Hawaii

Reviews of coffee shops and roasters in Hawaii.

Organo Gold and Marina Hina

I’m not a fan of instant coffee. If I drink instant coffee I only do so as a last last last resort. In fact, about 90% of the time I’d rather not drink anything as opposed to drinking instant coffee. Starbucks Via is probably my one exception to this rule; even then, I always hesitate before opening one of their packets and ask myself “do I really want to do this?”

When I contacted Marina Terwilliger to do a review of her coffee, I had never heard of Organo Gold. However, I frequently am on the lookout for different kinds of coffee sources – whether they are local coffee shops or online stores. This seemed like a great way to branch out and try something new.

On her website – marinahina.com – where she sells her products, Marina says:

Starting with a couple things I’m passionate about, health and sewing, Marina Hina hats and coffee was born. Enjoy the sunhats designed and handcrafted in Hawaii and the the coffee brought to you by Organo Gold.

While her “SPF Sun Hats” section has yet to go live, the coffee portion of her website is very much up and running. The brand she is selling? Organo Gold. Like I said, Organo Gold coffee was foreign to me – I had never heard of it and because of this, decided to do a little research before I received my review sample.

The front page of Organo Gold’s website boasts quotes like “Change your coffee, change your life” and “The coffee that makes you feel good.” Their about page goes on to explain:

“Organo Gold is on a mission, spreading the knowledge of Ganoderma to the four corners of the world. By using the cost effective network distribution system to deliver these Ganoderma products, more of every dollar is shared with our growing Organo Gold family world-wide.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but what the heck is Ganoderma, and why does this about page sound like a philosophy textbook?

Basically, ganoderma is a type of fungi used in various types of eastern medicine. It is said to have anticancer effects, protect against radiation-induced damage, and also have antioxidant effects (according to Wikipedia).

Essentially, Organo Gold is coffee infused with ganoderma extract, made available in an instant-packet form factor. The idea is that it is coffee that is good for you. More than that, Organo Gold is the type of thing that you can sell from your home to your friends and family if you are interested in becoming involved with their company.

Here at BoiseCoffee we are all for health benefits, invigorated immune systems, and life longevity. That being said, this is not a health blog, and I’m not here to tell you whether or not Organo Gold will change your life. What I am here to do is tell you whether or not their coffee tastes good and is enjoyable. So, when I opened my first packet of Organo Gold instant latte, that’s exactly what I set out to discover.

I received three types of Organo Gold products from Marina: Gourmet Cafe Latte, Gourmet Cafe Mocha, and Gourmet Black Coffee.

When I opened the latte packet I found a brownish white powder with no visible hint of the ganoderma extract that existed within. When I combined this powder with hot water, then kicked back to sate my curiosity, I was initially not impressed. The beverage had an earthy, mildy sweet taste, but in no way resembled a latte. Looking at the ingredients I found that there was indeed some kind of dairy in the powder, but any taste remotely resembling a latte was not to be found. However, I found that the drink got better as I drank it. By the end of the beverage I was enjoying it – not because it tasted like a latte, or really even coffee, but because it had a very coffee-esque quality: it was an acquired taste. Once I got used to the initial shock, I found that the drink was actually enjoyable.

The mocha was similar in this regard. The mocha packet contained much more powder than did the latte packet. I mixed it with the same amount of hot water, however, and it proved to be the correct ratio. Upon tasting, the drink revealed itself to not be very sweet. Or, at least, it wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be – an expectation that existed mostly because it carried the “mocha” monocher that I generally associate with something sweet…like, say, chocolate. It was, however, initially more tasty than the “latte” flavor, and I think that had to do with my expectations being better met. It was a much closer drink to the title that its packet professed. In consistency it was slightly creamy, but clearly water based. Initially it actually kind of felt like a mocha was in my mouth, but quickly the watery taste set in after the initial impression had run its course. Towards the end the mocha was actually quite good. My last gulp left me desiring just one more sip, which is definitely a good thing.

In both the mocha and the latte there was a foreign taste present. I can only assume that this belonged to the ganoderma extract. It wasn’t exactly bad tasting, nor did it necessarily detract from the overall flavor of the drinks. Yet it was definitely present, and definitely not coffee.

It should be noted that 30 minutes after drinking the mocha I got what can only be described as a huge caffeine rush. I’m not sure if this was a combination of doing Physics homework at 1am and drinking coffee, or if the coffee just has a high caffeine content. It was glorious for getting work done, however.

I have little to note about the black coffee. It had a much better initial taste than the latte. Again, I think that’s because my expectations were better met. It too contained the foreign taste of the praised fungi, but proved to be the beverage that stood out least to me – for better or worse.

Overall I have to admit that Organo Gold was much better than I initially anticipated. I was expecting gross instant coffee and what I got instead was an entertaining beverages that left me desiring more at the end (and possibly even had health benefits). People who are hooked on instant coffee would find Organo Gold to be a happy alternative to their favorite brand. Those who aren’t, and prefer traditional brewing methods, may not appreciate Organo Gold for what it is but will also not necessarily be let down by its taste or consistency. I recommend that these people try the mocha flavor if they are looking to branch out.

Health-focused people may also find value in the supposed benefits that Organo Gold has as opposed to a typical instant coffee brand.

Me? I’ll stick to my french press and espresso, but keep Organo Gold in the back of my head in case I ever find myself in the position where I’m shopping for instant coffee.

If you are planning on purchasing Organo Gold, please do it through Marina Hina’s store here.

The Coffee Guy

P.S. Marina does her own writing about coffee here. Check it out!