REVIEW: Starbucks Berry Prickly Pear and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Cremes

Starbucks Berry Prickly Pear and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Cremes

Starbucks created THE fall drink with its Pumpkin Spice Latte.

And it might’ve created the drinks of summer with its new Berry Prickly Pear Frappuccino Blended Crème (berries and prickly pear with side notes of hibiscus and passion fruit) and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Blended Crème (mango, caramelized pineapple, and a hint of lime).

Visually, both scream SUMMER with the pretty magenta and yellow color schemes. Even though magenta/yellow/white looks better than magenta/yellow/brown, I was a little bit wary of the crème base because the said coffee-less line is generally more like an icy milkshake.

The base was icy as expected but worked better than I imagined because it was fruit-forward. It’s supposed to be blended with milk, ice, and mango syrup, but I picked up a subtle coconut flavor instead. As for the purées, the mango overpowered the pineapple and the berry prickly pear mainly tasted like prickly pear. For those who are wondering, prickly pear has a very subtle sweetness – it tastes like a wax/rose apple or a less-pronounced watermelon. I was relieved that neither of the purées tasted artificial.

Starbucks Berry Prickly Pear and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Cremes 2

However, I must warn that form does not follow function for these drinks. The layered purée is only good for the ‘gram! I made the mistake of not mixing it enough. I swirled my straw a few times, but still sucked up a hidden pocket of purée. It was very unpleasant texturally as the viscosity reminded me of Children’s Motrin Syrup. I think real mango or strawberry bits would help. Be sure to take your ‘gram first and then stir vigorously!

Starbucks Berry Prickly Pear and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Cremes 4

As I continued sipping, the mango pineapple began to stand out as my frontrunner. I kept thinking it would taste fantastic with rum. It was like a virgin piña colada minus the artificial sweetness that usually accompanies it. The familiarity of mango, pineapple, and coconut also gave the flavor a leg up over the berry prickly pear which had an unpleasant note that reminded me of cough medicine.

Both drinks included lime, and like having it in a cocktail, it helped break up some of the sweetness and add brightness. However, the lime flavor floated in and out. I guess you could brand that as having a flavor adventure with each sip being slightly different than the last, but I prefer consistency.

Also, I’d say that I have a pretty discerning palate but I didn’t pick up on any of the caramelized pineapple in the mango pineapple or hibiscus in the berry prickly pear.

I was able drink both of these in the same sitting without feeling a sugar high and neither tasted artificially or disgustingly sweet. They still delivered on Starbucks quality as I could tell they used real fruit as opposed to sno-cone high fructose corn syrup.

Much like the PSL returning this fall, I can see these drinks being brought back next summer.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall – Berry Prickly Pear – 180 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 34 grams total sugars, 3 grams of protein. Mango Pineapple – 180 Calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 34 grams total sugars, 3 grams of protein.

Purchased Price: $4.45
Size: Tall
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Berry Prickly Pear)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Mango Pineapple)
Pros: I don’t feel a sugar high drinking these unlike other Frappuccinos. Mango Pineapple is a better piña colada. High quality – none of that sno-cone high fructose corn syrup!
Cons: MAKE SURE YOU STIR. Viscosity of purée reminds me of Children’s Motrin – real fruit bits might help. Inconsistent sour notes. Where’s the caramelized pineapple and hibiscus?

REVIEW: Starbucks Violet Drink

Starbucks Violet Drink

My wife and stepdaughter are local thespians and recently appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, surely the only Broadway musical to begin as a grade school Easter pageant. The show includes a number introducing the titular wardrobe piece, a catchy tune detailing all TWENTY-NINE colors used in the robe, including everyone’s favorites: ochre, fawn, russet, and mauve!

Maybe Starbucks should seek a partnership with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice because a Fawn Drink and Russet Drink would be awesome. But for now we have the viral Pink Drink, fashion-forward Ombre Pink Drink, and the new Violet Drink. Lady Gaga, no stranger to the charms of ALW, has teamed with the Seattle behemoth on the “Cups of Kindness” campaign, which the new beverage is a part of.

Starbucks Violet Drink 3

The drink is a simple combo of Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher, coconut milk, freeze-dried blackberries, and ice. The liquid components and ice were combined in a cocktail shaker, while I patiently tried to avoid making an obligatory Bond joke. (Special thanks go out to the People’s Plaza Starbucks staff, who took my odd questions in stride and allowed me to traverse the drive-thru without an order to snap shots of the drink signage that wasn’t inside the store).

Starbucks Violet Drink 4

The faded hue of the drink certainly fits the billing. The texture was smooth with a light mouthfeel, and the taste is sweet in the right ways — balanced and not overwhelmingly so. This is a nice upgrade on the Refresher itself, which I always found to be overly tart and a little jarring as a result.

The drink was certainly fresh-tasting, and reminded me of a melted smoothie or Orange Julius variant, but better than either one. The flavor is not complex. It’s really a one-note berry flavor, with only a vague floral indication in the background. Despite that, I never got sick or bored of the drink and finished it quicker than many other LTO Starbucks offerings.

Starbucks Violet Drink 2

I strongly suggest that you do not eat the freeze-dried blackberries on their own (while realizing that in our meta-culture you surely will do as such following my warning). They largely clumped together in a foamy portion of the beverage and only mildly defrosted, crunching like Pop Rocks in my mouth without the summer berry goodness you would desire.

I typically think of non-coffee drinks at Starbucks falling into two categories: for the non-coffee drinker who went with a friend to Starbucks, or a way to avoid caffeine in the later hours of the day. But because the drink is built using the Refreshers, which are caffeinated due to green coffee extract, that theory runs drier than Joseph’s manipulative interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream. Is this drink for you? If you’re dreaming in violet, Donny Osmond predicts you’ll love this.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 45 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $5.75
Size: Trenta
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Sippable sweetness. Higher quality than your typical smoothie. Dreaming in pastels. More refreshing than then Refreshers line. Colorful Canadian fun!
Cons: Caffeinated non-coffee beverages at SBUX. Blackberries defrosting slower than the polar ice cap. Millennials that think camo, rainbow, and plaid are colors.

REVIEW: Starbucks Matcha Lemonade

Starbucks Matcha Lemonade

Starbucks’ Matcha Lemonade looks like water from a pond that has too much nitrogen and phosphorus causing excessive algae growth. But does it suck as much as algae blooms suck out the oxygen from ponds? Let’s find out.

Science reference! High five!

According to Starbucks, the Matcha Lemonade combines finely ground Teavana matcha green tea and lemonade, shaken, not stirred, with ice.

I do the matcha-cha every so often by eating matcha ice cream, Kit Kat from Japan, Jamba Juice smoothies, and lattes. But combining the green tea’s bitter flavor with sour and sweet lemonade, creating a Matchalf & Matchalf, doesn’t seem like a good match-a to me. Sorry.

But I do like matcha green tea flavored products. And I do like lemonade. So I should like this combination, right?

Starbucks Matcha Lemonade 2

Well, it doesn’t suck as much as algae blooms suck out the oxygen from bodies of water. But it also doesn’t make me want to pay a medium $500 to do a seance to speak to Arnold Palmer’s ghost to tell him this tea and lemonade mashup is better than his.

With all the matcha products I’ve had in the past, they’ve been made with either dairy or chocolate, which help cut through the tea’s bitterness. But the lemonade doesn’t quite do the same here. I get a sweetness from the lemonade, but unlike a Half & Half where there a balance, this leans more towards the tea and I don’t taste the lemonade. It’s pretty much sweet matcha water.

Now this reads like I’m putting down the beverage, but there was a part of me that enjoyed it. I didn’t spit it out or dump it down the drain. But I’m not going to proclaim it to be My Summer Beverage of 2017. It’s weird, but sometimes weird is good. And the weird part of me enjoyed this. But I don’t think it’ll appeal to most taste buds.

(Nutrition Facts – Grande/16 oz. – 120 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein, and 80 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Grande
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: A part of me enjoyed it, but that’s probably because of my love of matcha. Doesn’t suck as much as algae blooms sucks out oxygen from bodies of water. Science reference!
Cons: Won’t appeal to most taste buds. Lemonade doesn’t really shine. Looks like algae in a cup.

REVIEW: Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino

The Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino ingredient that most intrigued me was the “cooling mint sugar crystals.”

The wording gave me flashbacks of the flavor crystals in Ice Breakers chewing gum and how they would make my mouth feel as if I just had a heavy make out session with Jack Frost.

The mint sugar crystals are part of two blended layers that also feature extra dark cocoa, coffee, milk, and ice. In between those two is a layer of whipped cream. And on top of all that there’s more whipped cream and dark cocoa powder.

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino 2

As I sipped on the blended beverage that’s significantly less Instagram-able than the Unicorn Frappuccino, I could feel a cooling sensation building up in my mouth. Hello, Jack! But then I realized something. Is it the cooling mint sugar crystals or the cooling ice crystals causing that? My mouth wasn’t sure.

Now you’re probably thinking dark cocoa + mint = Thin Mints (or Keebler Grasshoppers, whatever floats your boat), which is an almost accurate description of this Frappuccino’s flavor and probably the only words I needed to type for this review. It’s similar enough that I feel as if the green Starbucks logo on the cup should be replaced with the green Girl Scouts logo.

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino 3

But the mint and its cooling is faint, which disappoints me because I thought it would be stronger. It’s not at a level that makes you think you’ve brushed your teeth or popped a York Peppermint Patty into your mouth or consumed EVERYTHING in a mojito. So I guess you could say the mint was thin.

Sorry.

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino 4

Although the mint is lighter than I would’ve liked, it still an enjoyable vessel of sugar. The use of dark cocoa powder prevents the drink from being overly sweet. I mean, it’s still quite sweet, after all it’s a Frappusweetno with two applications of whipped cream. But it wasn’t the cloying overload I’ve experienced with others.

Overall, the Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino is great treat to have at midnight, mid-day, or whenever your local Starbucks is open.

(Nutrition Facts – 470 calories, 25 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 52 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, and 80 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Grande
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a Thin Mint (or Keebler Grasshopper). Great vessel for sugar. Not overly sweet like other Frappuccinos. Not as Instagram-able as the Unicorn Frappuccino.
Cons: Cooling mint sugar crystals aren’t that minty or cooling. Not as Instagram-able as the Unicorn Frappuccino.

REVIEW: Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

I thought it was a late stage April Fool’s Day joke, like the Rainbow Drink or possibly a foreign exclusive since only they get the cool, wacky Starbucks drinks. Take a moment to Google “American Cherry Pie Frappuccino” that is available only in Japan, (sigh) of course.

Once the Unicorn Frappuccino finally became official, though, my mind started racing. Would it be made with the tears of unicorns? Has Starbucks finally figured out how to manufacture eternal euphoria? So many questions, but one thing was clear – I absolutely needed this in my life.

The drink is marketed to play up its mythical nature rather than provide too many specifics on its actual composition. I’m glad they didn’t go low budget, though, when sourcing their rainbows as the in-store menu informed me it’s made with only the finest ones. I’ve had cheap rainbows before and they were not very good (very dull in color and lacking intense flavor).

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 2

The drink’s actual contents are a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup, a sour-flavored interior drizzle and sour-dusted whipped cream. I couldn’t taste an iota of mango flavor, but I did get intense vanilla and sour notes. It’s as if little extremities of sour patch kids had invaded my vanilla milkshake.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 3

I do applaud Starbucks for thinking outside the box with its creative claims that it changes color and flavor when you stir, although, execution wise, the color transition was very, very subtle and there didn’t seem to be enough of the blue sauce in my drink for it to completely change flavors.

The nutrition facts are frightening since a Venti supposedly contains 76 grams of sugar and 500 calories, but as only a rare treat, they are somewhat understandable. I was very concerned this meant it would be a sugar bomb that was so overly sweet and heavy it would be rendered nearly undrinkable. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was instead both creamy and pretty delicious.

Overall, though, while this was a gimmicky drink through and through, Starbucks hit it out of the park on creativity and marketing. Seeing the hysteria ensue makes me wonder if it will be destined for a yearly reemergence. I just hope they push the envelope even further, like with a special iridescent straw that would glisten majestically like a horn, which I WOULD CAMP OUT FOR THE DEBUT OF.

Oh and your move, Starbucks Japan.

(Nutrition Facts – Venti – 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 79 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 76 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Venti
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: A domestic Starbucks drink that for once can make international outposts jealous. Not a revolting sugar bomb. Flavor that’s like the offspring of a vanilla milkshake and a sour patch kid. Destined for McRib-like limited edition runs.
Cons: Low budget rainbow sourcing. Nutrition facts that I wish were mythical. No glistening iridescent straw. So-so execution of flavor/color changing nature.