Posted October 8, 2012 by Big Red Boots in coffee energy drinks

Madrinas Cafe Con Leche

Madrinas is a Hispanic themed canned coffee drink with big ambitions.   Yeah – you are wondering how a coffee drink can be themed Hispanic, but if you have ever had the pleasure of visiting Casa Bonita ( or saw the episode featuring it on South Park), you know that all you need is a sombrero, a little Ranchera music and a fake mustache for an authentic Mexican good time.  Madrinas is crafted by the fine folk of Citrus Springs, a juice company stationed in Chesterfield Missouri.  While I have only driven through the state, I can not imagine it is very easy to get hold of a bowl of Green Chile Stew or Posole on a Sunday Morning in downtown Chesterfield.

Nevertheless, even in Denver with a hispanic population of over 150 times the amount in Chesterfield,   I have only seen Madrinas  one time, hanging out at a tiny mountain town  Kum and Go on my way to a concert festival.  Now, I have no shortage of Mexican foods near me in Denver, as I have 5 panadrias, 6 taquerias, and no less than 18 mexican food stores within a 1 mile radius of my house.  We can literally swim in Aguas Frescas here.   I admit, that was even one of the reasons I was attracted to Madrinas in the first place.  Even though this drink would have a lot more cred if it was found in a Mexican Grocery store, I had to pick up at least one to try out for the long drive.

Of course Madrinas comes in the three flavors that RTD coffees only come in, Vanilla, Chocolate (Mocha) and regular.  No matter what RTD coffee brand you turn to-  from Half Gallon Jugs of International Delight to Starbucks, they only offer their RTD coffee in those three flavors.

Color and layout-wise, I get the Mexican theme – but the bright lime on brown just does not work.  According to color theory all all that is design holy, these colors should not work together.  And they don’t.  Ew.
That being said, functionaly, the drink does what it needs to do.   There is a Mexican style lettering on the can – something  They list off the ingredients and do so without cluttering the drink up with useless paragraphs about how this is the best drink ever.   It is just a decent looking product, except for one big mistake.

I know it is hard when you are dealing with coffee to list the caffeine in your can, but when your website states”This naturally-sweetened and perfectly chilled CafĂ© con Leche delivers that caffeine in a delicious blend of coffee and milk”, and you have the coffee so low on the ingredients list it is near impossible to see how this could have much buzz. A listing of at least around how much caffeine a person should expect would be very helpful.

I even called the company twice to find out how much caffeine was in their drink.  Leaving a message did no good.  The second time,  the secretary who answered the phone said she did not know the caffeine content  (or the history of the drink, or where I could find out where it is sold, or find out anything at all about their parent company – she said she was a new employee?)  I was told she left a message for the one in charge, who did not bother to return my calls.

My first thought on opening the can was that it smelled just like old horchata. Living where I am, I have gotten to be quite the coinessuer of the icy beverage, and can usually know where to get the real stuff from the gross powdered versions you can find in next to the Klass punch mixes. For those who have not heard of Horchata before, it is time to find some – as it is one of the greatest drinks on earth! Usually, it is made by using ground rice or rice milk, and mixing in a combination of sugar and cinnamon and vanilla until it becomes one of the bestest cold drinks ever. A few places near me use almonds in it too, and give it this cool dark brown color and creamy nutty texture.

However, horchata has become popular enough that you can buy packets of the stuff like Kool Aid in the aisles of Mexican food stores. It is usually as bad as you can imagine, substituting rice milk and vanilla for Casium Phosphate and synthetic vanillin. Madrinas smelled like the latter one. It makes sense too, as they are also the ones behind a ready-to-drink horchata also found in coolers across the US. Though, if this is going to be your only connection to horchata, it is like the difference between a taco plate from a taqueria, with their doubled corn tortillas and lime and cucmber/onion mix to a Big Beef Doritos Taco Bell Taco.

However, Madrinas was a complete mess inside.  Taking a drink it was a slightly sour mix of fake coffee creamer, water + oil, heavy sweetness and bitter instant coffee.  It was far too creamy to be considered anything other than a bitter creamy milk-esque drink with coffee flavor, and not really close to anything related to the stuff you brew with actual beans.

I thought this might work best as some sort of coffee creamer in andd of iteslf, but it is really too weak for that too. Coffee Creamer is usually thick enough in viscosity and powerful enough in that fake yummy creamines to hold up in a big mug of bad coffee, but When I used this in my coffee things just got bad. The bitterness of the oils, preservatives and the coffee flavor overwhelmed my already ba convenience store coffee to the point of it going from tolerable to almost underinkable (most people would have said completely undrinkable, but who am I to waste coffee…).

Buzz: 0
So if you look Waaaaay down on the ingredients list, you can find the coffee.  As a matter of fact, there is more artificial coffee flaovr in here than coffee itself!  You just have to make it past the other more important igredients to find the coffee.  Sugar is listed twice, as well as water, nonfat dried milk, coconut oil, corn syrup solids, potassium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono diglycerides, salt, sodium stearoyl lactlate, carageenan (seaweed), ARTIFICIAL FlAVOR, annato and tumeric, maltodextrin…..then coffee (followed by more preservatives and a second helping of carageenan for good measure)!  That is right, there is more tumeric in here than coffee, so how could you possibly expect this to be much more energetic than a Twinkie.  Actually, a Twinkie might have less chemicals in it, and probably have less than the 300 calorie packed in this can too.

Even more importantly than having absolutely no energy, it actually is heavy enough to leave me feeling tired and a little lethargic afterwards.  A real Cafe Con Leche is supposed to be one part coffee to one part milk, and then sweetened.   This is fake milk, dried milk and milk derivatives, oils, preservatives and artificial flavors mixed with a tiny tiny tiny bit of real coffee (which is most likely instant coffee to boot).  It is pretty easy to see why they would start rolling this stuff out in areas where there is even a smaller population of Latinos than in Missouri – they would get laughed out of any Hispanic population

Big Red Boots