REVIEW: Java Monster Cafe Latte

Java Monster’s new Café Latte doesn’t taste new to me because the moment the liquid hit my taste buds, I felt it was a canned coffee energy drink I’d had before. Maybe from Monster or Starbucks? At first, I thought it tasted like Java Monster Mean Bean. But after purchasing a can, comparing it side-by-side with Café Latte, and spending the rest of the day being overly productive and jittery with 400 milligrams of caffeine pumping through my veins, it turns out they’re not the same.

I’ll let the can introduce itself, “Gingerbread, cinnamon dolce, peppermint white mocha…your mobile app would even laugh at you for ordering that! For those of us who love their coffee the classic way comes Java Monster Café Latte. Coffee forward with the right amount of cream and sugar, then supercharged with the Monster Energy blend. Coffee done the Monster way, wide open, with a take no prisoners attitude and the experience and know-how to back it up.”

Um, wouldn’t the “classic way” be black?

Anyhoo, think of Café Latte as Mean Bean without the vanilla flavoring. The coffee taste is much more noticeable than with other Java Monster varieties, but it’s still so sugary and heavy on the cream that I think those who like to mask the coffee in their drinks will be satisfied. (Raises hand) I’ll gladly add Café Latte to my rotation of canned coffee energy drinks because it’s as tasty as any of the other Java Monster varieties, not including the Java Monster 300 line, which I find less flavorful. Now that I think about it, I’m surprised this didn’t roll out when Java Monster debuted or sometime over the past 16 years since then.

But my well caffeinated brain still doesn’t remember what specific drink this tastes like. I found a Reddit post that says it tastes like the discontinued Java Monster Kona Blend. It could be it, but I feel I’ve had it sooner than the last time I had Kona Blend, which was a long time ago. So I’m guessing it’s probably one of the Starbucks Doubleshot or Tripleshot energy drinks. I could find out by buying them all and comparing them, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my day AND evening wired.

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 15 fl oz can
Purchased at: Times Supermarket
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 220 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3. grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 440 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of sugar (including 24 grams of added sugar), 8 grams of protein, and 200 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Red Bull Summer Edition Juneberry Energy Drink

Red Bull’s newest Summer Edition has an appropriately named berry as its flavor — juneberry.

What’s a juneberry? That’s what I wanted to know because I didn’t know it existed, and I want to have more uncommon fruit knowledge that I can whip out as an icebreaker when introduced to people who I want to discourage from talking to me ever again. If you’re like me and have no idea what this berry is but don’t want to go down a juneberry rabbit hole, I’ve gone down one for you.

It goes by many names that wouldn’t look quite right on a Red Bull can, like amelanchier, serviceberry, chuckleberry, sarvisberry, saskatoon berry, and the slightly giggle-causing names of shadbush, shadwood, or shadblow. The fruit’s appearance has been compared to blueberries, but it’s more closely related to apples and pears because it’s a pome fruit (a fruit with seeds enclosed in a tough core). It’s native to North America and can be found across Canada and in every US state except Hawaii (probably why I’ve never heard of it). OMG. This rabbit hole is getting deeeeeeeeeep. Time to climb out, Chucklebunny.

Oh, wait. Not so fast, Junebunny! I forgot to mention the way its flavor is described. Let’s go back down the hole for a bit. I learned from one source that they taste like “dark cherries or raisins.” While another said, “blueberries crossed with apples.” And another said, “strawberry, blueberry, and a touch of almond.” Red Bull Summer Edition Juneberry’s deep purple color might make you think its flavor could be any of those, but those are not what I taste. The best way I can describe it is to say it was like a mature blue raspberry flavor, less candy-like and more tart, but not too tart. Although, it did have a less mature scent that reminded me of a Louie-Bloo Otter Pop.

Red Bull Summer Edition Juneberry’s flavor brings to mind a previous seasonal release — 2020’s Winter Edition Arctic Berry. It had a “cool raspberry” flavor that I wasn’t too impressed with it. This juneberry variety seems to do raspberry better, and it’s tasty enough that it’s worth a purchase this June, July, August, April, May, or September.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 8.4 oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 27 grams of sugar (including 27 grams of added sugar), 0 grams of protein, and 80 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Reign Storm Energy Drink

Reign Storm is a new energy drink line from the Monster Energy spin-off that announces it has “clean energy.” What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t involve solar panels, wind turbines, dams, or heat extracted from geothermal reservoirs. Instead, each can gets its 200 milligrams of caffeine from plant-based sources, all of which are brought to us by the letter G — green coffee beans, green tea extract, ginseng, guarana, and guayusa.

The line is available in 12-ounce “slim” cans and has four flavors — Harvest Grape, Kiwi Blend, Peach Nectarine, and Valencia Orange. The can’s lip proudly exclaims it accelerates metabolism, provides immunity support, and increases energy. Along with the caffeine, Reign Storm has zero sugar, only ten calories per can, and no preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors. It also contains biotin, which helps support hair and skin health. It’s similar to caffeine in that both aren’t needed as much if you get a good night’s sleep.

To bring the sugar down to zero, Reign Storm has a downpour of familiar artificial sweeteners — sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and erythritol. With the first few sips of every flavor, those artificial sweeteners were highly noticeable in the aftertaste, which is a sharp contrast from the sweet, fruity, and delicious flavors that hit my tongue the moment the beverage ended up in my mouth. It was also confusing because Monster’s Ultra zero sugar line does a wonderful job hiding its artificial sweeteners, so why wasn’t that the case here?

However, after the opened cans sat in my fridge overnight, the artificial sweeteners weren’t noticeable the next day. It was like I was drinking Monster Ultra flavors. Even after opening the second set of flavors I purchased, I no longer noticed the weird aftertaste. I thought I should mention all this because I hope someone experienced the same thing so that I can prove I’m not going crazy.

But now, let’s talk about the sweet, fruity, and delicious flavors. I found all of them to be good or great. Harvest Grape smells and tastes like a grape soda, which excites me because I love grape soda. Peach Nectarine’s flavor is similar to Monster Peachy Keen, which reminds me of peach gummy rings and a flavor I adore. Valencia Orange is a pleasant combination of sweet and tart orange flavors, although there’s a burst of sourness that might be too strong for some. However, Kiwi Blend, a combination of kiwi and green apple, was my favorite. Its name is a little deceiving because while its sourness could be mistaken for kiwi, this has primarily green apple vibes to it.

My issues with Reign Storm are that they come in 12-ounce cans and are more expensive than 16-ounce regular Reign cans. Is shrinkflation going on? Is that possible with a brand new product line?

If you’re into getting your caffeinated fix from plant-based sources that start with the letter G or want some biotin to help keep your skin and hair luxurious, Reign Storm is an excellent option and maybe the only option. However, while tasty, their size and price make me hesitant to repurchase them.

Purchased Price: $2.59 each
Size: 12 oz cans
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Kiwi Blend), 7 out of 10 (Harvest Grape), 7 out of 10 (Peach Nectarine), and 7 out of 10 (Valencia Orange)
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 270-280 milligrams of sodium, 3-5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar (Valencia Orange and Harvest Grape have 2 grams of erythritol), 0 grams of protein, and 200 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Gatorade Fast Twitch Energy Drink

Gatorade’s Fast Twitch Energy Drink got me wondering if the brand has researched how much liquid it takes to hamper athletic pee-formance, I mean, performance. Because I was curious if it’s why they come in 12-ounce bottles instead of the 16.9-ounce ones the most recent ready-to-drink Gatorade products come in. With 200 milligrams of caffeine per bottle, it seems like that would be best used by athletes before and during competing or practicing, and having too much liquid during those moments might become an issue. Or maybe I’m just overthinking it. Instead, it’s just Gatorade playing a game of shrinkflation.

If you’ve chugged the Gatorade rainbow, the energy drink is available in six familiar flavors — Orange, Strawberry Lemonade, Glacier Freeze, Strawberry Watermelon, Cool Blue, and Tropical Mango. The variety pack I bought from Amazon came with the first three. No matter what flavor, they all have zero sugar (thanks, sucralose!), 100 percent of your daily B6 and B12 vitamins, and have only five calories per bottle.

Of those three flavors in the variety pack, the one that stood out to me is the blueberry-flavored Glacier Freeze, but I’m a bit biased because I think the flavor has always been one of the best tasting Gatorade varieties. It’s one of the two I’d repurchase. The other flavor is Strawberry Lemonade, but I must admit that, while the beverage has a slight sourness, my taste buds have had difficulty pinpointing the lemon. So think of it more like Sour Strawberry than Strawberry Lemonade.

As for orange, the first thing I have to say about it is that orange you glad there are other flavors besides it. It’s so tangy. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I meant to type Tang-y, as in Tang, the classic orange drink mix. It’s tolerable but not my favorite of the three. If I were a 1960s astronaut orbiting the Earth, I might’ve thought it was the bee’s knees.

All three feel more syrupy than regular Gatorade and other Gatorade lines I’ve tried. It’s not off-putting; it’s just different. Also, while sucralose was used to help make these zero sugar, I didn’t notice an artificial sweetener aftertaste. Of course, your taste buds may vary.

Fast Twitch isn’t the first Gatorade with caffeine, but it’s the first with an amount that goes well into the triple digits. It also isn’t the only non-carbonated sports drink with caffeine — Monster’s Hydro (150-160 milligrams per 20-ounce bottle) and Bodyarmor’s Edge (140 milligrams per 28.3-ounce bottle) come to mind. While I haven’t had Bodyarmor’s offering, I prefer the taste of Hydro over the Fast Twitch varieties, but I think that’s the sugar in Hydro talking. (Bodyarmor’s Edge also has sugar.)

Gatorade is known as the Thirst Quencher, and the 12 ounces of liquid will probably quench my thirst. But that size does make me hesitant about them, especially when there are similar products out there that come in bigger bottles.

Purchased Price: $24.07
Size: 12-pack/12 fl oz bottles
Purchased at: Amazon
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Glacier Freeze), 6 out of 10 (Strawberry Lemonade), and 5 out of 10 (Orange)
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 160 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 200 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Ghost Cherry Limeade Energy Drink

What is it?

As GHOST Energy continues to rise, starting to pop up in huge chains like Walmart, the brand has set its sights on making Shirley Temple smile, with a bubbly twist on Cherry Limeade — chockfull of 200 milligrams of natural caffeine and focus ingredients.

How is it?

It’s good. It’s quite good, and it’ll grow on ya! It took me multiple cans to figure out how I felt about this one (I know, I’m an addict). The flavoring here isn’t quite as strong and punchy as I’ve come to expect from GHOST Energy. I’m used to being walloped over the head with flavor, and while this is still pretty strong, it isn’t as intense, especially when compared with the WarHeads and Sour Patch Kids candy collabs.

The flavor is nearly a 50/50 split of cherry and lime, with a touch more lime than I expected. That sharp citrusy lime keeps the drink from getting too sweet, and while I wouldn’t have opposed a bolder sugary cherry flavor, the balance also helps prevent it from tasting medicinal. It’s a super smooth sip that goes down easily, thanks to some tight and not too aggressive effervescence. As a big time supporter of Shirley Temples and Cherry 7Up (and Dirty Shirleys when I’m feeling wild), this one ends up really hitting the spot.

Anything else you need to know?

The first time GHOST made a cherry limeade flavor, it was a collaboration with Sonic for its powdered Legend pre-workout line. It’s still available and co-branded with Sonic, but that endorsement doesn’t come with the Ready-To-Drink canned version for whatever reason. I’ve had the pre-workout in the past, and the flavor is denser and more intense. But carbonation typically changes the experience, and I’m not certain whether this is the same or an entirely new formula for the profile.


This drink is only held back by how unbelievably elite a lot of the other releases from GHOST Energy have been. In the grand scheme of energy drinks, this is probably a 9 out of 10 and the best cherry limeade on the market — certainly better than Reign and Alani Nu. But when graded and curved against the other straight slam dunks from GHOST, it might be closer to a 7, which lands me very comfortably at a median of 8, and a damn fine one at that.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: GNC
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates,0 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.