Category Archives: BEVERAGE

BAI ANTIOXIDANT INFUSION: KULA WATERMELON

BaiKula

Nobody knows what ‘Bai Antioxidant Infusion’ means; least of all its makers.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped them.

This drink is absolutely disgusting. Working off the strange mouth-drying sensation that Oasis fruit beverages do so well despite their liquid form, Bai Antioxidant Infusion takes the reigns and rides that horse off a cliff.

Watermelons are nice. Most teas are nice. This is nice hung, drawn and bottled, and all for well over £2. I can’t begin to work out how they could’ve fucked up a theoretically simple beverage so absolutely.

Naturally, I can only write about my experiences with the kula (again, meaning unknown) watermelon model. The other fruit flavours in the range may well be delicious. But just because the possibility of a thing exists, doesn’t make it in any way likely.

To make matters considerably worse, the label features a completely nonsensical story about Robin Hood in the most afterthought piece of narrative branding the world has ever had inflicted upon it – see below.

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That’s right, the marketing team behind Bai Antioxidant are advocating for its product to be made illegal. Edgy. Banter. Both. Or Something.

Given that is a company that is shifting enough units to justify a Super Bowl commercial starring Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken, I can safely say I understand the world less than ever.

If this is what antioxidants are all about, then I’m throwing my hat in with the oxidants.

TASTE/ EXPERIENCE: 1/10

TASTE/ EXPERIENCE + MARKETING: -5/10

GRANDE STARBUCKS AMERICANO COFFEE WITH A DASH OF MILK AND SUGAR IN A TAKE AWAY CUP

starbucks

Guest blog by Mansour Chow

Okay. Let’s get this part over with before I can truly begin.

Yes, it was from Starbucks.

I know. I know. It’s a company that thrived through an unethical and aggressive clustering model, opening multiple stores near independent businesses so that the overall share of coffee sales for the independent businesses drops significantly causing them to stagnate, or worse, to fold because they don’t have the vast resources to ride out the storm. Naomi Klein, in No Logo, describes it as this:

The idea is to saturate an area with stores until the coffee competition is so fierce that sales drop even in individual Starbucks outlets.”

It worked because, again, according to Klein:

“…while sales were slowing at individual stores, the total sales of all the chain’s stores combined continued to rise. Put another way, Starbucks the company was expanding its market while its individual outlets were losing market share, largely to other Starbucks outlets… but the chains’ aggressive strategy of market expansion has the added bonus of simultaneously taking out competitors.”

So, yeah, I bought the coffee from Starbucks: a company that, until the practice was exposed and became too controversial, undertook lease-poaching against independent coffee stores, offering higher rents to landlords under the noses of those independent businesses, causing closures and evictions for the independent coffee shop, only for it to quickly be replaced by a Starbucks.

We’re talking about Starbucks: a company which in 2012 had ten-year sales of 3bn in the UK, but paid only £8.5m in corporation tax (and nothing from 2008-2012). This is a company with *arguably opaque accounting practices, *arguably using creative accounting to give the impression that they’ve made losses in order not to pay corporation tax. A company that currently appears (*arguably) to be using the same sort of creative accounting to give the impression that they make less profit than they actually do in order to pay very little in corporation tax.

Yes, I know. Starbucks: a company that has only just starting paying the national living wage, significantly less than what the Living Wage Foundation recommends.

Yes, Starbucks: a company whose coffee is alleged to be extra-roasted (burnt) to disguise the poor quality of the beans. Starbucks, whose coffee frequently performs poorly in taste tests.

And yet I knew all that and still had a coffee there. What does that say about me? I’ll tell you what it says about me. It says I’m a piece of shit. Okay. I admit it. I’m a god damn piece of shit. What more do you want from me?

Oh, you want to talk about the takeaway cups? Well, good. So do I. Let’s talk about the takeaway cups. 

I know they can’t really be recycled. I know that Starbucks deliberately (*arguably) gives the impression to customers that the cups can be recycled, even when only two extremely specialist recycling plants in the UK can do it.

I knew all this and yet I still had my coffee in a takeaway cup anyway, even in that knowledge.

Okay? Are you happy? I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again. I’m a piece of shit. I’m scum. What more do you want from me? An apology? Okay, I’m sorry. I’m genuinely sorry. Are you happy now? Of course you’re not happy. Your kind will never be happy.

***

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I can actually tell you about something far more important: the so-called warning on the cup. It reads:

Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.

Can you believe that? Let me write it again in case you don’t believe what you’ve just read.

Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.

Okay, I copied and pasted that one. So let me truly write it again (technically type it, but I think this qualifies as both nowadays, doesn’t it?).

Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.

The fucking cheek of those bastards. I mean, seriously. You know what I’m getting at, don’t you?

How they hell do they know I’m going to enjoy it?!  How dare they assume! I’ll be the bloody judge of whether I enjoy their beverage or not. I won’t have it suggested or NLPd into me. I won’t allow it, and I won’t stand for it. Capitalist pigs. 

Notice they say ‘extremely hot’. Extremely hot. Extremely hot, not just hot, but extremely hot. Fucking show-offs.

Well, if it’s extremely hot, then how the hell am I about to enjoy it? As far as I’m concerned, if it’s extremely hot then it’s too hot. And if it’s too hot then I’m not going to enjoy the fucking beverage.

And how the hell do they know it’s extremely hot? How do they know when I’ll choose to drink it? What if I wait for it to go cold? Then their fucking smug warning on their cup is a complete lie.

But it was a fucking lie anyway.

It’s all a lie. We have been raised in a consumerist society of blinkered and distorted vision. It creates idiots like me who buy coffee from unethical companies in cups that I know are bad for the environment. It confuses us into thinking we can’t make a difference. It throws doubt into our brains so we feel any actions to cause less harm, minimise risk or even do good are a drop in the ocean.

It’s the same system that tells us everyone can be a winner, but it’s all a fucking lie. I mean, look at me. Tell me honestly, do you really think someone like me can ever be a winner? Come on, just tell the truth. You couldn’t even say that with a smidgeon of conviction. Just be honest with me. I can take it. Exactly, I am a disgusting piece of shit and my existence is beyond worthless.

As for the coffee, I don’t think it’s as bad as snobs say.

Overall rating: 5/10

*Please don’t sue. I’m skint enough as it is

GREEK SOUR CHERRY BEVERAGES

cherry-cordial

Not remotely representative of my drinking experience

To be absolutely clear from the start: Greece loves a sour cherry beverage.

From the down and dirty fizzy numbers manufactured by Vikos and Loux and served up in stunted plastic bottles, to the heady heights of cartoned work from Life and Amita, this nation is a Mecca for enthusiasts of this fruity, fruity drink genre.

And they are absolutely all good. Tangy and sweet, they pack a wholly satisfying punch.

Greeks have suggested that by making do with Kiosk and supermarket brands, I am accepting the scree of an altogether richer seam of juice drinking. While I’m sure this has more than a grain of truth, I’m content where I am.

Who am I to hunt down the home-made sour cherry-based delights of a Greek grandmother, when anything that comes after would surely lead to a life of slightly reduced joy?

I am confident there are sour cherry beverages operating in the above-10/10 echelons in numerous locations in Greece. If they come my way I will engage with them, but they will not be actively sought.

Let it be known that Average Food Blog does not seek perfection.

GREEK SOUR CHERRY BEVERAGES: 8-10/10

LEVI ROOTS JAMAICAN SUNSET

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Let’s make this absolutely clear; I have never witnessed an absolute, literal Jamaican sunset. But I do know what a moderately pleasant carbonated beverage tastes like, and this, readers, is that.

Levi advises me to “put some music in my glass”. I drank it out of the plastic bottle it came in, and this was the crucial factor, I can only presume, in a lack of music in my general area.

Watermelon and guava is the flavour, with the italics really pushing me into the purchase.

It is decent – nothing more, nothing less. Pleasantly fruity, and provides sufficient sugars for after a particularly gruelling game of 5-a-side football.

In the scheme of Caribbean-influenced newsagent beverages, it is conceptually more manageable than Rio Tropical, marketing’s ‘healthy Lilt’ which has been covered previously on this blog. However, it ranks nowhere near the stratospheric limbo bar set by Sun Exotic Sparkling Pineapple and Coconut.

I can only speculate that a Jamaican sunset of the traditional kind might rate significantly higher, but this one scores 6/10.

GAZPACHO SOUP

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mmmmm! cold soup!

For those of you who don’t know – and I address such culturally benighted people purely out of the goodness of my heart, you understand – gazpacho is a kind of Spanish tomato soup. Gazpacho’s USP is that it is served cold. That’s right, hombres: cold. Cold soup! Eeeh, the world is going to hell in a handcart.

In the very likely event that you have given little thought to gazpacho soup over the course of your life, the intended purpose of this blog post is to enlighten you on a few topics.

The first thing to note is that, whilst the quality of commercially-available gazpacho is somewhat variable, it is generally very tasty. Gazpacho is at its best when it is fairly coarse – somewhere between a salsa and a traditional soup, I would say. The likes of Covent Garden Soup Co, on which my partner* Gary has very ably pontificated, are guilty of producing overly-liquidy gazpacho. Be this as it may, there is something about mashed up, slightly acidic vegetables that is hugely refreshing of a summer’s day.

The second thing to note is that “commercially available” is something of a misnomer nowadays, for you can’t get gazpacho soup in mainstream supermarkets for love nor money. It used to be the case, up until last year, that during the summer – and I use this word in the loosest possible sense to cover the time from June to September – you could find pots of gazpacho soup in the soup aisle of any leading supermarket. No longer. Nowadays you’ll have to go as far afield as shops such as Whole Foods to get your cold, Spanish, tomato-based fix. The likes of Waitrose and Morrisons have, it seems, quietly withdrawn gazpacho from its shelves. It no longer exists. It is a ghost-soup.

I have no idea why this should be. Perhaps the soup-consuming populace have wised-up to the fact that, instead of shelling out a hefty sum for some fancy-schmancy Spanish soup, they can simply purchase the same product, marketed under the less salubrious name of ‘tomato soup’, for less coinage. Which brings me onto my third point. Gazpacho soup and tomato soup (with the aforementioned caveat about coarseness aside) are to all intents and purposes the same product. The difference in name betokens merely a difference in marketing tactics, and a difference in intended temperature. Why is it, then, that the thought of chowing down on cold tomato soup is deeply unappealing, whilst the thought of consuming gazpacho at this temperature is (to me at least) not at all unpleasant? The rational part of my mind tells me that, for heaven’s sake man, it’s the same product, but the emotional part of my mind tells me that, no – thou shalt honour the words on thy pot: gazpacho = cold; tomato soup = hot.

(a similar point can be made with regards to ‘soup’ and ‘juice’: Gazpacho soup and tomato juice are in many instances extremely qualitatively similar, yet the thought of eating (or drinking) something called ‘juice’ out of a bowl is wrong wrong wrong. (Although some weirdos do consume soup out of a cup, it has to be said.)

There is a deep lesson to be learned here, I think, about the power of marketing on the way we perceive products. I would do some research into it, but since I am not getting paid to write any of this, I can’t be arsed to do so.

*professional, not romantic

LEMON JUICE

lemons

some lemons

My dad tells a story of when him and my mum were both young. (Sometime back in the 18th century. Ho ho.) They didn’t have much money, and my dad had never tried lobster. One balmy summer night they found themselves in a restaurant, and my dad had some spare cashish in this pocket. “Sod it”, he said. “I’ll have the lobster. Garcon! Bring me the lobster!” But he hadn’t understood the French menu, and what he’d ordered wasn’t in fact lobster but some kind of vaguely seafood-infused soup. My dad was still a lobster virgin, and his funds were such that he was likely to remain one for the foreseeable future. As far as I know, he still hasn’t popped his lobster cherry. Poor guy.

My dad tells this story as a kind of meditation on disappointment, although I’m not quite sure what its moral is. Study hard for your French GCSE? Make do with what you’re given? Don’t eat lobsters? Only eat lobsters? I just don’t know. And I guess it doesn’t really matter; the story has entered the cannon of apocrypha that inhabits the fabric of what it means to be a family. (Suck on that sentence, bitch.) Every Yuletide young relatives come from near and far to sit wide-eyed at his knee and beg, “oh do please tell us the lobster story!”

Now, as Philip Larkin once wrote, “man hands on misery to man”.  So it goes that I have not learned from the sins of my fathers, and have engaged in foodular disappointage arising from my own carelessness. For lo, it came to pass that yesterday I did enter the land of the Whole Foods, and it was overflowingeth with organic milk and ethically-sourced honey. And I saw that it was good. And yea, it came to pass that Joshua, who was begateth of John, who was begateth of David, who was begateth of some yokel in a shtetl somewhere, chanced upon a plastic bottle of freshly squeezed lemonade, and he did think to himself, “cor! That looks good! I wanna get me some of that.” And lo he did buy it.

So I went home, clinked some ice cubes into a tumbler (not a glass, note ye well: a tumbler) and decanted the lemonade in. It was hot (the weather, not the drink) and I was very thirsty. Damn, this was going to be good.

Dear reader: it wasn’t good. For it wasn’t freshly squeezed lemonade at all, but freshly squeezed lemon juice. That’s right, I hadn’t read the label properly. I had repeated the mistake that my dad made all those years ago. I was turning into my father, only without the wife, or kids, or general success in life.

I attemped to drink said beverage, before coming to the conclusion that consuming unadorned lemon juice by the cupfull is an undertaking meant for far better men than me. It was drinkable for a few sips, but it was like imbibing the Platonic Form of Sourness. It made me want to scrunch my face so much that my teeth ended up in my ears. It begs the question: who the fuck buys this stuff? Is it meant to be drunk on its own? As a mixer? Not for the first time in my life I felt adrift on a sea of lemons.

In the end I topped the lemon juice up with with ginger ale, and it was fairly pleasant. But kids: always read the label. You don’t want to end up like me and my dad. I’d say worse things could happen, but really that would be lying – they really, really couldn’t.

LEMON JUICE: 5/10