Posted March 26, 2012 by Big Red Boots in coffee energy drinks

ICED Bhakti Chai Coffee drink

Since being able to experience CocoCafe Coconut Water Latte,  I have been thinking about all the other cool flavors of coffee drinks that might work together.  Bananas and coffee might be cool – and other fruity flavors lie Mango and cherry might work too.  Actually, savory coffee drinks might be a surprise hit – like Clamato Juice.  While I have yet to find a bacon coffee drink or beefy canned coffee, I did find Iced Bhakti Chai Coffee, a mix of black chai tea and coffee – for a very unique and surprisingly yummy combo.

Normally, tea and coffee makes for a bad mix, as the coffee is far too bitter and strong to handle being mixed into something subtle and delicate like tea.  Chai tea is especially fragile. For those who have never experienced Chai tea, it is one of the few sincere simple pleasures on earth. How anyone could have found that perfect combo of ginger and sweet spices to create chai is beyond me, but they aught to have achieved sainthood.  Bhakti Chai is surprisingly delicious by itself, so the thought of working it with a strong coffee is a pretty mouth watering idea.

“Bhakti means devotion through social action, so the company has been committed to social action through sustainable practices, purchasing only fair trade tea, and supporting local and international nonprofit organizations,” says says Brook Eddy, founder and owner of the Boulder-based company. It is very very obvious this is a drink born in the Country of Boulder Colorado.  As any good Boulder Colorado company does, they give a chunk of their profits to a charity, albeit ones which have nothing to do with Chai, the Global Fund for Women and Girls Education International. I guess giving to female charities is appealing to female chai drinkers than donating to Indian or Pakistan.

There are all sorts of things wrong with this bottle – the biggest of which is that it comes from the Republic of Boulder. Often referred to as “25 square miles surrounded by reality”, Boulder is known for being so far left that even even bleeding-heart liberals like myself find their rules ridiculous to the point of obnoxiousness.  For example, on the package they actually tell you that this is “RE-Usable Bottle?”  They go on to say this is Sustainable Packaging!  Really?  I should refill my dirty un-washable empty glass bottle with water?  Craziness! Unless you are calling this re-usable because you are going to keep filling up my bottle with Chai, that is just over the top – making this the most annoying and downright offensive paragraph labels out there (and if you have ever read the back of a can of monster, it takes a lot to be more obnoxious).  Well, coming from a place where they considered giving out tickets to bicycles for speeding, it is not much of a surprise.

Once you get past the label, the actual design and layout of the bottle does not make much sense.  Did you know this drink is ICED?  Well you should be cause ICED is the biggest boldest text on here – and this is packed with unnecessary text.   Next to the words “Coffee Blend” it has a bizzarre bubble worded “Cold-Brewed Coffee Added” in case we missed the words Coffee Blend right next to it.  They have a sticker telling you to remove the label and reuse, which is great if you like carrying around old water bottles with half peeled shredded labels on them.  There is a Fair Trade and Colorado Proud label which is decent, but under the heading “Brewed in Boulder Colorado” it has in huge capital letters “GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE, LOW-FAT,VEGAN”  Now if you have ever heard of Boulder Colorado, you would not need to add this, because of course it is all those things! In the healthiest town in America,  it would be surprising if it were not all those things.

One nice thing I did find, after examining the package for a good 20 minutes is an actual caffeine content listing!  Of course it is the tiniest text on here and stuck on the side of the nutrition label, but seeing it there does make me feel a little less frustrated with the whole affair.

Truthfully, I had my reservations going into this.  It was not made with any milk – like a god chai is, and instead uses Soy.  Also, coffee and tea just do not play together – like lemon juice and milk.  Coffee is just too rich and bitter and tea is just to nuanced and light to ever really work.

However, Bhakti Chai managed to pull it off very nicely.  If you have ever had a real Chai (Tazo and Starbucks don’t count) you will know the flavor here – a very zesty and almost peppery ginger flavor with heavy notes of cardamom and a little clove.  This is a fully rounded chai – and the coffee only helps flesh the drink out.  The balance of sweet and spicy and rich coffee is good enough that the whole soy/milk thing does not matter, and only the deliciousness of the blend matters.  To accomplish this wonderwork, they use a cold-brew process for their coffee, like making a toddy, using Organic Fair Trade Peruvian coffee. By cold-brewing, the fresh coffee is 70% less acidic and far less bitter than hot-brewed coffee. They then mix that with their own chai recipe for something truly special.

Bhakti Chai gives a couple different kids of buzz.  Firstly, there is the buzz of a cold happy drink in your tummy  -one that leaves a bit of zing on your throat and makes you smile.  I know this is not about the caffeine, but like downing a big shot of spirulina, something about this Chai just made me feel all cool and fuzzy inside.

On top of that is the caffeine content – showing up with a decent 84mg in the 16 ounce bottle. For a tea based drink that ain’t too shabby.  This s still not anywhere near coffee-level caffeine amounts however.  As a matter of fact, the Coffee only adds an additional 8mg of caffeine per bottle, leaving this about half as strong as an energy drink, and a third less than a comparable cup of the aforementioned Peruvian roast of coffee.  The sugar rush in here was nice but very unexpected.  If I did not care about all the calories in here I could easily see knocking back a couple of these a day.

Like many natural foods, jut because it is healthy does not mean it is nutritious.  Eating a stick of butter made from non-GMO healthy organic cow’s milk is just as bad as eating a stick of butter from any other milk.  In this case, not skimping on the quality of ingredients is made up for in calorie count. There are 300 vegan gluten-free calories packed in this drink, more than what you would find in a comparable Starbucks, Bigelow or Adina bottled chai drinks.  On top of that, this drink has 42 grams of Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (you know, the rest of the world calls that sugar), which comes down to about 10 teaspoons, or just a little more than your full daily allowance of added sugar.

The rush is minor but there is enough caffeine and sugar to make it worthy for an afternoon pick me up when you need a little sunshine in your life.  Sure, this drink might be heavy enough to enjoy as a only-sometimes treat and you might have to pour it into a glass to get away from the obnoxious packaging, but Iced Bhakti Chai Coffee is amazingly tasty, and one of the better coffee combos out there.

Big Red Boots