Japanese Snack food Review: Sumiyaki Coffee Ami

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In the wise and sage words of TheMan, “If you are looking for a good coffee flavored hard candy, keep looking.” That about sums Sumiyaki Coffee Ami up nice and succinctly but as you have come to read at the booniverse, “succinct” rarely visits this location. So, onto the rest of the review.

If you are looking for good coffee candy, this is not your treat. Heh, OK I couldn’t resist. In all seriousness I had mixed feelings about this coffee flavored candy. On one hand, I have yet to taste a good American coffee flavored treat that wasn’t a big ol’ mug of coffee so I’m not so willing to jump with both feet onto the coffee flavoring bandwagon. Also, given the general reputation of Japanese candy, I thought that even hopping with one foot near the coffee flavoring bandwagon might be risky. On the other hand, the packaging is really rather quite nice. It reminds me of the “dime store” sweets you used to be able to pick up at drug stores (and still can at certain rustic themed tourist traps, but you’ll pay out the nose for the privilege) that came in a paperesque bag with quaint turn of the century printing and pictures. They had peppermints and butterscotches as well as horehound, anise and sassafras that you could get. Mmmm, horehound.

So I was suckered in by the packaging because it looked sensible and Japanese packaging and sensible rarely live in the same universe. We also all know the sketchy track record of Japanese hard candy so maybe if this one wasn’t packaged like the rest it would be better! Sometimes you grab hope where you can find it. Anyway, I grabbed this package and unleashed it onto TheMan’s coworkers as well as a few of my coworkers. And then the comments began to fly.

“Mmmm, coffee”

“It tastes like rootbeer!!”

“No, licorice.”

“It has a bit of a chemical flavor”

“Hmmm, I’d say canned Japanese Coffee”

“I like it, it tastes great!”

“It tastes like really old, burnt coffee”

“It’s OK, but it’s not as sugary as I’d prefer”

“It has a hint of creosote”

No two people (save myself and Mark-Matt, but only after a couple of minutes or so) could agree on one particular taste and not everyone could agree that they tasted like coffee at all. I thought they had a mild coffee taste but a mild old, stale, burnt coffee taste. Still, not horrible, just not great. Mark-Matt was set to disagree with me but the strange thing about these is that they morph from a pretty good yet mild coffee candy to “sat in a pot on the burner all day” coffee candy. Which, from a certain standpoint, is pretty cool because you get a whole day in the life of coffee with just one sweetie. On the other hand, who wants to be sucking on twelve hour coffee pot coffee candy?

Another interesting note is that one of the people who I got to guinea pig was Japanese and she remarked that they tasted exactly like the little cans of Japanese coffee she (or her parents) used to get. Plus, she liked them because they were good for a Japanese hard candy. That phrase pops up an awful lot I’ve noticed.

This hard candy wasn’t as smooth as other Japanese hard candies I’ve tasted which made me a tad paranoid about cutting my tongue to ribbons. I didn’t but I’m convinced that if I ate eight or ten of them at least one would grab my tongue and take a big ol’ slice out of it. They were pretty comparable in texture to a really smooth Brach’s butterscotch or maybe a Starlight mint; smooth but one or two have lurking bubbles in them. They also have a really cool striated look going for them which I think is worth noting. TheMan (who thought they had the chemical flavor going for them) remarked that they kind of mimicked coffee beans in a roundish hard candy sort of way.

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Lastly, I just wanted to say that the packaging gets fractional pea points for just being cool. First off, the main package has that neat nostalgic old fashioned dime store look to it. Intriguing for sure but wait! The coolness does not stop there. Each candy is also separately packaged within the bigger package in its own pressurized wrapper delie. No cheesy cellophane wrappers here, boyo, they pulled out all the swanky stops. They were like some of the fancy schmancy after dinner mints you sometimes get, all specially sealed in their individual dark and mysterious wrappers (which, BTW, might have enough air in them to shoot the candy right out of the package should you give it a good squeeze. Might, and I’m not sayin anyone did that. Of course not, safety first here at the booniverse. We put on safety glasses!).

So, short long, these are a classic 2 pea snack food: You probably would be better off eating something else but it’s not so foul that it can’t do in a pinch when in the grips of a munchy attack. Warning though; it’ll most likely leave you dissatisfied at which point you will probably wander off and look for something else to snack on anyway. With some extra fractional pea points for presentation and packaging, this would bring the grand total for Sumiyaki Coffee Ami up to a

Rating

of 2.5 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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