REVIEW: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda

Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda

I am fascinated by transformations. From The Wolf Man to Teen Wolf, I love to watch things slowly take on new forms. Especially if it involves becoming a wolf. I’m highly interested in one steady conversion in particular.

Over the past five years, Starbucks has undergone a metamorphosis from a somewhat upscale coffee bar into your run-of-the-mill fast food chain. Granted, it’s a “high-end” version of a fast food chain, but they cover all the basics. Instead of cheeseburgers, they prepare paninis. Instead of milkshakes, they offer a plethora of creamy iced beverages and Frappuccinos. Instead of Egg McMuffins, they hawk wraps and sandwiches with slow-roasted ham and Fontiago cheese. Instead of donuts, they sell scones and Mallorca sweet bread. I’m waiting for some hoity-toity French fries – maybe fingerling potatoes with rosemary and garlic?

The latest Starbucks item to fulfill their fast food roots initiative is the Fizzio™ Hand-Crafted Soda. Starbucks has introduced three new carbonated drinks — Spiced Root Beer, Golden Ginger Ale, and Lemon Ale.

I suppose the Golden Ginger Ale is for later when you’re puking your guts out after having whatever the hell Lemon Ale is supposed to be. (NOTE: The Starbucks press release says that Lemon Ale is “a refreshing, citrus-forward blend of real lemon juice with hints of apricot and ginger.” That ridiculous phrase “citrus-forward” sounds like a marketing term dreamed up by someone who doesn’t understand words anymore.) Anyway, I decided to go with the Spiced Root Beer. Frankly, to me, that flavor seemed to be the one closest to its origins as a diner staple.

After ordering the new drink, I watched a barista pull a carton labeled “Root Beer” from the mini-fridge and pour a small amount into my 12-ounce cup. Then she added ice. So… about that “hand-crafted” business… I don’t know what constitutes hand-crafting except for the fact that the barista had to pour the root beer base into a pitcher in order to make my drink. I wasn’t expecting much, but the phrase “hand-crafted” creates the image of careful measurements, stirring, and taste-testing. Or at least shaking something. Nah. In this case, hand-crafting just means pouring into a blender.

I have no idea what the barista did next, outside of pulling out a magic wand and hollering “Expecto Bubbletronum,” but my drink arrived appropriately sparkling. Apparently, the bubbles were created using a new Starbucks-trademarked contraption called The Fizzio™ machine. Basically, the machine carbonates any drink, so you can walk in and ask for a cold, fizzy whatever for an extra 50 cents.

Unfortunately, bubbles couldn’t save the Fizzio™ Spiced Root Beer from being a mostly bland and underwhelming beverage experience. According to the Starbucks website, the Spiced Root Beer flavor presents “the nostalgic taste of classic root beer with a deliciously unexpected twist – cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and star anise add a flavorful kick to this soda.”

Besides the fact that Star Anise sounds like the latest discovery in the Andromeda Galaxy, the use of these interesting spices is your proof that it’s the hoity-toity version of a regular old root beer. In reality, instead of a flavorful kick, it tastes more like a feeble nudge with an outstretched toe. The Fizzio™ Spiced Root Beer tastes like a watered-down version of regular old root beer, but that could be because it’s not full of high fructose corn syrup.

It was certainly spicy, but the flavor was more reminiscent of cinnamon gum — Kind of a delicate spiciness with just a hint of sweetness to balance it. It was an okay drink, but nothing I’d run back to Starbucks to get. I suppose that this is part of the transformation process. When you begin to change into something else, part of you dies forever. I would hope that if I began a metamorphosis, I would change into something that might go well with rum.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fl oz. – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, 2% Calcium.).)

Item: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio™ Hand-Crafted Soda
Purchased Price: $2.55
Size: 12 fl oz.
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Spiced with interesting spices. Bubbly. One of three new flavors. Lycanthropy.
Cons: A bland experience™. Hand-crafted = pouring into a blender. Getting nudged with a toe. “Citrus-forward.”

17 thoughts to “REVIEW: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda”

    1. I tried the Spiced Root Beer. I liked it but it was crazy overpriced. Got the drink in Grande, 8oz of it was ice, so I ended up with, maybe, 4oz of actual drink, all for $3.19. That is way too much. Never again.


  2. Huh…too bad my Starbucks closed not even a week agao. No explanation. No notice. Not even the employees knew…weird.

  3. The lemon ale is actually pretty good. It’s like if Sun Drop used real lemons instead of whatever chemicals to it. Root beer is a lot better if you add Vanilla though.

    1. I have to agree. I quit Coke and other sodas two months ago. When Happy Hour promoted the Fizzios, I tried the lemon ale yesterday. Absolutely delish! My new fave there!

  4. Bummer for the ever-dehydrated, bubble-craving creature within. Super fun review, though. Thanks for the read this Wednesday eve 🙂

  5. I tried one of the rootbeer Fizzios and didn’t like it. It tasted watered down, and mine wasn’t even spicy, but it did have a weird aftertaste that I couldn’t quite identify: not quite chemicals but not quite food. Weird. Maybe it was the sweeteners they use. Mine also had almost no bubbly, but the barista seemed to be having a bit of trouble with the contraption that fizzes stuff. Maybe they’ll get better once people learn how the thing works. Or maybe they’ll just keep it around for people to fizz up their Frappuccinos. Because you know it’s gonna happen.

    The Fizzios also apparently don’t have caffeine, which is pretty much the only reason I ever drink soda. 🙁

  6. I totally agree with this, I was so excited to try these, only to find out the same… A weak watered down soda that tasted ok at first… But there was so much ice in it that it watered down even more in the hot Florida sun, not to mention the “fizz” didn’t last very long. I was very sad. I got a golden ginger ale hoping it would be a nice spicy ginger ale, unfortunately it tasted lemony, to the point where I was wondering if they had given me the wrong drink…. And I got my daughter a root beer, which wasn’t bad.. But wasn’t as “spicy” as I thought it would be, and if I would have wanted to drink the whole drink within say 10 min of buying it, it would have been very good, but alas… It went flat and watery as we’ll. I <3 Starbucks… And probably always will, but I will be sticking with coffee from there.

  7. The fizzio spiced root beer tasted like of you made a chai tea soda and added a hint of root beer. Not every starbucks has the same quality but the local one I go to pretty much nailed it on all aspects. My own taste scale would give it a 4/5. Its good but didn’t really throw my socks off.

  8. Well I love it – the spices add just the right touch. I wouldn’t know a frappe from a cappuchino…went to Starbucks just to try this and I am COMPLETELY addicted!

  9. So I feel like I should inform you all as to how this works so you understand why the fizzio altogether is a stupid machine and idea.

    I will describe the process.

    Grab tea shaker fill to a measured line with (spiced root beer) next line with very cold water.

    Poor from tea shaker to metal cylinder (which cannot have any sort of dairy go into it so no fizzy milk based drinks of any sort or it becomes an allergy hazard).

    Place rubber seal that MUST BE WET ON JUST ONE SIDE, on top of metal canister.

    Fight with metal holder inside of machine until canister is secure.

    Select size of beverage using a dial then utter a small prayer and press dial to begin the carbonation process.

    Face palm when machine reports press leak error and try any and all of the aforementioned steps in hopes that machine will work properly.


    Explain to customer that machine is fickle and that their beverage is on its way.

    after giving up on trying to trouble shoot the process just open door and attempt to fizz over and over again until it randomly works.

    Hand drink off to hopefully understanding customer and then proceed to apologize to all customers that are in line after them.

    Plot the murder of the fizzio machine.

  10. I don’t know if it depends on who is making it or if the “fizzio” machine’s quality varies store-to-store, but the first Fizzio I got was a Ginger-Ale and I was really impressed. It was fizzy and sweet and tasted like a genuine “hand-made” soda. Flash-forward to a few weeks later, I tried the Root Beer one and it tasted flat, watered down, and carbonation-y. Thinking it was just a one-time thing I re-ordered it again a few days later, same thing.

    When I told the barista she told me she “had one this morning and it was fine,” and that it “isn’t supposed to be fizzy like a soda.” Um. Really? Because based on its name and description I think that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be like. Anyway, won’t be wasting my money again.

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