I’m a coffee snob. There, I said it, since you were going to find out anyway.
Yeah, I’m the guy who lets creamer expire, who recoils upon hearing the word “Frappuccino” like it was a different F-word, and who orders small black coffees at McDonald’s while in quiet camaraderie at all the old guys who used their senior coffee discount to do the same. Perhaps it speaks to the bitterness of my heart, but I like my coffee potent and sugarless, with names that are hard to pronounce and pretentious flavor notes like elderberry or toasted marshmallow that don’t actually exist and were probably drawn out of a hat by a mischievous barista.
So while I can’t remember the last mocha I’ve drank, hearing about General Mills’s new Mocha Crunch Cereal still left me giddy (although that might’ve been residual caffeine). The online-only Coffee Cereal has the beaned and bitter cereal market cornered, so I was ready to welcome a sugary chocolate coffee cereal into my life with open arms that are holding hot coffee mugs so you probably shouldn’t hug me. Sorry, Mocha Crunch.
Now the cereal’s here, and a single whiff of the bag’s medium-roasted cappuccino scent has me convinced good things are brewing. No need to wait for it to cool: let’s dive in.
The first thing I notice is that this stuff is just a palette swap of General Mills Thin Mints Cereal. Like Mario and Luigi, Ken and Ryu, or A New Hope and The Force Awakens, the two cereals look the same, just with a slightly different flair. But I’m totally okay with that. I love General Mills’s recent trend of putting a thick, powdery flavor coating on their new cereals, as it gives them a pillowy, cozy mouthfeel along with a springily dense crunch that munches more like a mattress than a pillow. The thick, Cookie Crisp-esque disks here comfort my taste buds just as well as Thin Mints did, making Mocha Crunch a worthy treat before I even taste it.
As for the taste, it’s a bit of a complex—albeit decaffeinated—animal. Despite its coffeehouse bark, there’s no coffee flavor in the bite, as I’m hit first with a potent pop of toasted caramel, with traces of sweet, golden butterscotch. It reminds me a lot of Girl Scouts Caramel Crunch Cereal, especially as it fades into mild chocolate notes, like semisweet Cocoa Puffs. In fact, if I encountered this cereal in a dark alley, I wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from Caramel Crunch without shining a laser pointer at its belly to see if it’s hollow.
I will admit this uncanny comparison wavers once Mocha Crunch’s aftertaste kicks in. This is the only time when something even vaguely coffee-like appears in its flavor profile. It tastes like a diluted scoop of coffee ice cream, though I’d be more likely to call it “caramel macchiato ice cream.”
Yes: from homey Werther’s beginnings to hip Starbucks endings, dry Mocha Crunch is pretty much Benjamin Button as a cereal.
Mocha Crunch really comes alive in milk. Well, I mean its coffee flavor doesn’t—that gets even more heavily diluted and creamed that even International Delight would be International Disturbed. But the chocolate notes are supercharged by milk’s sweet dairy vigor, and the whole cereal starts tasting like a bunch of decadent little fudge brownies. With dabs of butteriness and touches of sweet caramel, this stuff is so good it would leave Little Debbie running for the cosmos.
“I’ll let you come back to Earth, Debbie, but only if you promise to make an Oatmeal Cream Pie Cereal!”
No matter how addictive and delightful milky Mocha Crunch is (and it is: I ate so much of my family-sized box that Olive Garden will no longer have to treat me like something I’m not), I wish its disappointing coffee profile was stronger. I mean, this stuff tastes less like coffee than the oxymoronically named Chocolate Mocha Pop-Tarts. And those were already so mild, they were like eating a chocolate cookie that was only dunked in the shallow end of a coffee cup because it was afraid to swim.
So if you came expecting coffee taste, be sure to bring bottled Frappuccino reinforcements to replace your milk—and prepare to bounce off exactly 8 walls as a result. But if you temper your expectations like a lukewarm java, you’ll likely jive with its roasted chocolate caramel goodness as much as I did. Finally, we have a worthy successor to Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch, and Mocha Crunch is even better because it pampers my taste buds like a reclining Roman emperor.
Now I just need Sonny the Cuckoo to hand-feed me grapes, and I’ll practically be eating breakfast at the Colosseum
The Bowl: General Mills Mocha Crunch Cereal
The Breakdown: Though it’s tragically (yet understandably) decaffeinated, both in energization and flavor (less understandable), Mocha Crunch tastes like brownies made by a grandma who moonlights at Tim Hortons, and that’s more than a-okay with me. It’s A+ okay.
The Bottom Line: 9 reverse breakfast chronologies out of 10