REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte

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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REVIEW: Starbucks Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade

Starbucks Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade

Starbucks’ new Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it iced tea? No. Is it green tea? No. Is it a peach drink? No. Is it lemonade? No. It’s all of these.

Well, I’ve got news for you, Starbucks. You can’t just combine a bunch of drinks together and expect anyone but your hipster clientele to purchase it. A good beverage takes a considerable amount of forethought. Who do you think you are? Arnold Palmer?

Since you insist on combining all of these drinks, I have high expectations for your concoction. This Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade better be superior to each of its individual components.

As I entered my local Starbucks, the throng of hipsters seated throughout the store looked up from their MacBooks and stared. (They can smell fear. They know I’m not one of them!) Ignoring their death-glares, I approached the counter and placed my order for a tall Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade. Amidst the acoustic/indie/jazz music playing over the speakers, I watched the barista expertly shake together green tea, lemonade, peach syrup, and ice. (Perhaps Starbucks is now training their employees with Shake Weights.)

The first thing I noticed upon receiving my beverage was its color. Aside from having an unnecessarily long name, the Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade has a yellow-orange hue to it, reminiscent of watered down apple juice.

Starbucks Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade Closeup

Its flavor starts out slightly floral, soon evolving into the taste of a common, plain green tea. The lemonade provides a light sweetness, not the overwhelming acidity which many lemonades possess. Unfortunately, I found the taste to be somewhat disappointing. I expected the peach syrup to provide a strong fruity flavor, but the peach remains a subtle addition to the beverage; the green tea and lemonade combination drowns out the peach flavoring.

Although the beverage is pleasant, it falls short of being spectacular. Its flavors might blend without clashing, but their combination seems largely unmemorable. It’s mediocre at best; I’ve purchased canned half-and-half iced tea lemonade drinks that taste superior for much less of a price.

Furthermore, a stronger peach flavor was needed for the addition of the peach syrup to be seen as worthwhile. For these reasons, I can’t say I’ll be purchasing the Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade again. Starbucks has added yet another drink to their menu which fails to impress.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz (tall) – 100 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade
Purchased Price: $2.55
Size: Tall (12 oz)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Lightly sweet, not acidic. Flavors blend without clashing. Baristas using Shake Weights.
Cons: Peach taste is lost to green tea and lemonade flavors. Not memorable. Being stared down by hipsters.

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REVIEW: Valencia Orange Starbucks Refreshers

Valencia Orange Starbucks Refreshers

We all have a little King Kong inside of us: an otherwise docile, gentle animal that lives in our minds that, when he’s happy, he does his cool gorilla thing. Probably eats bananas and swings in his hammock while catching up on Darwin.

However, when we get dehydrated, that inner King Kong gets angry, causing us to go bonkers, resulting in an array of side effects including (but not limited to): throwing random objects, running through traffic-filled streets, and impulsively roaring at the top of the Empire State Building. (This explains the curious behavior patterns of many New York tourists.)

Thankfully, Starbucks noticed this public dehydration problem and, hoping to relieve many of our inner King Kongs from lashing out, released their line of Refreshers and, in a city that has more Starbucks than grocery stores, I decided to stop in and give this new Valencia Orange Refreshers a go.

Valencia Orange Starbucks Refreshers Ice, ice baby

Tart, cold, and icy as all get-outs, “refreshing” stands as the best descriptor one can pin to this golden-hued sucker.

James Bond would appreciate that the preparation for Refreshers require it to be shaken, not stirred. The experience of slurping this bad boy down is akin to taking a Valencia, a Clementine, and a naval orange, smooshing them in a compressor, and creating a sugary fruit juice box from it.

Taken as a whole, it tastes of Tang or a gentler Sunny-D with a hint of overripe peach at the end, which may or may not be the implied “apricot” mentioned in the description. There’s also a tinge of bitterness and, if I close my eyes, a tart zing, most likely from some combo of the orange peel floating around and caffeine. It’s a nice dimension to what would otherwise be a strictly sweet drink.

Despite the orange-filled nature of this mélange, not a hint of pulp can be found, something my pulp-free spirit is pleased to discover. It does, however, come with a slice of Valencia orange. My specimen was a slender, middle-of-the-road slice, which was nice to gnaw on as I trotted my lightly caffeinated, 80-percent-Vitamin-C-fortified derriere through the streets of Midtown.

Valencia Orange Starbucks Refreshers \Prescription for dehydration

If you’re a fearless daredevil (and I know you are), you have the semi-secret option of mixing this with other Refreshers or cold tea. If you add a bit of the Berry Hibiscus and/or Passion Tea, it further emphasizes the tart/bitter dimension that plays off the sugary sweetness of the overall Hi-C-orangeade effect taking place within. I’m not sure why it’s so excellent, but, just like why “Y” is only sometimes a vowel, some things are best left unexplained.

Post-gulp, the half cubes of ice are great for crunching, although, in my case, many melted in the 94-degree heat of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which dulled the flavor. If you want a stronger concentration of orange-juice-box flavor, consider skipping the ice.

Overall, this is a success in my books. I can’t quite distinguish the specific Valencia orange-ness of it, but I don’t give a hoot. It tastes like grit-free Tang, and every growing girl needs Tang. The price point is a bit too steep for my liking, but it’s worth it for an occasional cool-off on a hot day. Starbucks mentions that these will only be around for a limited time, but I’m hoping they’ll end up being like a Macy’s One Day Sale: they say it’s for a limited time, but it keeps going and going and going…

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces (Tall) – 70 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugars, and 0 grams of protein, 80% Vitamin C.)

Other Valencia Orange Starbucks Refreshers reviews:
Serious Eats
Brand Eating

Item: Valencia Orange Starbucks Refreshers
Purchased Price: $3.54
Size: 12 oz. (Tall)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Grit-free Tang. Juice boxes. Vitamin C. Lightly caffeinated. Crunchy ice. Freedom to mix it with other Refreshers. Happy gorillas in my head.
Cons: Orange flavor may hinge too sweet if you’re not into Tang. Limited time. Pricey. Ice dulls the flavor. Angry King Kong. Commercials for Macy’s One Day Sales.

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

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.

9 Comments

NEWS: Starbucks Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal Will Fill You With Fruit and Fiber

IMG_0734-WM

Starting today at participating locations, Starbucks will be offering their new Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal. According to the product’s press release:

The new Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal will feature a blend of steel-cut and rolled oats for a hearty blend texture and new toppings including fresh blueberries, a fruit, nut and seed medley and agave syrup for a touch of sweetness. Ready to eat in five minutes and packed with seven grams of protein and six grams of fiber in a 280 calorie bowl…

Yeah, seven grams of protein and six grams of fiber! Starbucks Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal is gonna help me with my buffness and make me go to the bowl less.

Starbucks Melody has a review of the new oatmeal.

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