Pros: Requires no refrigeration; ideal for lactose-intolerant folks
Cons: taste, mess, doesn't cool coffee
Unfortunately, a little bit does not go very far where Coffee-mate? non-dairy creamer is concerned. Since regular cream, milk and half-and-half assimilate quickly into coffee, one can tell immediately how much is needed: two or three quick stirs with a spoon and ones coffee is perfectly blended. Not so with Coffee-mate?. This product sits on the surface of the coffee for several seconds, depending how much Coffee-mate? is added, before slowly sinking to the bottom. When stirred, the powder sticks to the sides of the coffee cup, and forms little clumps in the coffee. Often I found that I added too little Coffee-mate?, then accidentally added too much while attempting to rectify the problem. I often had to wipe off the snap-top opening on the lid of my container of Coffee-mate? because the steam rising from the hot coffee caused the powder to congeal. This product needs an anti-caking ingredient.
Coffee-mate? does not taste as good as real cream, although adding Coffee-mate? beats drinking coffee black. However, even a little too much tends to neutralize the flavor of the coffee. The approximately two percent of dipotassium phosphate added supposedly moderates coffee acidity, according to the product label. Maybe this ingredient works too well. The manufacturer estimate estimates about 85 servings from a six-oz. plastic container of Coffee-mate?, but I got maybe half of that.
For all of its deficiencies, Coffee-mate? has some plusses, the most obvious of which is product longevity. Depending on how much coffee a household consumes, a small container of Coffee-mate? can last six months or more, as no refrigeration is required. The expiration date on the Coffee-mate? that I purchased in March of 2008 was for December of the same year, but I suspect that it might last longer.
Coffee-mate? is also safe for people who are lactose-intolerant, and a fair number of people are. The milk substitute in Coffee-mate? is called sodium caseinate. Coffee-mate? is also acceptable to vegans (as far as I can tell), who in addition to not eating meat, avoid all dairy products, as well.
People on diets will be glad to know that Coffee-mate? has just 10 calories per (one tablespoon) serving, one percent fat, and no sodium or cholesterol. The price is also lower than that of cream, but Coffee-mate? is not exactly cheap, either.
As is usually the case, environmental plusses score points with me on product reviews. But while Coffee-mate? comes in a recyclable container, that container is wrapped in a thin plastic label which is not green. Why does Nestle USA not print all of the information directly on the recyclable container?