugar in it. About half the amount as regular Coke. While this might explain some of it, it should be noted that Diet Coke doesn’t suffer the same fate, or at least to the same magnitude. Diet Coke definitely has rapid flavor deterioration, but it’s not instant. It’s not tricking you into thinking you have Covid. Same goes for Coke Zero. Instead of a quick fade of flavor, Coca-Cola With Coffee is the bev equivalent of a table cloth trick. It’s a parlor gimmick. Come, taste this terrible soda. The flavor won’t even last long enough for you to regret it! It’s cheap gum, it’s Tila Tequila, it’s…Coca-Cola With Coffee!

In order to be Bev of the Week, the bev doesn’t need to be good. And Caramel Coca-Cola With Coffee is not good. But it’s a fascinating experiment that deserves attention. It’s an orgy of flavor followed by emptiness! It’s disappointment in a can! In all of my years of bev drinking, I have never fully felt this way. And this is coming from a dude that used to drink Fresca. So I implore you, if you ever feel like taunting your tastebuds, try out Coca-Cola With Coffee. The worst that could happen is that you’ll ingest it. It’s the most benign bev to ever exist.