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REVIEW: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda

Written by | July 2, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, Starbucks

Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda

I am fascinated by transformations. From The Wolf Man to Teen Wolf, I love to watch things slowly take on new forms. Especially if it involves becoming a wolf. I’m highly interested in one steady conversion in particular.

Over the past five years, Starbucks has undergone a metamorphosis from a somewhat upscale coffee bar into your run-of-the-mill fast food chain. Granted, it’s a “high-end” version of a fast food chain, but they cover all the basics. Instead of cheeseburgers, they prepare paninis. Instead of milkshakes, they offer a plethora of creamy iced beverages and Frappuccinos. Instead of Egg McMuffins, they hawk wraps and sandwiches with slow-roasted ham and Fontiago cheese. Instead of donuts, they sell scones and Mallorca sweet bread. I’m waiting for some hoity-toity French fries – maybe fingerling potatoes with rosemary and garlic?

The latest Starbucks item to fulfill their fast food roots initiative is the Fizzio™ Hand-Crafted Soda. Starbucks has introduced three new carbonated drinks — Spiced Root Beer, Golden Ginger Ale, and Lemon Ale.

I suppose the Golden Ginger Ale is for later when you’re puking your guts out after having whatever the hell Lemon Ale is supposed to be. (NOTE: The Starbucks press release says that Lemon Ale is “a refreshing, citrus-forward blend of real lemon juice with hints of apricot and ginger.” That ridiculous phrase “citrus-forward” sounds like a marketing term dreamed up by someone who doesn’t understand words anymore.) Anyway, I decided to go with the Spiced Root Beer. Frankly, to me, that flavor seemed to be the one closest to its origins as a diner staple.

After ordering the new drink, I watched a barista pull a carton labeled “Root Beer” from the mini-fridge and pour a small amount into my 12-ounce cup. Then she added ice. So… about that “hand-crafted” business… I don’t know what constitutes hand-crafting except for the fact that the barista had to pour the root beer base into a pitcher in order to make my drink. I wasn’t expecting much, but the phrase “hand-crafted” creates the image of careful measurements, stirring, and taste-testing. Or at least shaking something. Nah. In this case, hand-crafting just means pouring into a blender.

I have no idea what the barista did next, outside of pulling out a magic wand and hollering “Expecto Bubbletronum,” but my drink arrived appropriately sparkling. Apparently, the bubbles were created using a new Starbucks-trademarked contraption called The Fizzio™ machine. Basically, the machine carbonates any drink, so you can walk in and ask for a cold, fizzy whatever for an extra 50 cents.

Unfortunately, bubbles couldn’t save the Fizzio™ Spiced Root Beer from being a mostly bland and underwhelming beverage experience. According to the Starbucks website, the Spiced Root Beer flavor presents “the nostalgic taste of classic root beer with a deliciously unexpected twist – cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and star anise add a flavorful kick to this soda.”

Besides the fact that Star Anise sounds like the latest discovery in the Andromeda Galaxy, the use of these interesting spices is your proof that it’s the hoity-toity version of a regular old root beer. In reality, instead of a flavorful kick, it tastes more like a feeble nudge with an outstretched toe. The Fizzio™ Spiced Root Beer tastes like a watered-down version of regular old root beer, but that could be because it’s not full of high fructose corn syrup.

It was certainly spicy, but the flavor was more reminiscent of cinnamon gum — Kind of a delicate spiciness with just a hint of sweetness to balance it. It was an okay drink, but nothing I’d run back to Starbucks to get. I suppose that this is part of the transformation process. When you begin to change into something else, part of you dies forever. I would hope that if I began a metamorphosis, I would change into something that might go well with rum.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fl oz. – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, 2% Calcium.).)

Item: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio™ Hand-Crafted Soda
Purchased Price: $2.55
Size: 12 fl oz.
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Spiced with interesting spices. Bubbly. One of three new flavors. Lycanthropy.
Cons: A bland experience™. Hand-crafted = pouring into a blender. Getting nudged with a toe. “Citrus-forward.”

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QUICK REVIEW: Starbucks Blueberry Acai Refreshers

Written by | March 25, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Energy Drink, Starbucks

Blueberry Acai Starbucks Refreshers

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 12 fl oz
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: My favorite of the canned Starbucks Refreshers flavors. Has a pleasant acai berry and mild blueberry flavor. Contains 25% juice (which is better than the 5% juice in Mountain Dew Kickstart). It did give me a good boost of energy, albeit short. Has 100% of my daily vitamin C, so, ARGHHH, no scurvy for this scallywag.
Cons: Has the slight bitterness from the coffee that all canned Starbucks Refreshers have. With its very light carbonation, it’s, perhaps, too easy to drink and it’ll be gone before you want it. Can doesn’t say how much caffeine it has (it does say it has 50 mg of panax ginseng).

Blueberry Acai Starbucks Refreshers Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 90 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 25% niacin, 25% pantothenic acid, 100% vitamin C, and 25% vitamin B12.

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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: Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

Written by | January 27, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Starbucks

Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

Purchased Price: FREE (Starbucks Card offer)
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful buttery caramel flavor. A delicious way to make your body extra cold during these cold winter months. Caramel-infused whipped cream is tasty and I’d shoot some in my mouth if Starbucks sold it in a can. Creamy. 65 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine. Barista correctly spelled my name.
Cons: Caramel is overwhelming because the flan flavor isn’t noticeable. Coffee flavor is nonexistent. I think I may have gotten a cavity after drinking it. Some might consider it to be too sweet, but alas, such is the Frappuccino. Drinking it too fast gave me brain freeze.

Nutrition Facts: 12 ounces (whole milk) – 280 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 10% calcium.

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REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte

Written by | January 22, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, Starbucks

Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte

Of all the jiggly desserts I’ve experienced, flan has to be my favorite. For those readers who have never had the pleasure of enjoying flan, it’s a bit like Jello’s fancier, wealthy cousin. While Jello’s at a frat party knockin’ back Jägerbombs, flan’s sipping on a glass of Dom Pérignon with the King of Latvia’s nephew.

Flan seems to have its origins in Ancient Rome, where it was often served as a savory dish. The Romans, after eating rodents for lunch and brushing their teeth with their own pee, would gather at the dinner table to enjoy a nice plate of eel flan.

Just recently, Starbucks thought up a new way to experience flan without the addition of eel — in latte form. The popular coffee chain’s new Caramel Flan Latte features espresso with steamed milk, caramel flan-flavored syrup, caramel-infused whipped cream, and a caramel flan drizzle. Will the combination of flavors prove a dud? Or will the result be flantastic?

The first thing I noticed upon receiving my Caramel Flan Latte was the sweet, caramel aroma of the whipped cream and caramel sauce drizzle. The topping adds noticeable caramel and vanilla tones to the flavor of the beverage. However, once all of the whipped cream disappears, the beverage loses much of its appeal.

The caramel flan syrup added to the coffee base seems smothered by the coffee’s actual flavor. Only a slight hint of caramel and vanilla are present toward the end of a sip, once the coffee flavor has faded off the tongue. The entire essence of flan seems to be absent from the beverage; the coffee lacks any trace of custardy, eggy flavor.

To be perfectly honest, the Caramel Flan Latte is quite tasty, but its flavor profile more closely resembles a run-of-the-mill sweetened latte than anything flan flavored. If I tasted this beverage blindly, it would be impossible for me to identify its flavor as anything remotely related to flan. Though pleasant, the slight caramel and vanilla aftertaste provides little incentive to purchase the beverage, as Starbucks already offers a Caramel Macchiato with a more defined and noticeable flavor.

Starbucks’ new Caramel Flan Latte was a letdown. Next time, I’ll be ordering a drink with a more discernible flavor. Until Starbucks chooses to add a pump of eel-flavored syrup to their Caramel Flan Latte, I’ll be skipping the flan-flavored beverages.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall (12 oz. with 2% milk and whipped cream) – 260 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 31 grams of sugars, and 9 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte
Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: Tall (12 fl oz.)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Light caramel and vanilla aftertaste. Tasty coffee beverage. The King of Latvia’s nephew.
Cons: Coffee flavor smothers caramel flan flavor. Far from flan-like. The idea of eel-flavored syrup.

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