REVIEW: Starbucks Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

Sometimes, I feel a little silly ordering a beverage that’s almost more of a mouthful to say than it is to actually drink, and that was the case when I decided to try the new Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso from Starbucks. Shaken espressos aren’t new to Starbucks but it was my first experience with one. I had questions such as “Do I want hazelnut in my coffee? Do I like oatmilk? Do I even know what a shaken espresso is supposed to be?” The answer to all of those was a hesitant “Possibly?” but if you find yourself wondering if you should order this the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”

The drink is made with shots of the chain’s blonde espresso and hazelnut syrup shaken with ice and topped with oatmilk. The ingredient list is simple but the result is more than the sum of its parts. I was genuinely surprised by the amount and sturdiness of the foam produced by the shaking process. It really does make for a different textural experience than just having a drink on ice. The last time I had a coffee featuring oatmilk I was underwhelmed, but here the oatmilk was creamy and complemented the hazelnut flavor perfectly.

As someone who often finds hazelnut flavored coffee creamers off-putting, I thought the syrup was pleasantly nutty, a little toasty, and sweet without being too sweet. It’s certainly more prominent than the flavor of the espresso, but it doesn’t completely overwhelm it. You still know you’re drinking coffee, which is what I want when I order…coffee. A major complaint people have about Starbucks is that a lot of its coffees taste too bitter or burnt, but the lighter roast of the blonde espresso ensures that isn’t an issue here.

From the first sip to the last this latest shaken espresso was so enjoyable and well balanced. I can’t recall the last time I was this happy trying a new coffee and I’m kicking myself for not jumping on the jostled java bandwagon sooner. Somehow all that shaking makes for a very smooth drink I’m struggling to find any fault with. My only problem is I wish I had more of it, but with three espresso shots in a grande, the size was probably just right to not leave me feeling shaky myself. This may have been my first time having one, but it definitely won’t be the last. I’m a person who orders five-words-in-the-title coffees now, and when they’re this good, I’m okay with that.

Purchased Price: $5.95
Size: Grande
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugar, and 2 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Holiday Cold Foams (Peppermint Chocolate, Chestnut Praline, Sugar Cookie, and Caramel Brulee)

The holidays are here, and it’s time to zhuzh up your Starbucks drink with a new holiday cold foam! As many Starbucks enthusiasts know, Starbs (does everyone else call it that? Just me?) likes to really expand its cold brew/cold foam line with new offerings, and these new options align with the four popular holiday beverage flavors. You’ll find Peppermint Chocolate, Chestnut Praline, Sugar Cookie, and Caramel Brulee.

When trying each of these, I chose to add them to a standard cold brew with no other flavors. You could add them to any other drink of your choosing, but for consistency in my review, cold brew it was.

I’ll run down my thoughts on each, and as you can see from my ratings below, I had quite a range of feelings. Note that I first tried a taste of each cold foam on its own to get the full flavor before taking a sip of the drink.

Peppermint Chocolate

If you gave me a spoonful of this stuff, I’d swear it was a chocolate mousse. On its own, this cold foam definitely gives a Peppermint Mocha vibe, and I felt it was more chocolate than peppermint. It distributed nicely into the cold brew as it settled, but it didn’t quite enhance the drink as much as I would have liked. But it is a nice alternative to a Peppermint Mocha if that’s too strong or chocolatey for you.

Chestnut Praline

Womp, womp. My least favorite of the four. This had barely any Chestnut Praline flavoring and tasted too much like a basic vanilla cold foam. I *did* pick up a tiny bit of nuttiness as I went along, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked to consider this a holiday delight.

Sugar Cookie

An iced Sugar Cookie Latte is one of my go-to drinks, so I was super eager for this one, and it didn’t disappoint. When I tried the foam alone, I got a nice, strong flavor from the Sugar Cookie syrup. Just like the Peppermint Chocolate, this one didn’t affect the flavor of the cold brew too much – it was still pretty strong. I would definitely try this one again, and will likely add the Sugar Cookie syrup to the cold brew for even more of the flavor.

Caramel Brulee

HOLY COW! This one was a surprise home run. The irony is I am least likely to order a Caramel Brulee drink out of any of these holiday flavors, yet this was my favorite. It had an amazing caramel taste that really made its way into the cold brew and lasted through my entire grande-sized beverage. I am 100% getting this one again and happily recommend it to others!

One other thing to note: If you’re ordering through the Starbucks app, a friendly reminder that these cold foams need to be added to your drink and are not part of a featured drink on the menu. You’ll find it if you choose “Customize” and then scroll down to the “Toppings” section.

Happy holiday sipping!

Purchased Price: Adding a cold foam to your beverage will cost you an additional $1.25 on top of your existing drink price.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Peppermint Chocolate), 4 out of 10 (Chestnut Praline), 7 out of 10 (Sugar Cookie), 9 out of 10 (Caramel Brulee)
Nutrition Facts: Not available.

REVIEW: Starbucks Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte

As readers of a junk food blog may agree, there is nothing quite like buying yourself a little treat, whether you’ve done anything to deserve it or not. When that treat is a beverage, I will choose a chai latte nine times out of ten. I love them so much that I have tested and ranked the chai lattes offered by (almost) every café in my city. When a craving hits, even the low-ranked ones hit the spot. However, my favorites are often an equal measure of tea, milk, sweetness, and spice. Chai spice blend preferences are about as personal as one’s coffee order, but I like a peppery bite as well as a hint of vanilla.

I both love and resent chai lattes for occupying so much of my mental space that could be dedicated to other things, like remembering the names of my colleagues’ kids or establishing a regular dusting schedule.

Again, my priorities were set when I tasted the Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte, a new item on Starbucks’ winter menu. The iced beverage base consists of Starbucks’ chai concentrate, chai syrup, and oatmilk. An oatmilk froth flavored with gingerbread syrup tops the drink, along with a sprinkle of pumpkin spice. (Sadly, my order was missing the pumpkin spice. I shouldn’t take it personally. And yet….)

To add gingerbread syrup only to the froth felt like an odd choice. The flavor was noticeable (and at times trickled down into the drink’s base), but I expected it to shine more brightly. Mostly cinnamon and molasses, the gingerbread flavor tasted good, but lacked any real punch of ginger. (Gingerbread fans may wish to try the hot version of the drink, which contains both chai and gingerbread syrups in the base. Share your findings, please!)

The oatmilk in the base was delicious, contributing a thick, creamy richness and subtle nutty flavor. It was very sweet, which I’m not opposed to. The creaminess seemed to dominate, throwing off the spice ratio. As with the froth, the spice in the base seemed very cinnamon-forward. Even though Starbucks’ chai concentrate contains black pepper and ginger, the drink somehow lacked the bite I expect from chai. Generally, it was more reminiscent of pumpkin spice.

Don’t get me wrong, the drink still tasted good — creamy and sweet, with enough sugar, spice, and caffeine to nudge a few dopamine receptors out of bed. However, the Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte oversells the promise of ginger; by confining the gingerbread flavor to the froth, no component fully delivers what could have been vibrant spice. This limited time offering isn’t in my top tier of seasonal beverages or chai lattes, but it will still quell a sweet treat craving.

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Tall – 12 fl oz.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 290 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte

Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte Cup

As we all know, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and pumpkin spice season. I wasn’t feeling particularly autumnal as I exited my local Starbucks into the 90-degree heat, but at least with its orangey-brown hue and dense pumpkin spice topping the color of fallen leaves, my Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte looked the part. This is a new offering for Starbucks’ fall menu, but I don’t foresee it becoming a mainstay…

Maybe this is supposed to be obvious from the drink’s name, but I certainly didn’t realize before looking it up, so let me warn you that the base of this beverage is just Starbucks’ regular chai tea latte. The unique “pumpkin cream” factor specifically refers to the cold foam on top; the drink itself doesn’t have anything in it that’s different than the usual. That felt a little unsatisfying to me at first, but hey, pumpkin spice mix is generally a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, and with the exception of nutmeg, all of these ingredients are already present in Starbuck’s chai tea concentrate. (Others include water, black tea, cardamom, black pepper, star anise, sugar, honey, vanilla, and citric acid, if you were wondering). So, it might not be an immediate member of the pumpkin spice nuclear family, but at the very least, Starbucks’ chai tea latte is probably a not-too-distant cousin.

Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte pumpkin topping

In any case, the pumpkin cream cold foam and its smattering of seasoning on top was as tasty as I’ve come to expect from Starbucks. It was sweet, rich, and creamy, with an appealing melt-in-your-mouth fluffiness, and the pumpkin spice topping added some nice zest (though mine had a bit too much for my liking, with one particularly saturated mouthful calling to mind that old viral challenge where people would eat a straight spoonful of cinnamon with disastrous results).

The foam topping was substantial enough that it took a few sips for me to even get to the chai, but when I did… well, do you know that feeling when you’re sipping a drink that’s so cold that you can’t actually tell what it tastes like beneath the sensation of coolness? That was the case here; of course, I knew from the velvety texture that I was drinking something meant to be indulgent, but the only immediate way I could describe the taste would just be “cold.” That blandness didn’t ever change, leading to a general feeling that I was just drinking some nicely chilled, very mildly sweet, and quite over-expensive milk. There were occasional flashes of the complex spiciness of chai, but they were more of an aftertaste than the main event they should have been, and ultimately, I would say this drink’s creamy texture was more noticeable than its taste.

So sure, the pumpkin cream cold foam is good, but it’s not a big enough part of this drink’s experience for me to really recommend; once it’s gone, the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte effectively just becomes a plain chai tea latte, so if that doesn’t entice you, you’re better off getting your fall fix elsewhere.

Purchased Price: $7.35
Size: Grande (medium)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 66 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso Cup

Despite the heat here in the Midwest, Starbucks has its jeans and hoodie on and is ready for fall. Yes, the Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back, but we can’t forget another fall flavor favorite: apple. A new drink on the menu is the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.

Does it sound a little familiar to you? Well, neither the apple crisp flavor nor pairing it with Oatmilk is new for Starbucks, as they’ve done it in years past with the Apple Crisp Macchiato in 2021 and the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato in 2022. But this is the first time it’s been with the popular shaken espresso. And let me tell you, I’m here for it.

Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso syrup layer

This drink is smooth. This drink is subtle. This drink is cozy. If you’re not a pumpkin fan but want fall in a cup AND some caffeine, this drink is for you. One thing I’d like to note right off the bat is the apple brown sugar syrup DOES pool at the very bottom of the drink. I highly recommend you give it a quick shake or stir to evenly distribute the flavor.

Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso ice

At first sip, it was mellow – not too sweet at all and the apple flavor came in as a nice aftertaste. The flavor of the espresso shots (there are two shots in a tall) is definitely masked by the rest of the drink, so if you’re not super into a strong coffee taste, this is a good drink to try. I love oatmilk in my coffee as it gives a drink a nice creaminess, and I definitely experienced that here. I’ve mentioned before that I can be a slow sipper of iced beverages, so over the course of the two hours or so I had this, the flavor held up.

I’m always a little surprised when the price of a tall creeps up over $5, but this one is worth it. It’s a great fall drink I will be getting again.

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Tall
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 130 calories, 3.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of protein, and 170 milligrams of caffeine.