Java Monster: Originale, Mean Bean, and Loca Moca
"Half the caffeine of regular coffee, Twice the Buzz!"

The popular Monster line of energy drinks includes a number of flavors, most of which taste like stale candy. This isn't surprising, as most energy drinks of any brand taste almost exactly like a candy necklace that's been sitting on your counter for 2 weeks before you remember to eat it. However, due to various personal failings, I have a compulsion to drink anything that tastes or even claims to taste like coffee. Occasionally this leads to discoveries like the Wendy's Frosty-cino, a marketing gimmick to combine the success of the Frosty with the current coffee fad that is so cynical it couldn't help but succeed. Other times it just gives me heartburn.

This time it lead me to try Java Monster Originale, Java Monster Mean Bean, and Java Monster Loca Moca. I generally don't like Mocha but some versions of it can be pretty good, so I gave it a shot. All three flavors of Java Monster feature a prominent coffee flavor, promising you that extra kick in the pants you're sucking down an energy drink for in the first place. Unfortunately, analysis of the ingredients reveals no more or less caffeine than any other Monster flavor, buried within the 2500mg of "energy blend" in all their products. So it appears to be nothing more than flavoring.

The main difference between Java Monster Originale and Java Monster Mean Bean is that Originale is less strongly coffee flavored (it's barely there), and has a stronger energy drink aftertaste. Mean Bean is more strongly coffee flavored and its energy drink aftertaste is barely perceptible, making it my preferred selection of the pair. In fact, I will go so far as to say the lack of aftertaste made Java Monster Mean Bean my favorite energy drink of all, as it's the only one of any brand I've tried that manages to do this. Loca Moca tastes more like Originale, but with a delicate hint of chocolate mixed in, just enough that it doesn't clash with the coffee taste.

Upon close comparison of the Java Monster flavors, it becomes clear that they are, chemically, nearly identical drinks. The first five ingredients in the list are identical in both name and order. The nutritional content is identical. The biggest difference is that the sixth, seventh and eighth ingredients, while still identical, are just switched around. Interestingly, the more strongly coffee-flavored Mean Bean is the one with "natural flavors" farthest down the list. But the flavor is misleading, it has no actual extra kick to show for it. So when selecting an energy drink, I'd recommend going by flavor for its own sake rather than any promise of what it implies, since it doesn't seem to deliver.

While an interesting taste sensation, energy drinks are ridiculously expensive at $2.29 a can and I have no intention of buying them regularly. Much like the delicious Starbucks Frappuccino, another one of my favorite coffee-based drinks, I simply can't justify purchasing them regularly at their current price. Unfortunately the vaunted kick that energy drinks are so renowned for simply isn't there for me either. A several-year period of caffeine addiction (now broken) has left me with a muted response to such stimulants, and the taste alone can't justify the purchase.

From the nutritional information section, there doesn't seem to be any real difference between Monster energy drinks except for a surprising reduction in sugar for the Java brand. My guess is the coffee flavoring made it less necessary to load on the sugar to make it palatable.

Per serving (2 servings per can)
                Regular    Java Orig    Java Mean   Java Moca
Calories         100        100          100         100
sugar             27g        16g          16g         16g
panax ginseng    200mg      200mg        200mg       200mg
taurine         1000mg     1000mg       1000mg      1000mg
"energy blend"  2500mg     2500mg       2500mg      2500mg

I should mention that regular Monster comes in 16oz cans, while Java Monster comes in 15oz cans. A serving is still defined as 8oz, and the Java Monster can says it contains "about 2" servings.

The full line of Java Monster flavors are:

  • Originale (light coffee flavor)
  • Mean Bean (stronger coffee flavor)
  • Loca Moca (mocha flavor)
  • Irish Blend (non-alcoholic)
  • Russian (non-alcoholic)
  • Nut Up (hazelnut flavored)
  • Lo-Ball (50 calories per serving)
  • Chai Hai (Chai spice-tea flavored)

Thanks to locke baron for some additional info!

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