Just like how everyone gets excited about superhero crossover projects, two different companies combining forces is a sure way to get junk food fans in Japan fired up. We’ve seen this before with Kentucky Fried Chicken potato chips, and now spud lovers have a new flavor many people are used to getting amped by: coffee.
Since we’re always ready to add to our extensive resume of potato chip sampling, we picked up a bag to try some for ourselves, and they turned out to be even more surprising than we’d imagined.
A quick look at the shelves of a convenience store or a bank of vending machines will tell you that Japan has tons of brands of canned coffee, but few have been around for as long as Pokka Coffee. Part of Sapporo Holdings, which also owns the Sapporo and Ebisu Beer brands, Pokka has been giving coffee fans their fix in a can since 1972.
Providing the potato chip expertise is Yamayoshi, the Tokyo-based company behind the delicious wasabi and beef Wasabeef potato chips (plus their soon-to-be-released milder cousins). The Pokka Coffee Potato Chips are available exclusively at Ministop, Three F, and Cocostore convenience stores.
Coffee-flavored potato chips might seem like a fairly straightforward proposition, we weren’t exactly sure what this team-up had in store for our taste buds. While coffee itself is bitter, canned verities in Japan are often sweetened, and Pokka Coffee has a unique sweetness all its own. So with the coffee potato chips, would we be getting something sweet, or bitter? Fresh, or crazy?
To find out, we picked up a bag and tore it open. Out wafted the scent of coffee, although the chips didn’t look any different from ordinary plain ones.
Okay, so they pass the smell test. But how do they taste? We popped one in our mouth, crunched, chewed, and…
As far as that sweet vs bitter battle we talked about above, the former definitely wins out. Honestly, we didn’t even get much of a coffee vibe, and if we hadn’t already seen the bag with a picture of the Pokka can on it, we’d probably have believed you if you’d told us these were chocolate flavored.
Thanks to the sweetness asserting itself like an over-caffeinated coworker, there’s not even much potato to be found in the flavor profile, except for a slight twinge of it at the very end. Even weirder, though, was that we could hardly taste any saltiness.
We’ve actually had potato chips before that tasted like caramel and chocolate, both of which have a salty edge to their sweetness. A regularly salted potato chip can help draw out more of their sweet flavors, but the Pokka chips don’t. As a matter of fact, we’ve become so conditioned to having our potato chips be salty that eating ones that weren’t at all sent our brain into panic mode as it tried to reconcile what was happening on our tongue. The sudden confusion they brought on even prompted one of our Japanese writers to declare:
“They taste like chaos.”
Still, having too much rigid order in your life isn’t good for you either, and we wouldn’t say the Pokka chips tasted bad. So did they taste great? Well…how about if we go with “unique?” In any case, their flavor will certainly remain in your memory, provided you don’t fry your brain trying to make sense of them, that is.
[ Read in Japanese ]