Energy Drink of the Month — September 2014

If someone asked you to draw a Venn diagram showing energy drink consumers and loyal Jamba Juice customers, how much would those two groups overlap? If you are familiar with my Energy Drink of the Month blog posts, you know by now that all energy drinks are not created equal. Some don’t fit the mold, and there are many “energy-drinks-in-disguise” at your local grocery store and/or gas station. This month’s pick is dedicated to another energy-drink-in-disguise, and also to telepathy.

The Energy Drink of the Month for September 2014 is Jamba Blueberry Pomegranate.

Energy Drink of the Month Sept 2014

Energy Drink of the Month Sept 2014

Have you ever looked at a food or supplement label and thought, “I wish I knew what the food scientists think about this”? Allow me to present this opportunity for you to be Mr. Spock or Dr. Xavier (your pick) and read my thoughts as I assess this product.


7 Thoughts on Jamba Energy

1-There’s pictures of blueberries and pomegranates on the label…alert the press!

Since this is the first image I have of the product, we’ll start here. Whether or not you’re in the food industry, you might’ve heard the news story about Pom Wonderful suing Coca Cola over a pomegranate blueberry juice blend. The excerpt below from a Nutritional Outlook article explains the problem (click here for full article):

POM Wonderful is suing Coke, alleging that the company deceptively uses the words pomegranate and blueberry on its Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Fruit Juice Blend label, when in fact the drink contains very little pomegranate and blueberry juice… On his show, Oliver joked that “one of Coke’s actual arguments this week in the Supreme Court is that they’re allowed to give their product a name that refers to juices that provide the characterizing flavor—an argument that has the characterizing flavor of bullsh*t.”

Full (hilarious and informative) John Oliver video here

With the can now in hand, we move from these prominent images to the next point.

2-Pomegranate and Blueberry location on the ingredient line

Ingredient Line for Jamba Blueberry Pomegranate Energy Drink

Ingredient Line for Jamba Blueberry Pomegranate Energy Drink

Surprise, surprise, neither pomegranates nor blueberries are the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Water is the first ingredient, followed by apple juice concentrate (and that’s significant when we get to point 4). The good news is pomegranates and blueberries are not last on the ingredient list, so they are not added in “fairy dust amounts” in order to make it onto the label.


3-Ingredient Line continued, Natural Flavor Alert

Since I have had the pleasure of working closely with flavor houses as a product developer, I never panic when I see the phrase “natural flavors”. I’m not sure where the food blog activists got their ammunition to freak out over natural flavors, especially since “natural” used to be the magic word of acceptability to some non-food scientists. By themselves, the fruit purees are not potent enough to convey the intended flavor. This is where natural flavors come in, but finding the right flavor for the intended consumer is a challenge.

For example, when a food scientist says to a flavorist, “I want the product to taste like strawberries”, the flavorist has to navigate through a wide spectrum to find the right flavor profile. Should it be a jammy strawberry? Artificial or candy-like strawberry? Creamy like strawberry yogurt? Juicy like fresh-picked strawberries? The possibilities are more numerous than the average consumer could imagine. It’s possible a hint of natural blueberry flavor is the key to the the ideal strawberry flavor profile. I’ll elaborate on natural flavors a future blog, but let’s move on to one of the most important points of this Jamba evaluation.

4-Sugar Search

Jamba Energy Nutrition Facts Panel GreenEyedGuide

Nutrition Facts Panel Jamba Energy

Completing the initial review of the ingredient line, I noticed no sugars are added, only Stevia. I like seeing Stevia on the label as opposed to artificial sugars – NOT because I’m convinced that artificial sweeteners are bad for you (the evidence is inconclusive), but it’s one of those “just-in-case” personal decisions. Moving our eyes up the label to the Nutrition Facts Panel we see that there are 20 grams of sugar per serving, and it’s all coming from the fruit juices (especially apple juice). This discovery is the make-or-break moment for me, as I am one of many consumers who try to limit excess sugars wherever possible. It’s not like raw blueberries are sugar-free, but obviously eating raw blueberries is different than consuming a blueberry juice flavored product. Since my objective is to get an energy boost and not to fight free radicals, I’ll keep going.



5-Caffeine Content

V8 servings count

How many freggies have you had today?

I am consuming Jamba’s energy drink for an energy boost, NOT to boost my freggie count for the day.  Thankfully the caffeine content is prominently displayed on the can, 80mg (see Nutrition Facts picture, above and look beside the words “Serve Chilled”). At the time of the evaluation, this amount of caffeine PERFECT for my Level of Fatigue (Level 2= 2 Tired to Go It Alone; i.e. I know my fatigue is not due to dehydration/boredom, Level 1).

6-When Energy Drinks Come With Juice

Carbonation is added to this product but energy drinks with juice are not as carbonated as their juice-less counterparts. The ways juice and carbonation affect the perceived energy boost is something I discuss in detail in the Energy Drink Guide. In this case, I just need a little boost, not a big energy kick, so the juice is a good indication this product will suit my Level of Fatigue.

7-Food Safety Nerd Alert

Raw juices make me nervous. I know too much food micro to be comfortable with the risk, especially since the product is 70% juice. I’m relieved to see that this juice is pasteurized. For more info on raw juices and the Juicing trend: click here

Bottom Line

Jamba Energy GreenEyedGuide

A Message from the Marketeers: Not intended for Chemistry Majors?

I can tell by the marketing blurb on the side of the can that the intended consumer is one who is trying to avoid the stereotypical energy drink. “Pure and simple”, this energy drink has a clean label, and is a good alternative to many other energy products. There is no added sugar; it’s coming all from the fruit juices. If the sugar content is a deal-breaker, consider this: sugar-free Red Bull has the same amount of caffeine — 80 mg. Personally I would rather drink a Jamba energy drink than a sugar-free Red Bull (though only if the line at Jamba was short).


Additional Resources

Jamba Energy product page

Caffeine Content in Jamba Energy — Caffeine Informer

Five Levels of Fatigue –booklet on Ebay; excerpt from Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely

Energy Drink Guide FACEBOOK PAGE — Help push it to 100 Likes!!!

Food Science in the News: Pumpkin Spice Controversy?

I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes. For me that drink is the symbol of Fall. This is especially true since I live in Southern California and there are few other signs the season has changed.
Apparently there’s some angst over how Pumpkin Spice lattes aren’t made from real pumpkin. If this surprises you or even if you don’t care and nothing will affect your love for PSL, check out this article:

In Defense of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

My favorite part:

Kantha Shelke, a food scientist with a background in organic chemistry and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, gets questions like this all the time. “This conversation about chemicals in food requires a certain amount of responsibility, which I think some of these elitist writers and bloggers and speakers have somehow forgotten,” she says of the backlash against pumpkin spice flavoring. “I think it’s very irresponsible to be ignorant to such a level as to lead others astray and tell them to eat chemical-free food.” After all, she says, water and salt are chemicals.

That said, Pumpkin Spice Lattes (like many things in life) are best enjoyed in moderation.


5Whys of Metro Transportation

The Making of a Quality Professional

I’m the kid who put “Eat Breakfast” on her to-do list so I’d start the day with something already checked off. I love checklists and bullet-points, and what you’re about to read is a genuine enthusiasm for what I do at work. I am not fresh out of college, nor am I a seasoned professional with over twenty years in the industry.


Recently I moved from a role in Product Development to a role in Quality Assurance. This is not my first job in QA, but coming back to it after a year and a half of working on dry powder protein shake supplements, I’m noticing some key developments in my behavior.

Read the rest–>

Energy Drink of the Month — August 2014

If you eat breakfast at 6am, is the meal you eat at 10am really lunch? Not wanting to feel like a Hobbit with Second Breakfast and Elevenses, I wanted an energy drink that would help me wake up without irritating an empty stomach; one that wouldn’t replace the breakfast I intended to have at 8am and one that wouldn’t require me to wait in a long line. At my local 7-11, I found a product that did the trick.

The Energy Drink of the Month for August 2014 is Arriba Horchata Energy.

Energy Drink of the Month Horchata

Energy Drink of the Month

I am naming this Energy Drink of the Month not because I want to encourage more people to drink it, but because I find this product fascinating in my adorable, dorky food scientist sort-of-way.


Don’t mention Vampire Weekend. According to the dictionary:

definition by Oxford Dictionary

definition by Oxford Dictionary



Have you ever eaten a bag of chips and realized later that one bag was supposed to be 3 servings? I hate that. Always check the Servings per Container. Checking that first will put the rest of these point in context.


For any product featuring the word “ENERGY” on the label, always look for a caffeine statement and where the caffeine (if any) is coming from. In this case, there are 76mg of caffeine, and it comes from guarana (the 7th ingredient in the ingredient’s list). To learn more about where guarana comes from, what green tea extract and guarana have in common and what dosages of guarana are safe, see this energy drink guide.


Always check the amount of sugar per serving (and per container). There’s a whopping 38g of sugar in this one can, and all of it comes from Sugar. I try to limit my added sugars and some days I’m more successful than others. I know this product is not going to help me reach that goal for the day, but I’m committed to trying this product at least once.

After my first few sips of the product, I decided 38g was too much; it was way too sweet for me (and all my colleagues in Product Development would tell you that’s really saying something). If Arriba made a lower-sugar version of this I’d be all over it. But alas…

Horchata Nutrition Facts Panel

Horchata Nutrition Facts Panel


There are quite a few B-vitamins in the product but unfortunately none of them are included with the Daily Value percentages on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Here are the vitamins included, and some notes pulled from Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely

Calcium D-Pantothenate = vitamin B5; note “pantothen” in Greek means everywhere, and this vitamin is so abundant in every food group that no one has ever had a pantothenic acid deficiency.

Niacinaminde = vitamin B3; note niacin deficiency, pellagra or Mal de la Rosa reached epidemic proportion is the USA in the early 1900s.

Pyridoxine HCl = vitamin B6; note this vitamin participates in over 100 chemical reaction on the body but consuming over 100mg per day (5,000% DV) can cause nerve damage.

Thiamin mononitrate = vitamin B1; note thiamin deficiency is called beriberi which means “I can’t, I can’t” in Sri Lanka.

Folic acid; note folic acid is the poster-child for vitamin fortification success.

D-Biotin; note biotin is a key player in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.

Cyanocobalamin = vitamin B12; note B12 can be a hurdle to Veganism because plants don’t make it; all B12 is made via fermentation of bacteria, fungi or algae (side-note: algae ingredients like spirulina and chlorella can be vegan sources of B12).


Yes, this product contains carrageenan, which is a thickening agent like Xanthan Gum (Read The Xanthan Gum Disaster here). Carageenan may be a controversial ingredient but I don’t believe there is cause for panic. Some useful, credible resources for reference:

In “Harmful or Harmless: Carrageenan”, Chris Kresser points out that there are two types of carrageenan, and the one most associated with harm is not the form used as an effective thickener.

Chris Kresser on Carrageenan

Chris Kresser on Carrageenan

The European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General, Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) states that intakes of carrageenan are of no concern if the amount consumed is below the No Observed Effects Level (NOEL) of 750 mg per kilogram body weight per day. (Read the complete Opinion of SCF on Carageenan – free, here)


Because I am a Quality Assurance professional (and I can’t help myself), when I look at a product like this and the lack of information on their website, I ask questions. I can’t help but wonder, How big is this company? Do they have a HACCP plan to ensure product safety? Do they do microbiological testing on incoming ingredients? What tests do they do on the finished product before it’s cleared for release/shipping?

Bottom Line

Due to the sugar content, lack of B-vitamin information and lack of information on the company making this product, I would not encourage consumption. Nor would I discourage anyone who wanted to try it as an alternative to another energy drink or coffee beverage.

Additional Resources

Arriba Horchata Energy main page

Caffeine Content in Arriba Horchata Energy – Caffeine Informer

Changing the World 1 book at a time

Energy Drink of the Month — July 2014

It was one year ago that I first held it. I pinched it, turned it over, smelled it. Deciding that it was real, I laughed heartily and did a little dance of victory. My first book had finally been published. My quest to help people see energy drinks like I do, to explain the tricks and tips to consuming caffeine safely, and to introduce my 5 Levels of Fatigue system for picking the right product had finally materialized into a green paperback. Ten years of research, experimentation and late-night writing all in less than 200 pages.

Energy Drink of the Month — A Year’s Reflection

To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of what I still consider my first child, I’d like to take a look back at a year’s worth of posts about the Energy Drink of the Month. Each of them is highlighted for a different reason and almost none of them matches the typical energy drink you’d hear lambasted on the news.


[June 2014] – Neuro Sonic:

neruo SONIC

I love it when energy drinks have lids!

With a twisty-cap for easy caffeine moderation, this energy-drink-in-disguise features an amount of caffeine perfect for tough mornings. With 100 milligrams of caffeine, carbonation, and no fruit juice (except for color purposes), this product suitable for Fatigue Level 3. Read More: 3 Levels and 3 Reasons

[May 2014] – vitaminwater Energy:

vitaminwater energy

Energy Drink of the Month – May 2014

With the best caffeine warning label I’ve ever seen, vitaminwater Energy is perfect for road trips, those on a budget, and those looking for a very mild caffeine boost. Read More: 3 Pros and Cons of vitaminwater® energy drink – from a Food Science, Product Development and Quality Perspective

[April 2014] – Avitae caffeinated water:

caffeine water natural label

Caffeine : Water : : Beet Powder : Lemonade

As far as energy drinks go, it doesn’t get much cleaner or simpler than this. With three levels of caffeine available, this product line is suitable for Level 2, 3 and 4 of the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Also note that since it comes in a bottle you can sip it and reseal it, regulating your caffeine intake in ways that aren’t possible with an open can or a hot coffee. Read More: Redefining “Energy Drink” – 5 Qs with Avitae

[March 2014] – FRS Healthy Energy:

Energy Drink March 2014 Healthy Energy


Champion of the consumer-friendly label, this product is weak-sauce when it comes to caffeine content, but features intriguing “alternative-energy” ingredients like Quercetin. What is Quercetin and what does it have to do with Harry Potter’s mom? Read on my friends. Read More: 5 Reasons to Pick FRS Healthy Energy

[February 2014] – Starbucks Refreshers:

Starbucks Refreshers GreenEyedGuideFinding a soul-mate for Valentine’s Day is hard. Finding a Starbucks is easy. With this green-coffee-powered energy-drink-in-disguise, you can still hit on the baristas in the green aprons without buying a source of caffeine that has to be chilled or consumed within the hour. Read More: 5 Reasons Refreshers Deserve Your Love

[January 2014] – V8 V-Fusion + Energy:

EDM_v8Starting the year with PIGs and POAs (Plans, Ideas, Goals and Plan of Actions)? Start the year strong by swapping a Red Bull for a V8. By the way, they have the same amount of caffeine – 80mg/can, which is less than a tall latte from Starbucks. Read More: 7 Little Known Facts about V8 V-Fusion

[December 2013] – Red Bull Editions:

CAM00055-1I confess I’m friends with the Monster, and I may or may not party like a Rockstar on New Year’s Eve. But making it through the holiday season requires a special energy drink. How special? Special edition…Read More: How Red Bull Editions Beat the Competition in 5 Different Categories

[November 2013] – Go Girl:

Go Girl ED of Nov 2013This energy drink is one of the few who donate a percentage of their sales to a charitable donation. Like its caffeine content, the charitable contributions are not overwhelming, but not negligible. Read More: 3 Insights on Go Girl

[October 2013] – Spider Energy:

Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.

Other flavors are available but I prefer Widow Maker for its flavor, its tagline atop the can, and its colors scheme.

Encouraging consumers to “drink what you fear”, this product could have been among the first to challenge notions that all energy drinks are toxic. Some caffeinated products are certainly worse than others, but enjoy this one with caution. The amount of caffeine per container, carbonation and sugar content put this product at Level 4 in the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Read More: Green-Eyed Guide Teaches Man to Fish with Spider

[September 2013] – Rize Energy:

Energy Drink of the Month - September 2013Like the trajectory of a Red Bull flugtag contraption, many people start September with an optimistic lift of energy and determination…before losing momentum and dropping quickly to the ground. I have to plan for Halloween already?!? The sun has set already?!? Midterms, already?!? Don’t give into the fall, rise. You may be powerless to stop the evening fog from rolling in, but you can combat the fog that creeps into your mind – rise. Read More: 3 Ways Rize Helps Body and Brain

[August 2013] – Archer Farms Energy:

Energy Drink of the Month - August 2013With the end of summer comes three specific energy-zappers. Caffeine is not the only solution but it can certainly help, as long as you pick the right product. Read More: Why The End of Summer is Tiring and What You Can Do About It

[July 2013] – Nawgan Mandarin Orange:

Energy Drink of the Month - July 2013This energy-drink-in-disguise was the first product I ever picked for Energy Drink of the Month. This product doesn’t even call itself an energy drink but it’s got more caffeine than the top selling energy drink in the nation. Choosing to avoid or enjoy an energy drink is not as black and white as it seems, but anyone can learn the 10 steps of consuming caffeine safely. Read More: How to Read a Caffeinated Product’s Label in 10 seconds.


Remember, knowledge is power, and the dosage makes the difference between a poison and a cure. Thanks for the support, the comments and all the shares! ~ Green-Eyed Guide

Click this link to get your copy of Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely (also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and more! Check Goodreads for your favorite source, or just ask your local bookstore)

Please “Like” the Energy Drink Guide on Facebook: