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Jiva Coffee Cubes – Hiker Worthy Coffee?

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Jiva Coffee!

Jiva Coffee

Jiva Coffee Cubes:

There has been a fair amount of chatter within the hiking community over the last week or two regarding a coffee called “Jiva Cubes” which makes little coffee cubes that you put into hot water and in a few seconds you have yourself a hot cup of coffee.

Jiva Cubes Inc. is a small business that is based out of Miami, Florida USA that got started a few years on kickstarter. Their first attempt did not work out ($3,671 pledged of $15,000 goal) but their second time around did work out for them ($21,173 pledged of $1,000 goal). Their third kickstarter product was a huge success for them ($82,012 pledged of $15,000 goal) and really got their name out there.

Their most recent kickstarter project is setup to develop a new coffee flavor simply called “Black Coffee Cubs” and has already reached it goal of $15,000 USD and I am personally really looking forward to the black cubes, as they offer two or three times the amount of caffeine over their existing cubes. I gladly supported this project.

 

How Does It Work?

Jiva cubes are compressed soluble coffee and panela that come in neat little packages.

You simply heat up some water, throw the cubes into your cup, give it 30 seconds, stir, and you are good to go (add sugar if you find the panela not sweet enough).

Below are photos of how this process works. I have used a glass bowl so that you can see distribution of the cube as it softens up. I have used 8oz of 210°(f) water.

Ready For Some Water

Ready For Some Water

10 seconds

10 seconds

15 seconds

15 seconds

20 seconds

20 seconds

30 seconds

30 seconds

 

After 30 seconds I grabbed a spoon and stirred and it is ready to consume.

After 30 seconds you grab a spoon and stir it and it is ready to consume.

 

Ingredients:

Jiva Cubes keeps it simple:

Ingredients: Panela, Granulated 100% Columbian Coffee

Ingredients: Panela, Granulated 100% Colombian Coffee

Panela is the juice extracted from sugar cane, dehydrated and then crystallized through an evaporation process, which makes it so that it is neither refined, nor a chemically processed, sugar product. It tastes somewhat like molasses only not as strong. I found this neat little video that shows panela being made.

Granulated coffee is another term for ‘instant coffee’ which is another term for ‘soluble coffee’. This is the same thing that other ‘instant coffee’ used by hikers is made from, be it Starbucks Via or Nescafe or such. There are two main ways of producing soluble coffee, freeze drying and spray drying. I do not know which of these processes is being used, but my guess is that they are using the spray drying process. (update June 28, 2014) According to Jiva the soluble coffee is produced via the freeze drying method (ref).

Both the panela and the soluble coffee are being manufactured by a company in Bucaramanga Colombia. They are, for all intents and purposes, these with rebranding.

 

 

6 Jiva Cubes next to some Probar bars to give an idea of their packaged size.

6 Jiva Cubes next to some Probar bars to give an idea of their packaged size.

Flavor/Strength:

Each cube of the ‘classic flavor’ provides 32 mg of caffeine.

Each cube of the ‘strong classic flavor’ provides 52 mg of caffeine.

Each cube of the ‘black flavor’ (not yet available, at time of writing) provides 100 mg of caffeine.

As for flavor, I have found the ‘classic flavor’ to be a rather weak flavored coffee (8oz of water) and akin to coffee that you might find in the Caribbean nation – flavorful but not strong.

The cost of a box of 24 cubes shipped to my door results in each cube costing ~$0.80 (eighty cents, USD).

I find I have to use two cubes in my standard cup of trail coffee. This places the cost per cup at $1.60 per cup, which is two to three times more expensive than a cup of coffee made with Via or Nescafe, and at least $1.50 more expensive than using ground coffee and a GSI coffee maker – which is my preferred method of making coffee on the trail at this point – per cup.

When the ‘strong classic flavor’ is available that will help reduce costs and the amount of cubes I have to carry – and I am very much looking forward to the black flavor, in hopes that a single cube will be enough.

I happen to enjoy both mild flavor coffee (the best I’ve had was on the Island of Trinidad) and really strong flavor coffee. When I am at home I typically consume Dark Piñon from New Mexico Coffee Company for dark/strong coffee, and Jamaica Blue Mountain ‘Peaberry‘ for mild/high-flavor coffee). I do like Starbucks Via, but only the Christmas Blend, which I usually order a case of each year.

Overall the ‘classic flavor’ falls somewhere in between the Peaberry and the Dark Piñon that I use at home. Compared to the semi-strong and spicy Christmas Blend Via, the Jiva ‘classic flavor’ loses big time – and is almost twice as expensive per cube/package.

 

Nutritional Facts

Nutritional Facts:

Ok, if you care about any of this… you should be ashamed to call yourself a coffee drinker :-p

Each cube will give you an extra 30 calories for your overall daily intake of the ever precious calorie count we hikers face.

The 6 grams of sugars comes from the panela, which is used to bond together the soluble coffee.

The 25 mg of sodium is somewhat surprising. Suppose that is also a result of the panela.

 

What Other Hikers Have Said:

Roger Caffin, BPL Review.

 

In Closing:

Most hikers I know like their coffee and like it strong.

When compared to taking ground coffee and the GSI coffee filter, the Jiva Cubes (classic flavor, again, that is all that has been available) there is just no comparison – the ground coffee wins by a mile.

When compared to other soluble coffee on the market, I find Starbucks Via (I have tried every flavor released) to be stronger, but also more acidic – so a win for both (via for better flavor/strength, jiva for having a milder acidity). I do not like the soluble coffee from Nescafe at all, so not even worth comparing in my book.

From a cost perspective Jiva needs to work on bringing their pricing down by about a third in order to be competitive. For a weekend hiking trip the extra cost might not be noticeable, but for a 30 to 100 day hike, the extra costs for the Jiva would add up very quickly.

From a convenience perspective I think the Jiva falls in between Via and ground coffee. Via is crazy fast, just open pour, stir and drink – waiting 30 seconds for it to dissolve is just not necessary. Compared to my favorite method of using ground coffee and the gsi filter, well, that takes a fair amount longer than 30 seconds.

Should you buy some? If you are somebody that does not mine drinking soluble coffee and are willing to try something new, sure, go for it and order up their sample pack when it is available. Personally, I will not be placing any more orders until their much stronger ‘black flavor’ is available, for as I said above, the cost of using two cubes to make it semi-strong is just not economical in my mind – the exception would be if you like fairly weak coffee.

What I do plan on ordering is their Hot Chocolate cubes. I really do loving having hot chocolate while out hiking (at night, so it warms me up, but doesn’t keep me up like coffee would) and normally the package of hot chocolate is perfectly fine to take with me, but I am thinking that the size of these little cubes, along with the less amount of trash to carry out, and the less mess (if you have ever dropped your open package of hot chocolate inside your tent while trying to make it, you know what a mess a package of hot chocolate can make) means the Jiva Hot Chocolate cubes could win out big-time. It would still be significantly more expensive than normal packaged hot chocolate (~$0.25 cents for marshmallow hot cocoa) when the Jiva hot cocoa cubes end up costing $0.79 cents per cube shipped to my door – ouch!

So, all said and done, do I like these Jiva Cubes?

Yes, I do. They have a nice flavor and are very convenient. If their pricing can be brought down to a more market-competitive price and they get a stronger flavor cube available, I would very likely switch over to these Jiva cubes.

 

Thank you,
+John Abela
HikeLighter.Com


In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell AmericaBlack Rock Gear, Suluk46.

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Written by John B. Abela

May 27, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Hiking Food

Tagged with , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. I used to work with a guy that would come into work on Mondays with a quart mason jar of black coffee goo thick as molasses that he’d stir a spoonful into hot water. I never did try it, he seemed to enjoy it. Don’t remember his method to make the goo as it was 35 years ago…Somehow the Java Cubes remind me of Don’s coffee, just a few steps more solid.

    kitkatknit

    May 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    • Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share!

      What your friend Don did is a process called Cold Brew and has been popular on-and-off over the years.

      John B. Abela

      May 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

  2. Thanks for the article John, I appreciate it. I have tried to like instant coffee on the trail, but I just don’t seem to be able to tolerate it. For me Via is the best instant, but it still is not as good as ground coffee and I am willing to carry the extra weight to make real coffee from grounds on the trail. I buy coffee beans from Mystic Monks in Wyoming because I am a religious person and want to support their efforts to build a monastery there. I then grind the beans and use a GSI filter with a paper filter. I find that if I don’t use the paper filter with the GSI mesh filter, the water runs through too fast and makes a weak cup of coffee. On the other hand, I don’t stay out as long as you, so I imagine using regular coffee like I do would be weight prohibitive for a long trip. Hang in there, and as you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction. My Irish grandfather used to say that!

    John Coyle (Bird Legs)

    May 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    • Hey Bird Legs. For when I use the GSI filter, I grind the coffee very fine (espresso level) and do *not* use a filter (which removes all the oil from the liquid, and the oil is the best part of the coffee bean) and do not find the water moves through all that fast. Also, I cut the legs off the GSI filter, as can be seen here.

      Thanks for taking the time to share!!

      John B. Abela

      May 28, 2014 at 12:50 am

  3. Thanks for the review, I buy instant coffee, put some in a zip-lock bag and spoon out what I need.

    Tony

    May 28, 2014 at 5:11 am

  4. Jamaican Blue Mountain, eh? Best coffee that I have ever had. Expensive though. The GSI filter is also what I use. I don’t mind the time it takes, I’m not awake yet anyway. I’ve thought about taking VIA for the weight savings, but the GSI filter doesn’t weight much and the coffee is a “consumable” weight. Coffee with sugar in it I wouldn’t like.

    Larry

    May 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

  5. Hey John, did you ever order any of the hot chocolate cubes? I’m thinking of giving them a try.

    cenazwalker

    July 30, 2014 at 11:26 am

    • You know, I never did. I think about it a couple times a month when I want some hot cocoa, but then seem to forget about it shortly thereafter. I am suppose to be getting my kickstarter cubes sometime in August. Perhaps if they prove to be worthy enough to buy some more, I’ll place an order for a box plus some of the hot chocolate cubes. If you end up getting some, please let me know if they are any good.

      John B. Abela

      July 30, 2014 at 11:56 am


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