Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BzzAgent Review: Nescafe Memento Specialty Coffee

Disclosure: I got this product free from BzzAgent.
Nescafe Memento Cappuccino flavor
Okay, so a few people expressed interest in a review of these Nescafe Memento instant coffee drinks. Let me start with the caveat that, while I have done a fair amount of research about makeup and skin care, I don't know shit about nutrition or food ingredients. That means that my review of this product is going to be based only on my experience with its preparation and taste.

Here's what Nescafe has to say about it (because with products like this that I am sent for review, I evaluate them against their marketing claims and my own expectations):

NESCAFÉ® MEMENTO™ transforms your house (or car, or desk or a random stretch of sidewalk) into the best coffee shop on the block. How so? Well, because you’re there, obviously. But also because with only hot water and a mug you’ll be stylishly sipping a delicious, frothy café beverage anywhere you please.
Made with real coffee, milk and sugar, NESCAFÉ®MEMENTO™ turns you into a barista without the training. Available in Caramel Latte, Mocha and Cappuccino you can find NESCAFÉ® MEMENTO™ in the coffee aisle at your local Kroger.
Here's where I think Nescafe is going to lose some points from me: these are not comparable to traditional espresso coffee drinks (elsewhere, scattered through the marketing materials, they use the phrase "coffeehouse quality"). How can they be? If you set them up in competition with that sort of thing, they are going to lose. But what they are comparable to are other mixed coffee drinks from places like donut shops that use a syrup or powder base for their drinks - here they are just as good, but cheaper and more convenient.

These drinks are cheap. A box of 8 is about $6, so that's only 75 cents per drink. Then again, you only get 8-10 oz., which is smaller than most drinks you'd get in a coffee shop.

I got all three flavors to test: Cappuccino, Mocha, and Caramel Latte. They come packed in little plastic tubey envelopes (you know what I mean?), so you can take one with you to work or whatever. You dump the powder in a mug and add 8 oz. of hot water. Hot but not boiling. Then you stir, and you're all set.

They froth - especially the cappuccino flavor. There is obviously some kind of foaming agent in the powder that froths on contact with water. I mean, I'm sure it's perfectly safe to drink, but is it really necessary? I guess this is what people need to feel like they are drinking a "real coffeehouse" drink. But the problem is that whatever makes it foam is kind of gluey and stringy. The foam sort of dries up quickly if you don't keep stirring it, and then you are left with some sticky, gooey, gelatinous stuff around the edges. I really don't like the texture, so I end up trying to filter it out with my lips. I'd prefer that it wasn't there at all. The cappuccino flavor is worst for this, then the caramel latte, and the mocha is the least foamy.

As for the flavors, I think they're all quite good. If you've ever had a French Vanilla Cappuccino from Tim Horton's, that's what the caramel latte tastes like to me. The mocha is really chocolatey - it's basically hot chocolate with a hint of coffee, which is fine by me. The cappuccino is sweet, milky coffee. Again, they don't taste like actual espresso drinks, but they don't taste weird or artificial or anything. I think that if you have access to hot water at work, like in a water cooler, these might be a pleasant alternative to something from a donut shop, etc. Convenient, for sure, and cheap. The downside is that you have no control over the sweetness of the drink, unless you water it down, but then you don't with premade presweetened drinks, anyway.

If you are not a huge coffee snob, these might be worth a try. I am picky about my actual espresso and drip coffee, but I don't mind a sugary treat like this once in a while. I also don't mind other instant coffee, like those individual Starbucks instant things, so keep that in mind to get an idea of where I'm coming from. I could do without the foam here, but they are simple to prepare and taste good. They are good enough that I've found myself just making one of these when I am too lazy to clean out my espresso pot and make some of the really good stuff. Decent product for the price.

I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars. The lost star is for the gluey foam and the claim that these are "coffeehouse quality".

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