REVIEW: Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)

Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)

Sometimes I get tired. Usually it’s a couple hours after lunch when I swiftly enter that mid-afternoon slump that brings my forehead perilously close to smashing into my keyboard. While it would be great to receive daily energy injections at the 3:00 hour, I don’t think most corporate health insurance policies include the administration of intravenous jump juice.

Most people go for a coffee run when they feel sluggish. However, unlike my overly-caffeinated colleagues, I don’t drink coffee. So what’s a java-free girl to do? Simple. Be only slightly unconventional and ingest the latest branded “naturally” caffeinated beverage from one of our nation’s largest peddlers of liquid vim and vigor.

Starbucks has introduced their new Starbucks Refreshers – fruity iced drinks laced with the “natural energy” of Green Coffee Extract (capitalization is theirs) from unroasted Arabica coffee beans. There’s no real flavor to speak of from this Green Coffee Extract, but as I quickly discovered, it packs a punch. After sampling these Refreshers, I definitely felt a bit perkier… That is to say, I was jauntily strolling through the office hallways, smiling broadly and cheerfully vocalizing like the Trololo guy. I was curious about this wonderful ingredient that had put some pep in my step, so I read up on Green Coffee Extract. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that the extract from unroasted coffee beans can inhibit fat absorption in lab mice. So if I transform into a lab mouse while drinking a Starbucks Refresher, I can eat all the cheese I want! Yaaahhhhhh yaya-yaaaaaahhhh…!

There are two flavors of handcrafted beverages available in Starbucks cafes: Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus.

According to the Starbucks website, Cool Lime is “real fruit juice, mint and a lime slice shaken with Green Coffee Extract for a boost of natural energy, served over ice.” The taste of lime was dominant, but I couldn’t taste the mint. The Cool Lime Refresher did otherwise live up to its name, for it was quite refreshing. And cool. In fact, this is what a summer drink should be. Light and citrus-y, but not too sweet. I don’t know if one lime slice is supposed to be the standard because I received two slices the first time I ordered it, but the limes were a great addition to the overall flavor profile. The Cool Lime Refresher also didn’t taste artificial like some other mixed fruit drinks tend to taste, and I think that the use of real fruit helped.

On the other hand, Starbucks claims that the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher is “handcrafted with whole blackberries” and contains a “hint of hibiscus.” I couldn’t really see any whole blackberries in my drink, just crushed ones. I don’t know if it’s because they were muddled at the bottom of the cup with the Green Coffee Extract or what, but it clearly states that they should be whole. By “whole blackberries,” they must mean “once whole blackberries.” And by “hint of hibiscus,” they must mean “unheeded suggestion of hibiscus” because I couldn’t taste any hibiscus. Maybe I don’t know what hibiscus really tastes like… I mean, what does a flower with natural diuretic properties taste like? Mild panic in 20 minutes when you can’t find the bathroom? Anyway, this Very Berry Hibiscus drink wasn’t Very Anything. More like Sorta-Maybe Berry Hibiscus.

Similar to the Cool Lime Refresher, the Starbucks website claims the Very Berry Refresher is made with “real fruit juice and whole blackberries shaken with Green Coffee Extract for a boost of natural energy, served over ice.” The fruit juice tasted a little diluted, despite its bold appearance, and even though it was served chilled, it didn’t really seem like a summer drink to me. For a Refresher, it was not very refreshing.

Of the two new Starbucks Refreshers, you can probably tell by what I’ve written here (and by looking at the photo taken from a later trip) which one I liked best. The Cool Lime Refresher is the lightweight, summery drink with the appropriate flavor and appearance you’d most appreciate on a hot summer day. The Very Berry Hibiscus tries too hard to fit in with the summer vibe and instead comes off as the sort of drink you’d have to order back in the house because it’s not going anywhere dressed like that.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – Cool Lime – 40 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 0.9% Vitamin C, and 45 milligrams of caffeine. Very Berry Hibiscus – 60 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 0.9% Vitamin C, and 45 milligrams of caffeine.)

Item: Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)
Purchased Price: $2.95
Size: 12 oz
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cool Lime)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Very Berry Hibiscus)
Pros: Cool Lime Refresher lives up to its name. Green Coffee Extract inhibits fat absorption in lab mice. Real lime slices. Eduard Khil-like happiness and mirth.
Cons: Very Berry Hibiscus isn’t Very Anything. The 3:00 Slump. Hibiscus is a natural diuretic. Couldn’t taste the Cool Lime Refresher’s mint flavor.

36 thoughts to “REVIEW: Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)”

  1. Am I the only who noticed that weird caffeine aftertaste the green coffee extract seem to leave? It was not very strong but definitely off-putting.

  2. Sorry to disagree with the review (at least in part), but I found each of these drinks to be pretty “meh.” Weak in any flavor (along the lines of “strong” cucumber water that we joke about at spas). There was some caffeine, but we’re not talking a jolt.

    In the end, if all you want is a refreshing drink, save the $3 (!!!) and buy a refreshing Crystal Lite mix for that same amount (I recommend the peach teas) and get a good-flavored, calories-free (or close to it) drink, and a gallon or more of it, at that, for the same price. (They even come in water bottle-sized amounts, to just add to a water bottle on the go.) Sorry, Starbucks, a fail here (and an expensive one, at that!).

  3. I’m drinking the Very Berry refresher now because of this review, and mehhh. I agree with Mike- super weak flavor, it’s more like berry-flavored water than juice. And I agree that you don’t know what hibiscus tastes like, because it’s seriously the only discernable flavor in this! I was like ooh blackberry-flavored, but nope, it’s all hibiscus-y (which does taste a bit like berries). On the plus side, mine has about 3 whole blackberries floating in it- on the minus side, it also had a few un-whole blackberries, which surprised me every time I accidentally swallowed one.

  4. What kills me is, $3 for this?!? How about, 99 cents . . . . I guess the coffee extract that is added is expensive.

    1. Not to mention that 45 mgs of caffeine is less than a (cheaper) diet coke (47 mgs) and much less than a (cheaper) iced tea. Even non-coffee drinkers are better off with these less expensive alternatives.

    2. I know this comment is 5 years later, but you can totally get them for $1 each if you buy a pack of them at Starbucks.

  5. When I ordered one of these, the Starbucks employee suggested I order this with half of both flavors, like an Arnold Palmer. I did, and I’ve been getting that ever since. To me, it greatly improves the flavors and has an almost fruit punch taste to it. You also get a lime slice and blackberries. They might be on to something with these, I hope so. Maybe they could also use real blackberries and lime slices, instead of previously freeze dried ones.

  6. I have tried the Cool Lime-I am a Diabetic-but saw the low calories, low sugar and I Love, REALLY LOVE LIME DRINKS!!! I never tasted something so DISGUSTING IN MY LIFE! I didn’t taste the drink until I left and was on the road…

    Okay, I was actually at one of those (HEY, We have 75 sq ft here, let’s put a -) Mini Starbucks in a Target, so I do not know if it was made wrong, the ‘Barista’s (i.e. 18yo working a summer job) first time making it, or her not giving a %$#% because I got her right before her coffe-do Barista’s take coffee breaks? Anyhoo maybe it was supposed to taste like you washed your cucs over a coffee cup with 1 inch of coffee still in it. No mint, no lime other then when I took the actually LIME out of the drink and SQUEEEEEEZED… AND since I ordered a large- (or Venti or whatever Starbucks calls their Large-I can’t remember..) Yes, I know this was not a bright move on my part since I NEVER TASTED ON BEFORE! (yes, STUPID STUPID STUPID-but remember I LOVE LIME!!! Yes, lime…oh, lime, yes precious cool refreshing lime…..)But back to reality… I was driving home on this HOT HUMID DAY and I go to take a sip of a cold refreshing drink.. and it was not ice cold, but my bad since I took a few minutes, but still cold… and it tasted like I said… like dishwater with a taste of coffee and cucumber… almost 5 dollars. YES, 5 EFFIN DOLLARS!!!! Still haven’t told my husband because even if it was good, should have spent it. Oh STARBUCKS.. YOU HAVE FAILED ME… AND FAILED ME BAD!!! teasing me with lime.. cool refreshing lime!!! shame on me.. shame on them!!1

  7. AND NO! Despite LOVING BERRIES,( but not anywhere as close to REFRESHING COOL LIMES!!! )and the excitement of Hibiscus!! I will not be led down the road of paying/wasting $5 for a drink without a sip, a try of that drink before buying!!!! as the saying goes-fool me once, shame on Starbucks! fool me twice-I am a stupid idiot

  8. I loved it in the can form, but the drinks made on-site weren’t as good. Really like the Berry flavor

  9. Oh, gee, I love the Cool Lime Refresher. The aftertaste is mint to me. I don’t like Mojitos, but I guess the flavor is similar. I’m pretty hooked on these. I even ordered a Trenta (with a free drink reward).

    They also offer take home VIA Refresher packs of the powder and they’re good too (Lime), though pricey – until I found a stack of 50% off coupons sitting on the counter of a Manhattan Starbucks. Bargain!

  10. I personally tried both, the berry one is way better and i realized many people dont notice that you actually have shake it before you drink it to get that strong berry flavor or else it looks like pink lemonade and it taste like water., the worse part about it is that the people who work there sometimes dont shake it and they assume we know. I hope this helps and people try it because its extremely refreshing.

  11. A friend of mine loves!!!! the lime flavor, she talked me into trying the berry when I told her I’m a fan of hibiscus.
    My local starbucks was very generous when I asked for a sample of the berry to try–gave me a tall cup full. Unfortunately I did not care for
    the flavor at all. To my palate there was no discerable berry or hibicus flavor, and all I was left with was a very strong after taste of
    Black Licorice–have to look at the ingredient list to see if if includes any licorice root which does have stimulus properties.

  12. I haven’t tried the lime one, and it doesn’t look appealing to me. After reading this review and seeing there is supposed to be mint in it… YUCK. I will probably never try it. I’m hooked on the very berry hibiscus. I drink it about 3 times a week.

  13. I’m very surprised at all the negative feedback! I love love love the lime refresher, and appreciate the nutrition facts also.

  14. After having been hooked on caramel Frappuccinos with 270 Calories for 16oz. I am very happy to say that I have found a Starbucks drink I am not afraid of drinking everyday 16oz Calories 70. Love the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

  15. Y’all need to sub passion tea in the Very Berry, then delish! (8 out of 10 at least)

  16. I love the cool lime refreasher. It’s expensive to have them make it at a Starbucks but if you buy the packets it’s only 1.25 for a venti size drink. I usually buy a lime and squeeze a couple of wedges in it. It is a light refreshing boost. Didn’t really enjoy the berry flavor

  17. I love the lime ones from the grocery store. they r suposed to b for 16oz but I usually make it with like 12 to 14. it has hints of cucumber and mint or somthing its good when uwant somthing light to drink not to sweet not too much caffiene. and add a spash of vodka and u got a great summer lounging drink!!

  18. I have to say that the very berry hibiscus was awesome it had lots of blackberry and the tast of hibiscus. I could drink this. Coffee bevrege everyday ;-). Did not like the lime refresher it tasted very bitter=-O .

  19. Maybe it depends on the location. I absolutely love the Berry Hibiscus. I get the whole berries and the flavor and yes it does need to be shaken/stirred. The cool lime was good as well but I prefer berries.

  20. They are OK but HOPE they (Starbucks) get rid of that “rebaudioside a” sweet enhancer since the formula already contain Cane Sugar and Grape Juice. Just following up an old rule…If you find it very hard to pronounce, don’t eat it..

  21. Get a Very Bery Hibiscus with no water, and cut with lemonade instead. Just add a pump or 2 of the Classic Syrup! Tart and Delicious!

  22. I’m in love with the very berry hibiscus. It’s my daily escape. Refreshing. I add extra berries that makes it even better. If I don’t get it, my day isn’t complete. I’m a coffee drinker so it’s a lovely waytoend my day after consuming all that caffeine. Please don’t take out off the drink menu.

  23. I LOVE these refreshers!! I get mine half berry/half cool lime… Best combo! I’m not too keen in either of them separately but I love the combo!

  24. Just tried Starbucks’ new refresher: Valencia Orange. It’s by far the best of the three.

  25. I am in LOVE with the Very Berry Hibiscus! It is on its way to becoming my Starbucks “regular”. The first time I tried it, the blackberries were pretty crushed, but that didn’t take away from the flavor one bit. In fact, it may have enhanced it. Either way, crushed or whole blackberries, the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher is wonderful!!

  26. Im an employee of Starbucks. Sometimes the berries in the Berry hibiscus crush apart when the drink is shaken BC of the ice but they do go in the beverage as whole berries. What I love to do is instead of water I substitute mango and it is sooo good that way! Give it a try

  27. The very berry hibiscus gives me that energy plus it does not bloat me. They put a lot of black berries on my drink. I agree on one of the comment that it depends on the location. The 2 places I go to regularly is doing good service with my drink.

  28. As a former starbucks barista and complete berry hibiscus addict I can say that made to standard it is seriously lacking. Watered down with not much flavor but sweet. Also, the berries are freeze dried and don’t add much of anything except color. I recommend the berry hibiscus, no berries, lemonade instead of water. Adding classic like someone else suggested makes it really sweet in a not so good way. Yuck. But to each his own I guess. I like the tartness of the lemonade mixed with the undiluted flavor of the berry hibiscus juice. For me, it’s a venti in a trenta cup with extra ice and I can sip on that for hours. Wonderful! Another great drink is mixing sweet passion tea with the mango instead of water. THAT sweetened with classic is like drinking a heavenly fruit juice only without all those pesky vitamins. Yum. But drive-thru beware…order that one inside.

  29. The first time I ordered berry hibiscus I felt it was watered down. Then I was told by a friend make sure you tell the cashier no water. I did just that the next time I ordered my berry hibiscus. It is great & gives me the boost I need after lunch at work. I dislike coffee & try to stay away from red-bull at much as possible. This is a prefect replacement for natural energy.

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