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REVIEW: Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte

Written by | February 10, 2014

Topics: 3 Rating, Coffee, Starbucks

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte

I have personally ordered maybe four different things at a Starbucks in my lifetime. This is not because I never go to Starbucks, but because I find myself with a crippling stammer and irrational fear every time I approach the register.

My method was usually to ask a friend to order for me, and then order whatever they gave me for the next three years if it was good. I am consistently tempted to ask for a mocha-chocalata-yaya and see what comes out. Forget the “secret menu” guides all over the Internet. I need a manual for navigating the printed one.

The problem is, I can’t really bring myself to like black coffee. I love the smell. I love the energy. I love the idea of permanently staining my teeth in rebellion against my body at a young age. But every time I have a cup I cringe a little and leave most of it sitting there. And, being an ignorant novice coffee drinker, I don’t know how to make anything but black coffee. I’m not sophisticated enough to like the coffee I can make at home, but I’m too afraid to learn how to order anything I might actually like.

I dreamed that these Starbucks Via Lattes would fill this void. I could finally learn to drink a morning coffee like a real adult without having to embarrass myself in front of a barista. The idea of not having to put on pants to get said morning coffee was equally appealing.

I purchased an individual trial pack at Starbucks for a dollar, choosing to try the vanilla over the mocha. I was first shocked by the size of these. They are not your normal instant coffee packet, but probably four times larger.

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte Instructions

The instructions are pretty minimal, but include a little infographic that tells you what to do. It seemed pretty straight forward, and I do have a high school diploma, so I assumed I had it under control. I made a cup of hot water with a Keurig machine, dumped the packet in, and stirred. It was not until I finished making it that I realized I was not supposed to pour the powder into the boiling water. So maybe words would’ve been helpful.

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte Powder

I was then surprised by the color. There did not appear to be any coffee granules at all in this pouch. Instead, there was an endless stream of a powdery white substance. Although many do refer to coffee as their crack, so maybe this makes some sense.

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte Closeup

This drink was really sweet. And not in the good way of “hot chocolate sweet” or “vanilla milkshake sweet.” It was like a cup of hot, watery milk with six packets of sugar. I was even hoping some more coffee taste would come through, but it was nonexistent. Since the ingredients list both dairy powder and sugar before coffee, I probably should have expected this. But if even I am wishing for some stronger coffee flavor, you know you’ve taken it too far.

I could not finish this. It was intolerably sweet, and this is coming from the girl who will treat frosting as a cookie dip and add extra Oreos to cookies and cream ice cream. Maybe if iced and blended this could make a decent at home Frappuccino? But that seems like far too much work for something coming from an instant package.

This did not solve my coffee dilemmas. My only hope at this point is that Starbucks starts up a delivery service with a tracker like Domino’s so I can order my coffee online without human interaction and know when to put my pants on before it arrives. Until then, you will find me drinking one of my four safe things at Starbucks, dreaming of the day I can join the elite ranks of the people who know how to order drinks with names that take a full minute to say.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 packet – 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte
Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 1 packet
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: At home convenience. Simple assembly. Generous serving. Not any more sugar than most Starbucks drinks. Confusing baristas with Moulin Rouge references. Good movie stunt double for cocaine. Potential for fancier at home drinks. No pants, still service.
Cons: Sickly sweet. Impossible to drink whole cup. Minimal coffee taste. All powdered milk and sugar. Not being able to read picture instructions as an adult. Lack of coffee aroma. Domino’s Pizza Tracker not expanding to other businesses.

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QUICK REVIEW: Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Iced Coffee (Vanilla and Mocha)

Written by | December 5, 2013

Topics: 6 Rating, Coffee

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Iced Coffee (Vanilla and Mocha)

Purchased Price: $4.99 each
Size: Half gallon
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Creamy and easy to drink. Not overly sweet like other cartoned iced coffee…I’m looking at you International Delight! Vanilla version tastes marshmallowy. Good source of vitamin E. Contains caffeine. 100 calories per serving. Dairy, soy, and gluten free. Made with non-GMO almonds.
Cons: The coffee flavor barely registers on my tongue, even though they have a strong coffee aroma. Mocha version tastes too much like chocolate almond milk. The carton (and Blue Diamond’s website) doesn’t say how much caffeine a serving has, so let’s make up a number until we get the real number…let’s say 6832 milligrams of caffeine. Could use more calcium and vitamin D.

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Iced Coffee Mocha

Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) Mocha – 100 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 125 milligrams of potassium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. Vanilla – 100 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 85 milligrams of potassium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.

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QUICK REVIEW: Seattle’s Best Coffee Mega Mocha Frozen Coffee Blends

Written by | July 23, 2013

Topics: 6 Rating, Coffee

Seattle's Best Coffee Mega Mocha Frozen Coffee Blends

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 16 oz. (prepared)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a chocolate milkshake. A wonderful sweet treat. Easy to make, if you have an awesome blender. Made with 100% Arabica coffee beans (too bad I can’t really taste them). Makes two 8-ounce servings (if you wish to share) or one 16-ounce serving (if you have no one to share it with). Frozen bits taste good by themselves without being blended.
Cons: Tastes like a chocolate milkshake; coffee flavor is hardly noticeable. Coffee is listed tenth on ingredients list. If you have a cheap blender, these might be difficult to blend. Right, cheap Oster blender in my kitchen. BYOWTD (Bring Your Own Whipped Topping and Drizzle).

Nutrition Facts: (as packaged/no milk) 100 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

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REVIEW: Starbucks Discoveries (Caffe Mocha, Caramel Macchiato & Vanilla Latte)

Written by | July 8, 2013

Topics: 6 Rating, 7 Rating, Coffee, Starbucks

Starbucks Discoveries

I don’t go to Starbucks very often. When I do, it’s usually to buy a gift card, use their restroom, or jump on their free WiFi network and be a complete douchebag by trying to slow down everyones’ bandwidth. But when it comes to coffee, Starbucks has given me a few good reasons to not purchase any from one of their bazillion locations.

No, it’s not the taste of their coffee, which coffee snobs describe as, and I’m paraphrasing here, “blech.” No, it’s not the long lines that sometimes snake half way around a Starbucks. The reason why I don’t buy Starbucks coffee from one of their many locations is because I nervously mumble when trying to relay my order to a cute barista and I can buy ready-to-drink Starbucks coffee at my local supermarket, like their bottled iced coffee and new Starbucks Discoveries.

Starbucks Discoveries is a chilled espresso beverage that comes in three flavors — Caffe Mocha, Vanilla Latte, and Caramel Macchiato — and 50.7-ounce cartons, which is significantly smaller than the 64-ounce International Delight Iced Coffee it’s probably sitting next to in the dairy case. Also, unlike the International Delight offering, the carton doesn’t look like a milk carton. Instead, it looks like it was made by an origami master who reached that level by folding a million paper cranes.

Starbucks Discoveries are sweetened with sugar and mixed with reduced-fat milk. They’re sweet, but don’t come close to the sweetness level of International Delight’s iced coffee, which, not surprisingly, has significantly more sugar than Starbucks Discoveries (17 grams vs. 23 grams). Starbucks Discoveries are also noticeably watery, but that’s because they don’t contain the thickening agents found in the International Delight coffee — gellan gum and carrageenan. Well, actually, the Caffe Mocha has carrageenan, but it’s as watery as the others.

Starbucks Discoveries Chilled

If you do pick up a carton of Starbucks Discoveries, I highly recommend you ONLY drink it over ice. Ignore what the side of the carton says about serving it just chilled. Drinking it that way is doing a disservice to your taste buds. I can’t explain why, but for some strange reason, it tastes noticeably better when consumed over ice.

If you’re a hardcore Starbucks fanatic who will never lose your Gold Card because you accumulate 30 stars every two weeks, you may drink Starbucks Discoveries and wonder what is this swill. It’s not as sweet as a hand-crafted Frappuccino, but its coffee flavor isn’t as strong as any iced coffee Starbucks product on their menu.

Starbucks Discoveries Closeup

The Mocha Latte tastes like weak melted chocolate ice cream with a Hershey’s syrup aftertaste, the Caramel Macchiato has a slightly odd caramel butteriness that lingers several minutes after drinking it, and the Vanilla Latte has a hint of vanilla and the strongest coffee flavor of the bunch. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Vanilla Latte because I didn’t use a negative adjective when writing about it in the previous sentence.

All three flavors of Starbucks Discoveries were decent and provided approximately 85 milligrams of caffeine per cup, but I’m a bit disappointed because I expected something better from Starbucks. After all, they do sell a krazillion cups of coffee everyday from their bazillion locations.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fl oz – Caffe Mocha – 120 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 10% calcium and 2% iron. Caramel Macchiato & Vanilla Latte – 120 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, and 10% calcium.)

Other Starbucks Discoveries reviews:
Starbucks Melody

Item: Starbucks Discoveries (Caffe Mocha, Caramel Macchiato & Vanilla Latte)
Purchased Price: $5.49 (on sale)
Size: 50.7 fl oz carton
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Caffe Mocha)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Caramel Macchiato)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Vanilla Latte)
Pros: Flavors were decent. Less sugar than International Delight’s regular iced coffee. Kind of a neat looking carton. A cup contains approximately 85 milligrams of caffeine. Starbucks’ free WiFi.
Cons: I expected something better from Starbucks. Hardcore Starbucks drinkers may consider this product to be swill. Comes in a smaller carton than competing iced coffees. Being too lazy to add the accent mark above the e in Caffe.

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REVIEW: International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light

Written by | March 8, 2013

Topics: 8 Rating, Coffee, International Delight

International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light

International Delight’s Iced Coffee regularly finds its way into my cart because last year it found its way into my heart after I gave it a positive review.

But every so often, when I place a half gallon carton in my cart, I think to myself, “Suck it, Starbucks!” and “All that cream and sugar is probably making me chubby…All right, chubbier.”

I don’t know if it’s because International Delight has seen me naked, but they now have light versions of their mocha and vanilla iced coffees.

Like the non-light version, International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light is made with 100 percent premium Arabica coffee beans. However, it has 1/3 fewer calories and 39 percent less sugar than their regular iced coffee.

Why does it have fewer calories and sugar?

Magic!!!

Actually, it’s because of the popular artificial sweeteners, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

So it’s not magic. It’s science!!!

Although International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee uses artificial sweeteners, it still has the same 2.5 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of saturated fat the original has. It also has 56 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving, which is two milligrams less than their regular iced coffee.

While pouring International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light into a glass, I noticed it was much thinner than the non-light version, which I think is thick enough that it makes me feel like I’m drinking melted ice cream.

If you’re one of those people who tried the original International Delight Iced Coffee and thought to yourself, “Hey! I’d like a lot more coffee with my cream and sugar!”, then your internal voice will say the same thing about the light version as the combination of coffee, cream, and carrageenan goes down your throat. There’s enough dairy and sweetener to mask the coffee’s bitterness and to almost make a Starbucks Frappuccino blush.

International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light Closeup

However, the difference in flavor between the light and regular versions is similar to the difference between Pepsi and Diet Pepsi (or Coke and Diet Coke for you Pepsi haters or RC Cola and Diet RC Cola for you people fortunate to have RC Cola on your store shelves); you instantly know you’re drinking the light version. The artificial sweeteners were noticeable once the coffee hit my tongue and right through to the aftertaste. Unlike the coffee’s bitterness, no amount of dairy could cover that. As for the vanilla flavor, it was mild, but made the coffee taste marshmallow-ish.

As a regular International Delight Iced Coffee drinker, it’s nice to have a lighter version. Even though the artificial sweeteners created a significant difference in flavor, as a regular diet soda drinker, I didn’t mind it. So it looks like I’ll be putting International Delight Iced Coffee Light into my cart, instead of the regular stuff, and only thinking to myself, “Suck it, Starbucks!”

(Nutrition Facts – 8 ounces – 100 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 10% calcium, and 4% iron.)

Item: International Delight Vanilla Iced Coffee Light
Purchased Price: $3.99 (on sale)
Size: Half gallon
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Still creamy and sweet enough to cover the coffee’s bitterness. Vanilla has a marshmallow-ish-ness to it. Fewer calories and less sugar than regular International Delight Iced Coffee. Contains 56 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.
Cons: Artificial sweeteners were noticeable. Thinner than the regular stuff. Trying to spell carrageenan. Using marshmallow-ish-ness. Coffee snobs will turn their noses up at this. Me being naked.

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