Cebada: Kirin’s new ‘coffee-like’ beverage tastes like dirt

by Patrick ST. Michel

Contributing Writer

This summer’s clear beverage trend might be calming down a bit, but that hasn’t stopped Kirin Beverage Company from proposing something new and slightly unexpected. What if you had coffee … that wasn’t actually coffee?

Launched in late July, Cebada tries to create coffee using barley instead of coffee beans in an attempt to tap into the rising demand for the decaf brew. If you need a pick-me-up, don’t reach for this bottle (¥140), because it exists solely for those who want to enjoy coffee without all that caffeine.

It’s a noble mission statement, but the final product tastes like dirt. There’s something immediately off about the drink; each sip boasts a vaguely coffee-like flavor that tastes nothing like actual coffee. And disappointment quickly turns to revulsion when the aftertaste kicks in: A slightly smoky wheat taste lingers, and it’s gross.

Kirin knows the technology for decaf coffee was invented decades ago, right? Because this drink shouldn’t exist.