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Coffee Time

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Contrary to all the available evidence I do actually drink hot beverages too.  Mainly tea, but I will have a cup of coffee now and then.  Although we still had almost a full jar of Carte Noire instant in the cupboard at home, I saw in Lidl a jar of instant coffee and thought I may as well give it a whirl.  GranArom Highland Gold 100% Arabica.  £1.68 for 100g.

GranAroma and Amaretti

I’ve yet to figure out what they mean by gold coffee, because it seems the only difference is the colour of the granules and the price.  And why Highland?  There aren’t any coffee plantations north of Stirling, surely?  If so, the Scots are keeping that quiet.

The back of the label gives no clues either, it just says beans taken from the world famous plantations are blended and so on.  It doesn’t say which famous plantations.  I mean it could either be the ones on the banks of the Clyde at Lanark, or that well known plantation in Fife.

I can’t help but read the name of this coffee as Granarama, which is pretty much what Tower Nightclub was on a Friday night.

I took the lid off to partake of the aroma.  Although it’s not as good as opening a new pack of coffee grounds and getting a noseful of that, but some satisfaction can be gained from instant.  However, it isn’t in this case.  Seeing the look of disapproval clambering all over my face put my wife off having a smell too.  Hearing me utter “ugh, Christ!” convinced her that she didn’t want to drink it either.  I opened the Carte Noire just to check if my nose was working properly.  It was, the CN smells gorgeous.  Granarama just smells, well, it just smells burnt, with a definite undertone of a cigar tube.

But, soldiering on in the cause of informing the consumers, I boiled the kettle.  I then had an idea.  I would create two identical cups of coffee.  One Granarama, and one Carte Noire.  I got identical mugs, added a pre-measured amount of milk, same amount of coffee and sugar and filled the cups to the same level.

Comparing coffee

Pretty much identical in appearance

They are visually identical, but that idea of equality is deceiving.  I tried the Granarama one first, I didn’t want to be spoilt by the Carte Noire.  It wasn’t particularly pleasant.  It wasn’t unpleasant, but I found it tedious to drink.  It was the caffeine equivalent of watching a TV test card.  So much so, that I found myself idly playing noughts and crosses on a blackboard with a rag doll.

Now to make it more interesting, I had also picked up some amaretti biscuits to go with it, as seen in the top picture.  Amaretti biscuits by Ital d’Oro. (99p for 200g)  Ital d’Oro is pidgin Italian for Gold of Italy.  Being made for Lidl though makes it about as Italian as Oktoberfest.

You remember when you was inoculated against polio and was given a sugar cube with the vaccine in it?  Imagine that instead of polio vaccine, they used almond essence instead.  That’s what these amaretti biscuits were like.  Not even decent almond essence either, it tasted a bit synthetic.  They were mostly sugar and were cripplingly sweet.  I didn’t dare eat more than two in case my dentist came round and gave me a good hiding.

Oddly, the biscuits did make the coffee more palatable.  How does that work?  Maybe it brought out the bitterness which improved its chances in this test. It now tasted like the piss-poor coffee you get from piss-poor vending machines in piss-poor public facilities.  The sort of coffee that you wouldn’t want to pay more than 15p for.

Incidentally, the coffee jar informs me that I can get 58 cups out of that 100g jar.  I don’t think I’ll bother to be honest.  I think I’ll save it for visitors.  Visitors that aren’t family or friends, maybe the British Gas bloke who comes to service the boiler once a year.  And Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Invite them in, make them a coffee and then put some earplugs in whilst they do their spiel.  “That’s right, drink your coffee.  What was you saying about God?  Would you like a top up?  Have one of these biscuits.  Yeah, they are a bit aren’t they?”

As for the amaretti biscuits, I would only recommend you getting a packet if you live with someone who is prone to hypoglycaemia and needs a quick sugar boost.  Hang on, I can hear the gate.  My dentist is walking up the garden path, stall him, I’m off out the back door…

Taste (Coffee) – 3/10
Taste (Amaretti biscuits) – 2/10
Value for Money (coffee) – 3/10
Value of money (biscuits) – 3/10
Sweetness (biscuits) – 13/10

Total:  24/50


Written by just1bloke

21 October 2011 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Beverages, Biscuits

African Special Part 2

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Yes I know, I hear you.  “What?  Another fruit juice drink?  Is this all he buys?”.  No it isn’t, but I did buy this because it was in the African promotion along with the springbok steaks, so I might as well tell you all about it.  So, what we have is “African Spirit“.

African Spirit Juice Drink

African Spirit Juice Drink is produced by “Plein Sud”.  According to the internet, Plein Sud doesn’t even exist.  It’s merely a trademark owned by Lidl themselves.  It is actually French for “full south” whatever that means.  African spirit is an “Orange & mangosteen juice drink – fruit content 30%”.

I’ve heard of mango, but not mangosteen.  Between reading it on the carton and looking it up on Wikipedia, I had already conjured up the image of an African farmer grafting mango shoots on to another fruit tree in a thunderstorm and then crying out “Give my creation life!!!”.  However, the truth is slightly less ‘Mary Shelley’.  It is a fruit that is found in parts of Indonesia.  You can certainly say one thing for Lidl, you get an overdose of internationality in their products.

There is also a graphic of an manga-style lion accompanying the tagline ‘Refreshing & Cooling’.  Well I’ll be the judge of that.  In my head, Manga-Lion speaks with one of those weird dubbed voices you get in Japanese cartoons.   I don’t understand why, in the backdrop, there is a bushman of sorts with a spear observing a giraffe through some binoculars.  What graphic artist designed this carton?  Salvador Dali?

So I opened the carton, which as you can see from the picture above, looks like it’s been stood on, and poured myself a glass.  I’ll not bother with a picture of that, because it looked a lot like the Linessa Multivitamin Nectar I wrote about in April.

Manga-Lion was right, it is refreshing.  It was also cooling, but that was due to the laws of thermodynamics as opposed to any endothermic chemistry of the drink itself.  In layman’s terms, it had just come out of the fridge.

The first thing I got was the citrus kick of the orange.  Not too strong, but enough to notice.  It was then quickly joined with the taste of what I assume is the mangosteen.  Mangosteen (as grown by Dr. Mangosteen on the roof of a castle in a thunderstorm) tastes pretty much like passion fruit, complete with the subtle flowery flavours.

About 800ml of refreshment later, 800ml which went down my gullet with alarming rapidity, I concluded that it is a fine quality beverage.  99p for 1 litre does seem quite a lot, but then I’ve been spoilt by Lidl’s prices.  In any other regular supermarket, it’s a typical price for a similar product, or maybe even more given the unusual ingredients.

Shame it was a promotion or I would buy it again.  It may well still be stocked in some stores, but I’ve not seen it since in my local Lidl.  But, like the springbok steaks, it’s worth seeking out.

Taste – 8/10
Swiggability– 8/10
Value for Money – 7/10
International Jumbleness Factor – 8/10
Eccentricity of packaging artwork – 8/10

Total:  39/50

Written by just1bloke

20 October 2011 at 11:04 am

Posted in Beverages

Another Fruity Drink

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When it comes to naming products, using the vernacular of schoolkids in the early 80s isn’t an idea that I would have come close to dreaming up.  But, the good people at Pataya have done just that.  I imagine they discarded Mega, Skill and Brill in favour of ACE Drink.  I tried searching for Pataya, but all I got was references to a beach in Thailand which seems is popular with the gay community.

ACE Drink

That is a 1.5 litre carton, though in the picture it appears to be about the size of a wardrobe.  So, what jumps out at you when you look at the picture above?  The anonymous nuclear family looking positively ecstatic with their empty cups?  The state of my table?  Or the picture of carrots on the label?

Yes, ACE drink comprises of 20% orange juice, 5% lemon juice and 5% carrot juice.  I’m jumping to conclusions here, maybe carrot and citrus juices are drunk by the Olympic-sized swimming pool (stock unit of measurement) every morning.  I’ve not heard of such a combination and was now eyeing up the contents suspiciously.  I had a look at the ingredients, not expecting much more than juices and water, but then I had my idiotic eureka moment.  The name ACE derives from the fact that the drink is fortified with vitamins C and E and provitamin A.  Now it all makes sense.

After recovering from how docile I felt, I looked at the smallprint.  Incidentally, this seems to be a common theme.  Being sold in yellow-fronted Eurostores means that the carton, for economical reasons, contains its information in many European languages.  The downsize of this is that you need a microfiche reader to discern any text.  This is what it claims:

“Quenches thirst and provides the body with important vitamins.”. Sounds good to me.  Then comes the odd grammar.

“The positive benefits of Pataya A+C+E vitamin drink combined with the fresh and fruity taste of carrots, lemons and sunripened oranges”

But what are the positive benefits, and why are they positive?  I had to read it three times before I realised it wasn’t just my eyes struggling to resolve text that appears to have been printed using photolithography and that it was in fact just a fragment of a sentence that somebody had decided to stick a full stop on the end.  Oh and they don’t make it any easier by using black text on that green background.  It then goes on about how much of your GDA of the vitamins it offers before concluding with this peculiar bit of marketing lingo.

“An ideal drink for active and health conscious people, for breakfast and in between meals”.  Clearly I am not their target demographic.  I am not particularly active or health conscious.  Still, I won’t tell them if you won’t.

I would show you what the juice looked like served up, but I didn’t see the point as it’s identical in appearance to the Linessa Light Multivitamin Nectar I wrote about two months ago, maybe a bit more orange, though that will clearly be a side-effect of the carrots.

I can tell you that this drink is really really tasty.  I heartily recommend it.   The citrus bite from the orange and lemon juice is softened by the carrot juice which means  that it’s possible to pour a large amount of this down your gullet before you realise how much you’ve drunk.  At only 99p for 1.5l, you certainly get your money’s worth.  This is definitely going on my regular purchases list.

Taste – 8/10
Swiggability– 8/10
Value for Money – 8/10
Text density on packaging – 9/10
Colour – 6/10

Total:  39/50

Written by just1bloke

22 June 2011 at 12:55 am

Posted in Beverages

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