Friday, April 28, 2017

pureLYFT Clean Caffeine Stir Sticks

I’ve become a pretty heavy coffee drinker over the past several years, and it’s hard to imagine going back to a life of not taking advantage of the benefits of caffeine on a regular basis. I’ve found, however, that I have to be very careful about my love for coffee and “coffee culture,” as it’s easy for me to go overboard with the stuff. Most caffeine consumers know the feeling all too well: jitters, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and so on. While I find the chance of exceeding my coffee threshold a worthwhile risk for my enjoyment of coffee, there are some days when I just need the benefits without the potential downsides.

Which brings me nicely to the beverage of concern: pureLYFT Clean Caffeine stir sticks. PureLYFT is a new clean caffeine beverage enhancer that seeks to offer an easier and cleaner "pick up" than coffee or sugar-laden energy drinks. With pureLYFT, you simply stir a dose of clean caffeine into any drink of your choosing, from water to sodas and juices to cocktails to anything else. 

You can even stir it into your coffee, if you're looking for a mega-boost of caffeine (although that might eliminate the benefits of the whole "no jitters clean caffeine" idea). Each pureLYFT stir stick contains 120 mg of caffeine, comparable to a typical 12-ounce cup of coffee. The draw, however, is in the clean caffeine formula used by pureLYFT.

The idea of "clean energy" is not necessarily a new one in the functional beverages sphere (although I'd argue that pureLYFT has one of the more novel applications of it). As mentioned earlier, coffee and other energy drinks can be a reliable way of getting the lift that you need to get through those periods of tiredness during the day, but they often come with unwanted side effects. And in the case of energy drinks, they also often come with high levels of sugar, as well as artificial colors and flavors. Clean energy was a response to this—a push to go "all natural" and provide the benefits of energy drinks without all of the "junk." However, pureLYFT pushes this one step further with their Clean Caffeine formula by not only providing energy without the sugars and artificial ingredients, but also supplying the benefits of caffeine without the jitters and crashing that often comes when they wear off. PureLYFT's Clean Caffeine formula is a combination of un-roasted green coffee bean extract, a bit of stevia, and a vitamin A and B complex. Aside from the ingredients used for the various flavors, that's really about it.

I've had the opportunity now to try pureLYFT in a couple of different settings, and it's worked well each time. I've tried it a few times in the office to make full use of those last few hours of the work day, I've used it to wake myself up on more than one lazy weekend afternoon and take advantage of my free time, and I've even had one to help myself through an all-nighter finishing up a conference paper. Each time, I have felt the energy boosting effects as I would with coffee, but as sure as the fine people at pureLYFT claim, it came with almost none of the downsides. There were a few occasions in which I felt some minor "exit effects" around the time that the caffeine was expected to be wearing off (some twitchiness, slightly increased heart rate), but they only cropped up a couple of times, and they were still much less disruptive than when I overdo it with coffee. The energy supplement gave me a noticeable boost of focus that helped me get through my tasks for the day/night without having to take a break to "come down" off of my caffeine intake.

Taste-wise, pureLYFT is also pretty true to the claims that it won't affect the flavor of your beverage. The original pureLYFT option is simply a flavorless powder that can be added easily to any beverage. It does, however, have a slight sweetness to it, due to a small amount of sugar and stevia included in the mix (likely to combat any bitterness that might come from the powder). This isn't an issue at all if you're already adding it to a sweetened beverage like juice or other soft drinks, but the sweetness is noticeable when added to plain water. It's still a pleasant, mild sweetness that tastes perfectly fine, but just know in advance that you will be able to taste it if added to your water bottle. For those who are looking for something to add a little bit more flavor to their wake-up call, pureLYFT is now also offering three new flavored versions of the powder: mixed berry, lemon-lime, and orange. 

I enjoyed the orange flavor the most, and I found it to be particularly tasty when added to cola (I put mine in a Coke). The mixed berry flavor was great by itself in water, but I can see it matching well with softer flavors like a light lemon-lime soda or hot tea. I liked the lemon-lime the least, but the flavor itself was not bad, so if you are a big fan of the classic lemon-lime taste, I still say go for it. Of the three, I think that the orange is the best bet, but you are not likely to be disappointed with any of the flavors. However, I think that my ultimate recommendation would probably be to stick with the original, particularly if you are a first time buyer. While the flavors are good, it does make it harder to find something appropriate to mix it with, and one of the core appeals of pureLYFT (at least to me) is the ability to turn any beverage into a quick pick-me-up. As far as that goes, the original is the most versatile option. But if you're planning on adding it to water most of the time, any of the three flavors is a great choice.

My only real complaint about pureLYFT is the packaging. Let me explain how it works:

These are pureLYFT stir sticks. As you can see by now, it's triangular in shape, with a black handle and a hollowed out body that contains the powder. To use pureLYFT, you can either peel off the sticker to reveal and array of small perforations on the body of the stir stick. You then stir it into your drink, which releases the powder through the newly exposed holes. This is a clever idea, and a nice solution to containing the supplement within the stir stick, but I have sometimes found that too much liquid gets into the body of the stick, and the powder tends to clump up before it is fully released, making it hard to get all of it out. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to get the sticker off without inadvertently flicking some of the powder onto the surface under your glass (even when holding it over your drink as instructed). Thankfully, pureLYFT has also included a removable cap on the end of the stick that allows you to simply pour the powder into your drink and then use the stick to stir it in. While the sticker method is novel, I find the cap to be a much simpler and more effective solution. I have found the caps to vary somewhat in their resiliency, however, and some have been much easier to remove than others, so it may be a good idea to keep your pureLYFT stir sticks in a separate pocket (or in a Ziploc bag) if you intend to throw them in a bag or satchel to be bounced around with other things. I haven't had a cap come loose on me yet, but it seems like a real possibility if the stick were to get pinched or wedged between other items.

The presentation of pureLYFT is sleek and modern, and is sure to have at least one of your friends or coworkers asking about it when you take it out to use during a meeting. Because of my preference of the removable cap over the sticker, the thought has crossed my mind several times that the same needs could be met by a long pouch that contained both the powder and a wooden stir stick (which would probably also be more eco-friendly). But there is something to be said for presentation, particularly when your idea is as cool as pureLYFT's.

So, to get to the long and short of it: is pureLYFT poised to take the place of my daily coffee? Probably not. But that has nothing to do with pureLYFT. I just really like coffee. What pureLYFT is about to do, however, is get an extremely solid recommendation. This is a great product with an interesting concept and an effective energy formula that I found to work well just about every time I used it. And to top it all off, it's surprisingly affordable for what it is. A pack of 12 sticks will run you roughly 24 dollars—about the same per stick as a typical cup of coffee, depending on where you drink. Readers of Drinkable Review who are interested in picking some up are in luck, however, as pureLYFT has been kind enough to supply us with a discount code for 25% off your first order. See below for details. If you're looking for a way to get some extra energy into your day without the concerns that come with other energy drinks, definitely give pureLYFT a shot.

Verdict: Recommended

Samples sent courtesy of pureLYFT
For more information about pureLYFT, as well as information about various purchasing options, visit their official website.
Or follow pureLYFT on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

To get 25% off your first order of pureLYFT Clean Caffeine, order through the official website and enter the code "getLYFTed25" at checkout.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Black Medicine Iced Coffee

Pre-bottled coffee drinks were—until Black Medicine—a bit of a tricky subject for me. My experience with commercial coffee beverages has always been aggravatingly "samey." Pretty much every bottled coffee drink that I've had suffers from the same underlying "bottled coffee" taste that makes it a bit hard to get excited about new coffee beverages when I see them on store shelves. Luckily, I now have a notable exception to the standard—a drink that I am more than happy to say has reformed my pre-conceived notions about the potential of the bottled coffee market segment.  

Black Medicine is a fantastic new bottled iced coffee from a small but growing Californian brewing company of the same name. It breaks the iced coffee stereotypes in a lot of different ways, the most immediately noticeable of which being the packaging. Black Medicine is presented as a very mature, "grown up" coffee. There's nothing artificially catchy or "hipster-friendly" about the drink: no slogans or puns or trite comments about how crazy your buzz is going to be after you drink it. The marketing is not over-engineered to appeal to the coffee crowd, nor is it caught up in expressing the individuality of the beverage. It is a simply a high-quality coffee presented as such—a welcome change in a world of often over-marketed, hype-driven beverages.

The bottle itself feels great in the hand, too. The design resembles that of a standard beer bottle—all the way down to the brown-hued glass, narrow neck, and unthreaded metal cap. The sophisticated look of the bottle is great from a visual perspective, but its "beer-like" appearance may cause some hesitation in certain social and business environments. I walked into my campus library with one of these in my hand a few days ago, and it elicited some pretty suspicious glances from several of the security guards. Although it did cause me a moment's worry, this design is actually a pretty smart move. It definitely gets eyes focused on the bottle. But you may just want to be prepared to answer a few astonished questions if you plan on showing up to your next board meeting with a bottle of Black Medicine in tow.

As far as taste is concerned, Black Medicine is by far the finest bottled coffee that I've had in quite some time. I would not really consider myself a seasoned coffee expert, as I've only really been drinking the stuff for the past year or two, but I have tasted enough bottled coffee drinks in the past to know that Black Medicine exists on a different tier of quality than most of its cream and sugar-laden competitors. It is a different product altogether—a product that represents a commitment to quality and an appreciation of nuance rather than just another attempt to appeal to the less demanding preferences of the average morning commuter.

Black Medicine is hot-brewed from a combination of three carefully-selected and distinct coffee beans. As a result, the flavor of the coffee is complex and interesting while remaining pleasant and well-balanced. The primary flavor of the coffee has a "toasted" quality that reminds me of a barley-centric stout or porter. The flavor is described on the Black Medicine website as being "fruit-forward," and it's definitely true. The taste on your tongue has noticeable traces of fruitiness that balance well with the more aromatic roasted flavors, making Black Medicine a delicious experience no matter how you prefer to drink your coffee. As the name suggests, it does come unsweetened. This is fine with me, as I already prefer my coffee black, but I think that many who try the drink will find Black Medicine flavorful enough on its own to not require the sweetening that our collective societal palate has come to expect. The team at Black Medicine has managed to achieve a flavor profile that is diverse and complicated enough to intrigue long-time coffee enthusiasts while remaining gentle and approachable enough to also appeal to the less frequent coffee drinker—a difficult task that deserves considerable recognition.

Those looking for a pick-me-up won't be disappointed with Black Medicine, either. Because of the unique (and proprietary) way that Black Medicine is brewed, the makers are able to extract more caffeine from the beans. Each serving of Black Medicine contains up to 50% more caffeine than a similar size serving of regular coffee, making it a great choice for those times when you just need to get some things done. Additionally, Black Medicine features an added portion of Vitamin C (15% of the daily recommended value) that helps sweeten an already appealing pot for the health-conscious energy seeker who wants to avoid the dubious contents of most of the other offerings from the conventional energy drink market.   

My only complaint about Black Medicine is that, at least for me, it is a lot of coffee in one serving. I have a strange sensitivity to coffee that triggers abdominal cramping and indigestion if I drink too much at one time. Black Medicine's 12 oz. serving size is about 4 oz. above my tolerance, making it hard—or at least unwise—for me to enjoy the entire beverage in one go. Normally, this would not even be an issue worth mentioning, as there are plenty of drinks that I prefer to finish in multiple servings. However, Black Medicine's standard metal bottle cap means that the drink is not easily resealable once it has been opened. This is not a huge concern, and I don't know that I would want the cap any other way (it's a big part of the look of the drink), but I do know that I am not alone in my preference to drink smaller portions of coffee, so the "one-shot" nature of the bottle is just something to keep in mind if you don't intend to finish the drink in a single sitting. It may be a good idea to bring a reusable bottle or other sealable container along with you so that you can preserve the flavor for as long as possible between servings.

Black Medicine is great however you choose to drink it, whether it be straight from the bottle, poured over ice, mixed with cream and sugar, or even heated up in the microwave. I've tried it every way but hot, and it worked well with every serving style. I really like this one a lot, and I am always happy to have my initial reservations about a drink (or type of drink) proven wrong. Black Medicine is a gleaming example of bottled coffee done right, and I recommend wholeheartedly that you track one down and give it a try.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Samples sent courtesy of Black Medicine.
For more information about Black Medicine and their upcoming news and products, as well as information about how to purchase Black Medicine, visit their official website.
Or follow Black Medicine on Facebook and Twitter.     

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rhino's Relaxation Drink

From the looks of things, it seems that relaxation beverages have quickly become one of the "next big things" in the beverage industry. New relaxation beverages and shots are being released almost constantly: to the point where it has become impossible for me to keep up with all of the different products and companies that have been popping up lately. I have reviewed quite a few relaxation beverages for Drinkable Review in the past, and although I tend to enjoy them (even if I don't necessarily always reap the benefits that they claim to offer), I do occasionally stumble across one that sort of misses the point. Unfortunately, Rhino's Relaxation Drink is one of the less than stellar examples.

But first, I'd like to start with what Rhino's Relaxation does right. From a marketing perspective, Rhino's product stands out incredibly well on a shelf. Unlike the world of consumer electronics, white is still an eye-catching color in the beverage industry, as it is relatively rare that you will see a primarily white can/label/bottle sitting among all of the other busy and colorful graphics of a shelf full of competing products, all vying desperately for what is likely already your only half-committed attention. Because of this, when I do see a white can, I almost instinctively reach out to take a closer look. Rhino's seems to understand the power of having a "clean" label in a world of well-established and familiar logos, as their graphic is printed in a color that mimics the soft, natural grey of the aluminum behind it. The front of the can only includes the necessary information—no space is wasted on meaningless slogans, graphics, or disclaimers—and makes excellent use of empty space to keep the eye focused on the important details.

But what makes Rhino's Relaxation unique among interesting cans is the actual physical feel of the label. Rather than sticking with the smooth, metallic feel of a typical beverage can, Rhino's has opted to apply a sort of rough matte finish to their cans, giving them a tactile sensation not unlike that of Bristol paper or eggshell-finish wall paint. I was not expecting this when I picked it up in the store (although I did wonder for a moment why the can was not reflecting light in quite the same way as the others on the shelf), and the novelty of it caught me so off guard that I immediately placed the can into my shopping basket. Rhino's has produced a drink that quite literally feels unique—something that has become increasingly difficult to do in the rapidly expanding independent beverage market. 

Unfortunately, this is where most of my enjoyment of the beverage stopped. The relaxation offering from Rhino's product line comes in one flavor so far: blueberry/blackberry. I was, at first, very excited to give this one a try, as I am generally a fan of both blueberry and blackberry, but my excitement waned somewhat upon opening the can. Immediately after popping the tab open, my nose was greeted with a very strong, pungent smell that, for a moment, bordered on foul. The smell dissipated and mellowed out after a moment, but the first impression was made, and it was not a promising one.

Although I have learned that smells can often be deceiving, the actual flavor of Rhino's Relaxation was not entirely appealing, either. The blueberry and blackberry flavors were both noticeable in the drink, but the flavor as a whole was overshadowed by an acidic "energy drink" overtone (likely from the inclusion of too much citric acid) that muddled the flavors with a caustic sourness. The ingredients list also features black carrot juice, and while the carrot flavor is noticeable if you focus your senses carefully, it mostly just gets lost in the acidic flavor of the rest of the drink. All things considered, the flavor does not speak of "relaxation" to me like many of the other relaxation beverages that I have tried and liked. Rather, it tastes like one would expect a "high-octane" energy drink to taste: aggressive, with a faint hint of trying too hard. While I don't necessarily mind aggressively flavored beverages, the sour acidity of Rhino's Relaxation became too much for me to tolerate towards the end of the drink, and I eventually found myself pouring out the last couple of ounces. 

As I have said before in my reviews, I usually don't experience the alterations in consciousness that many do when drinking these sorts of drinks, so I feel that it would be unfair for me to spend time criticizing the drink's ineffectiveness when I knew from the start that it was not likely to affect me. With this in mind, I will keep my discussion of the functionality simple. The drink's "relaxation cocktail" contains a mixture of valerian root extract, L-theanine, lemon balm extract, and chamomile extract. If you are like me and are not easily swayed by anything less than pharmaceutical-grade supplements, then this drink is not likely to do much to help you relax. However, if you have previously had positive experiences with any of the ingredients listed above, then Rhino's Relaxation will probably do the trick.

Overall, I'm afraid that I can't recommend Rhino's Relaxation. Although I really liked the design of the can, I just couldn't get used to the flavor long enough to enjoy the drink. If you are a fan of some of the more mainstream energy drinks and you don't mind highly acidic overtones in your drinks, then you may find a lot to like in Rhino's Relaxation. Otherwise, it would probably be best to just steer clear.

Verdict: Not recommended

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 8.3 fl. oz. [250mL]
Price paid: $2.49

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crystal Light Liquid

In further keeping with my recent tradition of seemingly non-stop water enhancer reviews, I have—thanks to some samples sent over by the wonderful people at Kraft Foods—one of the newest additions to the water enhancer market to talk about today: Kraft's new Crystal Light Liquid. By this point, most people are familiar with Crystal Light. As one of the first low-calorie drink mixes to reach widespread popularity, Crystal Light has become somewhat of a household name, and with the recent rise to prominence of Kraft's MiO Liquid Water Enhancer, it was only a matter of time before the company's trademark powdered flavoring mix was converted into a handy liquid concentrate.

As alluded to in the first sentence of the paragraph above, I have been reviewing a lot of water enhancers lately. These portable, "on-the-go" bottles of flavoring concentrate have become very popular over the past couple of years, and the industry is responding to this rise in popularity by releasing new enhancers en masse. It seems like every time I walk into the grocery store, there is a new water enhancer on the shelf with the rest of them. Some stores in my area have even had to install new, specialized shelving to make room for new brands and keep all of the tiny bottles organized.

Custom, dispenser-style shelving at a local Bi-Lo grocery store.

While I am always glad to see a new idea take hold so firmly in the beverage industry, the sudden proliferation of so many water enhancers into the marketplace has left me at a bit of a disadvantage in that it is becoming somewhat difficult to come up with adequately descriptive ways to differentiate between all of the different brands. Many of the water enhancers that are currently available are—if we are to be completely honest—fairly similar. Most of them use similar ingredients and sweeteners (most commonly a combination of sucralose and acesulfame potassium), have the same general serving size and number of servings per bottle, and offer flavor lines relatively similar to most of the competition.

Crystal Light Liquid is no exception to these standards. The sweeteners and list of ingredients are almost identical to that of MiO, and the serving size remains constant at 24 servings per bottle. Where Crystal Light Liquid differentiates itself from the rest of the shelf, however, is its choice of flavors. The array of Crystal Light flavors is not only a good bit different from many of the flavor lines currently available on the market, but it is also varied in and of itself. At the time of this writing, each flavor in the line (Iced Tea, Pomtini, Peach Bellini, Strawberry Lemonade, Mango Passionfruit, and Blueberry Raspberry) is unique, and no one flavor element is repeated between the different varieties of Crystal Light Liquid. So far, I have tried the Mango Passionfruit and Blueberry Raspberry, and I have been satisfied with each.

While I can't say that the two flavors that I have tried have been worlds apart from the taste of other water enhancers that I've had recently, I can say that I have enjoyed both of them quite well. The Mango Passionfruit flavor is appropriately sweet in a "fruity, but not sickeningly so" sort of way, and the Blueberry Raspberry has a fitting "berry" taste that cuts the sweetness with a hint of tartness. While they obviously don't taste particularly natural, the flavors are quite good, and the formulas seems especially well-balanced in comparison to some of the flavors offered by the competition.

One thing that I noticed almost immediately upon sampling Crystal Light Liquid was that the flavor seems a bit lighter than it does in other brands. The artificial sweetener—while certainly still present—is not quite as noticeable in the flavor, and the artificiality of the drink as a whole is not as evident in the experience as it has been in previous efforts to perfect the portable water enhancer formula. From my experience so far, Crystal Light Liquid makes for a generally more pleasant drinking experience than many of the other water enhancers that I have tried. It is one of the first enhancers that I have ever used in two glasses of water in a row, and I don't find myself facing the "last ounce struggle" (having to either force myself to finish the last bit in the glass or pour it out due to an accumulation of artificial sweetener aftertaste lingering in my mouth) quite as often as I do with quite a few other enhancers.

All in all, Crystal Light Liquid is a welcome addition to the exploding world of liquid water enhancers. If you are a fan of water enhancers and have yet to give this one a shot (or perhaps a squirt), be sure to pick up a bottle on your next trip to the store. You won't be sorry.

Verdict: Recommended

Samples sent courtesy of Kraft Foods, Inc.
For more information about Crystal Light Liquid, visit the official website at:
Or follow Crystal Light on Facebook or Twitter

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Victoria's Kitchen Licorice/Mint Almond Water

As many of you know by now, I absolutely love Victoria's Kitchen almond water. Although I was hesitant to try it at first, I fell in love with their original sweet almond water immediately after the first bottle, and then enjoyed the coconut flavor just as much. It would make sense, then, that I was very excited when Victoria's Kitchen offered to send me a sample pack of their newest flavor: licorice/mint.

Having finally learned from my unfounded hesitancy to try the last two flavors, I went into this one without the slightest hint of doubt, and I was not disappointed. I have been very impressed with Victoria's Kitchen so far, and this new flavor is no exception. This is not something that I say very often—even to myself—but I can honestly say that this is one of the best drinks that I have had in quite some time.

Much like with the Almond Water Coconut, the formula of the Almond Water Licorice/Mint is not drastically different from the normal taste of the unflavored almond water. Rather, the flavors are layered into the existing body of the almond water, being sure never to overtake the aromatic flavor of the almonds in the drink. This is fairly impressive, given that licorice and mint are also very aromatic flavors that have a natural tendency to overpower whatever ingredients with which they are paired. It is clear that a lot of time and attention went into getting the flavors just right while still staying true to the original vision of their all-natural almond water taste. The mint and licorice are both very present on the olfactory at first, lingering just long enough to give you the impression of the flavor before mostly dissipating into the tastefully balanced sweetness of the almond water. This may seem odd to some—the idea of a vanishing flavor—but I find that I really enjoy the effect. It offers a variety of independent but cooperative flavor experiences that allows each taste to be picked out and clearly identified, while still contributing to one complete and satisfying whole. Each return to the bottle actively encourages the drinker to keep taking "one more sip" to fully recognize everything that is going on in the beverage. Then, before you are really aware of how much you have consumed, your almond water is gone.

I really like this drink. If my interests were consistent and determinant enough to actually maintain a steady "top beverages" list, I have no doubt that this one would rank very, very high. The drink is made complex with simple ingredients, is interesting while still maintaining an "anytime drink" appeal, and is thoroughly refreshing (in the literal sense) without sacrificing flavor. And, as if there weren't enough positives, each bottle is naturally only 100 calories. While I have had combinations of licorice and mint in foods and candies in the past, this is the first time that I have ever experienced the pairing in a beverage, and after the stellar example set by Victoria's Kitchen, I hope that we start to see more companies experimenting with the flavors in the future. Everything from Victoria's Kitchen is sure to satisfy, but if you are stuck on which of their products to try first, this is definitely the best so far.

In other words, this one has my highest of recommendations. I can't wait to see what's next from Victoria's Kitchen.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Samples sent courtesy of Victoria's Kitchen, LLC.
For more information about Victoria's Kitchen, visit them online at:
Or follow Victoria's Kitchen on Facebook or Twitter

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MiO Fit

Those who have been following Drinkable Review for the last year or two will be well aware of my long, involved history with Kraft's line of MiO water enhancers. I have been sampling new types and flavors of MiO since the original line was released in March of 2011. MiO Fit, intended to be a more economical replacement for conventional sports drinks, is the newest addition to the ever-expanding MiO arsenal.

MiO Fit, as one would expect, operates very much the same as other types of MiO. You simply add as much or as little MiO as you would like to your water, and give it a quick stir or shake to mix everything up. MiO Fit differs from its predecessors, however, in that it is intended to be a replacement for conventional sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and Propel, to name a few. Each bottle of MiO Fit is fortified with electrolytes and B vitamins to help replenish the nutrients that your body burns up during exercise. Although I have not used MiO Fit in an athletic setting (I'm...uh..."taking a break" from my old jogging routine), this is the same approach as most of the well-established "professional" sports drinks. Because they work in essentially the same way, MiO Fit has one distinct advantage over its pre-bottled competition: multiple servings per bottle. For the same price as three 20 oz. bottles of Gatorade (7.5 servings), one bottle of MiO Fit will convert 18 equivalent servings of water into delicious exercise fuel.

And I do actually mean delicious. To be honest, MiO Fit sort of surprised me in that the flavors were good enough to stand alone as tasty beverages even before considering the added functionality. Anyone who has had a sports drink is likely familiar with the lingering, salty aftertaste that is generally only appealing during breaks from heavy workouts during which your only concern is how quickly you can get a liquid of some kind into your face. But Mio Fit has, on the whole, managed to avoid this aftertaste. It is still noticeable if you focus carefully on detecting the flavor, but it is very easy to overlook during regular consumption. This is actually somewhat impressive, as electrolytes are—from a chemical standpoint—essentially just salts. It's fairly obvious that Kraft put some time and effort into hiding the lingering saline aftertaste that haunts so many other sport/performance beverages.

The flavors themselves are also very tasty. The Arctic Grape flavor is very tasty, and while it does smack of artificiality, the grape flavoring is actually fairly subtle and easy to drink. It is not overbearing like many artificial grape flavorings and works well with the mild flavor-altering effects of the electrolytes and vitamins. The Berry Blast flavor, however, is where I was most impressed. I have a long history of generally disliking beverages with the sort of vague "artificial berry" flavoring that has become so common of these sorts of drinks, so I was not particularly excited to try the MiO Fit version of the flavor. But despite my hesitation, MiO Fit is officially one of the first berry-flavored things that I have legitimately enjoyed. Like the grape, the berry was much more subtle and understated than I expected it to be, and the sort of caustic, chemical taste that normally comes with artificial "berry" was surprisingly absent. Both flavors are excellent, and while I prefer the Arctic Grape to the Berry Blast, I do so only slightly. Either flavor would make a great choice when trying to decide which to try first.

Overall, MiO Fit is a very welcome addition to the MiO family. Those who exercise frequently will find a lot to like in the portability and "value for money" of MiO Fit. But even for those who do not follow a regular workout routine, MiO Fit offers two wonderful new flavors to the MiO family. Functionality and appealing taste can often be difficult things to simultaneously work into the same beverage, but Kraft has done so with flying colors. Definitely check this one out.

Verdict: Recommended

Samples sent courtesy of Kraft Foods, Inc.
For more information about MiO and MiO Fit, visit the official website at:
Or Follow MiO on Facebook or Twitter

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Help Save Oogave

Today, there will be no review.

In its place, however, I would like to discuss an issue of personal interest and concern to me. Two years ago, I received my first email from a company offering to send me samples of their beverage to review on this site. Now, almost four years after their instantiation as an independent, health-oriented, organic beverage company, Oogave is in need of our help.

For those who are unfamiliar, Oogave is an independent soda company that produces a line of all-natural sodas sweetened with organic agave nectar. Oogave is a delicious, refreshing, and unique beverage in a market segment so often fraught with tiresome non-originality, and anyone who has the opportunity to try it should do so without hesitation. But while Oogave produces an amazing beverage, the company has found itself in a bit of a financial quandary this year, and has turned to the beverage community for assistance.

I don't want to belabor the point too much in this post, as Oogave has explained the situation in full in the description of their Indiegogo campaign, but the basic gist is this: Oogave needs $500,000 in donations (consider them "community investments, if you prefer) if they are to smoothly continue production into the next several years. For a small, independent packaged goods supplier in the United States, it takes about five years of sales to reach cash flow positive--business terms for sustained profit. Oogave has big plans for the next several years (signing on with major distributors such as Super Target and Sodexo), and if they can make it through this critical fourth year, they should be set to succeed in the years to come.

This, now, is where you come in. Oogave is currently a little bit short on cash in their plan for expansion into more major North American markets. Without the funds required to keep up with the costs of production, Oogave may be in danger of having to close their doors for good--something about which anyone who has ever tasted Oogave would be very upset. Oogave has estimated that they need approximately $500,000 in funds to reach cash flow positive, at which point they will be able to grow organically and continue seeking new opportunities for brand-building and expansion. If they can reach this goal, Oogave will stay in business and will continue to grace the beverage industry with their delicious products. If not, well...the future is very unclear.

If you are interested in helping Oogave reach this goal, head over to their Indiegogo fundraiser and take some time to read through their explanation of the issues at hand before determining how much money you might be able to contribute to the cause. Each level of donation does come with a corresponding reward perk, so if you are on the fence about bumping your donation up to the next level, just know that you will see some return on your investment (aside from a great company getting to stay in business, of course). If you are unable to donate, you can still do your part by sharing the information about the campaign with your friends, family, and social media networks.

$500,000 may seem like a long way off, but every little bit helps. If we all work together in donating and doing what we can to get the word of the campaign out to others, we should be able to help Oogave stick around for the long run.

For more information about Oogave and their products, please visit their website at:
Help get the word out with Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to share the link to their Indiegogo campaign ( wherever you see fit.