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The small matter of integrity

Recently I was approached by a guy I met briefly several years ago when we were setting up Dr. Coffee’s Café – he (or at least, someone on his team) actually designed our logo and signage for us. I remembered him because he was very personable, seemed like the type who ought to be the patron of some amateur theatre troupe. And also because we had a meeting in Robin’s, where the coffee was so bad I threw up in the bathroom (mainly due to pregnancy, I should add). Anyway, that was early 2015. I am amazed he remembered me!

He is no longer making signs. Instead, he wanted to talk to me about an amazing business opportunity. Alarm bells rang. I am wary about that sort of sales pitch. However, he told me it was coffee related, so always worth checking out, I reckon.

230px-instant_coffee

Coffee in the very loosest sense, apparently. The poor guy has got himself mixed up with Valentus. It’s one of those MLM schemes and he was trying to recruit me into the bottom of a strangely triangular type of business model, if you get my drift. The product that allows you “an opportunity for an extraordinary life” and a global business that you can run from home, with the chance to make 6-figure monthly incomes, is called Slim-Roast. This magical substance is part energy-drink, part weight-loss supplement and part soluble coffee.

Not one part of that last sentence enamors me to the product.

According to Valentus’ website, this drink powder is

Great for:

  • Controls appetite
  • Regulates sugar absorption
  • Regulates fat absorption
  • Promotes brain health and focus
  • Elevates mood
  • Antioxidant

Aside from the obvious grammar error, black coffee manages all of that on its own with neither the bizarre additives nor the hefty price tag.  Apparently though, this is coffee mixed with green tea extract, l-theanine (also a green tea extract) and cacoa (raw chocolate) AND added caffeine. This all produces a substance with 127mg of caffeine for every 8oz fluid ounces, which is roughly double the strength of a can of Red Bull, but without the sugar.

As I have said before, caffeine itself doesn’t actually give you an energy boost (you get that from the sugar in most energy drinks). Instead, you feel more alert after a caffeine boost because caffeine molecules inhibit adenosine receptors in the brain, which are the bit that makes you feel tired. You’re not actually any less tired if you drink coffee, you just don’t feel it until your body metabolises the caffeine. Caffiene already does all the other stuff to some extent: it’s a minor appetitie supressent, it boosts your mood and helps you focus, keeps your brain healthy and can boost your metabolism. But in excess it leads to anxiety, insomnia and hypertension. There is no good reason to add more caffeine to an already beneficial caffeinated drink.

The green tea, the cacao and then ‘green coffee bean extract’ AND extra chlorogenic acid (again with the overkill) are all supposed to increase your anti-oxident intake. It’s also, somehow, made soluable. I wrote about why this is bollocks here.

There is also ‘Garcinia Cambogia’ (tamarind, in other words) which is touted as another appetite suppressant, and Phaseolamin (derived from cannelli beans) that apparently stops your guts from digesting some starches so they pass through you without you taking in so many calories. The key bit there is ‘passing through you’. What is another thing coffee is well known for? Making you poop. The coffee and the raw coffee extract, the tamarind, the phaseolamin and the other superfluous additives come together to form one big … laxative. I guess that would help you lose weight then.

YUCK.

Inevitably though, the product is NOT the main focus of this enterprise. No, this guy was not looking to sell Slim Roast to me, he wanted to recruit me to sell it to other people. I’d have to agree to buy a certain amount from Valentus, and I’d only start getting commission on it if I sell a specific amount every month. The real money only starts when you recruit four people, as you then get commission off their sales too. Ignoring the way the products play in to the cult of being busy, fetishizing stress and the need for constant energy and alertness, or preying on people’s body insecurities (yeah, I really don’t like this stuff!) – someone, somewhere is going to get ripped off. The whole thing relies on people feeding money upwards, and not everyone is going to succeed.

As this guy correctly points out, coffee, weight loss products and energy drinks are all massive global industries right now. I am sure there is a huge market out there for this stuff, somewhere. But it’s not a market I want to step foot into. I am a coffee geek, that’s my passion. I don’t think I am capable of selling anything I don’t believe in, and putting my name to any sort of psuedoscience-hyped coffee derivitive would be the ultimate sell-out. I’ve accepted the fact that my business passion projects are never going to make me rich, and that is fine. I’d much rather be poor and drink real coffee!!

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Kenco Millicano

Ok folks, for the sake of balance, I am trying Kenco Millicano coffee. I had already, erm, voiced my somewhat negative opinion of this stuff on Facebook, and they challenged me to actually try it. So in the interests of fairness and the fact that it was on offer in the supermarket, here goes.

The concept of Kenco Millicano is that it supposedly contains ground up, real coffee beans mixed in to the instant granules:
“‘Wholebean Instant coffee’; a clever combination of instant coffee and finely milled wholebeans. It’s the closest thing to ‘proper’ coffee in an instant. ”
As I’ve pointed out previously – most notably when Nescafe tried this with their raw coffee Green Blend – real coffee, whether roasted or green, is NOT naturally soluble. There is a reason why you have to filter it or use an espresso machine! So, if Kenco really have put real grounds into their instant coffee, I ought to get some sort of gritty residue at the bottom of my cup. Lovely, just what I look out for in a good coffee.

It smells awful. The problem with studying coffee and running a coffee shop, is that the more great coffee I get to try, the less I am able to tolerate crap. I did used to drink instant coffee – there you go, I admitted it. To me, Kenco Millicano smells like every other instant coffee – stale, almost like mildew, and at best, like coffee scented candles, that artificially sweet smell you get in interior design shops next to the bath bombs. Anyway, Millicano doesn’t actually smell that sweet, but it definitely does not smell like the real thing.

I hesitantly poured boiling water on to it. The smell gets worse, and then something very odd happens. Somehow, they’ve managed to generate artificial crema! I sincerely doubt that really is the coffee oils rising to the surface. Even if it really does have real coffee grounds in this mix, you don’t often get crema on the top of filter coffee anyway! More worryingly still, the crema was a deep, reddish brown, mahogany coloured. not the golden caramel colour it should be.

It tastes absolutely vile. Stale sawdust, mouldy, and bitter, with an acrid aftertaste like the taste of paracetamol when you don’t gulp the tablets with water. It is roughly akin to every other instant coffee I’ve tried recently – possibly worse than Nescafe Green Blend, better than the South African Frisco but not by much!!

I couldn’t get to the bottom of the cup drinking this black, so I’ve added sugar. At least the paracetamol aftertaste has gone.

Miranda has just smelled it and screwed her little face up!!!

Glop. Ok, over with. And yes, true to their word, there is some sort of unpalatable, grainy sludge at the bottom of my cup. This, I hope, is the real coffee grounds. I feel sorry for them, that truly was a fate worse than death for those beans.

Kenco – just… WHY? Why muck about with perfectly good coffee? Good coffee is worth waiting for, and making filter coffee is hardly much more hassle than boiling a kettle anyway, is it? NO NEED!!

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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