Our time here in Japan is coming to a close and I am beginning to reflect on things that I will miss and things that I will be grateful to once more have access to. While there are many things about life in Japan that I will truly miss, today's post falls into the later of those two categories.
As I have already established on numerous occasions, I am a pretty consistent coffee drinker. Though, until I moved here I would have never considered myself picky about my coffee. Now, I most definitely would say I am. I am saddened by the state of coffee in this country in innumerable ways. I cannot even pretend to delve into them all in a single post. Today I will tackle a single issue: Japan's lack of decent coffee creamer.
Problem: ManInCharge drank the last of the milk and SillyGirl just can't drink her coffee black this morning.
Solution: She reaches for…CREAP!
photo by jfeuchter
Say what you will about the evils of American non-dairy creamer, and then get over your bad self…because it is pure heaven in powder form compared to the offerings here in the future. Creap is as the label states a "creamy powder" and is one of a handful of coffee whiteners on the market in Japan. You need look no further than the name to be dimly aware that something is not quite right here. This is probably the best of the powder whiteners produced by one of the larger national dairy companies. While I applaud the choice to combine the descriptive phrase 'creamy powder' into a single word, I wonder if the dairy wizards down at Morinaga could put less effort into creating such snazzy packaging and focus a little more on replicating that creamy goodness of my nonexistent milk. Another very popular brand is Brite, by Nestle Japan, the makers of Coffee Mate, the world's number one brand of non-dairy creamer. While Brite as a brand name is more fitting, it still reminds me of a tooth whitener or fancy detergent additive, not a creamer. I suppose this should not surprise me. These products are not proclaiming to be creamers, they are coffee brighteners and whiteners. They lighten coffee from black to a cocoa colored beverage. To attain a milk-like whitening you have to dump in half a jar. I stopped even attempting to use either of these two products when I realized I had filled half of an 8 oz mug with Creap one morning and yet was unsatisfied with the result.
On days where there is no milk in the house and SillyGirl doesn't feel like black coffee, she simply does without. That's right. She goes without coffee. IT IS THAT BAD. Actually, if truth be told, the dilemma of crappy creamer has helped me grow as a coffee drinker. More often than not, I will finally drink my coffee black. I now enjoy black coffee, which is to say, I can finally put my big girl pants on, and declare myself a true blue coffee drinker.
The irony of this situation is that while my non-dairy creamer needs are infrequent, I never realized what a staple creamer had been for me. For two years I have kept my eyes peeled for an import to pick-up on various foreign goods buying expeditions, but alas, I have NEVER seen an import brand. The only other import that I had never seen until recently was rice mixes (you know like Rice-A-Roni), but that is understandable because of the tariffs placed on rice and all derivative rice products to protect Japanese growers. It makes me wonder about what kind of trade restrictions could possibly hinder an entire nation of coffee drinkers from experiencing 'decent' non-dairy creamer.
But seriously. On my first trip to the grocery store when I return to the states, my cart will most certainly contain:
I miss it.