What Is Calpico?

Fermented foods scare me. I’ve come to accept sauerkraut, especially as a topping for hot dogs or pierogies. But fermented drinks freak me out. I tried kombucha once and once was enough. I seem to be in the minority, however, because fermented drinks have become extremely popular, not just in the United States but around the world. One of these drinks: Calpico. In my quest to conquer my fears, inspired by Paul Atreides’ mantra, “fear is the mind killer,” I’ve decided to be brave and jump into a Calpico vat. But first, let’s learn a bit about Calpico—including what Calpico is made of and what Calpico tastes like. 

What is Calpico drink?

Calpico, also called Calpis, is a milk-based drink from Japan. After tasting a fermented milk drink in Mongolia called airag, a gentleman named Kaiun Mishima began developing his own version. He cracked the code by 1919, bottling and selling the drink, which quickly grew in popularity.

As time went on, a concentrated version of Calpico became the norm. Much like buying coffee concentrate, this Calpico needs to be diluted with water or milk. You can still buy the pre-diluted, bottled version, called Calpis Water. There’s also a carbonated version called Calpis Soda, as well as multiple fruit-flavored versions like strawberry, lychee, and mango.

An important note: The drink is called Calpico in most countries, but in Japan it is called “Calpis.” This name change, no lie, has to do with the fact that Calpis, in English, sounds like “cow piss.”

What is Calpico drink made of?

The basic ingredients in Calpico are water, some kind of sugar, and dried milk that has been exposed to a lactic acid culture, which ferments it. However, Calpico does not contain any live probiotics. This is compared to other drinks that purportedly have tons of probiotics that actually make it into the gut. This means Calpico has some taste similarities, but not the same kind of health benefits.

What does Calpico taste like?

The taste of Calpico has been compared to other milk-based fermented drinks like kefir or yakult. It is milky and sweet, with a hint of sourness. However, it is not as heavy as its milky kin, since it is often diluted with water.

Does Calpico have caffeine?

Nope! You can drink an entire bottle of Calpico and then immediately go to sleep. 

Does Calpico have dairy?

Yes. Milk is the primary ingredient here, so sadly the lactose intolerant cannot imbibe. 

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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