If there’s anything worse than fourteen and a half hours from Chicago to Shanghai in coach class, it’s sitting in a window seat with a head cold. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat at the window – probably something to do with my recent demotion from “Platinum” Status on American Airlines or just booking too late. OK, I’m going to stop whining now since traveling is what I need to do to feed my family. Now that I’ve been on the ground for a couple of days, my cold is almost gone, but the jet lag lingers – it’s a good time to try the Le Whif Coffee that I tossed in my bag back home.
Since reviewing Le Whif Chocolate last year, I’ve been looking for a good reason to try the coffee version. I’m still trying to see beyond the fun novelty factor to a practical use for these little things. There’s something to be said about having a little bit of breathable coffee you can pack in you bag or pocket and pull out anywhere. For those of you that missed the first article on Le Whif, the concept is simple – you inhale through a smallish tube that’s filled with food particles. The tiny particles land on your tongue and the surfaces of your mouth so that you get an instant taste of chocolate or coffee. It occurred to me that Le Whif Coffee might be a fun way to get a little kick of caffeine to fight off the usual symptoms of jet lag and general fatigue that I’ve grown to love on these trips.
Like most other major cities in the world, Shanghai has more than its share of Starbucks. On top of that, the breakfast buffet in my hotel has a kickass computerized espresso machine which does a better than decent job whipping up a macchiato from infamous Chinese milk and just-ground coffee beans. So with no plans to venture outside the city, why would I need another way to get my caffeine kick? First of all, the picture at the office is a bit different.
On the first morning at the office, a charming older woman whose job duties consist of the completely natural combination of cleaning the place and making coffee, peeks her smiling face into my meeting room, tips her head back while making a drinking gesture and asks, “coffee?” As she runs away, I yell “tea.” She comes back with a cup of instant coffee with Cremora. Day two arrives and I’m armed with a new word in my limited Chinese vocabulary. She pops her daily question, which I’m starting to realize is really a statement, and I reply with an equally friendly smile and raised eyebrows: “cha?” She quickly returns with instant coffee loaded with Cremora. I thank her and drink up. So much for bridging the cultural gap.
By mid afternoon, a thick fog comes over my brain and body and there’s no way
I’m reaching for more Cremora. Now’s a time to pull out the Whifs and start whiffing. The first couple of draws didn’t produce nearly as much flavor as the chocolate versions, so I gave the Whif a few strong shakes and things began to flow (if you do this, make sure to snap it closed before shaking). The coffee flavor was still lighter than expected and followed by a distinct sweetness. I’m quite sensitive to caffeine and I have to say that the buzz from these things was pretty mild. Maybe it was the depth of my jet lag or that fact that, according to the inventor, there’s only about as much caffeine as a very light espresso . Still this is comforting since you don’t want to get completely slammed with caffeine after only a few whiffs – no, this was a nice controlled lift.
I can see these Whifs having a place on trips like this. There are plenty of times when I can’t get to a convenience shop or vending machine never mind a real café and Le Whif Coffee would provide some instant relief from the fog. Stuck on the train, in a boring conference or feel compelled to get up at 4 am and start working, like I did? Le Whif is ready to go. The rest of the time, there’s always Nescafe with Cremora.
 Definitely follow the instructions that come in box: you should always hold the Whif horizontally (parallel to the floor) when opening.
 As far as I can tell there is about 100mg of caffeine in a “normal” shot of espresso. This would be about 4-5 times that of a Whif, in my estimation.
 I paid for all materials used in the post myself.
 Photo of four Whifs is courtesy of LaboGroup / Breathable Foods.