San Pellegrino
Essenza Exotic Vanilla & Coffee

Nestlé recently announced it was dumping all of their cheap-ass grocery store water brands (Arrowhead, Deer Park, Poland Spring, good luck out there) to focus on nurturing and cultivating their chosen ones: Frenchy Perrier and fancy Italian Stallion San Pellegrino.

Kind of like a Bachelor competition where contestants have been crawling through mud in frilly frocks and gag-drinking pint glasses of egg yolk, only to be promptly sent home halfway through the group date so the frontrunners can have more time with the lead (Nestlé). Congrats, future influencers!

When Nestlé said they wanted to “focus on their prestige brands,” we weren’t sure that meant anything other than they didn’t want to give Ozarka a rose. It just sounded like banal corp-speak, like resigning to spend more time with your family. An empty promise about more work-life balance.

But it appears that Nestlé has been on it, focusing intently on their Prestige Brandbabies, because all of a sudden they low-key dropped a line of coffee-inspired San Pellegrino Essenza sparkling waters.

And when these new Essenzas popped up in the aisle of our local grocery store out of nowhere, we were way more excited about it than we wanted to admit. We bought them all immediately.

The one we were most excited about was the Exotic Vanilla.  We love a good Vanilla in The Bubbleverse, and we think it’s an underrepresented flavor in sparkling waters.

Plus coffee flavor?!  Perhaps we shed a tear too soon when AHA discontinued their Black Cherry + Coffee, because San Pellegrino’s new line of coffee flavors has sprung up in its wake.

Let’s crack this open.

The sniffing notes: This exudes mostly coffee, but it’s like coffee light. One of those cold Starbucks milky things from the grocery store. An effervescent cafe au lait. It’s vaguely promising, we’ll give it that.

Tasting Notes


Okay, this is heaven. We hate to admit when Nestlé does something that we love, but we love this.

The coffee is sharp and rich, but not overwhelming or bitter.

The “exotic” vanilla is executed to perfection. It’s like the fanciest vanilla bean ice cream was melted into a perfectly roasted tazza of Illy. It tastes genuinely creamy. We don’t know what kind of awful things Nestlé had to do to accomplish such sorcery, but knowing them, it involved the devil.  It just tastes too good.

The overall impression gives us milky espresso on the Spanish Steps kind of vibes. It’s Italian holiday all the way. We didn’t expect to like this so much!

We are always ready to throw some shade on any Nestlé creation, but sadly this is awesome.

Although we’re not sure what to make of the term “exotic” sometimes. It has a long history as code for “not white” or “not American.” Given the increasing national fervor for isolationism and monolingualism, “exotic” could possibly even mean anything Canadian at this point.

That said, this takes us to some dreamy locales, so sure, let’s use the more benign connotations of the word. Exotic Vanilla it is!

San Pellegrino maybe goes a liiittle too far by including “recommended food pairings” (for the Vanilla Coffee it’s “fresh berries and nuts, such as pistachios or almonds”), but you know, we recognize sparkling water as an art form, so ok, pair some pistachios to your heart’s content.

A little bit of housekeeping: the title of these San Pellegrino Coffee sparking waters very specifically notes that these are Coffee “Flavors.”  Unlike their other Essenzas, which leave the “flavors” part off, even though they’re very obviously flavored. Tangerine & Wild Strawberry sparkling waters don’t just spring forth out of the earth.

That noticeable addition led us to possibly consider that these aren’t caffeinated, when we first saw them.  But they are.

The can politely informs you that they’re “gently” caffeinated, which conjures images of underpaid and mistreated Nestlé employees tenderly massaging caffeine into the bubbles, instead of manically pounding in caffeine, the resultant sparkling water ready to hammer your adrenals into submission.

No, no. The caffeine here is as gentle as the iconic San Pellegrino bubbles themselves.

These contain 30 mg of the good stuff, which for caffeine junkies like us, is indeed a gentle afternoon nudge back into the realms of productivity. It’s the perfect addition to our caffeine-driven lives.

The flavor, the fizz, the functionality. We do think Nestlé should focus a little more on not being such a black hole of soulless corporate irresponsibility instead of their “premium lines”.

Luckily their new foray into caffeinated coffee-inspired sparkling waters give us just the right amount of pep to continue writing missives to remind the world of what a piece of shit they are. 🤗 Thanks, Nestlé!



Carbonated Mineral Water, Natural Flavors, Caffeine

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