For many of us, an early morning cup of coffee is the perfect way to start the day.
For a few more of us, nothing beats topping up a morning dose with a nice latte at lunch.
And some more of us still may come home and decide the evening isn’t complete without a big mug of mocha.
Some people though… Some people need more.
For the espresso eccentric, simply drinking a standard cup of joe is just about the worst way to enjoy coffee.
They need it in their food, they want it in their soap and they’d probably quite like it in their perfume.
And as people’s coffee mania evolves, more and more bizarre innovations attempt to come and fill the imaginary gaps in the market.
From vaping to hot sauce, we examine the five wackiest ways to get yourself a coffee hit – featuring the good, the bad, and a whole lot of ugly.
They’ll have you running back to your machine in no time at all.
So you love coffee.
Like, you really love it.
You’re a mega fan, you’ve got the hat, the scarf, a poster on your wall – it’s all you ever talk about.
But if you really loved coffee, wouldn’t you want to start, I don’t know, snorting it or maybe even injecting it into your bloodstream?
Well, unfortunately, a lot of starry-eyed entrepreneurs out there think you might be up for it.
They think you’re bored with drinking coffee.
They think you should start smoking it.
Marketed as ‘the coffee you can breathe’, the SNOW+ from Otolab is supposedly the revolutionary coffee vaping device we’ve been waiting for, helping those with a hectic lifestyle get their café fix on the go.
“We can’t live without coffee… but coffee is not always accessible everywhere,” Otolabs declares on its website.
“We create a device that can be carried every day in your pocket… so that you can enjoy your coffee anywhere you want.”
It’s a nice sentiment from Otolab, although we’re not sure it makes much sense, as it’s hard to think of anywhere in the western world that isn’t swarming with readily available coffee shops.
Other than the bizarre novelty of combining people’s love of vaping and cappuccinos, there’s seemingly no real need for this vaping invention.
But SNOW+ is claiming to be more than just your average funky vape flavor.
Unlike a standard flavored e-liquid, SNOW+ is said to be extracted from real coffee, and could potentially be an unusual way for caffeine junkies to get a hit without the need for a double espresso shot.
In theory, this should work, as inhaling vaporized caffeine will take effect a lot faster than just drinking caffeinated-drinks, as it delivers to your lungs and body much quicker than digestion.
However, the actual caffeine content in SNOW+ suggests it would be a less than effective cappuccino replacement.
The product claims to pack a pitiful 0.4mg of caffeine per gram in its refill pods which is nothing compared to the 94.8mg per gram in the standard cup of coffee.
0.4mg is so small that you’d likely feel no effect whatsoever.
To make things worse, there’s now also evidence to suggest that vaping may not be the safer cigarette substitute it used to be.
The phenomenon has been tied to several bizarre lung injuries in the US and even some deaths in the past few years leading experts to be unsure if it’s 100% safe.
… Coffee anyone?
If you ask us, scientists have gone barmy when it comes to creating food-free food.
Burgers no longer need meat, milk is free of dairy, there’s a war on gluten and we’re all doomed to live in a world where everything that looks tasty is secretly made out of plant-based gloop.
And now they want to make our coffee without beans.
Atamo Coffee is a Seattle-based start-up who have incredibly created the first-ever molecular cup of coffee – a bean-free blend which owes its structure to pure science.
The brainchild of food scientist Jarret Stopforth and entrepreneur Andy Kleitsch, Atamo coffee is the result of the duo analyzing the molecular compounds of normal coffee and using it as a blueprint to reverse engineer a beanless wonder.
The finished product is a sort of ground coffee powder, made of entirely naturally-derived and sustainable ingredients, with the aim of delivering a coffee that still delivers in body, mouthfeel, aroma and flavour.
But why would we even want our coffee to be entirely free from beans?
Well, Atamo claims one of the reasons behind their interesting innovation is the environmental problems surrounding the harvesting of coffee.
They say climate change is affecting the quality of our beans, as soaring temperatures in coffee-growing countries are causing the fruit of coffee trees to ripen too quickly.
This stops the beans inside from fully developing, and they end up lacking flavor and aroma.
So a bean less alternative potentially makes for a far more sustainable product that isn’t under the same threats.
Due to not having to rely on the quality of beans, Atamo has also been able to optimize the ‘perfect’ cup of coffee, free from common issues such as bitterness.
Chlorogenic acid is a compound found in all roasted coffee beans and is the main villain when it comes to contributing coffee’s bitter flavour.
However, Atamo’s molecular drink doesn’t contain it, because why add a chemical compound nobody likes?
The duo hopes to have molecular coffee on the market by 2020 and aim to make it an affordable commodity for all coffee lovers.
We’re certainly sold anyway.
Bring on a world of plant-based gloop!
Coffee Hot Sauce
We all know a certain someone (Dad) who simply has to show off their manly palate at every occasion:
Curry? They’ll have the Phaal.
Steak? They’ll have it blue.
Coffee? They’ll take it black.
But while your old man’s caveman diet is surely impressive, even the greatest of dinner daredevils may not have the stomach for this bizarre coffee product…
A super-strength hot sauce from condiment company Queen Majesty, this coffee hot sauce claims to ‘perfectly balance’ the bitter flavor of black coffee with the sensational heat of Red Habanero Chilies.
Because who hasn’t dreamed of pouring a load of spicy coffee on their bacon buttie?
Alright granted, nobody ever has – but this unusual chili recipe is not as bad as it sounds.
Rather than chunks of bean or a load of bitter grounds mixed into her majesty’s relish, the black coffee flavor is actually added in a far more subtle way.
Her Royal Highness of hot sauce cold brews coffee with vinegar instead of water and then mixes it with a habanero mash to infuse the flavor.
This vinegar makes sure the taste of java is not overpowering and adds a bitterness which helps combat the searing heat of habanero chilies.
Of course, this also means it wouldn’t be a particularly good substitute for a morning espresso, as the sauce itself is severely lacking in caffeine. However, it more than makes up for that with its healthy dose of heat, which is sure to replicate a cup of joe’s stimulant effects.
And let’s be honest it’ll probably trump caffeine’s laxative qualities too.
Pun very much intended.
Brown… It’s no one’s favorite color, is it?
It’s murky, it’s dark and it lacks all the charm of a nice rouge, or a royal blue say.
But would you really choose anything else for your morning espresso?
Well, Slovakian entrepreneurs, David and Adam Nagy would, in fact, they’d choose no color at all.
Unleashed upon the world in 2017, the CLR CFF coffee drink was the Nagy brother’s effort to create the beverage no one was asking for: the world’s first colorless coffee drink.
It looked just like a bottle of water and purportedly tasted just like a cup of coffee.
But why exactly was it invented?
Well, the drink’s website claims the idea to create a transparent brew came about after the company’s founders began experiencing teeth staining issues as a result of their heavy espresso habit.
Java addicts know all too well the effect it can have on a winning smile, as its ingredients can often have dulling effects on your tooth enamel.
For those who drink several a day, keeping on top of things can be a bit of a pain and so CLR CFF marketed itself as the answer for a stain-free experience.
Except well… a lot of people said it didn’t really taste like coffee.
Some of the writing staff at Metro reviewed the drink in 2017 and gave it a less than glowing review, but agreed it was at least drinkable:
“Imagine making a caffeine of coffee and then forgetting to wash it out. The next day, you add cold water to get the very last dregs of flavour out of the wet beans – and that’s what this tastes like. Water…but an aftertaste of coffee.”
Considering the ingredients on the bottle were listed as water, freshly roasted beans and natural caffeine, that maybe shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
The reviews from some of the general public however, were a lot less kind.
In Amazon’s top reviews, the ‘most helpful’ critique of CLR CFF suggests it is the closest thing to experiencing ‘exorcism by olfactory & gustatory bombardment’ and suggests ‘rainwater and whatever dirt is in the bottom of a city rubbish bin would probably taste better.’
Not exactly the revolutionary clear cup of joe you’d imagine then.
An abandoned Indiegogo campaign for the drink which had raised just £296 of a £29,752 goal suggests demand died down very quickly, and bottles are currently unavailable for purchase on Clr Cff’s site.
What a shame.
Wait… you can eat coffee beans!?
Yes… yes you can.
Wow… should I be eating them!?
Err… probably not.
But whether it’s an attempt to experience bean in their purest form, or just a quick snack when smothered in chocolate, there’s no denying that eating coffee is now definitely a thing.
The central idea behind snacking on some roasties is that they help you absorb caffeine faster, and have more antioxidants and fewer calories than a cup of joe.
So if you’re a believer in the health benefits of drinking coffee, it’s easy to see how you might end up preaching the advantages of eating them.
It was even reported in 2017 that Victoria Beckham was an advocate of munching down on beans as an alternative to a stiff drink on a night out.
Whatever gets you off Posh.
However, as well as it’s fantastically amplified benefits, eating raw beans obviously also ramps up the negative sides of drinking coffee.
So even though you might be improving your well-being when grazing in moderation, too many beans can lead to heartburn, laxative effects and of course caffeine jitters.
And this probably goes without saying, but no matter how strong you like your cuppa, tucking into a roasted bean isn’t exactly a taste sensation, and will probably leave you with a smile like a mud-eater.
Hence why we’ve been drinking coffee since the 15th century.
Dan is a former competition barista and has been honing his knowledge of coffee for over two decades.
He has worked in coffee farms in Peru, as well as roasters in Australia. He now trains new baristas and hosts cupping experiences in Austin.