Yesterday, I tried Coffiest (the most recent space-age meal replacement product release from Soylent), and it was a source of unexpected, but very real emotional distress–not nourishment. I think the most accurate and concise product review I could possibly give for Soylent’s Coffiest was captured in my response to an intern’s interoffice message announcing that there was potentially delicious food up for grabs.
For those who are unfamiliar, Soylent produces “food” products (i.e. powders, beverages, and “food bars”) that have been “intelligently designed” to provide complete nutrition with total convenience, at an affordable price. Basically, their products rid people of the inconvenience of eating actual food.
I first heard about Soylent (from something other than a press release) a few months ago when an ex-boyfriend–an intensely career-focused and hip software developer in his mid-twenties, i.e. the prototype human that a product like Soylent would appeal to–told me that he’d started using the stuff for a couple meals a day and really liked it. Naturally, being a FOOD writer/editor/journalist/media thing/whatever the hell they call us now, I passed judgement (with smug glee, because, you know… exes) and wished him well in beaconing in the dystopia that trading a reliance on natural fruits and beasts of the earth, as well as oh, I don’t know… the mental/emotional satisfaction, cultural architecture, and social structures tied to actual food and eating it, for a lab-engineered, nutrient source was sure to herald.
But because lately I have been struggling to get myself to the grocery store, prepare food, and pack decent lunches for myself on a regular basis, when a sample of the caffeinated version of this meal replacement beverage showed up at our office–I was highly intrigued. I thought, well this does seem convenient, and it’s better than skipping meals entirely, and when you really think about it, it’s not all that different from a frozen pizza in terms of being “real” food… and it’s got to be healthier. And the more I thought about how convenient and wholly beneficial it would be, the more I was convinced–I was going to love this stuff.
So yesterday morning, a few of us sat down to just taste it. Everyone immediately rejected the Coffiest upon oral contact–everyone except me, that is. My colleagues deemed it gritty and repulsive. I, on the other hand, found it very similar in flavor and texture to SlimFast shakes (which I drank regularly throughout my youth–not as a weight loss tool, but just because I loved it); I was convinced, I loved it fondly. This, Coffiest, was to be my future. Or at least my lunch for the day. I mean look, I even professed something like my version of love for it on Snapchat.
No one fought me when I said I was taking the entire bottle to drink as my midday meal, and so I did. And here is what I experienced.
Pros: Flavor. No doubt about it, drinking this was akin to drinking SlimFast. I’m starting to think maybe they just ripped oft the SlimFast formula and re-skinned it to appeal to hipsters…
Cons: I was hungry less than 2 hours later. It gave me heartburn that I am certain scarred my esophagus. It really upset me (which admittedly, might be my own problem… but still).
Verdict: I hate Coffiest. So what if it tastes OK? If I wanna chug a 400 calorie beverage just to enjoy the flavor… I’m probably gonna go get a milkshake, not a SlimFast knock-off.
The thing is, I had so much hope for Coffiest and then it all came crashing down. I wanted to love it. I convinced myself I would. But by mid-afternoon, my typical afternoon crankiness was so epically magnified by hanger and heartburn… my stomach was empty, but the rest of me was full of rage and resentment. I was confused and felt conned. And ultimately, I ate a big piece of cold zucchini pizza at 4 PM and swore off Soylent forever. I’m back to believing this could be the fuel of our twisted sci-fi future.
Now to be completely fair, this is just the narrative one woman’s experience. Maybe someone who is a bit more emotionally stable and isn’t pretty much constantly hungry would have a better one. If you’ve tried a Soylent product, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below.