QUICK REVIEW: Starbucks Blueberry Acai Refreshers

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.

REVIEW: Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte

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.

QUICK REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

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.

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.

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.

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.