Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There’s coffee…and then there’s THIS

What do you get when you send a fairly-illiterate-in-German -and-fresh-off-the-boat-expat grocery shopping? This:

Caro, the coffee alternative
Sure, it looks normal enough with its gold and blue label and image of a delicious cup of coffee. But what’s inside is most definitely NOT delicious coffee. In fact, as I later learned, it isn’t even coffee at all.

Let me back up. I’ve been in Germany for about a month and a half now. And one of my favorite things about living in another country is grocery shopping. Stores are filled with excitingly different items and brands. But all this newness (and my low German vocabulary) comes with a price: you don’t always know what you’re getting. But then again, how else would I have learned I actually do like stinky sheep cheese?

So a few weeks ago, I went in search of a good instant coffee to hold me over until we bought a machine. I stood in front of the coffee shelf for about 10 minutes trying to decide between brands based solely on product labeling aesthetics. From the impressive line-up, I selected a perpetrator, er canister.

As soon as Thomas got home that evening, I performed my ceremonial “showing of the day’s purchases” like a kid proudly holding freshly made macaroni art. Usually it goes well. Today, the macaroni was didn’t go over so well. Here’s the transcript of what followed:

Thomas: Wow, you…uh… you bought Caro, huh? he asked cocking his head to one side as if the angle would make my imminent reasoning clearer. (Since then, I’ve received this same reaction from numerous people.)
Me: Umm…yeah. It was a really good price, and the label was prettier than the generic brands. (I could feel my speech beginning to get slower and slower) Besides, it’s made by Nestle. The other Nestle coffee was twice as much.
Thomas: Do you know why that is?
Me: No…..wh—
Thomas: Haha, no, no. You’ll find out.

The next morning I made my first cup of Caro and slowly took a sip. What the –!?!

I ran to the computer to research the odd black liquid in my cup. Caro is actually a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The ingredients listed on Wikipedia, best describe the flavor: “Caro is made up of soluble solids of roasted barley, malted barley, chicory, and rye.”


But since I bought it, I was determined to drink it, so I’m down to half a canister (which, because I bought the biggest one, makes 50 cups).

While the taste kind of grows on you, I’m happy to report we bought our new coffee machine last night. So starting today, it’s good-bye Caro and welcome back Joe.

My knight in stainless steel armor has arrived