I hate coffee but love Java Monster, what am I doing wrong
May 10, 2008 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I've never liked coffee. But I've discovered I love Java Monster energy drinks, which are basically cold coffee, right? At three bucks a can, though, these are becoming impractical. My attempts to recreate the flavor thus far have failed.

Surely there's a cheaper way for me to get my fix. But even when I add plenty of sugar/splenda, and cream/non-dairy creamer/milk/half&half (I've tried all of these) I never seem to get the flavor right. Plain coffee just tastes, well, yucky to me. But too much sugar and it's yucky plus sickly sweet. I've even tried iced coffee from Starbucks, in different blends and explaining my normal coffee aversion to the barista asking for the best mix (with a good tip). And still... blech.

What I'd like is a recipe that I can make using either my hand-me-down Mr Coffee or an inexpensive new model, in bulk (a gallon or two) that I can put in the fridge for my morning's serving all week. Doesn't have to include the fancy-dancy taurine or whathaveyou they put in Monster Energy stuff. Take into account my near-total ignorance of all things java. Note that I have tried all of the JME flavors and like them all, so a plain-vanilla version would be great, but extra points if you can add recommendations for also achieving the flavor of their extra-super-delish Russian and Irish blends. My wallet thanks you.
posted by waraw to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Whenever I tried it, it reminded me of a slightly coffe-ized version of yoohoo...which is basically chocolate water.
posted by Wanderlust88 at 7:27 PM on May 10, 2008

I haven't tried Java Monster, but I suspect that what you want is a coffee-flavored caffeinated drink, rather than coffee plus something else. Perhaps you would have better luck making a "coffee milk" (a regional Rhode Island drink) using coffee syrup as a base, and adding a bit of coffee/expresso as needed? Here are two brands of syrup.



Torani and Nestle also make a coffee syrups.
posted by zippy at 7:29 PM on May 10, 2008

Have you tried a Frappuccino at Starbucks, or only the iced coffees? Because the Frappuccino has its own sweetened coffee base and really doesn't have a strong coffee flavor. Also, it has spawned many copycat recipes that you could try.
posted by cabingirl at 7:35 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

coffee, water, sugar, experiment with the proportions. my guess is you won't have much coffee in there at all.
posted by trevyn at 7:41 PM on May 10, 2008

It looks like Java Monster is more of a coffee-flavored version of Monster Energy which I think means tarting up cold coffee with lots of cream and sugar won't work. You'd need to figure out the flavors that come from the 'energy', etc. ingredients.

(How about buying in bulk if you end up unable to recreate the flavor profile?)
posted by MikeKD at 7:42 PM on May 10, 2008

I don't like coffee either, but I figured out something I like.

I use a single serving pod coffee machine (many models are available in all price ranges), and Archer's French Vanilla coffee available at Target. I mix in milk and Archer Farms caramel syrup and pour it over a glass full of ice.

The syrup may be the key you are looking for. It adds flavor and not just sweetness. There are many flavors available, and there are sugar free versions too.

I would be concerned about leaving any coffee drink in the fridge for days at a time. I think the taste would go stale. The pods allow you to make one perfect cup in mere minutes. Keep a bag of ice in the freezer and you are set.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:55 PM on May 10, 2008

Best answer: I've never had JavaMonster but strong coffee with condensed milk is all kinds of yum.
posted by heffalump at 8:04 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

filtered water, reduced fat milk, sucrose, glucose, taurine (2000 mg), coffee, gum stabilizers, ginseng, canitine, Vitamin C, caffeine, sucralose, glucuronolactone, guarana, inositol, B Vitamins and maltodextrin.

I'm not surprised it doesn't taste much like coffee from a cafe. The coffee syrup might work, plus milk and the listed sweeteners (sucrose, glucose and sucralose), but it's not going to give you the kick you're used to.
posted by zamboni at 8:45 PM on May 10, 2008

Best answer: I have no experience with Java Monster (actually, it sounds hideous), but you might try cold-brewing your coffee, e.g., with a Toddy. This will reduce the bitterness of the coffee. Then try adding some sweetened, condensed milk as is done for Thai Iced Coffee.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:02 PM on May 10, 2008

I think you want instant coffee. It comes in a jar in powder form and can be mixed in with just about anything. My college roommate's mother made "coffee milk" by mixing Nescafe with warm milk. You should be able to find instant coffee in any supermarket.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:32 PM on May 10, 2008

Maybe Manhattan Special would be cheaper?
posted by charlesv at 11:08 PM on May 10, 2008

You're not getting the same flavor out of coffee + sugar + creamer because it's not coffee that's at the base of the Java Monster drink (see above all the chemicals above that are at the base of it instead). I think the Java Monsters are nasty, but then, I like coffee.

Starbucks is about to come out with some kind of "Espresso + Energy" drink in stores* which will basically be iced espresso and then some kind of ginseng/other chemical concoction in it that might be closer to what you're looking for, but a) it'll probably still taste like coffee, and b) I can almost guarentee you it won't be any cheaper than what you're paying now.

So my advice, if you're really bent on the Java Monster flavor is.... either pony up and keep paying $3 a can, or learn to like coffee. Wean yourself on, if you like. Start with something sweet, like a Cafe Mocha - you might find that you get used to the coffee flavor.

*you did not hear that here.
posted by Quidam at 12:03 AM on May 11, 2008

Best answer: You're on the track towards learning to appreciate real coffee flavor and if you're looking for an energy kick with a healthy dose of antioxidants along the way, coffee beats out the fake energy drinks out there.

There's a lot of potential for being turned off along the way, so you must take baby steps and have a healthy attitude. My dad started on those "International House" coffees. He got teased along the way, moving to those Boyer Brothers flavored coffees and so forth before finally acquiring a taste for "just coffee."

You'll have a bit of difficulty duplicating the watered-down-pseudo-coffee-flavor while providing the same caffeine kick you're looking for. For your milk / cream base, try canned, evaporated milk. It's got a distinct flavor and richness caused by the pausterization process. Then you need to experiment with different coffee brands / roasts, and sweeteners. You might really like Dunkin' Donuts brand coffee, but hate all of the others.

No-Doz (pure caffeine) + a vitamin (B or multi) is always cheaper than energy drinks when you're looking for a no-nonsense kick in the pants. I'm not a fan of ginseng (which I believe can increase blood pressure); pure caffeine only, please. Honestly you'd probably have to crush up some caffeine pills in order to produce something akin to Java Monster (that is, "watered-down coffee flavor but strong caffeine concentration").

You might find better deals ($1-2 instead of $3) on Vietnamese / Thai iced coffee brands if you have any respective grocery stores in your vicinity but they probably won't be very potent. I definitely recommend making your own Thai or Vietnamese iced coffees using sweetened condensed milk and a coffee / chicory blend. It's a bit of work and more of an indulgent treat, though.

As for Starbucks, skip iced coffee and go straight for an iced Americano. This just seems to ensure more caffeine for your buck. When I make my own iced coffees I am sure to chill the coffee vs. pouring hot coffee over ice.

When it comes to hot drinks, I typically skip the espresso-based Americanos, Lattes, and Cappucinos, and go straight for the drip coffee -- the new Pike Place roast at Starbucks is pretty decent. Obviously there are better roasts than those offered at Starbucks, but you can acquire an appreciation for "better-than-Folgers" coffee there.

When it comes to cheap-o coffee, consider Yuban to be as "low-end" as you should go.

Back to the iced Americano -- I typically get the venti which has four shots. Initially I'd get "room for cream" and water it down heavily with half and half and splenda.

Play with the proportions. Maybe you need a mix of half and half and skim milk.

Take a venti home and break it down into four or more servings so you can experiment.

Lots of half and half and splenda + real espresso = a nice compromise between bitter, strong espresso flavor and fake, sweet goodness.

With time I've learned to enjoy the iced Americano with no cream or splenda. I realize Starbucks coffees are criticized for being bitter and over-roasted, though my experience with other coffee shops has been similar if not worse. I've very much learned to appreciate the bitter taste of coffee and think that there's a something to be said for acquiring such a taste.

As for hot, I do the french press thing at home and go back and forth between using half and half + stevia powder and pure black coffee goodness.
posted by lordaych at 12:48 AM on May 11, 2008

Reading through these responses reminded me that I have a Rockstar Roasted Coffee energy drink in my fridge. I also hate coffee but reading through your description gave me a sudden craving. I went upstairs, opened up the fridge, saw it in the back (not sure how it got into my fridge, I didn't buy it) came back down, and proceeded to chug it down. Halfway through I realized that I have to get up in a few hours and I quickly stopped drinking and put the can away.

My first time drinking it (I actually kind of enjoyed it). Definitely seemed like a lot of water, some chocolate, and a tiny amount of coffee.
posted by 913 at 2:19 AM on May 11, 2008

the instant coffee, maybe some condensed milk, maybe some chocolate syrup...or mix coffee syrup into a chocolate powder drink could give you something you'd like. you might also have starbucks put flavored syrup in your coffees. i know it's not the monster, but that's going to be hard to replicate as the answers above me explain. the syrups will take some of the coffee taste away and when you figure out the right combination you can do it at home.
posted by nadawi at 3:27 AM on May 11, 2008

Seconding/Thirding that you should try to acquire the taste for coffee. Like beer, you don't like it right away, ever. But as your brain automatically starts to filter out the bitterness you learn to appreciate the different tastes underneath. And then you can start drinking Americanos and just go ape-shit. Iced Americanos are even better.
posted by cellphone at 6:56 AM on May 11, 2008

I'd like to 3rd the suggestion that you try a Thai Iced Coffee some time, I've had the Java Monsters and that's really the closest thing I can think of. Find a great thai place nearby for lunch and order one.
posted by baphomet at 7:24 AM on May 11, 2008

If you want to use regular coffee and not have overwhelming coffee flavour, try blending the brew with a tablespoon or so of the hot fudge or caramel topping you might use on an ice cream sundae. If you intend to drink it cold, and you aren’t cold-brewing, be sure to let the brew sit in the refrigerator overnight before drinking it. Don’t add ice until you are ready to drink it, and especially don’t pour hot coffee over ice.
posted by ijoshua at 8:39 AM on May 11, 2008

I'm not familiar with Java Monster. I'm a black coffee guy. But my Brazilian father in-law does a DIY version of cafe con leche by stirring instant coffee granules and sugar into milk. I've tried it a couple of times. Pretty damn good.
posted by keith0718 at 2:39 PM on May 11, 2008

Java Monster comes in at least three different flavors. The one you're drinking will have some impact on how you make your copycat recipe.

The only one I've had is the "lo-ball" low carb variety. I didn't care for it, but if I was trying to copycat it, I'd make a vanilla milkshake, let it melt, and add a tiny bit of coffee or espresso.

The other two I know about(but have too much sugar for this diabetic to even consider trying) are "mean bean" and "mocha [something or other]".

I think I'll stick with my low carb "regular" Monsters when I want an energy drink, and a plain latte or cappucino if I want coffee.
posted by owtytrof at 8:52 AM on May 12, 2008

Response by poster: To anyone still paying attention, tonight I made the cheapo cold-brew setup linked to by qxntpqbbbqxl above, mixing in some chocolate syrup. I have some evaporated milk which I'll use as the base, and I will report on the results I achieve.
posted by waraw at 8:31 PM on May 18, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry for the delay, major RL issues got in the way. But here is my report.

My first attempt at cold-brewing was a disaster. Despite putting numerous tiny holes in the cup the thing wouldn't drain, even after six hours. Bigger holes merely led to the grounds getting through and gritty and ucky . But with my never-pay-three-bucks-a-can-again attitude firmly in place I persevered, and secured a coffee filter to the hole-y cup with some twine, which worked like a charm. So I can recommend the cold-brew method with the coffee filter caveat.

And I think I have found the mix for me. This makes 1 quart of iced coffee:

1-2 cups of cold-brew concentrate (I started with one, moved up to two today, YMMV)
2 tablespoons condensed milk (thanks so much for this suggestion!)
Sugar to taste (I like sweetish so I use 2 tbsp
Fill with ice, top with water

Very tasty. I've had a few others who share my Java Monster love taste-test and they agree I hit it spot-on. Thanks AskMe!
posted by waraw at 5:33 AM on May 23, 2008

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