It’s no secret that Korean grocery stores hold a wealth of new oddities to discover. One of these things is Japanese canned coffee. It’s a popular industry and some of the drinks can be found in the fridge at your neighborhood carry-out, or in your favorite ramen shop.
We (myself, our Coffee Director Victor and our Regional Manager Wahid) decided to get together around the conference table and have a casual tasting of a few cans we found at H-Mart, and these are the results.
Pokka Milk Coffee
Victor: It smells like chocolate. Like vietnamese coffee. Whoa, it’s sweet. Tastes like Starbucks.
Wahid: No, it’s like a watered-down Starbucks. Liquidy. What’s in this? “Water, milk, coffee beans, sugar“– oh, it’s the “sorbitan monostearate.” That’s what I was looking for. “Sucrose esters of fatty acids.” This is an awesome ingredients list. This other one has more sucrose.
Victor: Yeah, the cappucino one.
Wahid: This is gonna have a nice, thick foam, right? Is this a dry or white cappucino?
Farrah: I didn’t expect it to be that sweet. I imagined simple coffee and milk.
Victor: That’s why it tastes good.
Wahid: This has HACCP? What the fuck is HACCP? That’s like your restaurant health plan. So this is HACCP certified.
Victor: So, that one smelled like chocolate, this one smells like caramel.
Wahid: I actually expected these to be carbonated or nitrified. This is like your standard, sweetened iced coffee. It’s like your 7-Eleven French Vanilla. How the hell is this a cappucino?
Victor: It might be the extra sucrose esters or fatty acids.
Farrah: This tastes like the vanilla coffee creamer you pick up at the store. I can’t even taste any coffee in it.
Wahid: This one has more of those.
Pokka Milk Coffee (again?)
Wahid: This one is “real brewed.” It doesn’t smell right.
Victor: It doesn’t really have a smell. It’s sugar. All sugar.
Wahid: It’s a beautifully balanced sugar. I think they balanced the esters with the fatty acids.
Farrah: What’s the difference between these two? This silver one is “Milk Coffee, Real Brewed,” and this blue one is “Milk Coffee, Real Brewed.”
Victor: The blue one has more aroma, but they taste similar.
Wahid: This one has the “stabilizer E473.” I love these guys. Needs more stabilizer. Needs more fatty acids.
Farrah: This one is what I expected the first one to taste like.
Wahid: They like to rebrand. They have a bunch of different logos. They’re like Dolcezza; they can’t get their shit together.
Black Boss Coffee
Victor: This one smells like old coffee. It doesn’t have any sugar. It’s not strong, actually.
Wahid: It’s like day-old 7-Eleven coffee.
Victor: It’s just black coffee, that’s all it is. It’s definitely not cold brewed, though. It’s hot coffee that they chilled.
Farrah: It smells leathery. It’s over-roasted.
Wahid: It’s a robusta. SUNTORY BLACK BOSS! Look at this guy! It’s like Sherlock Holmes is their mascot.
Victor: The can is pretty sweet.
Wahid: What does this say? “Suntory boss is the boss of them all.”
UCC Coffee With Milk
Victor: This one smells sweet. It’s the sweetest one so far.
Wahid: I like this Pokka. They have a pretty good extraction. The coffee itself doesn’t taste bad.
Farrah: UCC does have canned black coffee that doesn’t have milk, but this one is more popular.
Wahid: This one has “water, sugar, milk powder and coffee.”
Farrah: This to me tastes like a Starbucks bottled frappucino.
Kona Blend Coffee With Milk
Wahid: “Contains not less than 10% Kona Coffee.” Okay then. The coffee in that is bad.
Farrah: This is the one I like the most. I would buy this.
Victor: The coffee is watered down.
Farrah: I don’t think it’s meant to be good coffee. I think they’ve all got a lot of sugar and milk to hide the bad coffee.
Our favorites (if we had to choose out of desperation):
Wahid: The Pokka Cappucino.
Victor: I like the Black Boss. Mostly for the label. Everything else is too sweet.