Soylent announced its newest product last week — Coffiest, which is marketed as “a balanced breakfast and your morning coffee.” This is exciting for me because it combines my two favourite things: chemicals that make you feel awake and tech.
I understand that Soylent, conceptually, is fun to hate. It’s the rich man’s Muscle Milk. Tech writer Nellie Bowles once described it as “Slimfast… by and for men, so we call it tech.” An illustration of Silicon Valley culture at its most out-of-touch, Soylent is a venture-funded solution to the pesky problem of food.
Founder Rob Rhinehart came up with the idea for Soylent because he realised food is dumb and inefficient. Soylent is dumb because food tastes good and eating is, generally, a pleasurable activity. Also, it’s not a legitimate meal replacement. There are countless stunt pieces involving writers trying to live only on Soylent alone, and, spoiler alert, it does not work out very well for the writers! Plus, actual scientists dispute a lot of Rhinehart’s claims about how nutritional the product even is.
And yet, I’m sorta enchanted by the whole thing. Soylent feels like a fun emblem of some weird quasi-dystopian technofuture where people are half-machine and don’t eat real food. It’s like a liquid version of those bug bars from Snowpiercer. Soylent is “tech” at its absolute funniest, and for that, I appreciate it.
Like any good tech company, Soylent is innovating and punting new products at unwitting consumers. Coffiest is the third product in company’s lineup, joining the flagship Soylent 2.0 liquid food and a powdered form of Soylent 2.0. The new liquid food tastes like a chalky, less sweet version of those bottled Frappuccinos. It’s not the best thing in the world. It doesn’t taste good; rather, it tastes bad in a way I don’t mind. Regular Soylent tastes like thick, chalky soy milk, but adding in the coffee really brings out how synthetic the flavour is.
The opening of the bottle, haphazardly stained with Coffiest remnants, is a reminder that you’re basically drinking fancy-arse Muscle Milk.
Now, let’s talk facts. One bottle of Coffiest contains 400 calories. Where do those calories come from? According to the listed ingredients, this liquid food is filled with delicious things like “Soy Protein, Isolate, Maltodextrin, High Oleic Algal Oil, Isomaltulose, Natural Coffee Flavour, Canola Oil, Coffee powder, Natural and Artificial Flavours, Oat Fibre, Alkalized Cocoa Powder, Isomaltooligosaccharide, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Gellan Gum, L-theanine” and about fifteen other chemicals.
If Isomaltooligosaccharide doesn’t get your mouth-watering, maybe this will: It only costs $US40 ($52) for a monthly supply. I crunched the numbers and that’s $US1.30 ($2) a bottle, which is cheaper than a coffee shop. Also, it’s vegan and nut-free, but it does contain soy.
I drank it lukewarm and over ice, but like a fine red wine, it tastes best at room temperature. When it’s cold, you can’t really taste anything except for the synthetic aftertaste. I thought I might be able to get into Coffiest when I took my first sip, but after a couple more, I was done.
Would I recommend Coffiest to a friend? No. But I did make my coworkers drink it. Mike, Gizmodo’s tech editor, said it tasted like he “was drinking flour water with a dash of chocolate.” While staff writer Bryan says, “It’s thin at first, but then coats the entire inside of your mouth the way that a Yoohoo or peanut butter or a can of paint would.”
Overall, I give Coffiest a 69/100. It’s barely a passing grade, but at least it’s entertaining.