Gummy coffee cubes became trendy last year after being spotted at South By Southwest.
In March 2016, I spent a week trying out Go Cubes, which are made by Nootrobox, a startup with backing from tech investors like Andreessen Horowitz. Nootrobox specialises in nootropics, compounds that claim to help improve focus or memory.
I found myself struggling to swallow the cubes. I compared their aftertaste to what my mouth might taste like if I’d been drinking nothing but coffee for a week and not brushing my teeth.
On March 9, Nootrobox started selling Go Cubes with an improved formula that’s meant to be less bitter. When I tried the latest version, I still wasn’t expecting much. But when I bit in, I found I could handle the taste without too much of a grimace.
Each cube is considered a food, not a supplement, and 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)
- 100 mg of a green-tea extract called L-Theanine, which at least one meta-analysis suggests may help enhance caffeine’s effects
- 6 grams of sugar (For reference, my usual go-to — a sweetened iced coffee from Starbucks — has 20 grams of sugar)
A box with 20 packs of four cubes will currently set you back about $A52 (you can now buy the flavours separately if there’s one you like better than the rest).
When trying the new formula, I decided to start with a cube of the pure drip. Anticipating a bitter aftertaste, I had a glass of water at the ready, but I found the improved Go Cube easier to stomach.
The latte flavour, which had the lightest colour, was also easy to swallow, though the bitter taste was still there. My colleague Kif Leswing tried the cubes with me, and said he enjoyed the pure drip and latte cubes, too. The mocha one, however, was closer in flavour to the previous batch — especially when it came to the bitter aftertaste . Together, we decided the tastiest was the latte, followed by pure drip, and mocha.
I could definitely feel the effects of the caffeine in the new version of Go Cubes. I was really alert, but a little on the jittery side. And my throat felt dried out, though that could have been because I was on the phone all afternoon. Around 11:30 p.m., when I tried to sleep, I started to regret eating the cubes at 2 p.m. And the stomach ache that plagued me during my first taste test came back in the middle of the night.
The verdict: I’ll be sticking with liquid coffee, but it is nice to know that if I want a burst of gummy energy, I won’t have as much of a problem keeping a coffee cube down as I did a year ago.
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