After all the hard work of last week, I thought a light-hearted end of the month with a look at European iced coffee brands and how they compare to each other would be nice. Every travelling geek needs his cafeïne kick, and iced coffee is one of my favorite drinks to stay sharp and enjoy the taste of arabica.
I’ve picked three brands that are mostly available. As a weigh-in, I’ve taken Emmi’s “Choco Latte” swiss chocolate milk, because Emmi’s renowned for it’s cafeïne-containing drinks beyond just the coffee-flavoured ones. I will judge the four contestants by ‘coder’s value’ (Cafeïne, general effects on your mental state), ‘taster’s choice’ (overall flavour), graphic design, and ‘interface’ design (meaning the end-user friendliness of the package).
From left to right in the header image you can see;
1. Café Fresco by Douwe Egberts and Campina. Café Fresco is a relatively novel entrant to the iced coffee market and a collaborative effort by Dutch Coffee brand Douwe Egberts (a subsidiary of Sarah Lee) and Campina, one of the premier dairy companies in the Netherlands. It’s advertising campaign was a blast to graphic designers. Recently, a ‘Light’ variant was launched aside the two existing variants; “Cappuccino” and “Macchiato”
2. Mövenpick Caffé Espresso Fredo. Mövenpick ventured into the iced coffee business from their ‘home ground’ as an ice-cream producer. Not really marketed locally, it can be found in the less mainstream aisles in some select chains of supermarkets.
3. Emmi’s Caffé Latte Espresso. Although “Latte Espresso” screams “contradictio-in-terminis” to me, Emmi’s a renowned maker of cold drinks and has a large selection of iced coffees. For a fair comparison, I’ve chosen the espresso variant, but there are many more.
Last but not least, 4. Emmi’s Choco Latte is a good alternative to iced coffee when you’ve lost the taste for it.
So, how do the contestants weigh in terms of cafeïne? It’s easy to match the drinks, given the numbers are out there. When consulting the packaging of the drinks, we can find out that contestant 2 (Mövenpick’s Caffé Espresso Fredo) does do justice to it’s name. It contains about six percent total in coffee extract, placing just above contestant 4 (Swiss chocolate milk Emmi’s Choco Latte) when it comes to cafeïne percentages. Top ranked is contestant 3 (Emmi’s Caffé Latte Espresso) – it contains a whopping 13% of coffee extract. Closing the gate is Café Fresco, with a minute 1,1% of coffee extract.
Conclusion for the ‘coder’s value’: Picking an Emmi’s or Mövenpick might be the best idea if you are going for a more clear state of mind.
Moving on to general flavour. Although it’s hard to pass judgement on something so personal, I can say I like a round but tangy taste in iced coffee; it shouldn’t slap you in the face with bitterness but it should also remind you you’re drinking coffee instead of aromated chocolate milk.
The absolute winner of flavour is Emmi’s Caffé Latte Espresso. It’s very tangy, has a strong taste that doesn’t make your cheek muscles contract and it sits nicely on an empty stomach. Second is Café Fresco; although it’s meager cafeïne percentages wouldn’t indicate for it, it has a rich flavour that sticks around, while not being fast in it’s deterioration into a milky after taste. Mövenpick can easily be ranked last; it has a watery flavour and doesn’t bring a special aroma or detail worth remembering to the table. I will keep out the Emmi’s Choco Latte from this part of the review because it’s not worth weighing it up against all-coffee flavoured drinks.
Graphic and end-user interface design are also important. While being a matter of opinion, I can definitely say that Café Fresco takes the award. The posters advertising it around my city are fantastic to look at;
Strong, truly Dutch design sticking up it’s head in our streets. There is another poster with metro graphics; I suggest you take a search around the internet if you like them, there’s some pretty high-res imagery of it out there. A runner-up is Emmi’s, for having a tight, unified style, albeit somewhat heavily leaning on design cliché’s.
That’s graphic, however. The ‘interfacing’ with Café Fresco iced coffee (and all others, really) is a bit of a nuisance. First of all, there’s always two steps to opening your package; there is some sort of plastic cover on top that breaks too easily and is prone to cut open your second drink cover, and there’s the plastic cover that you pull off (a ‘freshness seal’, if you will). The second, I have no problems with, but it’s the first that’s really purely aesthetic. You can’t convince me that you should use it to re-seal your drink because it does a shitty job about that.
Mövenpick has an interesting feat, however; their drink is encased in something which seems to be shaped to a standard model of a human hand. Which means your fingers kind of fit ‘into’ the drinking cup, which is a bit freaky, cool, and useless at the same time. I’m not going to give out points for that, and based off my previous observation about the top covers of the drinks, they’re all getting an “F” for not being able to innovate.
For overall value for coding geeks, and pure taste and simple design I think Emmi’s is a clear winner. Café Fresco is a runner-up, while it has good design, it fails to deliver when it comes to the desires of people like me.
That was it for this month. Expect some words on the new Cocoia Main on here, perhaps, and of course, blogging into July this night. Stay tuned and thanks for reading :).