Baristi and Barista Milk

Milk and Baristi at Grumpy's, New York, NY / Leica D-Lux 4
Milk and Baristi at Grumpy’s, New York, NY / Leica D-Lux 4

Comparison: Joltin’ Joe vs. Espresso Coffee Soda

Yes, we are the individuals we are to a great part through our collected experiences, but are more precise in being through comparison.

My eyes caught the “Joltin’ Joe Sparkling Espresso Black” from “Arizona” about a week ago and the first can I drank did not disappoint me. And so, I wrote immediately what my palate told me.

The bitterness which one might immediately connect with that of an espresso containing a fair amount of robusta seeds, could be connected just the same with the bitterness found in some beers (like Kölsch). Perhaps due to the taste being of a light concentration and that it is a sparkling drink.

I must make a positive comment about Arizona for an unusual point. If produced for the commercial masses, it is certainly mot common to use less, but rather more sugar than the palate needs and is accostumed to. My immediate impression perceived little sweetness, something that allows a more present coffee taste.

All I had for the mandatory comparison was my memory, and although the memory is very limited next to a one to one tasting, today I do know the memory delivered with a fair amount of accuracy.

One of my favorite drinks, one of the best soft drinks ever made, must be the Manhattan Special Espresso Soda from Brooklyn, New York. The memory comparison was very clear about the Joltin’ Joe being a drink to quench the thirst, while Manhattan Special produces a nectar with a high taste concentration level. A well diluted sirup, meant for a quiet, meaningful hour, possibly resulting in repercussive pleasure. The fact that a can contains 15,5 fluid ounces, almost half a liter, suggests that it is made for qick drinking, while an individual serving of the Espresso Coffee Soda contains only 10 fluid ounces. And we know well what is said about the contents of small bottles.

Needless to say, my memory could give me limited satisfaction, it belonging to someone with a critical mouth and having the need to share experiences with readers in a manner that will be respected by the reader as reliable and well-researched. Hence, soon enough I had to buy the two and compare in a one-to-one tasting. Now I know of the miserable judgements possible, when based on experience without comparison.

Whenever we allow it, the nose could judge, warn and speak volumes. Put two glasses in front of you: one containing an Espresso Black, another an Espresso Coffee Soda. You will already have your nostrils help delivering a whole chapter. Joltin’ Joe has a much stronger aroma than Manhattan Special, but although it says clearly coffee, it has clearly a bouquet of synthetic flowers.

The eyes cannot help but see a muddy water, as opposed to a dense brown-black fluid.

The palate has it the worst. Here is where the memory clearly shows disadvantage. Two subjects are only objectively perceived, when the perception of both happens simultaneously. I must repeat, my first bottle impressed me, but the second time around I firstly took a sip of the Espresso Coffee Soda. As I then sipped the Joltin’ Joe, the scientist in me had to fight with my palate. Obeying my palate would have meant an immediate out-spitting of this Joe.

The taste is much better than muddy water, but it comes nowhere close in quality and taste to the darling of the Manhattan Special brewing factory. They make an honorable brew, a nectar in the natural sense of the word.




If Coffee and Tea had no ‘ine’

A spiderweb made by spider under the influence of caffeine

If coffee, tee, mate, guarana, cocoa and a few other plants did not have alkaloids (‘caffeine’, ‘theine’ and others), nature would have to allow the evolution of an alternative system to protect them from the destructive insects in their environment. Needless to say, if it were not there to protect them, it would not be here to stimulate us.

In his informative, beautiful and fascinating book about the global importance of five plants and how they changed the way we live, Henry Hobhouse makes a statement about the popularity of hot drinks.

“The Portuguese were probably the earliest tea drinkers in Europe, since they brought it to Lisbon from about 1580 onward. They may also have been keen consumers of the Arab mint tea, which was a well-known infusion before the arrival of tea itself. Today there are offered chamomile, linden flowers, comfrey, and many other herbal teas, yet there is no evidence that any of them, including mint tea, was ever widely drunk. Mint was only used in Moslem countries, where alcohol was not permissible, or by people who had acquired the habit from Arabs. So why did tea become so popular in Europe”

“The reason must be that all successful hot nonalcoholic drinks contain socially acceptable stimulating drugs. Without them, they are not more effective than hot water. In the nineteenth century organic chemists finally identified the alkaloid of tea, theine, as being the same as that of coffee, caffeine. To be fair, theine is less effective.”

Without the caffeine in coffee, tea and cocoa, these are not more effective than hot water?

With all due and deserved respect to Henry Hobhouse, it most definitely cannot be accepted, it cannot be rationalized that the successes of coffee, tea and cocoa were and are only based on their alkaloid contents, neither can it be truly believed that, over time, various societies have chosen these drinks over water, only based on their stimulance. Coffee and its aroma, its bitterness and its taste, earthy and nutty, all contribute clearly to the reasons why we love and need coffee. When it comes to tea, a classical loved combination is earl grey, a realm of fine taste notes, but also the simplest high-quality green or black or white teas will give you an array for the palate that no other drink can. And for this rainbow of tastes we appreciate and need these hot drinks, not only for their ability to stimulate.

Heat gives a further, necessary component to the advantages of hot drinks over sodas, alcohol and even fruit juices. Warmth is not just temperature, but a feeling as well, and as such, the closest thing to love. A significant sign of enjoying life, a drink and the time of day, is drinking the choice of a hot drink out of a small bowl, being held by softly pressing the palms of the hands, as opposed to the strenuous proper holding of a cup with two fingers.

Alcohol will numb the mind and the body. Sodas are usually seen as thirst quenchers. Juices are with certainty the liquids tightly connected with health conscious ones, but are usually not considered for the pleasure and socializing. And nobody invites for the evening to a glass of milk.

Hot drinks are a necessity because they invite us to dwell, while providing comfort and coziness. They are there for the pleasure of the soul. Thus, when combining the temperature and the taste, the satisfaction might be even greater than stimulation through caffeine.

So why did tea and coffee become so popular in Europe and later all over the world? Because of the uniqueness in their tastes. Because they continue to be the best liquids to drink hot (or warm), and because they temper and enlighten us. Caffeine is just an extra.

Tea, Coffee and Cocoa on Paper


Coffee and Grapefruit for the Skin

I am informed that those amazing coffee baths in Japan, aiming at improving the health of the skin, have coffee and the juice of grapefruit as main ingredients. Now I have found a scrub by Ayala Moriel, that has precisely these two ingredients in a fairly short list of ingredients.

Finjan – a coffee and cardamom sugar scrub

About Ayala Moriel’s Finjan Sugar Scrub: “Nourishing sugar scrub with coffee, cardamom and grapefruit. The caffeine and the grapefruit oil help to smooth out cellulite. The exfoliation scrubs away dead skin cells, leaving it revived and glowing. The oil and glycerin carriers are excellent, non-clogging moisturizers.” (*)

INGREDIENTS: White & Brown Sugar, Vegetable Glycerin, Coffee Beans, Cardamom Seeds, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Finjan natural perfume blend (with Coffee, Rose Geranium, Cardamom, Grapefruit and Orange Essences), Vitamin E (*)

* Label information

The Jew who had not had his Coffee yet / Jerusalem Poetry

We are in a residential area, but the streets are empty.
Seldom does a car drive by and precisely that is what the camera registers – Emptiness.
A car driving up the hill comes nearer and nearer to the camera and is followed by it. Then it disappears to the right. From there appears another one and follows the street downhill. Far, coming from left, a moped driver approaches up the hill and turns suddenly left into a smaller street, while a car comes out, turns right and continues up the street where a man, somewhat bored, slowly walks down along the sidewalk.

The young man perceives a shoe on the floor, picks it up and gives it to a boy sitting bored-still on a wall along the sidewalk.
The man reaches a small store and buys a milk for 4,80, while the attendant is on the telephone. He leaves, walks back up the hill, sees once more the shoe lying there and once more gives it to the boy. Having reached his house, standing at the door just about to open it, he hears the cry of a kitten. While bending down he opens the milk container, but as he is about to open the door once more, notices that the kitten does not drink. Bending again he smells the milk and realizes, it has gone bad.

The bored one returns. Finding the shoe on the street, he puts it on the boys foot himself.

The camera shows a bus stop. A person on the right, a couple of girls to the left, all wait. A lady walks by and the girls ask for the time.
Ten and something…
“Thank you!”
A man walks from the opposite direction and the girls need the time again.
“Ten…” and something, he replies.
“Thank you” say the girls once more.
“There comes another one” …they say… “Let’s bug him”
“What’s the time?”
“I do not know. I do not have a watch”
“That’s a weird one” …joke the girls back.

As he reaches the store with his milk, the attendant is still on the telephone.
“The milk is sour. I just want to change it”
From the telephone the attendant nods.
“They have all expired. Do you have no fresh ones?”
The attendant gives him the telephone and informs him:
“Tristan and Isolde. If someone comes to the phone, just say Tristan and Isolde, from Wagner” …and he goes looking for fresh milk.

A voice appears on the telephone and our bored one answers: “Tristan and Isolde”
He hears: “Can you also tell us who is the conductor?”
“mmmmmmm…. Zubin Metha”
“oh! I am sorry. That is the wrong answer”
“That boy did not leave me any milk here. I’ve got no more”
“Is the store down there open?”
“Might be. I don’t know” answers the attendant.

Just as he exits the store, a man approaches him and wishes to know if the flower shop up the road is open.
“Might be. I don’t know!” says the milk-less one.
“And do you know if the store down the road is still open?”
“It might be. I don’t know. Actually, too bad that we are strangers. Otherwise we could have called each other, you would have bought my flowers and I your milk”

They go their ways.

“Happy Sabbath!”

Ilan Kazan in “Himon” walking down the street and the boy that loses his shoe.

The store is open and he takes a milk container, pays 4,60 and goes once more up the hill. Down the hill rolls an orange passed him. He looks after it for several seconds, until it disappears in the curb. As he starts to walk further, another orange rolls towards him. This time he picks it up and notices a woman trying to collect her groceries back into her shopping cart. Her two daughters await her further up the road. After he gives her the orange she asks – “Where is the other one?”

They converse all the way up the road, while the girls play joyfully around them. To say they converse is actually overblown, for she conducts her monologue and he hardly gets a single word in. Suddenly she collects the shoe from the sidewalk, without looking puts it on the boys foot and continues her walk and talk. Once at her flat, he helps her put the groceries inside and almost forgets his milk. It had fallen into one of her shopping bags.

He proceeds and as he approaches the flower shop wishes to buy some, but notices that his wallet is not in his possession. With his slowness he starts on his way back to the store down the hill and passes by the boy, picking up the shoe but taking it with him instead of being ‘kind’. As he reaches the store, this one has closed. He goes up the stairs next to the store and knocks on the door.

“I bought some milk downstairs and forgot my wallet there. Do you know where does the owner live?”

“Come inside” is the response of a young woman. “I cannot come out, but – please – take a seat. My husband should be back soon and he will get the wallet for you. On the table there is some freshly made tea. Take a seat and help yourself.”

He sits down, takes sugar into his mouth and drinks some tea. Another sugar cube, another sip of tea. He then opens his milk and pours a bit into his tea. After some minutes he hears sounds and notices that the young woman is in the restroom.

“I cannot come out” she says.

“Can I do anything for you? Are you alright?  …he answers, a bit concerned.

“I am pregnant and cannot allow that you see me. It is not good if you see me for the first time in the state of pregnancy”

He suggests that she comes out, he sits facing the window and will not look at her. She sits behind him and they could converse that way, without him seeing her, until her husband arrives. She comes out and he starts the conversation…

“My day did not start well today. Thru the window I smelled some coffee and had the desire to have some. Got up to prepare one, got water, some sugar and coffee. As it was ready I went to get some milk, but had none.” At that point he interrupted himself: “Not that I desire this, but if your husband were not to return, for whatever reason, I would love to marry you and raise the child with you.” As he said that she stood up and said this would be the time to light up the candles and pray. Just as they were about to start their prayer, her husband came in. The men introduced themselves, prayed together and our man left with his milk.

Now he wanted to return the shoe to the boy, but the boy was not sitting on the wall. He put the shoe on the wall and the found orange on top of it.

* * *

“Himnon” (“Anthem”) (2008)

Short film: 36 min.

Director – Elad Keidan

Actors: Albert Cohen, Maya Gasner, Ilan Hazan, Carmit Mesilati Kaplan

The Oral Truth – An Exercise on Dwelling

To Believe and the Truth –

Two roles are given to a mouth – to take in and to give out. It is the main form of supplying the organism with the necessary nutrients, as well as being vehicle to the need for mental utterance. A mouth has the abilities of assimilation and of expression. Only a proper assimilation provides a sound expression, thus is assimilation primordial.

Coffee, Cardamom and Cinnamon in a Mortar. Strong Inspirations to a Nose as well as to a Palate.

Right above the mouth is the nose. Its role, ability and position are to give us a belief, based on which we accept or reject the object about to come in contact with our mouth and subsequently with the mucous membrane. The olfactory perception is unquestionably a precious universe in itself and believing in what is to come may release experiences that are essential for the mental and physical energies. There is power and beauty in believing. The billions following Mohamed, Jesus or Dalai, along with those still awaiting a Messiah to follow, could all attest to this, but in the end the necessity to believe is not based on truth, but on trust. We need to believe in the variety of information and warnings given by the nose, suggesting what might be succulent for the palate, or ruined, rotten and even tragically dangerous to us. The mouth – on the other hand – That is the truth! Call it an individual one, but it is truth to the individual and is the concrete presence in your organism, taking physical activity onto your body. Some cheeses – or even coffee – will lead the nose through an imagination path that at times strongly differs from or contradicts the taste assimilated by tongue and palate seconds later.

Mouth, Tongue and Saliva –

The mouth is a small chamber, but the perfect cathedral. It is truly architecture. Allows passive and active acoustics. It is whole and holy, home to gold and rubbish just the same. The sad difference is, we dwell much longer in cathedrals than we allow dwelling in the mouth. In psychology the importance of oral dwelling is even viewed as a limited period in the live span of the individual. Sigmund Freud refers to the first eighteen months in the development of a child as the oral stage, during which the center of pleasures is the mouth.

Eighteen months for the mouth as the pleasure center?!

I do understand that other body parts develop soon enough, to the extent that the center of a child’s joy, development and intellectual assimilation will no longer be his buccal cavity alone. However, I consider any reduction in its importance, or any shift away from the center, to be crucial and dangerous for those who ought to continue growing way beyond traditional rules and limitations set by societies as valid systems. This is precisely the reason and inspiration for me writing on this topic: we dwell not, we mostly pass or rush by. And most of all, we swallow much too early.

There are many individuals tasting diligently in various fields who are sometimes looked at strangely due to their funny mouth movements and sounds. Our aim is to taste. Some do it to the point that tasting becomes their profession. They taste foods or whiskey, wine, tea or coffee. Interestingly enough, by the tasting of drinks, the process of oral and mental dwelling is much longer than by food tasting. A further reason for my need to touch meticulously on the importance of the mouth.

Digestion is a highly important mechanical and chemical process in the human body that has as its main purpose the reduction of all ingested products in such a way that they become easier to be absorbed into the bloodstream, supplying the complete organism with the necessary nutrients. We know that the digestion starts not in the stomach, but in the mouth. The very first bite begins the mastication process and thus, the digestion. Mastication consists of breaking the food with the teeth, moving and transporting it with the tongue and lubricating it with saliva. Hence is the mouth not just an indispensable kingdom for pleasures, but a center of operation for nutritional purposes. Our health is strongly dictated by the quality of our daily digestion.

It is fair to say that humans have sufficient teeth to destroy most food to the point of it being a completely unrecognizable mash. However, many seem to opt for one single tongue function instead and let it transport the food in express fashion from the lips directly to the esophagus. Perhaps most important in the digestive system, next to the teamwork of tongue, teeth and saliva, is the time factor. Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, does not only speak about the necessity of being more conscientious about our consumption habits, but calls us to consider what the word actually implies. To consume is, to do away with completely. The function of the mouth is not to do away with, but to achieve the best assimilation possible by chewing the food extensively.

The varied perception sections of the tongue are a good reason for the many faces some individuals make when investigating the whole spectrum in the taste of a drink. The tip of the tongue is especially sensitive to the sweetness of things. The sides of the frontal half react to saltiness, while the sides in the back are responsible for things that are sour, leaving the back half for tasting bitterness.

Enlarged papillae and taste buds on the tongue.
(Reproduction of a lithograph from Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body from 1918, thus not copyrightable, therefore lawfully belonging to the public domain.)

The tongue is a muscle and an organ as well, covered by a mucus membrane, muscle tissue, papillae and taste buds. It is responsible for keeping food between the teeth that these could be as effective as possible with each movement of the jaw. Thanks to four intrinsic muscles changing the positions of the tongue and four extrinsic ones attached to the bone, altering the positions, while allowing retraction, protrusion (outward push) and side-to-side movements, the tongue is able to transport the food to the esophagus and simultaneously help blocking any food from slipping into the respiratory canal. Furthermore, it maintains the mouth clean and functions as a thermometer to protect the sensitive mouth ceiling from extreme temperatures.

A habit in many cultures I had the opportunity to come in contact with use water and other liquids to literally “wash” the food down their throat. If they only knew that this is neither healthy, nor necessary. Washing the food down by drinking liquids allows neither the food to reach its needed consistency before reaching the stomach, nor the required moistening process and chemical transformation through the saliva. It is not only that the lack of dwelling time in the mouth diminishes immensely how effectively we will obtain the nutrition the food could provide, but also that even the tasting for our senses comes too short – if it comes at all. The chemicals in foods dissolve or become released when they come in contact with the saliva and proceed then to seep into the taste buds, triggering receptors that send the given information to the brain. We then, relatively, ‘understand’ taste.

Dwelling through chewing is obviously essential. The mastication triggers the saliva glands into producing saliva, of which 2% consists of antibacterial compounds, as well as enzymes that help in preparing the food for its second processing phase in the stomach, after it passes the esophagus. The stomach REQUIRES this help. These enzymes work in the reduction of starches and fats. These enzymes also break down food particles left within dental crevices which protect the teeth from bacterial decay.

Furthermore, after emphasizing that the digesting process starts before the stomach, it is necessary to point out as well, it is not completed until food passes colon, rectum and anus. Digestion ends not before excretion takes place. Interestingly enough, coffee is often used for colonic cleansing.

Nutritional Pleasure –

Man lives not from vitamins and water alone, health is not only obtained through solids and liquids. There is life beyond matter.

Amongst the best stimuli known to humans are sex, music, cocaine and food.  All these trigger the organic chemical dopamine that works as neurotransmitter and connects with the perception of pleasure in the brain, as well as with physical and emotional reactions. In the brain five dopamine receptors are found. Scientific studies connect it further with our level of attention, motivation, our mood and memory. Dopamine deficiency could be linked with  the tendency in some individuals to be addictive, with depression, detachment and poor concentration.

Many will argue that what divides us humans from other animals is a more advanced and complex ability to think on the part of humans. If I wish to acknowledge differences, a relevant one would be our pleasure in the food ingestion. Animals feed, while humans feast. It appears to be a biologically human necessity to spend often more time preparing food than it is needed to ingested. At times we spend days and months to achieve taste. Nevertheless, although we invest time, energy and complexities, not for nutrition’s sake, but for taste, pleasure is a topic which in our societies is all too often linked to uselessness, amorality and abuse. Aiming at pleasure does not get the level of importance, context to spirituality and depth that Aristippos of Cyrene put into it while thinking hedonistic and transcendentally philosophizing.

If the caffeine in chocolate is indeed the substance contributing to happiness amongst those eating chocolate, we need no further logic or proof that pleasure, coffee, digestion and life – and for some chocolate – belong together.

I repeatedly remember many years ago, as Boris Becker made the banana on tennis courts famous. Undoubtedly he was not in the position to lie back, relax and chew each bite over 30 times in order to masticate properly. And even then, I felt he was not feeding, he was eating his banana. Many times I have sat in restaurants and observed people eat, not because that was my reason for being there, but because their way of eating was special, peculiar or poor, that I had to observe closely.

Enjoy a Banana

There are three ways to ingest – for instance – a banana:

  • feeding
  • eating
  • enjoying

Peach, apple and kiwi are tastes I clearly perceive in the taste we call banana. If chewing attentively while enjoying it, you might notice its seeds with the tongue. This is easy to do when the tongue is used to gently break the banana vertically, after the horizontal break by the teeth. It is soft enough that the teeth do not even need to work. The consistency is well-balanced – not hard, but well contained. You could be very perceptive when eating an everyday food, and this one may never be the same as of then.

Beyond the Mouth –

After arriving in London in 2010 I stayed at a guesthouse that serves as residence to several religious men. They shared with me through their hospitality, through our several conversations and discussions, as well as through our meals together. I was also there when they prayed together and attended their church two times. One evening the owner of the house revealed to me that he cannot wait to go to heaven. I understand indeed and can empathize with the desire to arrive at any given place or occasion. We cannot wait for spring, some for summer, cannot wait for Friday, cannot wait for our child or loved one to get home. But, following most beliefs, we are here on earth for a reason, be it for a period of 35, 75 or 105 years, and according to most beliefs the length is subject to the will of God. This tells me that wishing impatiently to leave is neither the healthy nor spiritual dwelling as God would want it. If you are here, be here. Precisely THAT is our existential responsibility.

What does all this have to do with coffee?

Here, out of billions of possibilities, just an example of complexities with significance:
No plant develops as coffee does – grows a few years before it blossoms, gives green berries, lets them ripe and become sweet, concentrates so much complexity in its seed and produces caffeine to protect itself – just to get roasted in the end. All this, merely to be a stimulant alkaloid in the end? Just to be a drug?

Coffee should be there merely for its caffeine, just as belief is us given, simply to survive the years spent between birth and death. Coffee should be there merely for its caffeine, just as the single role of a kitchen is to provide a proper place for a toaster, just as our only purpose for having feet is to help the shoe industry have a sense of purpose.

If the holistic approach to things had no meaning, if the complexity of our material and mental worlds had no importance and provided no advantage, no extra quality to life, we would need no more than intravenous supplies. We would need no preparation, no culture, no aesthetics, no education – just injections. But life with liveliness and depth could only be holism. Only as such could it be a fruitful one, an inspiring one, worth being thankful for.

In the sum of sums (summa summarum) –

The fountain of youth is not in upstate New York, not in Scotland, not in Ecuadorian Vilcabamba, where many centenarians live. The fountain is you in YOUR decision and attitude in life. Whenever you are in the privilege of having a coffee in front of you which has been prepared with undivided attention and respect, believe on it first with your nose. Have faith. Then proceed to let tongue and palate know the truth and anything within and beyond the truth.

May the dwelling enlighten you.


for further reading:

Philosophy of Eating – at Old and Sold

Eating the World: The Philosophy of Food / Open Democracy

The Complexity of Coffee: Aroma Profiling Isn’t Just for Wine / Coffee Review

Blackwell on Health: Study reveals brain chemistry behind musical pleasure – at National Post


A Rose is a better Rose, is a better Rose / Caffeine is a Pesticide

Coffee Grounds (with saffron) March 2009

April has begun. The sun starts shining more hours and more days in a row and the coffee list continues to grow when it comes to the number of its possible uses. One of them was just mentioned in Kitchen 55, suggesting that banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds work wonders for roses when scattered on the soil around the rose bushes. In the Rombouts Blog I also found some comments about saving and helping plants with coffee grounds that make reference to the “high nitrogen content”.

It is indeed that time of the year.

We might be quick to say that our very own intelligence has brought us thus far, but this connection between growth and coffee might be much simpler than our complex knowledge. Caffeine is not only conducive to making our system believe, we are not tired. It is a natural pesticide as well, protecting the various plants where it is found.

I would say, this gives us good reason to ingest just the best drops coffee has to offer, instead of leaving it in water too long. That way it tastes better in the cup while leaving enough for the plants to make use of.

Fentiman′s Curiosity Cola – much more than a Lemonade

Fentiman's Curiosity Cola - Botanically brewed since 1905

For different reasons I have had an interest for cola drinks which try to offer more than what the common brands sell. The commercially successful recipes remind little of the botanical origins cola has and focus mostly on profiles based on sugar and lemonade. Cola drinks differ mostly in their sugar content, herbs and artificial additives. I have now found a wonderful cola – the Curiosity Cola from Fentiman. Its taste profile is in command by fine herbs and ginger, without losing its cola profile.

During the first 25 years of my life I did not drink a single drop of cola. This is one of the advantages of spending a childhood and youth within the believe of the Seventh-Day Adventists. For the second half of my life I have had about three liters of cola. To these I could now add at least 2 or 3 more which I have enjoyed in the last months. That is what happens when one discovers a cola which offers much more and better than other colas on the market. Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola is something between a refreshment and a pleasure drink, it is considered the number one cola in the USA and is brewed botanically with ginger and herbs in England. Because it is a brewing process there are minimal alcohol rests, which do not exceed 0,5%.

As I had the very first millilitres in my mouth a few months back, I knew immediately, this is a fine combination of herbs and well tuned brewing composition.

In 1905, around the same time in which Desiderio Pavoni was developing the first Italian espresso machine, Thomas Fentiman received a botanically brewed recipe for ginger beer that was to serve as collateral for a loan. This debt was never paid back and he kept the recipe, with which and the logo representing his german shepherd ‘Fearless’, he started Fentiman’s. The recipe was the base for several drinks, among others the Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola.

Perhaps it is time we start treating cola drinks on a different level. Wine and Whiskey are pleasure drinks. Beer is used by many as a quick thirst quenching drink, while others already know to appreciate it as a special and rich brew for pleasure with , slowly and awake. Coffee has achieved a pleasure status (again) in the last couple of decades where we focus on less quantity and more quality. I could well imagine that the better barkeepers must soon reach the point, where a cocktail recipe allows solely high-quality colas, be it Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, Fritz Kola or Afri-Cola. Even the Epicurean at home could keep a good assortment on colas, just like different moods and situations call for different types of wine.

My overwhelming impression with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola ought to be obvious. I find this drink certainly belongs in a league quite different to most colas and soft drinks, but I needed to make a test, and so I did. It is expressed in only few words.

  • Just looking at the colour hints a difference in intensity of the various recipes and brands. Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola is a deeper brown.
  • Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola give no aroma. The nose gets no information about what is about to be tasted. Curiosity Cola has a strong and full aroma – mostly cola, herbs and caramel.
  • Pepsi-Cola has a sweeter taste than Coca-Cola, but both are sweeter than Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola. The curiosity cola is complex in its taste, reminding of its botanical origins, yet maintaining the usual pleasure character expected from soft drinks. Much pleasure while refreshing.

Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola Ingredients: fermented ginger root extract, carbonated water, sugar, catuaba extract, guarana extract, caffeine.

Some notes from Fentiman’s:

To unlock the fulfilling, refreshing taste of a Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverage, simply hold the bottle in your hand and with one good turn of the wrist invigorate the ingredients that lie dormant at the bottom of the bottle.

The Botanical Brewing is a simple process involving herbs and plant roots.
The original recipe saw them take ginger roots, mill them before tumbling them into copper steam jacketed pans and leaving to bubble and simmer, releasing all their flavour. Adding finest herbs, natural flavouring, sugar, brewer’s yeast and fresh spring water the liquid was transferred to wooden vats where it is left to ferment.
The liquid goes on fermenting as it is bottled and corked in the old stone ‘Grey Hens’ – where it would fully mature and be ready to drink by the end of the week.
Today their processes have been updated through the addition of mild carbonation to replace the carbon dioxide lost in pasteurisation, which gives the product a longer life and keeps the level of alcohol to no more than 0.5%

Soon my recipes with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola and other Fentiman drinks will follow.


Coca-Cola – The first and principal recipe was developed by John Stith Pemberton(1831 – 1888). Just before his death he sold the rights to Asa Griggs Candler (1851 – 1929) for US$2.300, who founed the The Coca-Cola Company in 1892.

Pepsi-Cola – The drink was developed in 1898 by Caleb Bradham (1867 – 1934) and at first called Brad’s Drink. Pepsin is the enzyme found in cola nuts.