I gave up breakfast for a week and drank this caffeinated meal-replacement shake instead

The jury is out on whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But science be damned — breakfast remains my favourite meal.

Like most young professionals, I run short on energy and time. Most mornings, I trade a well balanced breakfast for 15 blissful extra minutes of sleep. So, I decided to try Coffiest, Soylent’s new caffeinated beverage.

I had my doubts when I decided to give up breakfast and morning coffee for a week, replacing it all with Coffiest. Now, stay with me here. It’s actually good.

The Silicon Valley startup launched a coffee-flavored version of its popular meal-replacement shake in early August. Coffiest has the same nutritional makeup of its predecessor, offering 20% of the daily recommended values for all essential vitamins and minerals, plus 150 milligrams of caffeine (the rough equivalent of a cup of coffee).

The bottled beverage is made from soy protein isolate, lab-made algae oil, a host of ingredients I can’t pronounce, and real coffee.

It wasn’t exactly love at first swig, but like broccoli, interval training, and other things that promote health, it grew on me.

Most days I eat yogurt with fresh fruit and granola at my desk, but last week, I gulped down Coffiest on my commute. I kept a 12-pack in my fridge so I could grab a chilled bottle on my way out the door. It spared me a few minutes everyday that I usually spend packing, prepping, and eating breakfast.

By the time I arrived at work, I could sense the caffeine tunnelling through my brain. An average eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee has between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine; Coffiest’s 150 milligrams put the drink in the “strong coffee” end of the spectrum.

But caffeine seemed more concentrated in this concoction than in the average cup of coffee. A couple hours into my first day on Coffiest, I realised I had crushed my inbox and whipped out my first article without letting a single yawn slip. I felt alert and focused.

While it may have been the placebo effect working its magic, Rob Rhinehart, cofounder and CEO of Soylent, credits Coffiest’s “secret sauce”: L-theanine. It’s an amino acid found in green tea that’s purported to cancel out the jitteriness often associated with a caffeine buzz, which may have also helped me to concentrate. However, there is limited evidence this turbocharged combo actually works.

A 12-pack costs $39, or $3.25 a bottle. Considering my single-serving containers of Fage yogurt run $2 a piece (and meet far fewer
dietary needs), I think this is a fair trade-off.

The hardest part about drinking my breakfast was getting accustomed to the level of fullness. Coffiest doesn’t fill you up like a blue-plate special at a diner. I felt satiated, but I craved more food by 10 or 11 AM.

Still, I managed to make it through almost the whole week substituting breakfast for Coffiest; I couldn’t resist a breakfast burrito on the weekend when a friend offered to prepare it. One week after my experiment, I’m still replacing breakfast with Coffiest on days when I go to the office.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering, how does it taste?

Coffiest reminds me of the milk leftover in a bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal, with a splash of something sour. There’s a hint of a dark, robust coffee roast, but the flavour is overwhelmingly chocolatey. It’s also thinner than Soylent — more like milk than a milkshake.

The taste became less unpleasant over the course of the week, like a caffeinated Nesquik drink left out in the sun a little too long.

Coffiest doesn’t taste amazing, but neither did Soylent when the powdered version of the drink first launched in 2014.

Soylent runs like a software company. The startup receives feedback from customers, invests in R&D to better the taste of its products, and releases new versions periodically.

It’s likely Soylent will continue to refine its Coffiest recipe and make a new version available whenever a significant improvement has been made. My hope is the company reduces the cocoa powder taste and ups the coffee flavour.

Rob Rhinehart, cofounder and CEO of Soylent, told me around launch time that he was inspired to create Coffiest because he, like many customers, has tried to combine his morning Soylent meal-replacement shake with coffee in the past. He wanted it to be easier.

Whether or not you like the taste, Coffiest offers an easy way to start the day.

Disclosure: The author is in a relationship with an employee at Andreessen Horowitz, an investor in Soylent.

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