The first good cup of coffee I had was at Emeril’s restaurant in Orlando on an evening trip with some college friends, during what I like to refer to as my Backstreet Boy Days.  Multiple earrings, silver chain, spiky hair with frosted blonde tips.  Yep.  I thought I was it.  However, it was a step in the right direction, at least, since the previous phase was a country and western one replete with hat, boots, and a fantastic belt buckle with a bullrider on it. Yep.  I was a disaster and I looked like a tool.  But it’s ok because I was just a greenhorn.

I found this drink next to the cache of Starbucks cans at a drug store (are they still called drug stores?) on a recent snackspotting expedition.  It’s the cappuccino variety of a line of drinks produced by the Italian company Illy called Issimo (capital letters are mine, more on this later).  They’re distributed by Coca-Cola.

I’ve had the similar and superior Starbucks line of convenience store drinks before, but I don’t partake of them often.  As I mature from boy band acolyte to wise and learned old nerd, the spoonfuls of sugar that go into my coffee are steadily decreasing.  Tangent: I think sugar cubes need to make a comeback in a big way. I’ve never seen anyone use them in the wild, but I loved seeing them on sitcoms.

illi issimo cappuccino. First of all, illy issimo is the absolute worst and stupidest company/product/brand name I’ve ever heard.  I don’t care if the company is old, the issimo is new and obvious.  Secondly, illy issimo cappuccino is all written in lowercase letters.  That irritated me almost to the point of anger.  You’re trying to hard illy.  We get it.   And finally, when I visited the illy issimo website I was subjected to the sight of this unoriginal, contrived, pandering cool guy d-bag.  I jumped right to OUTRAGE!!!  Words won’t do him justice.  Just go see for yourself.  He thinks he is it.

This bothers me as a recovering college poseur.  It is acceptable, maybe admirable, for stupid kids to try to appear a certain way, because they are just kids trying to figure themselves out and fit in.  They are fragile little snowflakes who desperately need to be accepted.  Large companies and the people who own them should be beyond this.

Instead of casting jacketed, laptop notebook carrying, black and white, carefully shaggied, exotic hot guys to sell your wares, you should be putting all of your effort into producing a product that is good.  People drink these drinks by the bucketload.  You don’t have to convince us.  Just make the stuff taste.

The cappuccino variety is an “Italian espresso style coffee drink with lowfat milk and cocoa.”  It tastes like you think it would.  If you’ve ever had the Starbucks drinks, this is not too far off.  I don’t think this is as sweet though, and I cannot really taste any cocoa.  What I can taste is the cellulose gel, cellulose gum, and carrageenan.  The drink has that weird Terminator T-1000 feel to it.  It’s just a few degrees too many away from a real world coffee with cream.  But those few degrees are unsettling.  My mouth knows that something is off, and my brain suspects Skynet may be involved.  Each sip finishes with a weird, almost metallic tang that ruins everything.

In a pinch, you could manage with these.  But why would you? Two inches to the right of these in every store in the country will be the Starbucks brand.  And even though part of me hates to say it, just go with them.  Sure you won’t look as cool as the hot guy at the train station but who cares?  He was too busy posing sexily to make the train anyway.