If I didn’t have coffee, I don’t know where I’d be. Most of my mornings start off with a cup of the stuff, dark and black. You can keep your French vanilla and hazelnut to yourself. For that matter, what makes it French? I know French vanilla ice cream uses an egg custard base instead of just dairy, but the only eggs I have with my coffee come sunny side up. Coffee-flavored custard sounds pretty good, but custard-flavored coffee does not. This is also a good time to mention that I do not like pumpkin spice coffee. Autumn is still my favorite season and the arrival of egg nog on the shelves will always bring a smile to my face, but this one seasonal treat I just cannot get behind. That, and pumpkin beer, but that is a matter for another day.

So when I received a case of AriZona’s Joltin’ Joe and saw that it was black, I was excited. Far too often, bottled and canned coffee drinks are pumped full of sweeteners and unnecessary flavors. Vanilla hazelnut mochachino double-caf with a shot of caramel? No thanks, I don’t want some coffee with my sugar. So when I saw that not only was it black, but contained only a few ingredients, I was happy. What should the first ingredient in a coffee drink be? Well, coffee of course, which it is. Off to a good start.

Comes in a 15.5 oz can. Can’t see it in this picture, but the side has fun tidbits about Joe DiMaggio. Did you know DiMaggio started his famous 56-game hitting streak off Chicago pitcher Ed Smith? No? The more you know!

While Joe himself doesn’t look too excited, I certainly was. While this was likely intended to be drunk from the can, I poured it into a glass to see what color it was. Just as I hoped, it was a dark brown. Not quite the nearly-black espresso dark that I love my coffee to be, but that’s perfectly fine. I was about to drink nearly a pint of it after all.

With only 22g of sugar in the entire can, this drink avoids the overly-sweet curse that plagues most other coffee drinks. Well, technically the can is 2-8oz servings, but let’s be honest. I opened it and I’m going to finish it. And 8×2=16, but this can only as 15.5 oz, as the picture clearly indicates. Math was never my favorite subject, but…

Ingredients: Coffee (premium!), Sugar, Natural Flavor, Brown Sugar, Honey, Lactic Acid, Sucralose, Caffeine. So essentially, coffee and four different sweeteners.

Anyway, at first sip, the brown sugar definitely stood out among the four. I rarely put brown sugar in my morning coffee, but when I am feeling for a sweeter cup, I’ll have to start giving it a try. It really rounded out the flavor and adds a nice depth, almost caramelized flavor that was unexpected, but definitely appreciated. Joltin’ Joe is definitely a bit more acidic than a regular cup of coffee, but I’ll chalk that one up to the light carbonation in the product. CO2 is an acid after all.  The brown sugar and honey help in this regard though.

Nutrition Facts. Only 90 calories per can!

But let’s not forget, this pitches itself as an energy drink too. Rather than adding guarana, ginseng or anything like that, this relies on caffeine alone, which is really smart. The risk for off-flavors is much higher when there is little to cover it up. Plus, this is coffee. There is caffeine in coffee. The words “Natural Energy” are printed around the top of the can, and while the ingredient list mentions additional caffeine added, it does not seem out-of-place. So while it may not be entirely “natural”, it sure seems like it is.

I just took the final sip from the glass. I had left a little bit in there, just to remind me when I wanted to come back to remember a specific detail, but then I drank it all. Whoops. But maybe that speaks louder than anything. I’m typically not one for energy drinks. I think Red Bull tastes terrible. But this doesn’t drink like an energy drink, it drinks like a coffee soda, a good one at that. And now I’m feeling pretty energetic, which makes sense, since it advertises that it contains the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee. They weren’t kidding.

The price is not printed on the can, which seems to indicate that it will cost more than the 99-cents that has become a staple for AriZona products.  If this can will run only 99-cents, it’ll be a bargain. A large coffee chain well-known for overpriced beverages sells a similar energy/coffee combo for around $2.50 a can, so if it is less than that, it’ll be a good deal.

Overall, you did well AriZona. I did some tasting of the different formulas during the testing period, some too sweet, others too dry and bitter. This one was just right.

When I find out how much it costs, I’ll update this immediately. Always like to keep you guys informed.

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