The variety of drinks found in Japan’s ubiquitous vending machines is enough to drive a person insane. There are hundreds of varieties of coffee, soups, colas… and we haven’t even discussed the range of alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, we at PacSet are here to be willing guinea pigs and try some of this stuff out for you. Some of it will be good. Some of it will be bad. Some of it will inspire songs, others nightmares. We’ll collect all our findings right here, in a little column we call…
Alright folks, let’s do this.
Chapter 1: Gekiteki Bitou
Japan LOVES canned coffee. Fueled by the rise of the convenience store and the desire of salarymen to not fall asleep on their desks, canned cups of Joe have become a major component of Japan’s beverage industry. Just think: some of Japan’s most iconic beverage lines are tied to coffee. Kirin has FIRE, CocaCola has GEORGIA, and Suntory has BOSS Coffee, which birthed the advertising campaign featuring Tommy Lee Jones as an alien (which is also why I’ve used his face as the rating system for this column <3). In 2013, the canned coffee industry was valued at over 739 billion yen ($6.8 Billion US Dollars!).
There’s one down side to this trend: the average can of coffee in Japan actually comes with cream and sugar, which makes it an awfully sweet drink. If you check the label, many coffees list milk and sugar BEFORE coffee. SO: to cater to those of us who like their coffee less sweet, there are cans of straight coffee, low-calorie coffee, and then stuff like this: “low sugar” coffee. This is “Gekiteki Bitou,” the latest in a parade of “low sugar” coffees.
“Gekiteki” can be translated as “dramatic” or even “revelatory”, which is never a word I would use to describe anything that comes in a can – especially this. On first sip, I got the coffee flavor, but then in came the flavors of Aspartame, Sucralose, and some other sweeteners. It was like the coffee was running onto a crowded train, and then all the sweeteners were like “oh damn, we should get on this train too!” Perhaps that’s why the aftertaste of this “revelation” tasted like I had licked the walls of the Yamanote Line.
The coffee was nice, but after the coffee tried to tell me of its revelations, all of the sweeteners stood up and tried to sell me Amway products. It was really strange.
Yeah, like that.
For starters, as a coffee drinker, if I want less sugar, it’s because I want the coffee to taste more like, I dunno… coffee. This didn’t do that. This was like “Diet Dr. Starbucks with a side of sadness.” I’d drink it if there was no other way to get coffee, but guess what – there are other ways. I’m going to stick with those.
Drink: 劇的微糖 (Gekiteki Bitou) – “Dramatic Low Sugar”
The Good: It’s coffee.
The Bad: Almost everything else.
RATING: 1.5 Tommy Lee Jones Boss Heads out of 5