Thursday, February 17, 2011
Maxim Cafe Menu (Oreo, Mont Blanc)
When I lived back home, I used to buy General Foods International Coffees. I didn't have any moments to 'celebrate', but they made adequate sugar-free instant coffee. At that point in time, I was a coffee wuss and couldn't stomach the real stuff. Those flavored coffees are like training wheels...okay, perhaps more like tricycles that your parents are holding onto the back of while you ride around tentatively. They give you a thimble of coffee, a ton of fake flavor, a lot of powdered milk and gobs of artificial sweetener. I'm guessing one has no more than a smattering of coffee beans worth of actual coffee...okay, perhaps no more than a smattering of coffee-flavored chemicals.
Since "graduating" to "the hard stuff" (aka real coffee), I haven't bought many flavored instant coffees. Part of the reason for that is that I live in Japan, where sugar-free versions of such things don't exist so a small serving of instant coffee brings with it gobs of actual sugar instead of chemicals that are meant to fool you into thinking you're having sugar. Another reason is that such things are expensive for piddly amounts of warm, brown liquid.
I was strolling around Peacock supermarket when the Maxim Oreo cafe latte mix and I couldn't resist. The Mont Blanc was hanging out next to it so I decided to toss it in as well. Each box cost 158 yen ($1.94) for 5 servings of the Oreo flavor and 4 of the Mont Blanc. I don't know why one has more than the other, but I think it's because one is more elegant fake coffee and the other low-brow junk food fake coffee.
I didn't take a picture of the coffee after I made it because it looks like coffee. There was really nothing to see so I justified being slack about the pictures. Imagine any of the billions of images of coffee out there and visualize one. There, you got it.
Both make a small amount of coffee. You add 130 ml. of hot water to the powder in each tube. I tried the Mont Blanc first and it didn't taste like much of anything. If you added a teaspoon of regular brewed coffee to reconstituted powdered milk with just the barest whisper of chestnut, that's what it is. It isn't particularly sweet, which is either a plus or a minus depending on how you like such things. I tried it with a little sweetener to see if making it sweeter would bring out more of the chestnut, but it just made it sweeter which totally drowned out the minimal coffee and whispery chestnut flavor.
The Oreo flavored coffee was a different kettle of fish, which is not to say that it tasted like fish. It did, however, make a strange crackling noise when I added in the powder. I think that if you were trying to create some sort of faux witches brew situation for Halloween with accompanying sound effects, this would do it for you. Though both of these are labeled "latte", the Oreo version was a lot darker and had a stronger coffee flavor as well as what tasted like essence of cookie crumbs mixed into it. That may not sound too bad, but the problem is that bitter chocolate Oreo cookie crumbs without the sweet creamy filling doesn't work so well. If you add bitter (coffee) to bitter (chocolate cookie), you get a strange combination. It's not bad, but it's not good. At least this tastes like something though, which is more than I can say for the Mont Blanc version.
Neither of these coffees lit my fire, and I definitely wouldn't buy them again. At about 65 calories per 3/4 cup serving, I'm not inclined to waste my precious snacking allotment on these. I'm not even sure that I'll finish these two boxes. They don't have to be bad to get stuck at the back of my snack basket and collect dust. They just don't have to be good and these are incredibly so-so.