Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coffee Rio

Coffee RioIt’s fun to wake up on a long holiday weekend, the air brisk and chilly, and have a cup of hot coffee.

It’s also fun to carry around a little candy in your pocket that emulates that feeling.

I’ve been eating Coffee Rio since I can remember developing a taste for coffee sometime around the age of ten or so.

I think the first time I had one, I thought they were coffee flavored Tootsie Rolls and was a little startled to find a hard caramel (much like Pearson’s Coffee Nips).

Coffee Rio are made by Adams & Brooks, which is based right here in my home city, Los Angeles, California. While they may be hard to find elsewhere in the country, I see them just about everywhere around here.


The candy is pretty simple. A hardened caramel flavored with real coffee. Though it contains quite a bit of milk products, it tastes more like black coffee with a bit of sugar than coffee & cream (which is what Pearson’s Nips are like - but they’re also Kosher and Coffee Rio isn’t).

The little rods are wrapped in a simple twisted mylar. I got this jumbo bag at Trader Joe’s for $2.69 for the bag, which I thought was a pretty good deal. They boast on the package that there are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. (But there is some lightly hydrogenated soybean oil rather low on the list of ingredients.)

The texture is very smooth. They dissolve nicely and soften a bit as well (yes, you can chew them at some point, but also risk cementing your teeth together). The flavor is rich and like a mellow mocha java. At the start sometimes there’s a hint or charcoal and bitterness, but that fades away as the other woodsy coffee flavors come in.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Coffee Rio Kona Island BlendI have been to the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) and toured some of the Kona Coast’s coffee roasters. The stuff was fabulous, but you know drinking a cup of coffee from beans that were just roasted is bound to be better than the stuff you get at home.

One of the things I noticed about Kona coffee was its extreme dark acidic punch, even when not given the Italian roast treatment.

As Kona coffee is extremely expensive, most is sold as a blend. In the case of the Kona Blend Coffee Rio it’s only 10% Kona coffee.


These seems to capture that molasses & tangy bite really well. It’s not as sweet but no more bitter than the original Coffee Rio.

I also noticed that these were a bit softer, so much so that I was able to chew them after warming them. I love that! Even better, I got the bag at the 99 Cent Only store for a buck.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Coffee Rio Chewy Coffee CaramelsWith my tendency to chew things, even if they’re not supposed to be chewed I was pretty excited to see that there is now a Coffee Rio Chew Coffee Caramel.

There’s pillowy cloud on the front of the package that reinforces that these are soft.

The ingredients, oddly enough, are identical to the other Coffee Rio, so it must be all in the process to create this softer version.

The package outside looks similar, but once I dumped out the pieces I realized that these are a bit different.


First, they’re bigger. They’re the same length, but have a greater girth than their hard brethren.

Second, they’re wrapped in foiled paper. I’m guessing this is to keep them well sealed from moisture.

They have a wonderful sweet & woodsy scent, less milky than the others.

The chew is very soft, softer than a Tootsie Roll, more like a chewy fudge. It’s a little bit grainy and I realized that this is a “short caramel” instead of being a “wet caramel.” Short caramel is slightly grainy, crystals have been allowed to form. It keeps its shape really well and provides an easy “bite”. A wet caramel is stringy and smooth and lacks the crystallization and can be very sticky and possibly runny.

I’d hoped this was a slightly softer Kona Blend.

The chew is soft and pleasant, but the light grain to it interrupted the creamy notes from the milk products. The coffee flavor was slightly acidic and tangy and lacking the coffee punch of the other hard varieties. I give it a pass.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Now I realize that I’d really like Tootsie to make Coffee Sugar Babies with chewy centers like the Kona Blend Coffee Rio.

I don’t know if these have caffeine in them or how much, but I suspect so, since they used to offer a decaf version. I can’t imagine it’s very much though. I sent an email to Adams-Brooks asking about it and I’ll update if I find out.

Related Candies

  1. Nips: Caramel & Dulce de Leche
  2. Cafe Select Chocolate Coffee Trios
  3. Werther’s Caramel Coffee Hard Candies
  4. Pocket Coffee
  5. Coffee Beat
  6. Bali’s Best Coffee & United Coffee Candy
Name: Coffee Rio (Original, Kona Blend & Chewy Coffee Caramel)
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Adams & Brooks, Inc.
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's & 99 Cent Only
Price: $2.69 & $1.00
Size: 12 ounces, 6 ounces & 5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 110
Categories: Coffee, Caramel, United States, Adams-Brooks, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:47 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. I haven’t seen these since high school in San Antonio.  I used to buy them in our bookstore.  At least, there was a candy with the same name and similar packaging.  Anyway, I loved them.

    Comment by Evette on 1/06/09 at 3:33 pm #
  2. arenee's avatar

    I see these a lot in New Hampshire.

    Comment by arenee on 1/06/09 at 4:33 pm #
  3. You liked coffee at the age of 10? And I thought I was hardcore for drinking it when I was 14. :|

    The chewy caramel seems the most interesting to me. I wish we had more coffee candy about in the UK, it doesn’t seem very popular.

    Comment by Rachel on 1/07/09 at 8:47 am #
  4. Is there caffeine in these?  Most likely, I’m sure. 
    These sound like the perfect little pick-me-up at work!

    Comment by Jesse on 1/08/09 at 7:00 am #
  5. I used to LOVE these. I forgot about them until I read this post. Have you heard back about the caffeine content?

    Comment by Angelica on 1/16/09 at 5:53 pm #
  6. One of my favorite things about the Coffee Rios is that if you let them sit for a month or two the outside softens so that it ends up like a hard candy coated in coffee toffee.

    I forgot that I got a bag as a present and ate them a few months later and finished the bag in a day or two because they had “matured” perfectly!

    Comment by Pingles on 1/18/09 at 10:48 am #
  7. I can get Cafe Latte in town, but can get no others.
    On the web is a 2 lb jar, but I don’t want certain flavors.  Any suggestions?

    Comment by Char on 2/05/09 at 1:55 pm #
  8. Cybele,  have you tried any of the sugar free coffee rio flavors?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Comment by Juice on 5/26/10 at 7:22 am #
  9. I like the decafe flavor…why it’s not individually wrapped?...

    Comment by Susan Q Delos Santos on 5/25/12 at 1:24 pm #
  10. I love their mint-flavored coffee candy so much I order a boxful twice a year (12 bags to a box) directly from the Adams & Brooks website.  Xlnt service and it arrives within a week.

    Comment by Renate Kix on 6/03/12 at 9:16 pm #
  11. I love this Coffee Rio candy.  I cannot find it
    in my local stores.  Can you please let me know where it is available for purchase?
    I live in Delray Beach, Florida 33446

    I hope to hear from you soon.  Thank you.

    Comment by FLORENCE on 10/03/13 at 7:11 pm #
  12. Love sugar free Rios. Please wrap them more carefully. Some pieces aren’t even wrapped.Thank you.

    Comment by Lorraine Yep on 10/24/13 at 1:57 pm #
  13. The sugar caramels are about 15 calories each. The sugar-free are 12 and contain carbohydrates.

    Quality control varies by seller and batch. Hardness can be from somewhat soft when warmed to body temp in our mouth or crackling hard even when warm.

    Wrapping is always poor. IF the product has undergone much traveling/shipping, pieces will be partially or entirely unwrapped. Don’t ship in hot months or you’ll get a bag of gobs.

    Comment by D Muckle on 7/28/14 at 9:37 am #
  14. I used to buy bulk coffee-flavored individually wrapped candy in the bulk candy section of a department store in Seattle, WA about 40 years ago.  They looked similar to the Coffee Rio ones except that they were hard, not chewy at all.  They were about an one inch long, very smooth and dark colored and individually wrapped in difference color wrappers similar to the Coffee Rio brands.  Can anyone help me figure out where I can purchase these?  Thank you very much.

    Comment by Cassa on 1/23/16 at 9:12 pm #
  15. We love these! Can’t wait to try more flavors! Love the Irish Creme Mint flavor and the Coffee Caramel flavors! Highly recommend! yum tongue laugh

    Comment by Emily and Lilia on 3/05/16 at 10:11 pm #
  16. The last bag of Coffee Rios I bought at Trader Joe’s s different. 
    It’s a little shorter and crunches differently than all the others I pure chased.  What happened?

    Comment by Marilyn Riedel on 5/07/16 at 4:52 pm #
  17. I love these and wish TJ’s carried the whole line or at least offered a variety pack besides Original Roast.

    Last time I checked, Economy Candy had only the diet version.

    Comment by Moshe Feder on 1/07/17 at 2:13 pm #
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