DUBAI // An energy drink with more than twice as much caffeine as Red Bull will be hitting the UAE market soon.
With an alarming 175mg of caffeine per 250ml can - equivalent to three cups of strong coffee - Pure Cofain has among the highest caffeine content of any energy drink found in Europe, including Power Horse and Red Bull, which both contain 80mg per 250ml.
The drink was among the products on show at this week's Gulfood event in Dubai.
Annick Janssens, Pure Cofain's marketing director, boasted that the beverage offered increased alertness within two minutes of drinking it, sustained for four hours.
Made in Austria, Pure Cofain is sold in a tall black can with red and white type proclaiming the number 699 - the milligrams of caffeine in a litre of the drink. It also bears a warning in German about the high caffeine content.
"It is made of coffee extracts which consist of five different coffee beans, including Coffea arabica and robusta," Ms Janssens said.
Having secured a Dubai distributor, the drink should soon be available around the region, through hotels, coffee shops and nightclubs. It can also be ordered online for home delivery.
"We are also working on an extensive menu for alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails with different kinds of flavours," Ms Janssens said.
High-caffeine energy drinks have been the subject to a rising number of conflicting health studies.
According to a report by the Specialty Coffee Association of America last year, UAE residents drink more coffee those in any other part of the Middle East. They consume an average of 3.5kgs of coffee each a year, almost double that elsewhere.
The makers of Pure Cofain emphasise that a warning on the can says that it can cause nervousness and sleep disturbance. It also says that it is unsuitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, diabetics and children.
People with liver cirrhosis, heart problems, high blood pressure, chronic anxiety or who are on medication are advised not to consume it without consulting a doctor.
According to Dr Hala Abu Taha, a nutritionist at Dubai-based Right Bite, the drink contains an unhealthy amount of caffeine. "Caffeine is not bad but usually we should limit it to avoid rapid heartbeats," she said. "We should usually avoid drinking a lot of caffeine because it's already a diuretic so people think they're drinking fluids but the reality is that it will make you lose more water from your body."
Despite all that, Ms Jenssens says Pure Cofain is "a different kind of drink" because it contains "all-natural active ingredients".
"There is no taurine, no amino acids, no vitamin B complex - there is only caffeine and guarana extract." Guarana extract is a small, caffeine rich bean used in many energy drinks.
Energy drinks have also been the subject of controversy in the Emirates.
Last year, officials urged parents to monitor their children's consumption of energy drinks during exam periods.
The drinks were also banned from schools.
Ms Jenssens is hopeful for her product in the UAE.
"I think it will do well in Dubai because people here work hard and play hard," she said. "The drink will keep them alert if they want to stay up late but it's also excellent in the morning to wake them up and give them the boost they need for the day ahead."
But how does it taste?
Imagine a flavour marriage between cold coffee and Coca-Cola, with the coffee bean as the more dominant force, and you’ll have the taste of Pure Cofain pretty well summed up.
It smells sweet, almost liqueur-like, and the initial flavour is very much coffee dominated.
Give it a few seconds, though, and as the drink starts to fizz in your mouth, the saccharine cola sweetness really kicks in and once it does, it lingers.
* Emily Shardlow, food critic