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Harvest’s millennial-pandering replacement to Chameleon Cold Brew leaves caffeine fans at a loss

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Devon Christopher Adams/Flickr)

(Devon Christopher Adams/Flickr)

A recent change in Harvest Market’s cold brew coffee selection has taken one of the most beloved and potent coffee drinks from the store. Chameleon Cold Brew, a drink listed on caffieneinformer.com as having “dangerous” levels of caffeine, used to be sold at Harvest, run by UMass Dining. It came in ready-to-drink, 10 fluid ounce bottles boasting 270 milligrams of rocket-fuel caffeine brewed over the course of 16 hours. It’s been replaced by Commonwealth Cold Brew, an eight fluid ounce, 24-hour brew with very big shoes to fill.

For those not acquainted with Chameleon Cold Brew, it was the perfect blend of pleasant, vibrant taste and catastrophic caffeine content. It came with roughly three times the caffeine potency as a Red Bull, and an array of light-tasting, delicious flavors. Vanilla, Mocha, and Original were my main squeezes for many an all-nighter, and pleasantly so. The designs, brightly colored and textured with a nonintrusive chameleon on top, let most of their hook come from the taste and viciously enjoyable buzz.

The impression I got from Chameleon is that they let the product speak for itself, and boy, could it walk the walk. In comparison, the bottles of Commonwealth Cold Brew in their three flavors all come riddled with shoddy puns and distracting little pictures of mason jars, moustaches, vintage cameras and other millennial stereotypes. While the product is sourced from small, family-operated farms and has quite an ethical looking “origin story,” I could not help but feel turned away.

Seeing a flavor of the brew on the shelf called “Hoperation Cold Brew” and an adjacent product description containing doodles, I felt insulted on behalf of my generation and even more irate at the loss of Chameleon. Between the choices of Hoperation Cold Brew, a straight coffee CCB original blend, and “Buzzed,” a coffee infused with honey, I chose the hippest of the three and walked out with the hops. Ringing the potion-like bottle up, I saw the same $4.99 price as its larger Chameleon counterpart, and was additionally displeased.

My desire to put to the test the most outlandish flavor started with a negative bias, but the taste of the hops-infused beverage was far from the calamity I had been expecting. Apart from a dull-tasting coffee flavor, Hoperation Cold Brew was exceedingly easy to drink. The notes of citrus and pine that the hops brought confused me at points; I was unsure whether the hops brought a crisp and vibrant highlight to the taste, or if they meshed into a messy-tasting cross between coffee and “hipster beer.”

The caffeine content of the drink, while not on the same dangerous, exhilarating par of Chameleon, began to give me a noticeable buzz relatively soon. Because Commonwealth Cold Brew’s caffeine content is undisclosed, I was forced to go by feeling more than accurate comparison. When I would be frothing from the mouth after half a bottle of Chameleon, I felt not much more than a moderate jitter halfway into a Commonwealth Cold Brew bottle. Instead of having my eyes bursting at the lids, they were still halfway slumped over, somewhere between content and underwhelmed.

All in all, the cold brew does a decent job of being a cold brew. With a rotating slew of seasonal flavors, such as a maple syrup-infused variant for the wintertime, I may just find a flavor that suits me. Until then, the fondest memory I will have of the coffee will be finding creative ways to use their entertaining bottles.

For those who love hops but hate hangovers, Commonwealth Cold Brew might just be the perfect alternative to your daytime IPA. For those outside of that niche, you may still find refreshment in these medicine-bottle brews.

I know for certain that I will continue to miss my Chameleon Cold Brew.

Fitzgerald Pucci can be reached at [email protected]

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