There’s nothing like a warm cup of coffee at a summit, or by a lake, or, well, pretty much anytime along the trail. (Or, you know, anytime, ever.) Dan carries an ages old EMS thermos with him that’s as dented and worn as an old shoe. It’s been lost on the trail not once, not twice, but three times and has found its way home each time. The thing has coffee stains in there that are more than a decade old. Every sip from that thermos is like drinking coffee history.
That’s why he was thrilled when Meena showed up with Japanese coffee to try this week, iced coffee to be sure, but wonderful, caffinated, dark, coffee none-the-less.
For your unusual drinking pleasure, we present Boss canned coffee, brought to you by Suntory a Japanese beverage company based in Osaka. First, if you want to drink something in Japan, from whiskey to beer to coffee to Pepsi, odds are Suntory either makes it or bottles it. Second, Suntory beverages are just not that bizarre.
We guarantee you have heard of Suntory. You just may not have realized it. Ever drink Orangina? Outside the U.S. they own it. They have had product placement in a whole load of American movies, from Spider Man to Babel. In the 1970s they were everywhere using groups like the Carpenters and performers like Sammy Davis Jr. to push their product. But the place where you most likely have seen them is in the Sofia Coppola movie Lost in Translation. In the movie Bill Murray’s character is filming commercials for, you guessed it, Suntory liquor.
Anyway, back to the coffee. Japan is just ga-ga over canned coffee. You can buy them in vending machines on the street. Suntory carries dozens of different brands and they all have that slightly adolescent, pop culture feel to the marketing and packaging of the stuff. Our model, Black Boss, was released in 1992 and its wonderful cartoon spokesman (presumably the big Boss himself) is a mustachioed, pipe-smoking, distinctly Western looking dude. The current real-life spokesman for Black Boss is Tommy Lee Jones. Seriously.
The can itself looks like an 8-ouncer, though who knows since almost everything but the name, Black Boss, is in Japanese. The only other English is the proclamation that it’s made with the “original Espresso and Drip method.” Must mean something to its English customers. The paper label that came glued to the bottom proclaims all the standard ingredient content when it comes to canned coffee – no calories, no nothing, except presumably, coffee. The cost was about $1.50. The weight of the full can didn’t register on our digital scale, so it’s light.
We didn’t know whether or not to shake before opening, so we did figuring there wouldn’t be any carbonation.
The coffee was surprisingly good, very smooth and a lot richer than we expected from a canned beverage. Also, no sediment at the bottom either, so it is mixed well. And it did taste like real coffee – not in a Starbucks way, but more of a late-night cold coffee in a diner way. Not burned but drowzy. Perhaps that’s what the espresso drip method means. Meena suggested the coffee would taste good with a shot of whisky and we both agreed that as far as hiking went, it would be an ideal end-of-the-trail snack. It would be difficult to keep cool on a hot day, so perhaps leaving a couple cans to cool in a stream and picking them up upon your return would be a very pleasant treat.
It’s the Boss of canned coffee. Check out the insane Black Boss website, it can be found here: http://www.suntory.co.jp/softdrink/boss/
Good luck trying to figure it out, just sit back and enjoy the ride.