REVIEW: Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

I used to call Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha a holiday in a cup. Well, move over, Mocha, there’s a new drink in town and I’m obsessed. One sip of the Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa and I was instantly transported in front of a fire with holiday decorations surrounding me and an overwhelming feeling of coziness.

The first thing I love about this drink is the fact that even though it’s hot cocoa, you’re getting white chocolate. You guys, I love white chocolate but sometimes I forget it’s even a thing thanks to its more popular brother. The second thing I love is how smooth this goes down. It’s definitely a drink for sipping and not chugging due to the sweetness. But that’s okay, because I wanted it to last as long as possible.

The snickerdoodle flavor comes in the form of cinnamon dolce syrup plus the cinnamon sugar on top of the whipped cream (Pro tip: Do NOT skip the whipped cream.) One thing I noticed right away is that the cinnamon is apparent at first sip, hitting you right away with the flavor. And bonus: The flavor stayed throughout the whole drink. You know how sometimes it seems as though a syrup wasn’t mixed all the way through? And you only find it right on the top or all the way at the bottom? Yeah, not the case here. Full on snickerdoodle in every sip.

Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa 2

My one gripe was that the hot cocoa was warm, but not piping hot – a problem that could be easily solved by asking for the drink extra hot. (I also ordered the drink when it was -876 degrees outside. Okay, I’m exaggerating. It was 28. But regardless, that was my mistake not to order extra hot for extreme warmth.) It was hot enough to melt the whipped cream into the liquid as I drank, creating an almost eggnog-like color by the time I was almost done.

I’m really hoping Starbucks keeps this one well into the winter and not just the holidays, because it’s a slam dunk. If you don’t think it tastes like one of your Aunt Lisa’s snickerdoodles, the ones where you typically shove about five in your mouth because Mom’s not looking, then you need to come find me and we’ll have a chat.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 310 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.25
Size: 12 oz. (tall)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: All the white chocolate. Cinnamon is natural tasting and all-around awesome, making the drink true to its snickerdoodle name.
Cons: Whipped cream melted a little faster than I would have liked. But if that’s the only con I have, then we’re doing pretty well.

REVIEW: Starbucks Fruitcake Frappuccino

Starbucks Fruitcake Frappuccino

Starbucks putting out a Fruitcake Frappuccino is strange because the holiday baked good is not universally beloved.

To me, the fruitcake is not a horrible dessert. But it’s not something I jump at when I’m being bombarded every holiday season by more appealing treats. There’s red velvet cakes, chocolate cupcakes, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and the list goes deliciously on and on. It’s like that email you’re not excited to reply to that gets pushed down your inbox. And by the time you get to it, its too late to do anything, so it ends up in the trash.

While there’s a good chance fruitcakes gifted to me will end up in the rubbish, I can’t say the same about Starbucks’ Fruitcake Frappuccino. It’s better tasting than any fruitcake I’ve ever had, but it’s also damn annoying to drink.

The blended beverage features a Hazelnut Frappuccino base with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and ice. Then it’s topped with whipped cream, caramel dots, and a matcha sprinkle.

Starbucks Fruitcake Frappuccino 3

The dried fruits are cranberries, golden raisins, zante currant raisins, and cherries. The fruit bits made the beverage look festive, but their flavors were hard to distinguish individually when drinking it. 

Starbucks Fruitcake Frappuccino 2

The cinnamon, caramel, and hazelnut base gave the beverage a brown sugar, pastry-like flavor. That, combined with the dried fruits, helped the beverage fit the fruitcake flavor profile. To be honest, it was a bit weird to be chewing on a beverage, but at the same time it was an appropriate texture. The matcha powder seemed odd, but I thought it added a sweet nuttiness, helping it come close to matcha-ing (I’m sorry) the flavor of fruitcake.

While the chewy dried fruits helped me imagine the taste and texture of fruitcake, they also made the coffee-less Frappuccino difficult to consume. On several occasions the dried fruit pieces that weren’t blended well ended up clogging the straw. So if your local Starbucks happens to be near a bubble tea shop, I recommend swiping one of those wider straws made to suck up tapioca balls.

As someone who’s somewhat indifferent about fruitcake, I’m a bit surprised I enjoyed Starbucks’ Fruitcake Frappuccino. If your feelings for the holiday dessert/paperweigh are the same as mine or lean towards the positive side, you might also enjoy it. But do it quick because, unfortunately, it’s available only for a few days.

(Nutrition Facts – grande with whole milk and whipped cream – 430 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 66 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Grande
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It does remind me of a fruitcake. Better tasting than any fruitcake I’ve ever had. Cinnamon, caramel, and hazelnut base gave the beverage a brown sugar, pastry-like flavor. The dried fruit gives it some fiber.
Cons: Annoying to drink through a straw because of the dried fruit clogging it. A little weird to be chewing on a beverage. Available for a very limited time.

REVIEW: Starbucks Chile Mocha

Starbucks Chile Mocha

Some like it HOT and I am one of those humans.

No, I’m not talking about the 1950’s movie starring Marilyn Monroe, but the Scoville scale. Just in case you have no idea what the heck I’m talking about: the Scoville scale measures the heat of a pepper from 0 units (bell peppers) to 16MM units (pure capsaicin). I can realistically only handle up to a habanero (350K units) so I’ve been on a mission to increase my capsaicin tolerance.

Along comes Starbucks’ latest drink innovation, the Chile Mocha. I drink Starbucks religiously (who else spent way too much money on Starbucks for Life) and I like heat. Advertised with “ancho and chile spices” and “for those mornings that need an extra kick,” I expected the Chile Mocha to dazzle my taste buds.

In true Goldilocks-fashion, I had to try all three: the Frappuccino, the hot mocha, and the iced mocha. Unfortunately, the only thing consistent about the three was that they all came with too much whipped cream.

I started with the Frappuccino. Nothing about the Frappuccino tasted like chile or even mocha for that matter. It was so sickeningly sweet that it tasted toffee-like; maybe the barista used the toffee nut syrup instead of Chile Mocha powder. So, heat was nonexistent. I even tried the Spiced Mocha topping on top which looked like straight cayenne/paprika but actually also had sugar crystals mixed in.

Starbucks Chile Mocha 2

The powder fondly reminded me of a less concentrated version of Lucas Mexican Candy. However, cayenne is only 50,000 Scoville and paprika is, if you’re lucky, maybe 100 Scoville units. Instead of ordering the Chile Mocha Frappuccino, I might as well have just ordered a plain ol’ coffee frap for $1 less and 90 less calories.

Starbucks Chile Mocha 3

I moved onto the iced mocha next. I was immediately a little off-put by the powder sitting at the bottom of the drink. I tried mixing it but the powder at the bottom was just out of straw reach. After my first couple of sips, I felt a very slight warming/heat sensation in the back of my throat. FINALLY!

However, it was short-lived as it quickly neutralized. While the iced mocha was a little more coffee-forward, it still erred on the too-sweet side. Disappointed, I proceeded to eat the whipped cream with tasty wannabe Lucas Mexican Candy power and left the rest of the drink.

Starbucks Chile Mocha 4

Lastly, the hot mocha. At this point, my high expectations were demolished. But, the fact that my first sip actually tasted like a mocha was a great start. Unlike the iced mocha, the heat actually built up. At first, I thought it was way too subtle but as I drank more, I concluded that this level of heat probably works for people not trying to burn off their taste buds (unlike me). If it were any spicier, it would likely be too spicy for some folks. I also really enjoyed the temperature contrast of the cold whipped cream with the hot mocha.

Net-net, stick with the hot mocha. I know it’s still 90 degrees in certain parts of the country, but fall is right around the corner! For my fellow capsaicin enthusiasts, I’m dropping a Ghost Pepper Mocha suggestion in Starbucks’ inbox.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall 12 oz (Hot Chile Mocha with whipped cream) – 270 Calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 29 grams total sugars, 10 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: Varies
Size: Tall
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Chile Mocha)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Iced Chile Mocha)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Chile Mocha Frappuccino)
Pros: Fondly reminiscent of Lucas Mexican Candy Power. Hot Chile Mocha.
Cons: Too much whipped cream. Frappuccino and Iced Mocha are sugar bombs. Minimal heat.

REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Out of all of the different junk food options out there, I don’t think there’s a more difficult one to spell than Frappuccino. Seriously, if the Scripps National Spelling Bee folks wanted to make it hard for kids to win, Frappuccino is the word. Heck, even Starbucks baristas seem to have plenty of difficulty spelling it.

Needing a dictionary aside, the Frappuccino is an integral part of the Starbucks menu – so much so that they offer an annual happy hour in celebration of the various combinations of milk, coffee, flavorings, and “base.” Judging by my recent visit to Starbucks, the Frappuccino Happy Hour looks to be the most miserable place on Earth – high schoolers slurping syrupy drinks, whipped cream everywhere, and surly baristas getting a workout from pumping out so much “base.” Disney World this is not.

Starbucks tends to release a new Frappuccino flavor each year to kick off summer, and this year’s entry, the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, is a sugar-packed way to celebrate the solstice. Advertised as a “carnival delight, all grown up,” the blended drink is a mix of waffle cone-flavored syrup, dark caramel sauce, coffee, milk, and ice, which is then topped with whipped cream, waffle cone pieces, and more of the aforementioned caramel sauce. I guess this is what happens when an ice cream cone hits puberty.

I avoided happy hour at my local Starbucks and decided to order this Frappuccino for breakfast. Frappuccinos have a reputation amongst baristas for being horrible to prepare, so I ordered carefully and cordially. Aside from a little side-eye, my Frappuccino was good to go (except for the part where the barista spilled the waffle cone bits all over the counter while sighing heavily).

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino 2

Upon picking up my drink, I immediately noticed that my Frappuccino was a little naked – it was missing its topping of dark caramel sauce. Undeterred, I dug in, and was hit with an overwhelming blast of caramel. I welcomed the fact that the flavor was a little richer and deeper than the traditional Starbucks sauce, but it overpowered every single sip. In fact, it was hard to even taste the coffee over the cacaphony of caramel.

Other than the waffle cone bits perched on the whipped cream, the Frappuccino had no doughy notes to speak of. I’ll give Starbucks credit – the waffle cone bits stayed crunchy even after a few minutes on top of the drink – but they still lacked any flavor, and might have had more of a punch if they were blended in.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, but paying a premium for what’s essentially a caramel Frappuccino only makes sense if your name is Alanis Morissette.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – 300 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: 12 fl oz
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Barista upper arm workouts. Caramel. Starbucks for breakfast.
Cons: Sugared up high schoolers. No waffle cone flavor. Sauce M.I.A.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

NOTE: This review was posted in 2015 when it was a Costco exclusive. In 2016, it’s no longer exclusive to Costco and is available in individual bottles.

If you want to hoard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice drinks so you can enjoy them year round, you either have to freeze Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then later warm them up in the microwave or hit the black market for expired Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup pumps. But this year there’s a third way and it’s available at Costco.

The Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink may not be handmade by a Starbucks Barista who wrote PSL on the side of the cup, but because it’s Costco, it’s available in bulk. It’s 12 bottles to be exact. So if you buy a pallet of them, you’ll have enough to last you until next pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike a pumpkin spice latte you can purchase at a Starbucks location, this version has no pumpkin in it. But it does have an ingredient list short enough that I could type it here to slightly boost the word count of this review: Brewed Starbucks Coffee, Reduced-Fat Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Flavors, and Pectin. Mmm…pectin.

At first, I thought the ginger flavor stood out a bit too much for my tastes. I think the coffee makes the spice stand out more. But, since I purchased 12 bottles of the stuff, I’ve had to drink a lot of it. And the more I drink it the more I like it. Perhaps I’m getting Pumpkin Spiceholm Syndrome.

There’s also a little nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and a whole lot of sugar in each sip, which makes the beverage really sweet. There’s also a lot of milk too, but it’s not whole milk so it has a thin texture. While I could see it being too sweet for some people, me and my future cavities are fine with it.

The bottle suggests to serve it chilled or over ice, but since I’m a rebel (and have 12 bottles of the stuff), I did some experimenting and warmed up a mug of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was wonderful and it reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. Actually, I think I might prefer it heated over chilled.

A question some of you might be asking is if it’s an adequate replacement for when the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is erased from the boards from Starbucks locations for the year. No, of course not. These bottled Frappuccinos are no match flavor-wise for those handmade, wonderful, blended, sweet, and brain freeze-inducing beverages that have a nutritional bio similar to many fast food burgers. But if you’re jonesing for a pumpkin spice coffee drink in February, this’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 25% calcium.)

Item: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 12 pack/9.5 oz bottles
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good chilled or warmed up. Hoardable. Better nutritional bio than a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.
Cons: Ginger flavor might be a bit strong for some. Might be too sweet for some. Available in 12 packs, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got 11 more bottles to go through. Not as delicious as a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.