Table of Contents
At Milky Drinks, we’re always on the lookout for refreshing and delicious drinks that will quench your thirst on a hot summer day. One of our all time favorites is Calpico Original, also known as Calpico Water (Calpis concentrate mixed with water), a milky beverage with a citrusy flavor and a tart yogurt aftertaste that is the forerunning beverage of the Calpis brand. It has a cloudy and semi-translucent white color with the low viscosity characteristic of all Calpis drinks.
This drink has a huge international following since its been around for over 100 years, and if you haven’t tried it yet but you like milk-based beverages, you absolutely should!
Milky Drinks rating: 4 / 5
Calpico Original’s flavor profile is much loved by those who enjoy tart and acidic beverages and is one of my favorites in the Calpis drink roster (I’m a sucker for plain milk drinks).
As soon as the bottle is opened, the strong smell of citrus is evident, with a creamy yogurt smell lingering afterward. The tartness of the drink is noticeable in the fragrance as well, giving an accurate representation of what the beverage tastes like.
The initial taste you experience when drinking is a citrusy flavor that provides a refreshing sensation, perfect for those hot summer days.
As soon as you swallow the beverage, the strong citrus taste fades quickly, and you are left with a distinctive tart yogurt aftertaste that lingers on your tongue. This flavor profile is unique to Calpico Original and sets itself apart from other beverages.
The drink’s taste is slightly tart, although there is a mildly sweet undertone. However, it is not as sweet or overpowering as other Calpico flavors, making it an easy-to-drink and refreshing option. The citrus smell of the beverage (likely from the citric acid) gives an interesting flavor to the drink, as you don’t typically see citrus with milk. While the smell is noticeable, it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the drink itself, which is quite mild.
It is essential to note that the tart and yogurt flavor of the beverage can be an acquired taste and may not be for everyone. However, if you enjoy slightly creamy and slightly tangy drinks, this flavor profile is one you must try at least once.
In terms of appearance, Calpico Original has a translucent white color that becomes more opaque with a heavy pour. Although it becomes more opaque, it never loses its watery, semi-transparent cloudy color. The viscosity of the drink is similar to other Calpico beverages, fluid, and watery, allowing for easy consumption.
As with many Calpico drinks, this one is best served chilled – the colder it is the better it tastes in my opinion. However, this one does retain its taste better than the other flavors if it warms to room temperature. Don’t leave it out for too long as all Calpico products including Calpico Original must be refrigerated before and after opening due to milk being listed as one of its ingredients.
Calpico Original, like all other Calpico drinks, contains lactic acid bacteria. You could say that this drink is one of the first movers in the global fermented milk movement since Calpico products first came to market in 1919. The Calpis brand uses lactic acid fermentation on non-fat cow milk to generate its distinctive yogurt flavor. Similar drinks are Yakult and Kefir. The original flavor comes as close to the original formula that spurred this entire brand, so it does not rely on any additives or flavoring
If you like fermented milk products without any added sweeteners, this drink is one that could be great for you. Lactic acid drinks are generally probiotic and have a variety of digestive health benefits, for instance benefitting digestion and promoting stomach biome health.
Calorific content is 8.3 calories per fl oz, a fairly light ratio. Calpico Original has almost 2x the sodium than Calpico Melon – the higher content may bring out the flavor profile more. More on the ingredients below.
Ingredients & Nutritional Information:
Water, sugar, nonfat milk, lactic acid, cultured nonfat dry milk, maltitol syrup, citric acid, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, salt, sucralose; The product does not contain gluten.
|Serving Size: 16.9 FL OZ (500 ml)||Servings: 1 (1 bottle)|
|Calories: 140||Fat Calories: 0|
|Value||Percentage (based on 2,000 calorie diet)|
|Total fat||0 g||0%|
|Trans fat||Not a significant source||–|
|Cholesterol||Not a significant source||–|
|Total Carbohydrates||33 g||12%|
|Sugars||29 g (incl. 27 g added sugars)||Added sugars – 54%|
|Vitamin D – Not a significant source||Iron – Not a significant source|
|Calcium: 47 mg – 4%||Potassium: 67 mg – 0%|
Packaging rating: 5/5
Calpico Original’s packaging is iconic, with a design both vintage and modern that has remained timeless since the original release of the beverage. The bottle itself is transparent with a white wraparound label. There are blue polka dots around the label that add a playful touch. The Calpico label has many highlights of blue, clearly stating “Original” on the bottle. The label is easy to read and stands out against the white bottle, making it easy to spot in a store.
The design of the Calpico Original packaging is simple yet effective, with the polka dot design and blue color scheme alluding to the original milky way design that the creator first came to market with in the early 20th century. In the US, the Japanese text only appears minimally in the primary label, Calpis Water (カルピスウォーター in Katakana). Nutritional information is in english and fully translated.
The bottle’s height is 8.2 inches shaped in a square, with a width of 2.25 inches, making it easy to hold and drink from. It is not carbonated, meaning that it doesn’t require a bottle cap or a tight seal. The Asahi parent company label is clearly marked on the top of the bottle cap.
Overall, the packaging of Calpico Original is both visually appealing and practical. It is easy to hold and drink from, and the label provides all the information needed about the product clearly. The vintage and uniform structure of the bottle, amongst the rest of the Calpico flavors, makes the packaging stand out on shelves, making it easy for consumers to spot and purchase.
Calpico Original is generally found any place that you can find Calpico products. Most likely you’ll find them at asian grocers, but it is so popular that even non-asian grocers in metropolitan locations are picking it up.
Overall, Calpico Original is a good anytime beverage that is easy to drink in a single sitting, and then drink some more. You might want to watch your caloric intake! While the taste is primarily citrusy, it quickly fades into a tart yogurt flavor that may not be appreciated by everyone.
Calpico Original’s balanced flavor profile makes it an ideal pairing with Asian cuisine or hearty dishes. Its refreshing and mild sweetness complements the spices and aromas of the cuisine. It also goes well with lighter salads, cheese plates, and sweet desserts. It provides a refreshing break for the palate and can pair easily with a variety of dishes.
|Milky Drinks Rating||4 / 5|
|Packaging Rating||5 / 5|
|Milk Type||Cow milk, soymilk|
|Sugar %*||Brix meter: 6.7% sucrose (23.7℃)This has less sugar than other Calpico flavors, which makes sense because this version does not contain synthetic flavors and less additives|
|Dietary Restrictions||Vegetarian (product contains cow milk), gluten-free|
*Sugar content is measured by a brix meter (amazon link to popular one). Brix meters are refractometers that use light to measure the level of sucrose in a particular solution. You can learn more about them here.
There are many sister products of Calpico Melon. Calpico makes many flavors!
There are also other formats of Calpico sold in stores:
- Calpico Soda
- Calpico Original (in a can)
- Calpis Green
- Calpico Concentrate Original
- Calpico Concentrate Strawberry
- Calpico Concentrate Pineapple
- Calpico Mini
About the manufacturer
Calpico is the international brand name for Calpis, a Japanese beverage usually sold in concentrate form in Japan. Calpico drinks are pre-packaged and ready for immediate consumption, available in a variety of flavors such as Original, Mango, Lychee, Strawberry, White Peach, and occasionally limited edition versions.
They come in plastic, cans, concentrate, and mini packs like Yakult and range from non-carbonated to carbonated. There is also a Calpis Green, which does not contain milk-based products and is entirely vegan.
Calpico is owned by Asahi Group, a Japanese corporation that produces beer, spirits, soft drinks, and food products. The Calpis brand was developed in 1919 by Kaiun Mishima, inspired by nomads in Inner Mongolia who drank Kumis, a fermented horse milk beverage.
The brand grew in popularity over the years and was acquired by Asahi Group in 2012 for $1.5 billion USD. Asahi Group operates globally, selling their products to a large audience. Learn more about the company here: https://www.asahigroup-holdings.com/en/.
Where to buy
I typically buy from the following locations: