Health & Wellbeing

Caffeine in the 21st century: A review of four delivery methods

Caffeine in the 21st century: ...
The four caffeine-delivery systems tried by the author
The four caffeine-delivery systems tried by the author
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The four caffeine-delivery systems tried by the author
1/5
The four caffeine-delivery systems tried by the author
Go Cubes were sugary and strong
2/5
Go Cubes were sugary and strong
The winner: NeuroGum
3/5
The winner: NeuroGum
You can brush for a rush with Power Toothpaste
4/5
You can brush for a rush with Power Toothpaste
Sprayable Energy? Not so much
5/5
Sprayable Energy? Not so much
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Forget drones, 3D printing and virtual reality headsets. The future is really all about new ways to get caffeine into your system. Remember back in the dark ages of the last century when, if you wanted a jolt, you pretty much could only drink some coffee, tea, a carbonated franken-drink or pop a few NoDoz pills? Well, no more. Caffeine has been liberated from the coffee cup and is now available in a wide array of delivery methods. I got my hands on four of them and lost a few nights' sleep to find out which ones bring the buzz and which are simply snoozers.

First, a caveat. I've never really been a coffee lover. For one, the taste just never really grabbed me. But coffee has always just messed with my stomach, so I have learned to steer clear. I am, however, one of the tired masses trying to get through my work day as best as I can, so a chemical boost is certainly appreciated. That's why I started down this jittery path to alternative caffeine sources in the first place.

While some of these methods clearly worked, it's important to realize that if you're a true java junkie, none of them will replace the coffee-drinking ritual to satisfaction. If, like me though, you just want some quick pep sans mug, a few of these caffeine-delivery methods should work out just fine for you.

You can brush for a rush with Power Toothpaste
You can brush for a rush with Power Toothpaste

The Product: Power Toothpaste. The Promise: Touting a "rush while you brush," this caffeinated toothpaste claims to work within minutes of brushing your teeth.

The Pep Factor: Quick coffee boost without the coffee breath.

Even though I had my doubts about getting any kind of a caffeine buzz from spending just a minute or two brushing my teeth in the morning, I was quite surprised to see that the Power Toothpaste actually did its job. As it was scrubbing my overnight mouth it also seemed to scrub away morning grogginess, making me feel more alert and ready to face my day. The toothpaste is extremely minty, which certainly helps with the wake-up factor. It also helps disguise the somewhat bitter taste of the caffeine as well.

The effects of the brush rush lasted only about an hour though, which nevertheless was enough time to get me moving and brewing my first cup of tea. I also found myself brushing more, as I would occasionally hit the paste midday if I found myself in a slump. So better dental hygiene is definitely a side-effect of this waker-upper – although it's good to note that this toothpaste doesn't contain fluoride, if that's important to you. I mixed its use with regular toothpaste at night to cover all my dental bases.

The Particulars: Power Toothpaste was successfully funded through an Indiegogo campaign that ended on March 6, 2016. Tubes are to start shipping in April 2016. The full retail price for tubes will be US$15 each, and will be good for about 90 brushes. Orders can still be placed through the Indiegogo page.

Go Cubes were sugary and strong
Go Cubes were sugary and strong

The Product: Go CubesThe Promise: Each of these gummy squares is said to contain the same caffeine of about a half-cup of coffee (50 mg) along with vitamins B6, B12 and green-tea extract L-theanine which, the makers claim, can "improve caffeine for enhanced focus & clarity."

The Pep Factor: Lift off.

When I first tried these sugary little coffee cubes, I had the details wrong. I thought each cube delivered the equivalent caffeine of two cups of coffee. Turns out each pack of four cubes does that. So when I ate just one cube, I got zero boost. Upping that quantity to two, however, made all the difference.

The cubes, which come in an assortment of flavors including "Mocha," "Latte," and "Pure Drip," taste like really sugary coffee. That's fitting, as corn syrup and sugar are the first two ingredients on the list. After eating two of them, the effects kicked in after about 15 minutes. This was by far the most physical buzz I got out of all the different methods. My scalp felt tingly and I was vibrating a bit overall. After about 20 minutes of that intense "lift-off" rush, the effects mellowed out a bit and I felt alert but not jittery and my body felt energized – we had reached cruising altitude. The effects also lasted longer than all the other products in this review; two cubes kept me humming along for about three hours.

As a non-coffee aficionado, I wasn't crazy about the intensely strong coffee flavor or the dose of sugar, but if you take your cuppa with a few lumps, these cubes will certainly become your favorite adult candy.

The Particulars: Go Cubes are available on the company's website. They cost $53.10 for 20 four-packs and $20.70 for six four-packs.

Sprayable Energy? Not so much
Sprayable Energy? Not so much

The Product: Sprayable EnergyThe Promise: Skip the oral part of consuming caffeine altogether, by spraying some on your skin. The spray contains only three ingredients: caffeine, water and an amino acid derivative called Tyrosine.

The Pep Factor: Non-existent.

Of all the delivery methods I tested, this was the one I was most excited to try. I loved the idea of being able to just spritz my neck with some liquid from the sleek little black bottle to get a boost whenever I needed it. There was something very "international spy" about the whole thing.

Sadly, I got zero boost from this product. I started with four sprays on one side of my neck. Then I tried four sprays on both sides of my neck. Aside from getting a dry residue on my skin, there was simply no other effect from the product.

The Particulars: Even though this didn't work for me, if you want to give it a try, the company does offer a 100-percent money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied, so it's basically free to see if you'll have better luck. The product is available on the company's homepage for $15 for two.

The winner: NeuroGum
The winner: NeuroGum

The Product: NeuroGumThe Promise: Like the Go Cubes, these candified bits of caffeine (40 mg) also have L-theanine and vitamins B6 and B12 in them. Chewing is meant to give you an energy boost and mental clarity as well.

The Pep Factor: Good, quick and lifted.

If I had to pick a winner from all of these newfangled caffeine-delivery systems, the Neurogum would get the caffeinated crown. Although it has less caffeine per piece than the Go Cubes, it provided a much faster lift; in about three minutes of chewing the stuff, I already felt less fatigued and more mentally alert. What's more, the Neurogum didn't give me that jittery initial spike. It was just a very pleasant lift that made me feel bright-eyed and clear, like I'd just woken from a really good night's sleep.

Unfortunately, the NeuroGum lift only lasted about 90 minutes, but because there were no side effects and the lift was so clean and immediate, it's become my go-to caffeine source when I need an instant boost. Also, unlike the Go Cubes, there is no sugar or corn syrup in the gum, so it feels like a bit healthier of a product.

The Particulars: You can order five nine-packs of the gum for $19.95 or 12 packs for $47.40 on the NeuroGum website.

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6 comments
Scion
In Japan when I was there for a two week stay I found "black black" chewing gum. It was black in colour, tasted of mint and had caffeine. I found it superior to coffee, particularly as I did a lot of walking on that trip and it is so much easier to pop some gum in your mouth while walking than drink coffee. The lift was much like to describe in the Neurogum section above. Just a pleasant lessening of fatigue and and ease of the tired feet I had. Good stuff.
HugoSLaVia
What, no suppositories!!!
Douglas Bennett Rogers
I mix 2 Vivarin or CVS caffein tablets, 4 tbs raw honey, 2 tbs molasses, 2 tbs apple cider vinegar in 64 oz. distilled water to make 4 morning exercise drinks with 100 mg caffein. This has an optimum lift to burnout ratio.
tflahive
I don't like the taste of coffee either. But, I like coffee candy and ice cream (go figure). I also like chocolate. So I was pleasantly surprised, and got a lift from dark chocolate covered coffee beans. The chocolate almost covers up the taste of the coffee bean. Four chocolate covered coffee beans keep me lifted, with no jittery feeling, for 3-hours.
Peter Kelly
I always find articles like this very interesting; not because I have some mad caffeine addiction, or that, like the author, I'm chasing a solution to not liking coffee, but simply that I don't know what 'the buzz' is! As far as I can tell, I have never experienced any effect from caffeine and am always bemused to hear about people needing a 'caffeine injection'. I can drink large quantities of strong coffee, even just before bed, and it won't cause me to run around manically, or lose a wink of sleep. To me it's just a hot, pleasant drink. So, can anyone explain to me what I should be looking for, or why it doesn't have the slightest effect on me?
NicNuyten
I recently got turned on to GoCubes and Neurogum in my quest for the right nootropic stack. Both the gum and cubes give me just the right amount of energy and focus I need without the jitters. It's also a plus not having to get up and go to the bathroom every 20 minutes if I would have drank a coffee. I will have breakfast then eat a cube at around 10:00 (it is said caffeine is best absorbed after or around this time) , then after my lunch I'll wait an hour and pop in a piece of neurogum. It's been quite a pleasant anxious-free boost, and I'd recommend both. Just my two cents.