A whacky science experiment designed to engage all your taste receptors at the same time. 

During a visit to our local 7-Eleven the other day, we came across a rather unusual packet of chips with “Oishisa no Kagaku” (Science of Deliciousness“) written across it.

Taking a closer look, we found that the artwork on the pack was designed to look like a blackboard in a classroom, with white chalk-like writing setting out the plan for the day: To try the unexpected combination of steak-and-coffee flavoured potato chips.

We wouldn’t normally be swayed by such studious-looking packaging, but something about the combination of steak and coffee as a chip seasoning had us eager to learn more, so we instantly purchased a pack to try at home.

We’d never thought to order a coffee with our steak before, so we couldn’t imagine what this combination of flavours would taste like. However, according to the makers of the chips, Yamayoshi Seika, this unusual pairing promises to be a well-balanced taste sensation, as the pentagon-shaped taste chart on the pack shows the steak (pink) scores high on the umami and salty scales whereas the coffee (orange) fills in the missing gaps by being stronger on the bitter and sour notes.

▼ This pairing scores high on four out of the five taste sensors, while being subdued on the fifth taste, sweetness, which is what you’d want from a pack of chips.

Yamayoshi Seika had certainly done their homework on the “science of deliciousness”, but being the inexperienced students we were, we still weren’t fully convinced that this would be a match made in chip heaven.

▼ Upon opening the pack, the contents looked like ordinary chips, only they were sprinkled with black powder, which we guessed was the coffee seasoning.

However, we couldn’t smell any coffee aromas, and when we took our first bite of one of the chips, our immediate reaction was that they tasted like beef consommé. In fact, we asked two of our family members to identify the taste without telling them what it was, and their response was also “beef consommé”.

Anyone who’s able to identify this as steak-and-coffee flavour from the first bite would likely be the owner of a “God tongue”, a tongue so sensitive and knowledgeable it would be beyond the realm of human possibility.

We decided to continue eating the entire pack to see if the taste would change in any way. And surprisingly, it did. Though we still couldn’t taste the coffee, there was a surprising bitterness and sourness that remained on the tongue, and as we ate more of the chips, the flavour became deliciously addictive.

If we were to sum up the taste, we would describe it as beef consommé with a coffee finish, but the more noticeable aspect was the well-rounded flavour. You could really taste the acidity, bitterness, umami and saltiness in every bite, which was so satisfying we couldn’t stop eating them.

There was a surprising sweetness to the chips, though, which we hadn’t expected seeing as the taste pentagon had suggested that aspect would be subdued. So we took another look at the product and found…

…some small print that read:

“We’ve measured the compatibility of regular steak and coffee, not this product.”

Aha! So the science of deliciousness used research based on the real thing rather than the seasoning used on the chips. That means that the taste pentagon is referring to a study of actual steak and coffee, not the chips, which is why they turned out to be slightly sweeter than expected.

Still, these chips were absolutely delicious, dangerously addictive, and definitely worth trying. It really is an amazing experience to have all your taste receptors engaged at the same time, which is a testament to the true power of the science of deliciousness!

The Steak x Coffee flavoured chips retail for 153 yen (US$1.40) and are currently available at 7-Eleven stores around Japan for a limited time.

Related: Seven-Eleven
Images: SoraNews24
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