Wendyl Wants to Know: Heaps of extras keep coffee addicts purring
Jarrah Coffee Sensations,
$7.35 for 250gms
Usually I try to analyse foods which are going to find themselves on a child's menu but I was so struck by the note of desperation in an email from a reader that I had to buy this product and take a look at it. She said:
"I would be so grateful if you could look at the Jarrah coffee. Particularly the French Liaison flavour. I've become addicted to it and I'm afraid that some of my friends, whom I have introduced to it, have also become addicted. I have a feeling that it's not too good for us."
I felt the need to relieve her of her guilt.
Jarrah is the favourite of Australian desperate housewives Kath and Kim and comes in several exotic flavours, this sexy brew asking you to "make this smooth mild favourite an affair to remember". It's joined by Brazil Delight, Bavarian Bliss, Swiss Moments and Vienna Velvet.
The Jarrah website says it was the first product in the all-in-one coffee drink market which saved people the effort of adding milk and sugar to instant coffee.
But to save the minute it takes to open the fridge for the milk and find the sugar bowl, you get 13 ingredients added to your cup you really don't need.
No surprises here, as this is a very sweet coffee drink with the nutrition label showing us that for every 100 mls of prepared drink you will get 7.5 grams of sugar which is 1.5 teaspoons. Some people add this amount of sugar to instant coffee so nothing to get too worried about.
Glucose Solids (Wheat or Corn)
This differs from sugar because it's been extracted from wheat or corn, probably because it's cheaper.
Vegetable Oil (Vegetable oil, Soy Lecithin)
Palm, coconut, olive? No idea. I'm beginning to get quite frustrated that food manufacturers will not name the oil they are using as there is a big difference. The soy lecithin is added in with the oil to help it emulsify or mix with the water without separating out when you add hot water.
Instant Coffee (10 per cent)
From this percentage we can work out that in two heaped teaspoons of Jarrah French Liaison, about 10 grams, only 1 gram is coffee. This sounds small to me, and for those looking for a caffeine hit, you might find it lacking.
This is protein and carbohydrates from dehydrated milk.
Flavours (contains milk)
Once again no indication what these flavours are, or whether they were naturally or artificially created. I'll go with artificial as I'm sure if they were natural, the label would be keen to tell you that. The fact that some of the flavour is milk-derived is reassuring.
Vegetable Gum (Xanthan Gum)
This is xanthan gum which is only of concern to people who may be allergic to corn, wheat or soy, from which the gum may have been derived. Some people also find the gum to be a laxative[WN1]. It's in here as a thickening agent.
Mineral Salts (340 or 341, 451, 452)
Welcome to the phosphates, or rather salts obtained from phosphate which are here most likely to stop clumping and keep everything stabilised. I'm not happy with the word "or" on this label. It either is or it isn't when it comes to determining what I'm going to put in my body, so taking the easy option of listing an ingredient as either/or is making a bit of a mockery of the food labelling laws. The phosphates are potassium phosphate OR calcium phosphate, potassium tripolyphosphate and potassium polymetaphosphate.
Emulsifiers (471 or 472 c, 481)
Here's that "or" again. You could be consuming mono and diglycerides which are synthetic fats produced from glycerol and natural fatty acids or citric acid compounds of mono and diglycerides. And 481 is sodium stearoyl lactate, a combination of stearic and lactic acid. These additives are in to keep oil and water combined (emulsify).
Anti-caking agent (551)
This is silicon dioxide or silica, which is not a food. It passes through the digestive system and I can only presume it's in there to stop the ingredients clumping.
This is lecithin which is naturally occurring and another emulsifier, but as there are no other preservatives listed it's more likely to be in here for that use.
This is beta-carotene, an orange-yellow colouring which can come from algae or be made synthetically. We have no way of knowing which.
Everyone loves a milky, sweet coffee and this product is a really easy way to get it. It looks great, smells great and tastes smooth and creamy but it does leave a certain fatty coating on the tongue and mouth.
There are 16 ingredients in this coffee drink, most of them additives to emulsify, colour, thicken, stabilise, preserve and stop clumping and I'm not sure milk solids and vegetable oil are good substitutes for milk.
If you used instant coffee, milk and sugar you would only have three ingredients, all real food items. In the old days, people used to keep a can of sweetened condensed milk in the fridge and add that to instant coffee and water for a sweet, milky taste. You used to able to buy condensed milk with coffee added.
Drinking this product made me think of the condensed milk concoction and it's nearly as easy to prepare. I noticed a slight caramel taste to the Jarrah and tried to recreate it with two teaspoons of caramel condensed milk and a teaspoon of instant coffee.
It tasted good, a lot better than the Jarrah, but lumps of condensed milk stubbornly refused to blend, which was not very appetising.
* It's an all-in-one alternative to the three-ingredient instant coffee, milk and sugar, but you get 13 ingredients added for the convenience.
* Most of the additives are there to make sure the product looks great and mixes well, which a normal cup of instant coffee with milk and sugar does all on its own.
* Sweetened condensed milk and instant coffee can give the same result with only three ingredients and half the calories.