When you think about coffee alternatives, garlic is probably one of the last things that comes to mind, but that exactly the ingredient that one Japanese inventor used to create a drink that looks and tastes like coffee.
74-year-old Yokitomo Shimotai, a coffee shop owner in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, claims that his unique “garlic coffee” is the result of a cooking blunder he made over 30 years ago, when he burned a steak and garlic while aiting tables at the same time. Intrigued by the scorched garlic’s aroma, he mashed it up with a spoon and mixed it with hot water. The resulting drink looked and tasted a lot like coffee. Making a mental note of his discovery, Yokimoto carried on with his job, and only started researching garlic coffee again after he retired.
Committed to turning his bizarre drink into a commercial product, Yokitomo Shimotai spent years optimizing the formula, and about five years ago, he finally achieved a result he was satisfied with. To make his soluble garlic grounds, he roasts the cloves in an electric oven, and, after they’ve cooled off, smashes them into fine particles and packs them in dripbags.
“My drink is probably the world’s first of its kind,” the garlic coffee inventor told Kyodo News. “It contains no caffeine so it’s good for those who would like to drink coffee at night or pregnant women.”
“The bitterness of burned garlic apparently helps create the coffee-like flavor,” Shimotai adds.
The wacky inventor claims that, although his garlic coffee does give off an aroma of roasted garlic, it doesn’t cause bad breath, because the garlic is thoroughly cooked. And if you can get past the smell, the drink apparently does taste a lot like actual coffee.
If decaf isn’t good enough for you, and you’re in the mood for something new, you ca try Yokitomo Shimotai’s garlic coffee at his shop, in the city of Ninohe, Iwate Prefecture, or buy your own dripbags for just 324 yen ($2.8).