I’m not a morning person.
I’d sooner roll out of bed five minutes before I need to head to work than have an hour to get myself ready for the day.
So when I heard about Go Cubes, a chewable coffee alternative that’s actually made out of coffee, I knew I had to test it out. Snacking on gummy cubes on my way to work has to be better than preparing and carrying a thermos of hot coffee around with me, right?
I decided to give the cubes a fair shake and test them out for a full week before reaching a verdict.
Read on to see how the experiment went:
Each cube, which is considered a food, not a supplement, packs the following:
- 50 mg of caffeine (about the equivalent of a half a cup of coffee)
- 500% of your daily allowance of the vitamins B6 (important for processing food) and B12 (important for keeping blood and nerve cells healthy)
Nootrobox Chief Operational Officer Michael Brandt told Business Insider that the company plans to further test their product in clinical trials. The company says they're currently working with a university in the Netherlands to compare a pill-version of the cubes against both caffeine alone and a placebo.
When my box of cubes arrived, I couldn't wait to open it up and pop one in my mouth. Each cube is coated in sugar, which reminded me of a favourite candy from my childhood called Sour Patch Kids, so I expected a lot of sweetness as I bit in.
As the cube hit my taste buds, I knew rougher times were ahead. And indeed, the after-taste was basically like drinking nothing but coffee for a week while not brushing your teeth.
Since each cube is considered only half a dose (two cubes gives you the equivalent of roughly a cup of coffee and 100 mg of caffeine), I started in on my second cube of the morning shortly after finishing the first. Thinking that downing it like a pill might be easier, I decided to cut it up into tiny pieces and swallow it with water. But my attempt merely prolonged the cube's inevitable bitter taste.
Once I got past the weird taste, though, I was excited to see the effects of the cubes, especially since I hadn't gotten much sleep the previous night.
For the most part, they seemed to work. I felt alert and energised as the cubes started to kick in, but no side effects like a pounding heart or jittery hands that typically happen when I drink coffee. It felt almost as if I was just naturally more alert.
A little later that evening, my stomach began to hurt a bit, but I decided to write it off as possibly the result of the quesadilla I had at dinner.
Day 1 cube count: 2
Brandt told me that one of the places the caffeinated cubes could come in handy is right before a workout, when you might not want a cup of coffee sloshing around in your stomach.
So I had one on Saturday before heading off to the gym. I didn't feel much of a difference in my workout, though the taste was still as gross as the day before. And around the three-mile mark of my run -- I typically do 3.1-mile runs during the week and push myself to go farther on the weekends -- I had to stop because my stomach was starting to get upset again. It didn't settle down until later that night. Again, though, there's no way for me to know if it was the cube that upset my tummy or the sub-par leftover salad I ate that day.
Day 2 cube count: 1
On Sunday, after two days of upset stomachs, I decided it might be time to take a break from caffeine and caffeinated cubes altogether. At brunch, I went with a mimosa instead.
Re-energised, I was ready to start anew on Monday morning.
Day 3 cube count: 0
By now, I was prepared for the cubes' odd taste. I chewed two cubes and followed them with a large glass of water. Throughout the day, I felt pretty good. Plus, the jittery feeling I normally get with plain old coffee wasn't as noticeable. Perhaps there was something to these cubes after all, I thought.
Day 4 cube count: 2
When I got my genes sequenced by 23andMe a few months ago, I was told people with a similar genetic profile drank 18 mg less caffeine per day than the average person. Since the average person drinks 265 mg per day, that put me at a daily suggested intake of 247 mg, or just under 5 cubes.
That's a lot of gummy coffee.
With this in mind, I tried spacing out my cube intake throughout the day, and planned to eat one cube before hopping on the train, two at midday, and another two before hitting the gym. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the taste on my second-to-last cube and skipped out on the last one. This time, I felt pretty energised throughout the day and had no stomach problems.
Day 5 cube count: 4
By Wednesday, I realised something I should have known all along: The colour of the cube dictates its flavour! According to the box, each cube can either be latte flavored, mocha, or pure drip. I soon realised that the lightest cubes (latte flavored) were my favourite. Though I had a tougher time distinguishing mocha from pure drip, I went with the assumption that lighter was better. My energy was solid throughout the day, and again, no over-caffeinated jitters.
Day 6 cube count: 3
On the last day, I had every intention of making it to five cubes spread out through the day. But the unusually warm New York weather and cramped commute home deterred those interests. The stomach ache was back (though I couldn't be certain it wasn't because of external factors like the heat), and four cubes were plenty to get me through the day.
Day 7 cube count: 4
I've never been one for adding supplements to my diet, preferring to get my vitamins from my food and my caffeine from plain old coffee. But the cubes made me rethink that.
For me, the cubes had three main benefits:
- Knowing exactly how much caffeine I was consuming each day: This was the biggest benefit to me, and much better than having to guesstimate.
- An easier morning routine: The cubes made getting out the door each day easier, and I liked having my hands free to read on my way into the office. Another bonus: I didn't have any trouble falling asleep despite having a couple cubes later in the day.
- Cost: A box of 20 four-cube plastic packages costs $59. At four cubes a day, that adds up to $2.95 per day -- still cheaper than if I were to buy a $4 latte every day.
But there were drawbacks as well, including the odd taste and upset stomach, which of course I can't 100% attribute to the cubes.
If I'm planning to go on a long hike, need a quick burst of energy, or want an exact amount of caffeine, I'll revisit the cubes. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying the first coffee I've had all week.
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