7-Eleven is in the business of making its customers' hearts all aflutter... and not merely with the rush of ecstasy accompanying its signature "little bit of everything" smorgasbord. No, the company has gotten serious about your heart rate, and is now carrying something called "Big Energy" Coffee.
Served alongside those boring regular and decaf pots, the handle of a coffee pot containing the Big Energy brew announces that it has been "naturally enhanced" (whatever that means) with Guarana, Ginseng, and Vitamin B-12. Sound weirdly familiar? Glance across the aisle to the refrigerated rows of energy drinks and you will see that it is, in fact, really familiar.
In the past few years, energy beverages have seemed to multiply at a rate even rabbits could envy. Most of us are old enough to remember when Red Bull, housed in an exciting little 8.3 oz can, was the beverage that gave you wings. Now, it can be difficult to sort out which cans even belong to the Red Bull brand, as increasingly bigger, flashier, and more eye-level marketing takes to the shelves of gas stations and grocery stores.
But for any who wish their comforting, familiar hot cup of coffee could contain the punch of those chilled and carbonated cans... well, sigh no more. 7-Eleven has got your back.
According to Molly Oswaks at Gizmodo, who did a little personal research on the topic, a 12-oz cup of Big Energy Coffee actually contains the following: "32mg ginseng, 42mg guarana, 32mg yerba mate, 1mcg vitamin B12, 8mg taurine," bringing it to the phenomenal number of approximately 295 mg caffeine. Or, roughly 1.5 times the amount of regular brewed coffee.
Caffeine, as you may know, acts as a mild diuretic while also inhibiting your sleeping skills by constricting blood vessels in your brain, and hogging those pesky Adenosine receptors which normally sooth your brain into its restful state. (Put into simple english: it keeps you more awake, and also makes you pee more.) Caffeine occurs naturally in things such as coffee and chocolate, but can also be purified or synthesized into a bitter, powdered additive - typically how it ends up in a canned beverage.
Guarana and Yerba Mate are both substances naturally found as South American plants, and both possess their own little dose of caffeine. Yerba Mate's caffeine is comparatively less than that naturally found in coffee, while Guarana's is up to 3 times as much.
Ginseng seems to be the subject of controversy any time the exact "what" of what it might accomplish comes up. Reported in some forms to improve focus, memory, and the ability to sustain energy, other forms have little to no accompanying research. Unfortunately, documentation of the substance in a recipe is not regulated in such a way that one is always certain of what kind of ginseng they may be consuming.
B-12 has long been a darling of the nutritional community, critical for metabolizing fats and proteins into useful energy, creating the hemoglobin necessary for stamina, and developing the myelin shields nerves require for functioning. (An over-dose of B-12 is usually un-concerning, since it is a water-soluble vitamin, but may keep its victim hyper for days at a time.)
Finally, rounding out the ingredient list, Taurine is a supplement frequently attached to energy drinks which is less directly related to energy development and more directly related to a physical maintenance that allows sustained energy. Taurine is derived from an amino acid promoting cardiovascular function and health of the nervous system.
What does all of this mean for Big Energy Coffee? Essentially, it means that 7-Eleven might not kill you, but it will probably leave you feeling frazzled. (Not that it didn't already, what with all those choices to make.)
Unfortunately, Big Energy Coffee tastes exactly as one might expect it to taste, if thinking of it as (basically) a heated Red Bull dropped into an over-roasted and over-extracted pot of coffee. In the words of my friend Scott, "Whoa. It smells like Delaware!" While personally unable to relate to the way Delaware smells, having now associated it with the singed and chemically-tinted fragrance of 7-Eleven's coffee, I have to assume that Delaware must stink.
...Even if it doesn't, I can at least say with certainty that Big Energy coffee really, really does.